More than half of Australian workers (55 per cent) expect their industry will change for the better after COVID-19 due to the changes being implemented in response to the pandemic, according to new research released today from Qualtrics.
This is one of the key findings from Qualtrics’ Work Different study, which draws upon insights from more than 1,000 Australians to provide a comprehensive scorecard into how people rate their employer’s response over the last 6 months, what work routines employees want once the pandemic eases, and what shifts in workplace policies they expect of their employers.
Key findings included:
· 58 per cent of respondents rated the way their employee responded to the pandemic as “above average”
· A third (34 per cent) of respondents said their employee experience has improved during the pandemic
· The top actions workers want to see are more flexible work schedules (51 per cent) and a higher focus on personal hygiene (47per cent)
· 78 per cent of workers think it’s very important their employers listen to their feedback during a crisis
With more than four million Australians currently working from home, a third (34 per cent) of respondents said their employee experience has improved during the pandemic, while half said it has remained the same. The most effective actions employers have taken to make their teams feel more valued throughout this period have been more workplace flexibility (37 per cent), gratitude from direct managers (21 per cent), executives (18 per cent), and customers (17 per cent).
“As a result of their employers’ quick thinking and actions, the majority of workers across Australia currently feel a lot more valued (47 per cent) at their company, and a lot more proud (54 per cent) to work for them. This is in part down to the human centred approach many adopted when the pandemic hit using solutions like the free Qualtrics Remote + On-site work pulse, which has supported 55,000 projects globally,” said Steve Bennetts, Head of Employee Experience for Qualtrics in APJ.
“While many have made steps in the right direction, businesses cannot afford to take their foot off the gas. Employees want to be listened to, and there is more change on the road ahead as people return and industries adapt. To ensure they continue to successfully move forward businesses need to formalise the human-centred approach adopted with employees,” added Bennetts.
How to work different
As businesses continue to plan and manage their return to the workplace, the Qualtrics study gives insight into what measures they want to see, and what actions they expect their employer to take.
For 74 per cent of Australians, it’s important their employer asks them what action they want to see taken to make them feel confident about returning. The top actions workers want to see are more flexible work schedules (51 per cent), higher focus on personal hygiene (47 per cent) and office hygiene (42 per cent), greater focus on employee mental health (42 per cent), and being able to choose their work location (27 per cent).
These employee preferences closely align with the top actions they expect their employer will prioritise – higher focus on personal hygiene (58 per cent) and office hygiene (49 per cent), more flexible work schedules (48 per cent), greater focus on employee mental health (32 per cent), and improved digital communications (25 per cent).
“While employees can agree prioritising safety and hygiene is essential moving forward, there is a slight gap between the actions they want to see, and which they expect to see outside of this. Australians want to see their employers continue to focus on offering more workplace flexibility – such as less time spent commuting, and wearing more comfortable clothing to work – but they expect their employer to focus on digital transformation and finding ways to do more with less.
“While there is so much talk of when things will go back to normal or how we’ll come to terms with the “new normal,” those conversations are fundamentally missing the point, and missing an important opportunity to come back better, stronger, and more inclusive than ever. We’ve witnessed how changing the way you listen to and engage employees can have a positive effect, which is why those who make lasting changes now will have a key advantage in the future – from attracting and retaining talent through to improved loyalty and productivity,” added Bennetts.
The importance of feedback
The study reveals more than three quarters (78 per cent) of workers think it’s very important their employers listen to their feedback during a crisis. However, only half of workers in Australia say their employer has listened and acted on feedback more during the pandemic.
“With situations continuing to change very quickly, being able to listen to and deliver what your employees want is a key advantage in ensuring they feel safe and supported. Longer-term, employee expectations have been changed forever by the pandemic, requiring a shift in the way businesses have traditionally managed engagement. It’s now business critical that businesses have real-time insights into the things that matter most, and the skills and leadership to act on them effectively,” said Bennetts.
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