Employee Engagement Rises Since COVID-19 Lockdown, Research Says

by Doug Claffey

Energage study reveals the best workplaces are getting even better

What impact has the COVID-19 lockdown had on workplace culture and employee engagement? We wanted to find out. So, we at Energage commissioned a study to see how survey results have shifted across the 15 key culture drivers in recent months.

Looking at both Top Workplaces and aspiring Top Workplaces, we compared employee engagement survey data from 1,700 organizations that completed the Energage Workplace Survey prior to March 15, 2020 with 700 organizations that completed the same survey since that date.

What we found was significant, indeed. But after 14 years of studying Top Workplaces best practices, we were not surprised. I’ll explain why, but let’s first take a look at the data.

Employee engagement increased across all levels of the organization

A substantial comparison of pre- and post-survey data identified changes in employee perception of company culture. From team members to managers and senior leaders, the Energage study revealed across-the-board increases in culture driver scores since COVID-19 shelter-in-place orders took effect in March 2020.

That means employee engagement has strengthened for Top Workplaces organizations as well as those that aspire to achieve the same status. Here are some of the key takeaways:

Employees are feeling more informed about important decisions

“Clued-in Employees,” a culture driver tied to Connection, saw the highest positive change. This means that, despite many organizations moving to remote work, employees are feeling like they are better informed about important decisions.

Clued-In Employees +22%

“I feel well-informed about important decisions at this company.”

Workplace Survey Statement

When employees feel included in important decisions, they feel like a true business partner — and more connected as a result. When they’re well-informed and understand the reasoning behind organizational changes, they’re more likely to align with you even if they don’t totally agree with it.

Senior managers understand what’s really happening

Employees also believe senior managers are more “clued-in.” They were 17 percent more positive about saying senior managers understand what is really happening in their organization.

Clued-In Leaders +17%

“Senior managers understand what is really happening at this company.”

Workplace Survey Statement

Employees need to know their senior leaders understand what the day to day looks like. When they appear to be out of the loop, it’s just a little harder for employees to connect with the company strategy and mission. With an understanding of what’s really happening on the frontlines, clued-in senior leaders get valuable insight from those closest to the customer and they’re better equipped to serve the market too.

There is better interdepartmental cooperation

With remote working and the challenges of COVID-19 safety, you might think cooperation would suffer. Yet, employees are feeling more positive about interdepartmental cooperation. Many organizations will continue to work remotely in the near future, so this is encouraging news.

Interdepartmental Cooperation +16%

“There is good interdepartmental cooperation at this company.”

Workplace Survey Statement

When everybody works toward a common goal, each department becomes more effective and driven. And when departments work well together, employees feel a real sense of belonging. But when there’s trouble brewing in this area, implementing a successful strategy becomes almost impossible — and that’s more important than ever because fractures in cooperation have a negative impact on employee morale and job satisfaction.

Team members are feeling more appreciated

Appreciation consistently ranks as one of the top culture drivers and it plays a big role in motivation, job satisfaction, and retention. We initially thought Appreciation could be a potential hot spot for organizations. But it turns out, employees are feeling appreciated, despite uncertainty, added stress, and working remotely.

Appreciation +15%

“I feel genuinely appreciated at this company.”

Workplace Survey Statement

Who — and what — you celebrate tells your employees a lot about the kind of culture you have and also the kind of culture you want. When frequent and genuine appreciation is modeled every day from the top down, you’ll create a culture that people want to be a part of and contribute to in every way.

Employee feedback pays great dividends for top workplaces

Being heard is a fundamental need. And during times of crisis, that need grows stronger. Yet, some organizations have postponed surveying and collecting employee feedback because of a ‘fear of bad results’ (FOBR). And that’s a critical mistake.

Top Workplaces see the value of incorporating employee feedback into their strategy. They use it to make data-driven decisions and continue to drive a people-centered culture. Rather than backing away, they’re leaning in and communicating more. And they are seeing that approach continue to pay great dividends.

See how to incorporate employee feedback into your strategy