Employee engagement levels may have actually improved during the COVID-19 pandemic. That is the key finding of a recent survey undertaken by intermediary Howden Employee Benefits & Wellbeing.
The research suggests than more than half (52%) of all the employers questioned believed that employee engagement within their organisation had either improved slightly (36%) or significantly (16%) during one of the most difficult business environments in living memory. Fewer than one in three employers (29%) thought that engagement had worsened during the same period.
Steve Herbert, Head of Benefits Strategy at Howden, said: “Employee Engagement is often a very difficult area to measure accurately, yet is a pivotal factor in maintaining and indeed improving output and productivity for employers in all sectors. So it is particularly pleasing that engagement levels appear to have improved over the last few months, and that can only be a positive for UK employers as they face the dual challenges and uncertainties of a continuing pandemic and a new trading relationship with the European Union.”
Howden points out that those employers that have been able to protect jobs and/or maintain salary levels throughout the crisis are likely to be seen in a far more positive light by their employees. And the survey also revealed that almost half of all employers questioned (47%) had seen no evidence of increased financial worries amongst their workforce since the beginning of the pandemic.
Steve Herbert however urged caution with this last finding, and continued: “The truth is that the pandemic has been a story of financial winners and losers. Many employees have effectively become enforced savers during the months of lockdown and are now significantly better-off than before the crisis.
Yet the flip-side of that issue is that there are now millions of employees who have been existing on reduced salary for the best part of a year, and many more whose wider household income has dropped owing to a reduced income from a partner or family member. Employers are sometimes unaware of such concerns, yet financial stress is potentially damaging to health and wellbeing, relationships (both in and outside of work), and can also impact worker productivity too.”
Howden urges many more employers to support their workers with Financial Wellbeing initiatives during and beyond the current crisis and points out that such support is low cost/high impact offering. From sign-posting government services and promoting their employee assistance programme (EAP) to utilising the tools and content from their pension provider and delivering webinars and videos on top tips for coping with financial pressures, employers can reach everyone, even those working at home or currently on furlough.
Steve Herbert, concluded: “It is really great news that employee engagement levels are remaining resilient during this unprecedented crisis, but employers need to stay alert to signs of financial stress amongst their workers. So we would strongly encourage many more organisations to both regularly measure their employee engagement levels and promote Financial Wellbeing and Employee Benefits offerings to provide practical support as and when required.”