Employees deserve to feel like their company cares about them. It’s a concept that yesterday’s business leaders questioned — but no one’s questioning it now. More than six months into the COVID-19 pandemic, employees are struggling in unprecedented ways and are looking to their employers as a source of support.
Ironically, Limeade launched the 2020 Employee Care Report on March 5, just days before stay-at-home orders were declared in multiple states. The report found that employers were coming up short on employee care.
Fast-forward multiple months, we wanted to know — have organizations stepped up their game when employees need it most?
How workers really feel about employee experience during the pandemic
Limeade is committed to improving the employee experience, which is why we wanted to see how workers feel about work right now — and how that’s changed during the pandemic. To get answers, we surveyed 1,000 employees (500 in manager roles and 500 in non-managerial roles) at companies with 500 employees or more, on burnout, well-being and perceptions of employee care during the pandemic. Here’s what we found.
Managers are carrying the weight of COVID-19, and their teams are slipping through the cracks
Managers feel they have the necessary tools to care for those they manage. Seventy-three percent said their organizations provided them with resources to support the emotional well-being of their teams, and 85% said they felt at least “somewhat equipped” to support the emotional needs of their teams.
But their teams feel differently. Only 55% of non-managerial workers felt their employers genuinely cared about their well-being compared with 77% of managers. And though 71% of managers said they at least “somewhat agree” that one-on-one meetings with their direct reports have focused more on well-being, only 33% of non-managerial workers said the same.
And managers aren’t feeling so great themselves. In fact, 59% of managers are working more hours since the pandemic’s start, and 72% said they at least “sometimes” feel pressure to work when sick. It’s hard to help your team find well-being and balance when you don’t have it yourself.
This well-being gap between managers and non-managerial workers must be addressed by company leaders. Because despite managers’ best intentions, employees aren’t feeling the impact of well-being initiatives the way they should.
Managers are balancing their own burnout and their teams’
Seventy-two percent of employees said they’re currently burned out (a result of high engagement and low well-being), a substantial increase from the 2020 Employee Care Report, where 42% of respondents said the same. The jump is indicative of the pandemic’s toll, but managers are navigating a two-pronged problem — their own burnout and their direct reports’ burnout.
Eighty-four percent of managers said they feel at least “somewhat” responsible for whether their direct reports experience burnout or not. And there’s reason for their concern — 38% of employees listed “struggling with burnout” as one of the most stressful aspects of their jobs since the outbreak of COVID-19.
It’s clear that managers need help navigating employee burnout — and it’s on their companies to help. As we said in our 2020 Employee Care Report, a major factor in tackling burnout is training managers to spot signs of burnout and creating a safe environment to show employees your organization has resources to help them recover.
Male and female managers are living wildly different remote work experiences
The differences in shared experiences between male and female managers during the pandemic are staggering. Female managers reported lower levels of job security and well-being in comparison to their male counterparts.
Sixty percent of male managers said they felt “extremely comfortable” asking their employer for a day off to benefit their well-being, compared with only one-quarter of female managers. This comparison is troubling, considering that only 11% of women reported “extremely positive” well-being during the pandemic in contrast to 42% of men.
The clear employee experience gap between male and female managers is indicative of women feeling less support at work, and could be related to the disproportionate familial pressures of caregiving and remote school. One-third of female managers said they have feared losing their job during the pandemic while 26% of male managers felt the same. Additionally, 73% of women feel equipped to support the emotional needs of their team compared with 94% of men. These feelings from female managers are then only exacerbated by the pressing effects of remote work.
Employers can’t ignore the gap in the work lives of male and female managers. It’s up to organizations to listen to the struggles women are facing and provide the resources they need to feel supported at the individual level.
Employers must listen for ‘silent disengagement’
Since March, 49% of employees reported less energy for non-work activities, 42% said they’ve had less interest in socializing with friends, 42% had more trouble sleeping at night, and 33% reported more alcohol or substance use than usual. Fifty-four percent of respondents also listed “fear of getting sick” as the most stressful aspect of their job.
Even amid these struggles, the majority of respondents (64%) said they haven’t searched for a job since the pandemic started, a slight dip from before the pandemic (68%). And 74% of employees said they feel at least “somewhat pressured” to stay in their existing job due to economic uncertainty.
Although most workers aren’t looking to jump ship at the moment, employers should still invest in keeping employees engaged. Just because employees are staying on board now doesn’t mean they’re productive, tuned in or plan to remain over the long term. Instead, they may be biding their time and going through the motions in what we call “silent disengagement.” As we saw in our 2020 Employee Care Report, one in three employees have left a job because they didn’t feel their employers cared about them as people.
Are you seeing any of the same patterns at your organization? A lack of authentic care within your culture may be to blame.