The pandemic brought a wave of changes in all parts of life, both personal and professional. Among these transformations were the opinions of employees regarding their employers; specifically of note: how much employers seemed to care about employees’ wellbeing.
A February 2022 survey conducted by Gallup found that in May of 2020, the number of people who agreed that their employer genuinely cared for their wellbeing skyrocketed to 49% from the previous decade’s low numbers ranging from 21 to 29%. However, with many workers now returning to the office model, that perception has shifted once again—the percentage of employees who believe their organization cares about them has shot back down to levels not seen in several years.
These figures show that the pandemic has changed work and employee expectations forever.
Here are a few reasons why.
Remote Work Offered Flexibility
The pandemic blended home and work in a new way. It offered what some considered an opportunity for a needed change in how we see work, and many employees have come to value the flexibility and autonomy offered by hybrid or remote models.
During the pandemic, employees found themselves more in charge of their own work. With effective online communication and less in-person oversight, employees became accustomed to creating working methods that fit their unique needs.
Even in the very beginning of the pandemic in January of 2020, Gallup found that this flexibility encouraged employee engagement, a driving factor in performance.
A New Relationship With Leadership
Another change catalyzed by the pandemic was the relationship between employees and management.
With impromptu drop-ins no longer a viable means of managing performance, managers found alternatives for meeting with employees. As a result, reviews and brief digital meetings with a more casual tone became the norm for many companies, allowing employees to relate to leadership in a more meaningful way.
However, this meant that management needed creative tools to maintain this communication while preventing exhaustion and the meeting fatigue associated with remote work.
Tools like Docket, a meeting organization and productivity platform that enhances work collaboration, proved invaluable during the pandemic and continue to positively impact the professional world even as things slowly return to normal.
How to Move Forward
Whether employees return to the office or remain in their hybrid or remote roles, the influence of the pandemic is here to stay. Higher employee expectations of how management communicates and understands their unique personal situations mean that employers will need to continue to shift their models to adapt.
Caring about employee wellbeing isn’t only good for employees—it’s also good for organizations. The same Gallup survey report mentioned above found that employees whose wellbeing is prioritized are “69% less likely to actively search for a new job” and “five times more likely to strongly advocate for their company.”
The new focus on employee wellbeing is reflected in many new workplace policies. In an interview with Forbes, Rose Gailey, who leads Organization Acceleration at Heidrick & Struggles, said, “leaders are recognizing that every employee’s situation is unique and requires flexibility and understanding to make way for them to perform at their best.”