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April 23, 2020 | 3-minute read (502 words)
Although most companies don’t currently have the opportunity to engage with staff members on a face-to-face basis, the number of employees who are satisfied and engaged is actually on the rise.
That’s the word from a new study released by The Institute for Public Relations and Peppercomm. To create the survey, the organizations polled 403 communication executives and senior leaders during the week of April 6 to April 12.
Engagement, Trust on the Upswing
The study found that employee engagement increased 63 percent during the coronavirus pandemic. At the same time, employee trust rose 49 percent and collaboration among employees was up 58 percent. Although this may come as a surprise to many people, it shouldn't be totally unexpected, said Kay Sargent, director of Global WorkPlace Practice at HOK.
“Regarding the increases in trust, collaboration and engagement, we are in a crisis and most people are trying their hardest to do the right thing,” Sargent said in the report. “There is also a feeling of comradery, and a sense that ‘we are in this together.’”
Another reason the communication professionals are feeling quite positive could be attributed to the fact that their employers are tapping them to connect both internally and externally. Eight out of 10 survey respondents said they are heavily involved with internal communications regarding the coronavirus crisis response.
When it came to modes of communication among internal staff members, the respondents cited the following:
- Emails: 99 percent
- Communication via supervisor/managers: 91 percent
- One-on-one check-ins: 85 percent
The topics being communicated vary from safety guidelines (84 percent) and coronavirus updates (79 percent) to new organizational policies (75 percent) and work-from-home tips (74 percent), the survey respondents noted.
Execs Foresee Changes to Work Environment
When it comes to the changing landscape of working conditions, about 42 percent of survey respondents have started planning for what happens when employees who are currently working remotely end up returning to the office. Some 10 percent of those polled have done “extensive planning” in this regard.
Of those who have started creating those plans, 27 percent said they are planning for a phased or gradual return of their employees to the workplace after the pandemic ends. The following are some possible options for how this might look:
- More work-from-home opportunities and flexibility
- Increasing employee physical distancing
- Consolidating desk ownership so team members can work from home more often
- Closing shared spaces, creating physical barriers, adding longer communal tables
- Contactless meetings
- Banning handshakes
- Reducing business travel
“With an eye on the health, safety and welfare of their teams, and the need for distancing in mind, many businesses are likely to rethink their real estate and workplace strategies,” said Betsy Nurse, director of interiors for HOK Atlanta, in the report. “At the same time, it’s important to understand the realities of the situation and the viable actions we can take now to ensure the workplace is productive and safe.”
Resource: To read the entire report, visit the Institute for Public Relations’ website.