Surveying 4,000 employees and business leaders across 11 nations, the Workforce Institute at UKG (Ultimate Kronos Group) found that only a fraction of employees (20 percent) felt their organisation met their needs during the initial months of COVID-19. Yet, 33 percent of the respondents say they trust their employer more now than before the pandemic began because of organisations’ initiated reaction towards the pandemic.
The Workforce Institute revealed that 45 percent of workers worldwide say overall cleanliness is a top concern going forward. Employees and business leaders are equally concerned with using shared common areas like lounges and restrooms (42 percent), as well as shared workspaces like conference rooms (37 percent). More than a third of all employees (35 percent) voice concern about passing through high-traffic areas, such as lifts, staircases, and waiting rooms.
Cleanliness and a healthy workplace are not the only things that employees are concerned about in the era of Covid-19. Having clean and healthy workplace in place without proper job security, flexibility, and work-life harmony is said to be fatuous. The biggest employee operational concern is balancing their workloads (42 percent) so they do not get burned out. However, over half (59 percent) workers say their organisation has taken at least some measures to guard against burnout, though 29 percent of employees wish organisations would act with more empathy.
Employers are also required to provide better assistance in terms of work from home initiative. Three in 10 employees and business leaders wish their organisation better leveraged technology to provide flexibility. Meanwhile, job security becomes a concern for all generations: Gen Z and younger Millennials (35 percent), older Millennials (37 percent). Gen Xers (36 percent), and Boomers (34 percent) are all equally worried.
Besides the issues above, Dr. Edward Ellison said that there might be a potential risk of employees experiencing post-traumatic stress disorder as a result of today’s horrifying experience. Many employees would question their employers, “Can you keep me safe and can you keep my family safe?” This question might lead to a bigger problem of burnout and mental health due to overthinking.
At this rate, learning from experience Dr. Ellison suggested leaders to take critical steps. First, leaders should be agile and nimble. Second, leaders should make sure their staff embrace good telemedicine/telehealth. And third, leaders should commit to interdependence and selflessness, a leaning-in and helping approach to the job each day. This would keep everyone on board in really good stead.
As mentioned on the Workforce Institute survey, the most common complaints were that employees wish their organisations had acted with more empathy for employees (31 percent) and communicated sooner and more openly (31 percent). This was followed with 28 percent wishing the response had been quicker.
Workplace expert Jennifer Moss also added that empathy is of importance to every workplace relationship. She refers to a famous golden rule: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you”, meaning leaders need to step outside of their own needs, assessing and removing bias and privilege, actively listening to people, and taking action. This might also require leaders to abandon old thinking for new approaches.
For instance, at the beginning of a pandemic, many leaders would ask their employees to spend hours on long video conferences and expect them to come back for an afternoon happy-hour or morning yoga. This approach was proven harmful instead of useful for both employee wellbeing and productivity. Thus, changing this approach to a more effective one is necessary, such as leading with empathy – the practice of seeing things from someone else’s perspective.