While UK HR teams have successfully kept employee engagement high during lockdown, three-quarters (76%) believe that their listening and feedback strategies won’t help them meet growing workplace challenges moving forward. In research commissioned by experience management technology company Questback54% highlighted the current speed of collecting employee feedback as an issue, with 52% saying they needed to be able to share insights more quickly.
The COVID-19 crisis transformed the workplace, with 98% of companies taking action in response to lockdowns. For example, 70% adopted remote working with nearly half (49%) reducing employee hours and 61% furloughing staff. Nearly 9 in 10 respondents (86%) recognised the importance of employee engagement during lockdown, putting in place a range of strategies including regular business updates (70%) and wellbeing/mental health guidance (68%).
As evidenced in the research e-book, the approach clearly worked – with 60% saying engagement was excellent or good and 35% believing it had improved since before the crisis. However, tactics relied heavily on one-way communication (such as thorough briefings from senior leaders and advice on home working) – only 43% said they provided frequent opportunities for staff to provide feedback.
As HR moves back to business as usual, top-down methods of listening to staff feedback will no longer be enough given the scale and range of challenges that organisations face. Of 12 key priorities for 2020, at least half of respondents said every one was either absolutely essential or very important. The highest priority was employee wellbeing (84%), which was followed closely by the likes of health and safety (83%), change management (77%) and diversity & inclusion (75%). Even the challenge seen as of least significance – talent attraction – was rated as of little/no importance by just 12% of respondents.
“The pandemic transformed UK working practices overnight, putting the spotlight on HR teams as they supported a rapid move to home working and a focus on employee wellbeing,” says Kate Pritchard, Head of Leadership and Engagement, Questback. “Thanks to their efforts the majority of organisations were able to make the switch and operate effectively. However, as we move to a new normal, with a hybrid model of staff based in and out of the office, existing feedback and engagement methods need to change. Businesses and HR teams face significant challenges – only by embracing continuous listening and fast action will they be able to successfully move forward.”
Currently three-quarters (74%) of businesses use team meetings to collect feedback from employees, with 54% running annual/bi-annual surveys. These resource-intensive methods don’t deliver the full picture. Just 30% used continuous listening as part of their strategy, making it the least popular feedback method, despite its benefits in terms of speed and simplicity.
Other key findings from the research included:
- Engagement was highest in the largest companies with 10,000+ people, who were also the most likely to feel it had improved during the crisis
- As well as speed of collecting/sharing insight, HR teams also felt better analysis of data (cited by 43%) and employee comments (42%) would improve their listening strategy
- 37% used WhatsApp and groups on other social media platforms to gain feedback from employees
A full e-book on the research findings, including best practice recommendations for HR teams is available for download from https://www.questback.com/uk/resources/whitepaper/focusing-on-the-employee-voice-to-thrive-in-the-new-normal/
About the research
HR professionals from over 100 UK organisations across a wide variety of industry sectors were surveyed in June 2020. All participating organisations employed at least 2,000 people.