Research - 29.09.2023 - 11:00 

Opportunity Barometer 2023 on the labour shortage: Incentives mobilize women and those over 60

Is the labour shortage in Switzerland partly self-inflicted? Yes, says a representative study by the University of St.Gallen (HSG) within the framework of the "Opportunity Barometer 2023". According to the survey, women, individuals in pre-retirement and those over 65 years old are willing to work significantly more if the conditions were better structured.
Old granny woman working on laptop computer in cafe at table. Senior adult woman in glasses using laptop. AI generative
According to a representative study by the University of St.Gallen and the LARIX Foundation, women, individuals in pre-retirement and those over 65 years old are willing to work significantly more if the conditions were better structured.

Women in the survey mentioned that they see obstacles in the lack of compatibility between family and work. For older individuals, the lack of salary transparency and insufficient flexible work hour models. Not just for politics, employers are called upon to take the needs of employees seriously. The study also registers an increased sense of urgency, even as Switzerland's opportunities appear to stagnate for the first time. The results of the fourth Swiss Opportunity Barometer by the LARIX Foundation and HSG were presented on September 29, 2023, as part of the "Opportunity Day 2023" in Zurich.

The study primarily focuses on domestic solutions to combat labour shortages. According to Jobst Wagner, President of the LARIX Foundation and entrepreneur, the results show: "The needs of employers and employees still diverge too much and hinder the mobilization of Switzerland's workforce potential."

Modernize the workforce to attract labour

HSG political scientist Prof. Dr. Tina Freyburg sees the labour shortage as a great opportunity to modernize the workforce: "With nearly 50%, there is significant potential for positive change. But there is also a great need for action, especially regarding the lack of family compatibility." Freyburg is convinced that parties advocating for improved working conditions in the upcoming parliamentary elections will significantly improve their chances of success. The most satisfied individuals have a workload of over 60%, closely followed by full-time employees. Those working less than 60% are notably less satisfied. Family managers are at the bottom of the satisfaction scale.

The study also highlights that employers have not yet effectively adapted to the shrinking labour supply, primarily caused by the ongoing retirement wave among the baby boomer generations. Tina Freyburg says: "Employers will have no choice but to further align themselves with the expectations of younger generations and comprehensively explore new forms of work." The survey already shows that Generation Z wants to balance career, family, and climate activism.

Better integration of older employees

The Opportunity Barometer further confirms that older employees are willing to continue working if their work contributes to solving societal challenges. However, older workers also expect more flexibility and individualization in their work. Salary transparency is another expectation, as the study reveals.

Reform labour laws

The state should also remove barriers by pushing forward labour law reforms toward a modern workplace and motivating people to offer their work more actively through individual taxation, regardless of marital status. Another political demand is to advance the flexibility of retirement ages. Combined, the economy and politics have the means to release thousands of new workers.

Anything that can help combat the labour supply shortage also contributes to addressing other important challenges, explains Tina Freyburg: "A more family-friendly, sustainable, flexible, and individualized workforce can help the economy, politics, and society increase birth rates, achieve climate goals, advance digitalization, and reduce traffic congestion."

Harnessing the Opportunity Potential

The fourth Opportunity Barometer in 2023 also reveals that Swiss citizens view the country's current opportunity potential less positively than in the previous year, while the need for action has continued to rise for the fourth consecutive time. Jobst Wagner is clear: "To stay at the top, Switzerland must release more forces to harness the opportunity potential identified by our study." The growth and prosperity potentials, as well as public revenues, are at stake when persistent labour shortages limit the possible production and service offerings.

Key Facts about the Opportunity Barometer 2023

  • 3842 residents of Switzerland aged 15 and above, proficient in one of the three main languages (German-speaking = 2816; French-speaking = 698; Italian-speaking = 328)
  • All data is weighted according to sociodemographic characteristics (age, gender, language, canton, settlement type, education, party) to ensure the most representative depiction of the population.
  • Assuming a random sample, the maximum margin of error is +/- 1.5 percentage points (with 95% probability).
  • Survey period: May 2 to June 5, 2023

For more information, visit: 

Image: Adobe Stock / Ron Dale 

Discover our special topics