AMSTELVEEN, 12 June 2020 — Physical health and safety are not the only concerns affecting employees around the world as a majority report anxiety, distraction and financial worries, according to research by Willis Towers Watson, a leading global advisory, broking and solutions company.
Despite their concerns, employees give their leaders good marks for their performance during the pandemic. Willis Towers Watson has tracked the pandemic-related work experiences of more than 100,000 global employees since mid-March.
Alarmingly, over nine in 10 employees (92%) report some level of anxiety from the pandemic, with 55% indicating a moderate or high degree. Further, seven in 10 workers (70%) convey at least some distraction from work due to COVID-19 concerns with only one-third (32%) saying they can balance working from home and other responsibilities.
In addition, six in 10 workforce personnel (61%) state financial concerns stemming from the COVID-19 disruption with 25% expressing a moderate or high degree of worry. Fewer than half of respondents say their company is making it easier to access and use employee benefits (46%) or know how to apply these benefits to COVID-19 care (47%).
“The challenges presented by this crisis highlight the demand for cross-functional collaboration to truly address employee needs,” said Angel Hoover, Head of Benelux at Willis Towers Watson. “Employee uncertainty and anxiety requires a triage of support. While HR can support employees through increased access to counselling and financial planning advice, managers need to maintain team connections and equip employees to get the day-to-day work done. Leaders are, at the same time, making strategic decisions about what work in the office will look like post-vaccine.”
Notwithstanding the challenges, employees are pleased with the way their leaders have stepped up to support them in the current environment. A large majority agree their leaders have been effective at focusing on work objectives (78%), obtaining the support needed at work (74%), keeping employees informed (73%), and protecting the health and wellbeing of their workforce (71%).
However, the research notes there are concrete actions leaders can take to improve the overall employee experience, such as better understand job constraints due to issues outside of work. In fact, only about half (49%) of the employees who can manage issues outside of work report moderate to high anxiety compared with 80% of employees unable to do so. Also, employees in stronger team environments express much lower rates of distraction (16%) relative to colleagues who struggle to collaborate (56%).
“This a time when employers must put their people first and do all they can to show support and build goodwill,” said Hoover. “Employers have many levers to pull, such as helping workers upgrade their work-from-home technology, enhancing programs that help employees overcome emotional and financial challenges and redefining work previously done only in an office setting to one that is completely remote-enabled.”
The results of the COVID-19 Employee Pulse Survey are based on responses of more than 100,000 employees worldwide. The ongoing survey began in the middle of March.