COVID-19 has wrecked havoc on the world, and that is certainly true of the workplace. However, if you take a step or two back, there have been – and are – good things that have come out of the situation for many companies.
The Unexpected Upsides of a Pandemic
In the middle of a pandemic, growing research is showing that companies are treating their employees better than ever. And employee engagement, a problem that plagues more than two-thirds of companies year after year, is actually going up and in many cases employees are reporting almost unheard of levels of job satisfaction. Here's a look at some of the highlights of this surprising turn of events.
Many Employees Feel More Financially Secure
The biggest thing on the minds of most employees today is personal financial security. Yes, they’re worried about their health, but above that they’re worried about their jobs, the viability of the company, and their ability to take care of their children, families, and parents. And for Millennials and younger workers, they are now worried about their careers.
How are companies addressing this? They’re giving employees more flexible benefits, they’re improving work at home programs, they’re giving them free wellness and other forms of education, they’re encouraging people to take a paid vacation, and they’re even helping furloughed people find new positions. Although things are far from perfect for many, the majority of people report that their employers are helping to relieve a lot of their financial stress.
A Greater Focus on Personal Productivity and Resilience
All the current research reports an increased focus on personal productivity, well-being, and personal resilience. Surveyed employees in a study conducted by Willis Towers Watson reported their employers were offering support and patience as they try to balance remote work, young kids at home and the challenges of homeschooling all rolled into one.
On the topic of productivity, the jury is in on working at home. It is often more productive than coming into the office. In one study, only 21% of companies said it was holding them back, and many leaders made statements like “working at home is a new practice for us” and “we may shut down a lot of offices based on this transformation.”
“Work at Home” is Working Well.
Yes, it feels costly and disruptive at first, but as many studies show, flexible work at home gives people a feeling of agency, empowerment, and focus. The Willis study found that 79% of companies see a positive or neutral change in employee productivity, and only 21% said it went down. In other words, remote work was ALWAYS a good idea, and now for many companies, for some roles it’s probably here to stay.
Trust in Business Leaders Has Gone Up
95% of the respondents in the Willis Towers Watson survey believe senior leaders have demonstrated a sincere interest in employee wellbeing and 85% believe employees have trust and confidence in the job being done by senior execs.
Teams are coming together to listen to their people, talk, and work together on projects like never before. People are helping each other, asking each other how they’re doing, and listening more than ever.
The bottom line on this crisis is an important lesson in business: When the company takes care of its people, the people take care of the company.