Data Drop: Workforce Surveys Reveal Effects of Pandemic | Chicago Employee Benefits Agency

How 2020 will be remembered is largely going to be shaped by the pandemic, both for larger society and the workplace. There is no industry that hasn’t been impacted by COVID-19 and thus, no segment of the workforce that hasn’t felt its impact.

We can see this playing out in the data we collect. Perhaps more than any other crisis before it, data is telling its own story around COVID-19. A fair amount of this data comes straight to our inbox and we regularly review it.

Sharing is caring as they say, so with that in mind, here are some of the latest workforce surveys that have caught our attention and statistics that may help you understand and address the issues within your own organization.

Less Screen Time = Better Health

The folks over at Aetna International recently surveyed 4,000 employees at mid-to-large size businesses in the U.K., U.S., UAE and Singapore about their relationship with workplace technology and what effect it had on them. While the majority of respondents say that technology makes them more effective at their jobs and at managing time, particularly at a time where remote work is so common, there was a cost associated with their health.

Employees feel that sitting at their computer for long durations have hindered their physical health with 70% of those surveyed agreeing that they would exercise more if they spent less time at their computer.

Additionally, 76% of employees feel that reduced or restricted out of hours technology use would help them manage their physical health better if provided by their employer. Many find themselves checking their emails and Slack or Teams accounts when they normally wouldn’t.

The impact goes beyond the physical, however. The majority of employees from around the world agreed that the overuse of technology in the workplace has had negative effects on their mental health, with 75% agreeing that restricting the use of screen time during the workday would help them to better manage their mental health. More than half, 56%, said that the overuse of communication platforms and internal emails increases their stress levels.


Recent surveys from JDP asked 2,000 U.S. employees a range of questions about working from home during the pandemic. Among the most unanimous responses was centered on trust, with 92% of respondents saying they believe their bosses trusted them. Additionally, 86% say they feel they have taken advantage of the increased freedom work from home provides.

More than three quarters of respondents say they are working different hours and two-thirds say they are more likely to work on the weekend now. Different hours didn’t translate to more hours, however, with only 33% of respondents saying they were working more.

Whose Been Hit Hardest?

Data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics has shown the top careers to be most affected by COVID-19 and it’s a list that won’t surprise you. Retail, hospitality, the performing arts, dental office staff and film and TV production crews have taken the biggest hit. Air transportation and real estate offices also had notable losses.

The news isn’t necessarily a death sentence for the career of people working in those industries though. The fact is, many of them have soft skills that are becoming more important in a workforce that is taking on a human focus. The folks over at online resume builder Zety performed an analysis of more than 130 thousand resumes created between 2017 and 2019 to find which alternative career paths were most popular amongst people who held jobs in industries that are now struggling.

By comparing the soft skills many in those industries listed on their resumes to the soft skills needed in other positions, they came up with a list of alternatives that might just help some people get back on their feet. You can see the full list on the Zety blog.

The Visibility of Productivity

Everyone wants their employer to know that they’re using this time at home to get work done and broadly speaking, it has shown as data suggests people have been more productive in remote work settings. But, according to recent surveys from Prodoscore, employees are even more open to the idea of productivity monitoring than you might expect.

The company commissioned the research to put fresh numbers to trends they had been noticing for a few years as work from home arrangements gained traction and that were recently amplified in the wake of COVID-19. Prior to the pandemic, around 61% of the survey participants worked from home at least part time. Now that number has increased to 77%.

A byproduct of this is an increase in the desire to show and see productivity by both employees and employers. For employees, the motivation was clear. They want the monitoring so they can structure their day in ways that have proven to be effective, showcase their efficiency and have their efforts recognized. In all, only 10% of respondents said they didn’t like the idea.

The survey was conducted in July 2020 in partnership with Propeller Insights. It polled 1,000 U.S.-based workers across diverse industries and included a mix of micro, SMB and enterprise businesses. Most respondents were white-collar workers (79%).

The Need for People Data and Performance Communication

At a time where we talk a great deal about employee engagement and experience, asking the question what employees want can trigger a wide variety of responses. A recent survey from Reflektive sought to answer that question and arrived at some conclusions that you probably already suspect.

The survey was completed by 445 HR professionals and business leaders and 622 employees. Interestingly, employees indicated that they need more coaching and want more recognition from their managers.

From HR and business leaders, there’s a great deal of interest in employee productivity. HR leaders indicated that they are invested in measuring the health of their performance management practices, which will be music to employees ears as it could lead to more of that coaching they seek.

People data is a big area of interest as 60% of leaders agree that people analytics efforts are more important to them now than a year ago. Nearly three quarters of those respondents believe that they have a firm grasp of why people leave, but only 50% of them are using analytics to predict employee performance and turnover.

Employees also expressed frustration with how to acquire feedback. One-in-four say they don’t know how to request feedback and 30% say they don’t feel empowered to initiate those conversations.

“When tools aren’t used regularly, employees may forget what’s at their fingertips,” Rachel Ernst, CHRO at Reflektive said. “On a quarterly basis, communicate the process for requesting feedback. Additionally, when managers regularly ask for feedback, employees will start mirroring this behavior as well.”

Originally posted on HR Exchange Network

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