Our recent Work Remastered survey is a reflection of the current climate. With uncertainty about the economic outlook and 83% of employees in fear of losing their jobs due to the gig economy, looming global recession, a lack of skills, cheaper foreign workforce, competitors, automation or jobs being moved to other countries*, the results hold many contradictions. They also show us the very human fear and uncertainty about the future that the global pandemic has sparked.
But there is no denying the results give us a clear focus for the engagement and communications industry and the businesses we support.
A significant downturn in the economy means that 36% of businesses who responded are already looking down the barrel of significant cost cutting measures and head-count reductions as they plan for recovery.
But in equal measure, the results show that businesses are using the current climate as an opportunity for transformation and innovation, with over 20% highlighting change as being a focus for the future.
The human impact of the current crisis is also moving employee wellbeing higher up the agenda. Over 19% of respondents have highlighted it as being a focus, but with concerns about workload, and a lack prioritisation being cited as a concern in the verbatim feedback this is going to be an ongoing challenge.
“There are a lot of de-energized people. Not seeing the end of COVID-19. Also upskilling and reskilling people in order to be able to deliver on strategy and our big bets.”
A massive 75% of respondents identified that they would continue with flexible or remote working strategies post COVID-19. But it is clear that cultivating a company's culture is a concern for many in this new hybrid working world. 24% have identified sustaining or building a company culture as being one of the top challenges they forsee over the next 12 to 18 months.
“Supporting employees through the realization that how things were for many has fundamentally and permanently changed.”
Surprisingly, only just over 8% are looking to the employee value proposition or employee journey to help reinforce culture and create an employee experience that will drive the right behaviours. This may change over the coming months but is definitely an area that needs focus if businesses want to unlock their talent to drive growth, and ensure they maintain a consistent employee and customer experience.
With 68% of respondents highlighting that a proportion of the workforce have been furloughed over the last few months, the question of how you reintroduce people into the business also highlights the need to rethink the employee experience, and even think of this group as onboarding back into the business. So much has changed, and so much will be different, so you need to take returning employees on a journey.
For those who have identified culture as a problem it is important to remember that culture is an outcome. And if you want to maintain yours or change it up, there are two things you need to get right. Your employee value proposition and your employee journey.
Both are critical to reinforcing your culture and building your brand’s reputation. They are also inextricably linked - your employee value proposition should inform your employee journey and experience. Right now, most businesses have employee journeys and value propositions that are ill-suited to the new hybrid ways of working.
Trust in leaders is high, with 59% stating leaders have been perceived as being aligned during the crisis and 22% saying trust in leaders is on the increase as a result of how they have shown up during this period. However, a surprisingly high percentage, 12.5%, of respondents identified that trust in leaders has declined. It is difficult to even think about starting to build back better if trust in leadership is a problem in your business and that should be where you start. Retention, culture and performance will be problematic if there is no trust because it is a foundational building block to success.
“Our business is in free fall. We need to be able to provide our customers with predictability. We need strong leadership to guide us through recovery.”
Line management was identified by all respondents as the area requiring the most focus. The current climate has shone a light on the importance of line managers in engaging and motivating teams.
88% of respondents stated that communications was higher up the agenda of their organisations. To stay at the table there are three skills respondents have highlighted as being critical; negotiation and influencing skills, agility and adaptability, and change management.
Unsurprisingly storytelling is also highlighted as critical. With so much changing, a natural next step will be a review of corporate messaging and narratives. In the coming months, communicators will need to step back and reevaluate their corporate story to ensure its still relevant if businesses want to remain authentic will become the task of communicators globally in the coming months.
Download the full results below, or if you are facing any of the challenges highlighted and want to bounce some ideas around contact Victoria.firstname.lastname@example.org.
•Source Edelman Trust barometer 2020.