55% OF EMPLOYEES SAY COVID-19 NEGATIVELY IMPACTED WORKFORCE HEALTH


 More than half of employees, 55%, say Covid-19 has negatively impacted workforce health, according to a survey of more than 20,000 employees by Gartner Inc. The survey measured changes in workforce health that include work-life balance, psychological safety, burnout, collaboration, innovation, and responsiveness.

“Many leaders have looked at productivity to gauge how employees have done during the pandemic,” said Molly Tipps, senior director, advisor, in the Gartner HR practice. “While HR leaders and employees report that productivity has maintained or improved since the onset of Covid-19, the cost has been substantial declines across many workforce health elements.”

Among the survey’s findings:

  • 85% of employees have experienced higher levels of burnout while 40% report declines in their work-life balance.
  • 41% of employees reported having lower trust in their teams and 37% having lower trust in leadership.
  • 29% of employees have a lower level of change receptivity and 31% experienced a lower level of inclusion.

Gartner noted there was a trend of “thriving and diving” with some workers doing well and others not so much, indicating that just following the average can lead to misunderstanding the state of the workforce. It found 30% of employees experienced limited or no change to their psychological safety while 34% experienced a decline. And another 36% reported improvement in psychological safety.

Added employee benefits and recognizing employees for their work seemed to have little impact on workforce resilience, according to Gartner. Business leaders also offered more autonomy to employees, believing it would improve health by speeding decisions and reducing frustrations, but this came with a caveat. “While autonomy can have a positive impact on key elements of workforce health, it is a capability that needs to be built over time,” Tipps said. And Gartner's research has found that increasing autonomy as workloads increase can degrade workforce health.

To help sustain workforce resilience, Gartner recommended the following:

“Dig deeper than function- or segment-level averages to understand which parts of the workforce have experienced damage and who has thrived. Retaining individual gains in workforce health is as critical to rebounding post-disruption as fixing the points of damage.

Help employees connect their personal goals to business goals and realign teams to ensure immediate working relationships are supported.

Make work easier and engage employees with empathy, both personally and professionally. Managers can show ‘work empathy’ by adapting priorities to minimize frivolous work and showing employees the impact of their work.

Provide opportunities for employees to practice autonomy, but only if the organization can offer guardrails and training.”

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