You might think that with unemployment at an all-time high and many budgets slashed that employee engagement would be at an all-time low. What if I told you that the reverse is true? We have seen improvements across the board and increases as high as 96%. We have seen 86% of organizations with improvement, validating that it is not just a few organizations pulling up the averages.
As COVID-19 forced most workforces to rapidly transition to remote work, HR teams have been working flat out to support the organization and employees to navigate the seismic changes to the work environment. Our recent pandemic research survey found that maintaining employee engagement was currently one of the top three challenges for managing the workforce at this time compared to “business as usual.”
To understand changes to engagement during this time, we turned to our Employee Experience Monitor (EXM) data, which is consistently measured on a monthly basis by organizations using the platform. This tool uses the employee net promoter score (eNPS) metric and asks employees to rate their likeliness to recommend the organization to a qualified friend or family member. We looked at both the difference in data from April 2020 over April 2019 and the difference from April 2020 over February 2020, and we saw big increases at the aggregate level. The metric is on a scale of -100 to +100, and in the April-over-April comparison we saw an average eNPS increase of 16.1 points, which represents an 80% score improvement. April-over-February showed an average increase of 15.6 points and a 96% score improvement. We also looked at the May results, and there was no significant difference from April 2020 to May 2020.
Next we turned to our Pandemic Engagement Pulse Check (PEP Check) data, and for the 11 questions in the PEP Check that are also in our full Engagement Survey, the average score was 73.4% pre-COVID. The average score for those same questions in the PEP Check was 83.5%, over 10% higher. What was even more impressive though is that every single question scored higher on average during the COVID-19 period. Every. Single. Question.
We also looked specifically at organizations for which we had both full Engagement Survey and PEP Check data, and 86% of those organizations had higher engagement scores with the PEP Check.
Examining the Top Two Drivers of Higher Scores
Two questions stood out at the top, with scores nearly 20% higher in the PEP Check, and they were:
- I have all the tools I need to do a great job.
- I understand the rationale behind most of the business decisions made by the members of the executive leadership team.
The first one can be attributed to the fact that many organizations dramatically accelerated their digital transformation efforts and equipped staff in record time with the technology and equipment to work effectively in a remote capacity. Our sentiment analysis revealed positive comments about how quickly and smoothly everyone was able to transition to work from home, how the IT department did an excellent job of providing everyone with the tools they needed, and how employees were also provided with a lot of technical support during this time if they faced any challenges from their home.
Scores for the second question have increased because many leaders are now being much more deliberate and intentional with their employee communication efforts. Senior leaders are much more active with town halls and focus groups than ever before. We have seen many positive comments about how senior leadership is prioritizing and ensuring safety around the decisions they are making, and a significant number of respondents indicated an appreciation for hearing from the CEO directly on a more regular basis. The more frequent communication and openness to feedback and dialogue has been appreciated.
Will these higher scores continue? Will leaders continue the high level of communication? How will organizations that transitioned to work from home handle the transition back to the workplace? We will continue to monitor the results month-over-month and share with you what we are finding. One thing is clear – the workforce has forever changed, and so has the way that we approach employee engagement. Perhaps 2020 is the year we see real, meaningful change.
What is the current state of engagement at your organization and how do your employees feel about your pandemic response?
All Sources: McLean & Company
About McLean & Company
McLean & Company’s mandate is to support HR teams, so in addition to our COVID-19 Resource Center, we also offer a Pandemic Engagement Pulse Check (or PEP Check for short). The PEP Check is a quick measure of current engagement and satisfaction with the most essential drivers during a crisis – communication, empowerment, relationships with leaders, and overall perception of how the organization is managing through the pandemic.
Organizations that have leveraged the PEP Check are able to reinforce with their staff that they still care about their engagement at this time, and the survey helps them identify what they are doing well and what has not hit the mark. A lot of change has happened in a very short time, and it’s critical to understand what has been meaningful and where tweaks need to be made. Organizations need a strong pandemic response, and communication, change management, and employee engagement are all important parts of that response.
We have also recently evolved the list of questions to gauge employees’ opinions and concerns about returning to the workplace. So far, survey feedback indicates employees have concerns about moving too quickly and risking their safety. No organization can claim they are an expert in pandemic response, and while the situation remains fluid, employees can provide feedback on situations HR and leadership may not have anticipated.
Interested in the Pandemic Engagement Pulse Check or want information on McLean & Company’s products and services? Please contact Brad Markis: firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Jennifer Rozon