Productivity has not suffered due to coronavirus

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Employees have managed to remain productive in most organisations despite the challenges posed by coronavirus, according to a survey by Willis Towers Watson.

The rewards consultancy found that, even though more than two-thirds of companies had more than 75% of employees working remotely, 85% felt they had the technology, tools and resources needed to work productively for an extended period of time.

Just over half (56%) had less than a tenth of the workforce working remotely before the lockdown restrictions.

Only 15% of companies surveyed said that remote working had had a material negative impact, while 22% said there had been a small negative impact. A further 22% said there had been no impact on productivity and a third was not sure.

Almost all (98%) of employers are in regular communication with staff to keep them updated and engaged, while 85% have implemented a virtual or social engagement initiative. Almost 90% had put in place measures to make employees feel supported.

Twenty-two percent had increased training opportunities for staff, but 49% said they were planning on making changes to performance management targets to reflect the unusual situation.

The poll of about 1,000 employers across the UK and Western Europe found that more than eight in 10 had no end date planned for the current remote working arrangements.

“It has been an incredibly challenging time for many businesses as we navigate uncharted waters and take part in what has become the world’s largest work-from-home experiment,” said Hazel Rees, GB leader for Willis Towers Watson’s rewards business.

“Technology has been a saving grace during this crisis, helping to keep productivity levels up, while organisations with a greater online presence have been able to continue more effectively and in some cases even thrive.”

She added that employers’ response to the coronavirus had been a “defining leadership moment” for many. “The employers that take strong action to put people first will be the best positioned to enhance employee wellbeing and engagement, restore stability and achieve future business success.”

Looking forward, Willis Towers Watson’s survey also found that 64% of respondents though there would be a large or moderate negative impact on business over the next six months; 51% thought this would be the case over the next 12 months; reducing to 17% who thought the negative influence would last for two years.

Separately, a survey by XpertHR of how employers are coping six weeks into lockdown found that employee morale remains strong. One in three (32.2%) thought employee engagement was now higher than it was before the pandemic, while just under half (49.2%) thought there had been no change. Only 18% felt it had fallen, the survey revealed.

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