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An Unexpected Effect of the Pandemic – Improved Employee Experience?

August 28, 2020

By Heather Nezich, courtesy of SBAM Approved Partner ASE

According to a second pulse survey by KPMG LLP, 79% of U.S. workers from organizations with more than 1,000 employees indicate that over the last four months, the quality of their work has improved, 70% say that their productivity has increased, and 67% indicate their work-life balance has improved. 84% are satisfied with their employer’s response to the pandemic.

Remote workers express high levels of satisfaction and engagement. According to 91% of workers who work remotely at least part of the time, technologies have been provided to help them successfully do their job, and more than half of those remote workers (55%) want the flexibility to continue working remotely at least part of the time.

Additionally, three-quarters or more of remote workers indicated that their organization made them feel valued over the past four months (78%); desire to stay at their current organization increased (78%); and commitment to their organizations increased (78%). However, one-third (34%) of those workers indicated that their relationships with co-workers have worsened – a reminder to employers to find new ways for employees to connect on a personal level.

“Companies worldwide enabled remote workforces nearly overnight, and what started as an extraordinary pilot is now considered permanent in many organizations’ operating models,” said Joe Parente, KPMG’s Consulting leader. “As a result, there should be a new focus on improving employee connectivity, better understanding what drives positive worker experiences and overall, reshaping and rethinking how work gets done.”

Job Demands and Mental Health

On a less positive note, workers indicate struggling with job demands and mental health. 83% of on-site workers reported that the demands of their jobs have increased over the past four months, compared to 74% of remote workers.  54% of on-site workers indicated that their mental health has decreased, compared to 45% of remote workers.  On-site workers are likely in roles considered to be essential, which could lead to the higher stress levels.

While many workers report improved experiences, the survey uncovered that there is more to be done to support them, with the overall respondent pool indicating that the following has worsened:

  • Happiness at work (41%)
  • Culture (35%)
  • Their team’s ability to collaborate (35%)

“Job demands may be influencing the quality of employees’ mental health as they struggle to keep up with expectations of them at work and at home, and other factors that have come up in this new reality,” added Massman. “Employers that address these head on, such as offering them support resources and acknowledging their value to the organization, will in turn create opportunities for productivity and collaboration.”

Racial Inequality in the Workplace

81% of workers whose employers issued a response to social and political events surrounding racial inequality expressed satisfaction with it. Survey respondents also indicated that they are encouraged to stand up for what is right (76%) and that their employer has a clear plan to address workplace inequality (71%). Still, from a list of eight actions organizations might have taken, only two emerged as being taken by more than a third of respondents:

  • Making a commitment to address racial inequality (37%)
  • Encouraging conversation surrounding racial inequality (34%)

“Promoting – and living – diversity and inclusion isn’t just the right thing for businesses to do, it’s the smart thing. It provides companies with greater access to a diverse range of thinking and contribute to higher levels of employee engagement,” said Massman. “Employers need to embed commitment to and accountability for diversity and inclusion across the enterprise, including crafting a sustainable, long-term strategy for equitable access to employment and promotion opportunities for a diverse community of people.”

Employers should maintain a pulse on the employee sentiment during this time and make efforts to find new ways of collaboration and personal connection among employees.

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