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Employee Engagement

Employers are more optimistic about the future of work than their employees according to research by Employment Law, HR and Health & Safety specialist WorkNest.

Almost half of businesses (45%) predict that staff motivation and performance will increase post-pandemic. However, a third (31%) of employees expect a decline.

Similarly, 44% of businesses believe staff happiness and engagement will increase, whereas 32% of employees feel it will decrease.

42% of employers predict that trust between management and employees will increase, while just 28% of employees agree. In fact, 38% of employees expect the opposite.

The Mind the Gap research, based on a survey of over 490 employers and 1,000 employees, also suggests that businesses are overestimating how well they have handled the last 18 months and the subsequent impact on staff retention.

Two-thirds (64%) believe staff are now more loyal to their company; in reality, a more modest 48% of employees say they are more likely to remain with their employer long-term. 23% say they feel less loyal as a consequence of their employer’s COVID response.

Annabelle Carey, Head of Organisation Development Services at WorkNest HR and a specialist in change management, said: “These figures show a significant disconnect between bosses and workers. With staffing already a critical issue in most sectors, the fact that a quarter of employees feel less loyal now shows the need for urgent action.

“It’s vital that employers large and small put plans in place to restore and strengthen relationships. The new year presents the perfect opportunity to reset expectations and invest in people.”

Concerningly, 19% of employees said they wouldn’t tell their manager if they had an issue with something at work. 10% said they would be more likely to bypass their manager and go straight to HR or the most senior leader. Others who wouldn’t go to their manager said they would take matters into their own hands through potential legal action, sit on an issue and never raise it, or complain to a colleague about it.

Disconnect in perception of managers’ abilities

Across the board, employers are more confident than employees in their managers’ ability to respond to and resolve issues. This includes dealing with sickness and absence, flexible working requests, mental health, and bullying, harassment and discrimination.

However, performance management emerged as the area where there is the greatest gap in confidence. 54% of employers are confident about their managers’ ability to manage performance-related matters, versus just 38% of employees.

Donna Gibb, Head of Client Services at WorkNest HR, commented: “These are complex times. People managers need to be better equipped and feel confident in their ability to deal with a wider range of issues. Communication is key. This must include clear processes within businesses so that both employee and employer concerns can be addressed quickly. Investing in the development of your managers and building support structures will aid early intervention, speedy resolutions and enhance the overall performance of teams.”

Future challenges

Employer and employee were on similar – but not identical – pages when it comes to predicting businesses’ biggest challenges post-pandemic.

Both believe that keeping all staff happy and ensuring those working from home feel included and involved will be amongst the top three biggest obstacles for employers to overcome. However, employees forecast that increased staff turnover will be businesses’ second biggest problem, while business decision makers said managing the increased focus on health and safety will be a larger issue.

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