Analysis of 10 million employee survey responses reveals that employees worldwide are more engaged at work now than they were in January, 2020, before the COVID-19 pandemic
COPENHAGEN, LONDON, BERLIN, and NEW YORK (October 6, 2020) // Today Peakon – an employee success platform – revealed in its new report: The Impact of COVID-19 on Employee Engagement, that employee engagement improved worldwide during the height of the pandemic.
Despite the disruption caused to many organisations worldwide at the start of this year, employee engagement increased by 2% between January and July. Every continent has seen a rise in engagement. Employees in the Finance and Energy sectors saw the sharpest rise in engagement of 4%.
Closer analysis of 10 million Peakon survey responses found that employees were particularly impressed by the opportunity to work remotely, their working environment, and their organisation’s support for their mental wellbeing. Scores to these questions increased by 10%, 6%, and 5% respectively between January and July, 2020.
Remote Working scores rose by a huge 10%
In addition to the rise in overall engagement scores, the report found a 10% improvement in scores to Peakon’s remote work question: I have the option to work remotely when I’d like to.
This 10% rise was the highest seen across all the survey questions. This is perhaps unsurprising given that many employees have been working remotely – some for the first time – during the pandemic. The rise was most prominent in Asia, where remote working scores rose by a significant 18%. The Finance industry, which has historically ranked among the worst sectors for work-life balance, saw employee scores to the remote working question jump by 17%.
A keyword analysis of the employee comments left globally in response to the remote working question revealed the following:
- 16% of all positive comments to this question explicitly mention flexibility
- 25% of comments on increased scores explicitly use words like: love, happy, enjoy, satisfied, amazing, great, outstanding, incredible and wonderful
- 15% of comments on increased scores use words like: permanent, forever, every day, indefinitely
Takeaways: Employees are experiencing more autonomy now around where they work, and it seems as though they are enjoying it. Having seen that, for many people, remote working works very well, it will be very difficult for employers to backtrack completely. When people are granted the autonomy to work in the way that is best for them, they feel a greater sense of responsibility and trust, which in turn increases motivation, productivity and overall engagement.
Working Environment scores jumped by more than 6%
Scores to the ‘environment’ question – My physical work environment contributes positively to my ability to do my job – increased by more than 6% globally, during the period.
North America was the only continent to observe no change. Global employees in the Technology sector enjoyed a 9% increase, while global Professional Services and Finance employees also saw a 7% rise.
Takeaways: The analysis found that working remotely, or with new safety measures in place, has had a positive impact on many employees globally. As we therefore look towards the likely emergence of more hybrid working contexts, organisations should focus on rethinking the design of their offices so they are optimised for intentional collaboration and social connection, rather than for employees to work side-by-side together, five days a week.
Mental Wellbeing scores rose by 5% during COVID-19
Scores to Peakon’s mental health-related question – [Company] really cares about my mental wellbeing – increased by 5% globally between January and July. This indicates that many employees feel their organisations have stepped up with regards to mental health support during the pandemic.
The Finance industry saw a 9% rise in employee scores on this question — the largest of all the sectors.
Takeaways: In 2017, the World Health Organisation (WHO) estimated that depression and anxiety cost the global economy $1 trillion each year in lost productivity. And in May 2020, WHO advocated substantial investment to avert a global mental health crisis caused by the pandemic. Workplaces that foster good mental health among their employees are more likely to reduce attrition and absenteeism, increase productivity, and drive future business success.
Younger Employees see diminished growth prospects
Global scores for the growth question – I feel that I’m growing professionally – declined by 0.5% during the period. This was the only question in the Peakon survey to receive lower scores in July than in January.
The small decline was spearheaded by Gen Z employees, whose scores to the growth question fell by 3.5% during the period. Millennials’ scores also fell by nearly 2%. Meanwhile, the scores of Baby Boomers and Gen X increased by 2.4% and 1.5% respectively. This once again highlights generational differences, and reflects the way in which the pandemic has negatively impacted younger workers’ sentiment around their career potential in particular.
North America experienced the largest downturn in growth, with a decline of 3%. Nearly a quarter (24%) of the growth-related comments left in July mentioned learning or training. Only 3% mentioned promotion, raise, salary, reward, money or bonus.
Takeaways: As organisations hit pause on their plans, changed strategy, and slashed budgets, business operations have focused more on resilience and recovery than employee growth. As we know from our own data, stalled growth is one of the main reasons employees quit. Therefore, as we enter the next phase of workplace transformation, organisations must develop more agile learning cultures that are responsive to a rapidly changing working world. For this, they will need to invest in new technologies and platforms that facilitate knowledge acquisition and knowledge sharing across remote and hybrid workforces. This will empower employees to learn, regardless of their location, time zone, or personal circumstances.
Commenting on the findings, Peakon CEO and co-founder Phil Chambers said: “As the pandemic hit, employees globally looked to their organisations for support, reassurance and information. They used Peakon to anonymously and safely share their feedback and feelings. Our findings suggest that many Peakon users responded positively to this demand – listening to the concerns of their people, and ultimately driving that unexpected 2% increase in overall engagement.”
Chambers adds: “It is evident once again that, when it comes to business leadership, knowledge is power. Real-time insights such as those garnered from our employee surveys have been crucial throughout the crisis, and will continue to be as organisations move into the next phase of workplace transformation. The key for understanding what to do next is listening intelligently to your employees’ experiences, and using the insights to take action and drive positive change. As we’ve seen in this report, when employees feel heard and supported, they are empowered and motivated to help drive your business forwards.”
Download the full report here: The Impact of COVID-19 on Employee Engagement and What Organisations Should Do Next.
For this report, a sample of 10 million survey responses were analysed. We compared the scores that individual employees gave in their Peakon surveys in January, to the scores the same individuals gave – to the same questions – in July. From this we were able to decipher how employee engagement had altered during this six month period, and what in particular was responsible for that change.
Note on generations
To define each generation, Peakon used the guidelines defined by the Pew Research Center. The Silent Generation: born 1928–1945. Baby Boomers: born 1946–1964. Generation X: born 1965–1980. Millennials: born 1981–1996. Generation Z: born in 1997 or later.
Peakon is an employee success platform that converts feedback into insights. It makes the employee conversation quantifiable and actionable to increase employee engagement – not simply measure it. Peakon’s core belief is that work should work for people, and with the largest data set of employee feedback in the world, Peakon provides customised benchmarks and personalised insights to support our mission of helping every employee drive the change they want to see. To date, Peakon has helped organisations like Capgemini, Verizon, Pret, Trustpilot, and easyJet make fundamental changes in how they operate to improve employee experience, driving greater business results.
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