Employee engagement up, say HR experts

A survey shows a third of HR experts say employee engagement is up since the pandemic began, though many of the experts report continuing stress around government guidance, work life balance issues and unrealistic expectations from employers.

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Around a third HR experts report that engagement levels have gone up since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, according to research from employment specialists XpertHR.

Nevertheless, HR experts report that they themselves are facing continuing stress due to changing and unclear government guidance, unrealistic expectations set by some employers and work life balance issues.

The survey of 264 HR professionals found that:

  • One in three (32.2%) thought employee engagement was now higher than it was before the pandemic;
  • Half (49.2%) thought there had been no change; and
  • Fewer than one in five (18.6%) thought employee engagement had fallen.

Crisis management

The survey also found just one in five HR professionals (20.8%) now say that all or almost all of their work is driven by the crisis – less than half the number (42.8%) saying this was the case in XpertHR’s first pandemic-related survey on 2nd April, and down from one in three (32.2%) on 16th April.

Since then, XpertHR says HR has been focusing on engaging employees, with widespread initiatives to provide regular business updates and messages from senior management; Issue wellbeing and mental health guidance to those stuck at home; offer practical tips on homeworking; and organise virtual social activities.

Employee engagement

Asked how they would describe current levels of employee engagement in their organisations today:

  • 21.2% said excellent;
  • 57.6% said good;
  • 18.9% said fair;
  • 1.5% said poor; and
  • 15.4% said very poor.

The survey found that HR professionals were working hard to promote engagement and recognise employees’ efforts as the lockdown continues. Approaches cited by participants in the research include:

  • Saying thank-you – recognising employees through public “shout-outs”, mentions in CEO newsletters and directly by letter and in e-cards;
  • Introducing a home working allowance – to ensure employees are not out of pocket with the move out of the office;
  • Increase continued professional development – one of the permitted activities for those employees who have been furloughed;
  • Asking employees how the organisation is doing – to discover whether or not it is doing the right thing and to show that the organisation is listening; and
  • Sending a gift – including chocolate, flowers and “cream tea hampers”.

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