UK businesses are so far delivering on employee engagement in the current coronavirus pandemic, according to new research out today from idea management firm Wazoku.

86% of respondents say their organisation has provided enough technical information for them to work from home effectively, 70% say their employer has taken steps to ensure their mental health and well-being is addressed and 72% have been consulted about how best they can all approach home working during the crisis.

“Employee engagement is always an important part of business, but during the pandemic it is taking on a much more human importance,” said Simon Hill, CEO, Wazoku. “The technical side is actually pretty easy and it’s the one-to-one connections that really make a difference. A daily video call might be the only contact with another person that an employee has that day, so way beyond what employee engagement can do for general motivation and involvement, it also makes a huge difference to mental health and well-being.”

Keeping employees engaged throughout this crisis is one of the most important challenges that many businesses are facing. 80% of respondents believe the coronavirus crisis is the biggest challenge they have known in their working life, while 71% admit to feeling cut off from the wider workplace community.

This feeling of being cut off and a lack of collaboration when homeworking is characterised in some of the business issues cited by survey respondents as being most impacted by recent events. Beyond a full understanding of their day-to-day priorities, the areas of business most affected by people working from home were identified as internal collaboration around ideas (28%) and external collaboration around ideas (23%).

Yet businesses have also needed to focus on maintaining sales and keeping operations going throughout the crisis. With that in mind, many organisations have had discussions about whether the company should pivot or offer new products and service. 61% of respondents have been involved in that idea gathering process.

“Proactively involving employees in co-creation about the future direction of the business is hugely important,” continued Simon Hill. “They feel much more involved and are also well placed to discuss whether a particular pivot could work or not, given the nature of their roles. For example, more than half of our customers are running Covid-19 challenges which include many that are focused on the human needs through the pandemic.”

“While Zoom is a great platform in many ways, it’s not a tool for the effective discussion and development of the new ideas that are so important during this time. To really involve employees in pivoting discussions, they need both the tools and company culture that support such idea generation and discussion.”

UK businesses have mostly made great efforts to keep their employees engaged and motivated, in what is a challenging and difficult time for all concerned. While the c-suite has a host of other pressing issues that need addressing, firms have provided many measures to motivate their staff.

The top five were identified as follows: regular one-to-one calls (44%); specific best-practice tips and guidance on working from home (31%); daily company-wide video calls (28%); subscriptions to online video conferencing software, such as Zoom or Teams, (24%); and virtual team lunches (13%).

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