Twelve months of the COVID-19 pandemic has seen us arrive at an inflection point. So much has changed, and the majority of us are still dealing with disruption caused by the pandemic on a daily basis.
But amidst the disruption, there is clear opportunity.
To get a sense of how employees are coping at present – and to discover what needs to happen for them to succeed beyond the pandemic – we surveyed over 2,700 full-time, part-time, or furloughed employees in UK, France, and Germany, for our 2021 Employee Experience Imperative Report.
Here are three core themes we learned from the research:
1. C-Suite driven resilience is essential
Many businesses are performing incredibly well given everything 2020 and 2021 have thrown at them so far.
Most employees have managed the transition to remote working well, and employers have succeeded at putting the right measures in place to guarantee safety during the pandemic. 78% of those we surveyed agreed their businesses had demonstrated a clear commitment to safety during the pandemic, while 65% agree they received support from a manager or direct supervisor.
Of course, that doesn’t mean it hasn’t been taxing. Life after lockdown is putting a strain on us employees, and, a year in, we’re hitting a point of crisis fatigue, with health and wellbeing under significant strain from restrictions and pressures in our personal and professional lives.
And according to 51% of those we spoke to, businesses aren't taking enough steps to help employees manage the stress of working remotely.
With the pandemic impact set to continue for some time yet, its vital businesses help deal with the long-term health and wellbeing needs of their employees.
There is a clear role for the C-suite to play in doing so as they have the power to drive comprehensive, top-down change. It’s up to them to push for an approach that strengthens cohesion, connection, and resilience for their employees in our organisations.
But how exactly do we define that approach?
2. Employee experience must be front and centre
Employee opinion should be the litmus test that guides business leader thinking, and the view of the employees we surveyed is clear.
We’ve all had to be flexible over the past year, whether it’s working in a new place, managing childcare alongside a full-time job, or adapting our regular hours to get some peace and quiet.
Throughout this experience, home working has clearly suited many: 64% of respondents indicate a preference towards some amount of remote work. And, despite some fears, productivity is high – 70% of those surveyed said their organisation’s digital collaboration and communication tools have allowed them to stay productive.
And yet working entirely from home has its downsides, not least the fact that collaboration has suffered. 43% of employees say losing in-person interactions will erode their ability to contribute at work.
Considering these figures, it’s clear that what’s needed is a hybrid approach. Work can’t go back to being entirely in the office, but it can’t go entirely remote either.
Making that hybrid approach work will mean making the most of the positives and course-correcting the negatives of remote working – putting in place the right tools and processes that support employees and allow them to work as safely & effectively as possible, wherever they are. (My last blog shared further thoughts on this.)
3. Now is the perfect time to act
For many organisations, this is not a burden, but a tremendous opportunity.
With 60% of employees agreeing COVID-19 will have a significant impact on their work experience for years to come, there is at present the space, need, and desire for top-to-bottom digital transformation.
Opportunities like this don’t come along very often. But we won’t make the most of it unless we’re willing to think differently and accompany that thinking with action, putting in place the right tools to realise and execute vision.
Digital Employee Workflows can deliver here – streamlining service delivery requirements across different departments, eliminating inefficiencies, and helping to reduce employee workload burnout. With ServiceNow, these are inherently flexible, accessible anywhere, anytime, and offer one single view of data. That guarantees one point of truth for everyone in the business – and offers a solid foundation for future progress.
Resilience and flexibility will lead to opportunity
Unlocking the opportunities of the future will require organisations to be resilient and flexible, and our research highlights that employees demand both too. And getting there means ensuring your business has the right digital tools for the job.
To help you respond to the challenges of today and tomorrow, offering advice on how to get your business ready, why not watch all the insights from the UK&I Future of Work event?
Among other industry and topic experts, you’ll hear from HR Service leaders like Nathalie O'Neill, Global Employee Services Lead & Process Owner at Kerry Group, and Mairead Coughlan, Senior HR Shared Services Director at Dell Technologies as they share on their employee experience journey in the session - “It's not remote vs. return – it’s an entirely new way of working"
Watch our Future of Work digital conference and discover how technology is shaping the future of work in the UK & Ireland.