Nearly six weeks of lockdown has failed to make a dent in employee engagement, with many employers reporting that engagement levels have gone up since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, according to research from employment specialists XpertHR.
A survey of 264 HR professionals conducted over a 24-hour period to Thursday of this week found that:
- One in three (32.2%) thought employee engagement was now higher than it was before the pandemic;
- Half (49.2%) thought there had been no change; and
- Fewer than one in five (18.6%) thought employee engagement had fallen.
Just one in five HR professionals (20.8%) now say that all or almost all of their work is driven by the crisis – less than half the number (42.8%) saying this was the case in XpertHR’s first survey in this series on 2 April, and down from one in three (32.2%) on 16 April.
This reflects the end of the scramble facing many employers to furlough staff, send others home to work and make extensive arrangements to improve health and safety when the lockdown was first announced.
Since then, HR has led the way engaging employees, with widespread initiatives to:
- Provide regular business updates and messages from senior management;
- Issue wellbeing and mental health guidance to those stuck at home;
- Offer practical tips on homeworking; and
- Organise virtual social activities.
- 21.2% said excellent;
- 57.6% said good;
- 18.9% said fair;
- 1.5% said poor; and
- 15.4% said very poor.
- Saying thank-you – recognising employees through public “shout-outs”, mentions in CEO newsletters and directly by letter and in e-cards;
- Introducing a home working allowance – to ensure employees are not out of pocket with the move out of the office;
- Increase continued professional development – one of the permitted activities for those employees who have been furloughed;
- Asking employees how the organisation is doing – to discover whether or not it is doing the right thing and to show that the organisation is listening; and
- Sending a gift – including chocolate, flowers and “cream tea hampers”.
Despite this, many HR professionals continue to report that they are struggling with inconsistent and changing government guidance, unrealistic expectations from within their own organisations, and the need to balance their own work and home lives.
As one survey respondent put it: “HR is having a nervous breakdown due to the absence of the crystal ball everyone thinks it possesses.”