Time and again, employee satisfaction has been linked with company profitability. While employee experience and engagement have always been crucial for business success, a new study indicates it’s all the more important as both employees and employers adapt to changing work environments resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Looking back, despite the widespread impacts coronavirus has had on workforces across industries, many employees report being satisfied with how their company has handled this time of transition, but a new Medallia survey of nearly 4,000 adults in the U.S. shows there are several areas that business can improve.
Looking forward, employees now have a range of new expectations about workplace safety, remote work preferences, employer communications and more, according to key findings of the survey. Published in a new report from Medallia titled, “A look at how COVID-19 is shaping the employee experience,” these include responses from individuals, both those employed and those recently furloughed or laid off as a result of the pandemic, from across industries, including finance, government, education, healthcare, manufacturing, professional services, food service, retail, grocery, technology, telecommunications and travel and tourism.
Here are five takeaways from the report and why you should prioritize employee experience post COVID-19.
With businesses having to adapt their operations and priorities in a short period of time due to COVID-19, taking measures to ensure employee safety and shifting large numbers to working remotely, 70% of employees surveyed report being satisfied with their employers’ responses.
Notably, industries that have more experience with remote working environments — including technology (77%) and financial services (75%) — have been the most successful with the transition. But the results were much lower for industries with more frequent in-person interactions, like retail and grocery (61%), travel (59%) and restaurants (52%), showing the opportunity for those businesses to better engage employees and customers with real-time, contactless communication.
From offering flexibility with employee schedules and acting on staff feedback to prioritizing worker health and safety and communicating company updates, more than 50% of survey respondents — including both those that work from home and those working on site — report that their employers are taking steps that contribute to an overall positive employee work experience.
Overall, employees working from home are more likely to rate more positive experiences across several key factors than those working on site. The biggest opportunities for improvement for companies with workers on site include acting on employee feedback, offering flexibility, being communicative, providing resources to help employees succeed in their roles and checking in on how employees are feeling.
Going through layoffs and furloughs is challenging for both employees and employers, but companies that have handled pandemic-related downsizing well — by providing employees with a clear explanation for the layoff or furlough along with helpful resources and fair severance benefits — will be better positioned when hiring picks up.
Companies that take steps to ensure a smooth transition — such as sharing information about government benefits and taking the time to collect feedback from departing employees — will be twice as likely to attract former employees back. Among survey respondents who said their employer made these kinds of efforts, more than 85% said they would consider returning to work with their employer again, while only about 40% of workers who said their employer did not take these steps would consider returning to work for their employer again.
While more than half (54%) of survey respondents working from home or at a desk at their employer’s office report feeling safe going to work, less than half of front-line workers (36%) and on-site employees or those working in the field (44%) believe their employer is following cleaning and sanitization best practices.
Companies can address these real concerns by not only implementing safety and cleaning policies and sticking to them consistently, but by clearly communicating what precautions are being taken.
More than half (62%) of employees are working from home at least part time as a result of the pandemic, and many (34%) want to continue doing so either full time or part time after the pandemic. Those working in desk-based roles (39%) and those ages 45+ (42%) are even more likely to want to continue to work remotely.
As your company begins the process of revisiting your remote work policies, now is a smart time to start collecting employee feedback about these kinds of preferences. Next, once you’ve updated your policies, employees will be looking to leadership to be proactive, transparent and set expectations about what the new policies will entail moving forward.
Above all, these findings highlight clear opportunities where companies can have a positive impact on employee experiences, even during challenging times.