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Employees feel more disengaged during pandemic, Aviva study finds

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Employees are becoming not just physically remote but increasingly emotionally remote too, according to a new report.


Research of 2,000 UK employees working in organisations with over 1,000 employees was conducted for Aviva’s report Embracing the Age of Ambiguity.  Employees were approached in February 2020 and the work was repeated in August 2020.

While 54 per cent of employees agree that their employer has tried to create a sense of ‘company togetherness’, such as by communicating future working arrangements (60 per cent of employees agree), efforts are having a limited impact.

Only 15 per cent agree that their employer is trying really hard to understand what motivates them. Photograph: iStock

Only 15 per cent agree that their employer is trying really hard to understand what motivates them and less than half of employees (42 per cent) believe their goals and objectives are clear.

Employee drift

This is causing what the authors are calling ‘employee drift’.

Writing in the report’s forward, Professor Cary Cooper, founding director at wellbeing consultancy Robertson Cooper, said: “Whilst employee engagement was already under threat to some degree before the pandemic, an extended period of uncertainty has seeded profound changes: to how and where (and sometimes whether) we work; to what we fundamentally want from work as employees; to the connection and commitment we have to our employer. We’ve all had to adjust to a new reality.”

He says there is a need for organisations to adopt a more personalised approach, one that recognises that people all respond to pressure in different ways. “Knowledge is growing in this area,” he wrote.  

Research also reveals that 43 per cent of employees describe their wellbeing as being less than good and 84 per cent say that they would carry on working even if they felt unwell.

In contrast, just a quarter agree their employer is genuinely concerned about their wellbeing (26 per cent).

More than half (52 per cent) of UK employees agree that the boundaries between their work and home life are becoming increasingly blurred.

Actions for employers to address the issue, include to create a sense of purpose and clarity for workers (more than one quarter or 27 per cent disagree that their job goals are clear) and to consider targeting mental health or wellbeing interventions to personality types.

“There is a strong argument against a one-size-fits-all approach to supporting, managing and motivating employees. Instead, a personalised approach is required,” says the report.

The report was issued in November 2020, and research was carried out on behalf of Aviva by Quadrangle.    

Read the report here

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