Crisis situations. They can make or break a relationship. In the same way, they can uncover an organisation’s strengths and weaknesses. The devastating impact of the global pandemic has done just that, allowing us to compare our pre and post-pandemic data to understand how organisations were doing before - and crucially, how they’re doing now.
Strong points pre-pandemic, in organisations across industries
Way back when things were ‘normal’, we looked at 2000+ organisations to understand how their employees feel about them. And there were three key areas that businesses excelled, across industries and the UK: role fit, empowerment, and collaboration.
‘Role fit’ refers to your people feeling they have the right skills for the job they have, and 78% on average felt this way. Another strong point was ‘empowerment’, with 76% saying they feel trusted to use their judgement to make decisions - so the majority of employees feel like they’re in the right job, and are allowed to be autonomous. 69% scored high for ‘collaboration’ too - important for company culture.
Weaknesses and room for improvement before the pandemic
It wasn’t all good news, though. Across the board, we identified several areas where organisations really need to pay some attention:
- Just 44% for ‘purpose’ (having meaningful, motivational goals)
- Just 46% for ‘tools’ (having the right equipment and processes in place
- Just 48% for ‘listening’ (making sure voices are heard, and feedback is given)
What can we take from this? These are all things that arguably relate to management - while it’s positive that people feel they’re in the right jobs and entrusted to do them, they don’t feel they have what they need from their managers to do them - from practical and emotional support, to motivation itself.
Supporting that is when asked “what do you tell your friends and family about work?”, the most common thing talked about was stress. And that doesn’t bode well with coronavirus on the horizon.
The impact of the pandemic on organisational performance
Coronavirus had a complicated effect on the workforce. While some have been made redundant or furloughed, key workers have been busier than ever. Add the sudden shift to remote working in some industries, and you’d expect to see some changes to how people perceive their organisations.
Tools: massive improvements across the board
Pre-pandemic, ‘tools’ was a big problem area. But in our research since the pandemic, we saw scores surge from just 46% to 89%. Though it’s not hard to understand why: to carry on doing business, it was essential to give workers the tools and process to do so remotely. And with 94% saying remote working tools were quickly put in place, that assumption is fair to make.
New challenges, and continuing problem areas
- Purpose: increasingly important during a crisis
With scores of just 44% for ‘purpose’ pre-pandemic, many organisations weren’t in an optimum position when coronavirus hit. Our data shows companies that score high for ‘purpose’ are 10.8x more likely to have good NPS, and 1.5x more likely to have higher profits. That’s resilience you need during a crisis.
- Listening: good communication is the key
Another low point before the pandemic, scoring just 48%, ‘listening’ became even more important. Again, those with high scores are likely to have 14.4x higher NPS and 4.6x. higher growth anyway - but during this uncertainty, we saw concerns about ‘absent’ leaders and the need for good communication from managers.
- Wellbeing: a lack of consideration for personal needs
New issues arose too. Unsurprisingly, in this time of added stress and health concerns, ‘wellbeing’ became a necessary focus. 15% said managers didn’t care about their wellbeing, and 16% said they didn’t consider their needs - which shows the importance of enabling line managers to support your people better.
- Care: specific needs from certain demographics
Another important consideration is ‘care’ - and specifically for the care you should show to certain most-affected groups. Parents, carers, and women from certain minority ethnic groups have been affected in different ways to others, with remote working taking a toll in a range of ways.
Key findings & recommendations
It’s not surprising to learn that your people need more support as a result of the crisis. But what our research has identified is how to prioritise action planning: listening and communication is key, alongside wellbeing and care - especially with consideration for differing experiences and needs.
Business leaders need to give managers the right tools to listen - creating a listening strategy that identifies an organisation’s next steps, and the best ways to support their people. And to listen strategically, our powerful language analysis technology can uncover the real areas for concern.
Strategic listening in action: insights you can build change on
Working closely with the Diversity Project to understand the differing responses to remote work in the savings and investment industry, we showed why strategic listening is such a powerful tool.
Together, we identified different preferences of different demographics:
- 74% of women wanted to continue working remotely when asked, and 55% of men felt the same
- Women also felt less safe when commuting - 61%, compared to 50% of men
- An even lower percentage (58%) of ethnic minority groups felt unsafe commuting
- Only 48% of ethnic minority group members felt needs were met, 8% less than white employees
Identifying what’s more important to certain groups is crucial for managers for them to adequately meet their employees’ needs - and our language technology shed even more light on this.
Analysing open-text feedback showed that while men cared most about ‘tools’ and ‘remote working’, women prioritised ‘collaboration’ and ‘communication. Similarly, while white people focused on ‘role fit’, those in ethnic minority groups cared about ‘communication’ and ‘tools’.
Bearing in mind the impact of remote working on those with childcare and other caring responsibilities, something we’ve touched on before, we also saw those with them prioritising ‘tools’ and ‘travel/commute’ concerns while those without thinking about ‘communication’ and ‘fun’.
This confirms what we already knew, but is easy to forget: there is no quick fix to solving an organisation’s problems. Your teams are made up of individuals with different needs, so what’s key is understanding what those are - and what actions you can take to support them. The good news? All you need to do is listen.