Employers Get a Mixed Report Card for Handling the Pandemic

Employers Get a Mixed Report Card for Handling the Pandemic

Only 20% of employees believe their organization's culture can withstand global pandemic
a stressed employee

After nearly two years into the pandemic, employers have had to face the opportunity — and the necessity — of assessing a new set of workforce needs and to demonstrate effective leadership. However, if resignation rates are any indication of worker sentiment, employers have not risen to the challenge.

In its 2022 workplace survey, management consulting agency Eagle Hill Consulting gave employees a chance to grade employer performance as it relates to the management of pandemic conditions. Despite the number of workers who have quit, or report plans to quit their current roles, the report card includes a mix of positive and negative reviews.

Passing grades: Flexibility and remote work

Quitting rates hit a record-high in 2021, and employees continue to report active job-searching in big numbers. In a December survey from American Consumer Credit Counseling (ACCC), roughly 40% of workers said they're either considering a job change or planning to change jobs in 2022.

However, according to the Eagle Hill Consulting survey, companies have made some meaningful improvements in response to the pandemic. Here's what respondents had to say about what has improved the most:

  • Flexibility (66%)
  • Remote work (57%)
  • Efficiency (52%)
  • Innovation and productivity (50%)
  • Revenue (47%)
  • Employee satisfaction (46%)

The leading improvements — flexibility and remote work — may be the biggest key to reducing turnover. As new work arrangements have ushered in a shift in workers' priorities, many report that their highest priority is work-life balance (62%), even more so than salary (22%), according to a fall 2021 survey from KeyBank.

In an earlier survey from Eagle Hill Consulting, the vast majority of employees (84%) said that increased flexibility is the key to alleviating burnout.

Needs improvement: Leadership and culture

By other measures, employees have experienced significant declines. In October 2021, benefits administration provider LifeWorks reported that worker mental health scores declined for 19 months in a row, with managers being amongst those most impacted.

In the Eagle Hill Consulting survey, workers say employer performance has been poor, and is continuing to decline, most notably in these areas:

  • Just 20% stated their company had a culture of fostering innovation and collaboration during the pandemic, down from 24% in 2020
  • Only about one-third say their organization has the resilience to withstand this crisis, down from 35% in 2020.
  • 46% stated their company did not act quickly enough to address changing realities, which is just a tad higher than 45% saying so in 2020.
  • 28% say their organization is proactive about addressing concerns about its economic health, down from 31% in 2020.
  • 42% say their employer is providing them with regular updates, down from 50% in 2020.

Employees also report declines when it comes to their trust that leaders can continue to effectively navigate the COVID-19 crisis.

As employers enter the third year of the pandemic, they may be growing fatigued from managing the crisis. However, there is no clear sign that conditions will abate soon. In addition to supply chain issues and high resignation rates, the omicron variant and long COVID-19 symptoms are likely to pose challenges for employers in the year to come.

Methodology: The 2022 Eagle Hill Consulting COVID-19 Workplace Survey was conducted by Ipsos in January 2022 among 1001 employees across the U.S.Employer