Employee engagement levels lower compared to 2008 financial crisis

COVID-19 has hit employee engagement levels worse than the financial crisis of 2008.

This is according to research conducted by Toluna and Harris Interactive, two providers of consumer intelligence.

Vijay Mistry, head of employee experience research for Harris Interactive and Toluna said:

Employee engagement has taken a major hit as a result of the pandemic, even more so than the financial crisis of 2008.  It could be some time before organisations see employee engagement bounce back to pre-pandemic levels. It’s critical for organisations to keep an ear to the ground and understand shifting sentiment so they can swiftly take action to support their workforce. Engagement enhances business performance and competitive advantage, so rallying employees is paramount to survival today and success in the future as the landscape begins to normalize.

However, just under half (46 per cent) of UK employees believe the normal pace of work will return within two months once they return to the office. As well as more than half (57 per cent) being either enthusiastic or relieved about the thought of returning to their normal working arrangements.

Over a third (35 per cent) find the current situation of remote working to lead them to be less productive, despite 44 per cent of workers stating their workload is less compared to normal. Only 5 per cent of staff feel their workload is more than usual.

Over two-thirds (67 per cent) believe once the COVID-19 pandemic passes, workplaces’ hygiene and cleanliness will improve. The majority (51 per cent) believe working hours will become more flexible and 47 per cent expect to see improvements around home working arrangements, enabled by the increased use of online collaboration tools.

Mr Mistry said:

Businesses have made excuses for years to limit people from working remotely, despite increasing employee calls for flexibility. The excuse of impossibility will no longer hold up. Employees are not only comfortable working remotely but have demonstrated they can be just as productive at home. As a result, increased flexibility will be an inevitable expectation that employers will have to manage when work-life starts to return to normal.

In order to gather these results, Toluna and Harris Interactive spoke to 607 UK employees.