New Research on Returning to Work: Safety, Childcare, Communication, and Recognition

The “return to work” conversations have left employees feeling vulnerable and concerned about their future. For most companies, questions about childcare, safety, and communication have not been answered. And, as the uncertainty continues, it is having a devastating impact on the employee experience.

Aptitude Research has launched a major study to look at how employers are supporting their workforce during this time and how employees are responding.

We found some significant gaps in what employers and employees had to say around:

  • Productivity: 85% of employees say they are working more during this pandemic, while nearly 50% of employers say that employees are working less.
  • Flexibility: Only 32% of employees are getting more flexibility during this time, even though 55% of employers state that they offer more flexibility.
  • Wellbeing: 62% of companies state that they are investing in employee wellbeing yet, 64% do not feel valued by their employer.

One thing that both employers and employees agree on is the amount of stress in the workforce. 71% of employees state that they are more stressed during this year, and 95% of employers agree. Employers need to rethink how they are supporting employees today, including communication, safety, and wellbeing. I am excited to share the first look at this research this Wednesday, July 15, at 2 pm EST.

Below are a few of the topics:

Employee Safety: Although 49% of employers say that employee safety is their top priority,  nearly 40% of employees do not feel safe returning. When asked what companies are doing to ensure safety, 58% are providing masks and protective equipment, and only 21% have redesigned their office spaces to provide a safer environment. Most companies are frequently communicating with employees about safety, but few are taking action.

Childcare/Homeschooling: Companies can’t talk about “returning to work” until they address the reality of “returning to school.” And, most families are still uncertain about the future of childcare. Employers do not typically address childcare issues, and most employees do not feel safe talking about their needs with their managers. In today’s environment, companies must think about how childcare impacts the employee experience. Currently, 1 in 3 employees do not feel comfortable talking about childcare, and only 11% of employers ask employees how to support their childcare needs.

Communication: One of the most basic strategies companies can use today is to communicate frequently with employees. Seventy-three (73%) of employees we surveyed said that the only communication they are receiving is email, and 60% said they would prefer other forms of communication. Companies need to rethink the tone, frequency, and method of communication.

Recognition: One of the most concerning findings from this research study is that 61% of employees do not feel recognized today, and 78% do not feel recognized by leadership. Employees work long hours, adjust to change and new technology, and sacrifice their health and time with family. Yet, most employees do not feel appreciated. 1 in 2 employees has not received any recognition since the pandemic started.

These topics impact employees both personally and professionally. I hope you will join us for this important conversation, and I am excited to share this latest research project with you.

Madeline Laurano

Madeline Laurano

Madeline Laurano is the founder and chief analyst of Aptitude Research. For over 18 years, Madeline’s primary focus has been on the HCM market, specializing in talent acquisition and employee experience. Her work helps companies both validate and re-evaluate their strategies and understand the role technology can play in driving business outcomes. She has watched HCM transform from a back-office function to a strategic company initiative with a focus on partnerships, experience and efficiency.

Before founding Aptitude Research, Madeline held research roles at Aberdeen, Bersin by Deloitte, ERE Media and Brandon Hall Group. She is the co-author of Best Practices in Leading a Global Workforce and is often quoted in leading business publications including The Wall Street Journal, The Boston Globe, Yahoo News, The New York Times and The Financial Times. She is a frequent presenter at industry conferences including the HR Technology Conference and Exposition, SHRM, IHRIM, HCI’s Strategic Talent Acquisition conference, Unleash, GDS International’s HCM Summit, and HRO Today.

In her spare time, she is a runner, an avid sports fan and juggles a house full of boys (where a spontaneous indoor hockey game is not unheard of!).