Despite COVID-19's ongoing threat, many company leaders and employees are transitioning into a phase where they are learning to live as normally as possible.
It's understandable to be concerned about whether employees will want to stay with their current employers or seek work elsewhere.
Here's a look at how things could shape up in the near future.
An Organization's Pandemic Response Affects Employee Loyalty
Organizational representatives showed a wide variety of responses to the COVID-19 pandemic. Some paid bonuses to essential workers and let people work from home when possible.
Others, however, did not take the health threat seriously, leaving employees concerned that they were putting their lives in danger every time they went to work.
A June 2021 study found that how employers handled issues during COVID-19 influenced their employees' willingness to stay on board in the long run.
About 49 percent of people who felt their workplaces dealt with the situation well wanted to remain for more than a decade. However, the segment dropped to 28 percent for people who believed their employers handled the situation poorly.
These results highlight why human resource professionals and people in related roles should strive to see the connection between a company's pandemic response and employee turnover.
Many people concluded that employers demonstrated a blatant lack of concern if they did not take reasonable precautions to protect employees during the pandemic.
Employee Burnout Does Not Necessarily Make Workers Leave
A thorough response requires looking after a worker's mental health along with their physical well-being. Some employers realized that more than others as the world wrestled with the pandemic.
A 2020 study indicated that 45 percent of respondents felt burned out due to work.
Many individuals had new worries and mental strain to contend with during COVID-19. Some experienced ongoing mental distress while at work and received little or no support from an employer. In such cases, it makes sense that people may find they're out of tolerance and want to look for work elsewhere.
Interestingly, a 2021 Canadian-based survey reached a different and surprising conclusion.
The results showed that 49 percent of people had higher workloads now than before the pandemic. Plus, 31 percent said they're experiencing burnout or are nearly at that point.
However, 29 percent feel more loyal to their employer now than before COVID-19, and 53 percent said their loyalty had not changed. Perhaps those results are largely due to 80 percent of respondents saying their employers have treated them fairly since the pandemic began.
Workloads may change depending on what the post-pandemic world requires.
For example, app developers will likely find themselves in greater demand as companies, states and nations grapple with how to verify someone's vaccination status or test results. So will people who manufacture products like protective screens.
However, fair treatment of diligent employees goes a long way in keeping the workforce happy.
The Pandemic Made People Especially Aware of Ethical Concerns
Since the COVID-19 pandemic affected people worldwide — albeit to varying degrees — many heard the news of shocking situations that put employees at risk. For example, when hospitals ran out of protective equipment, providers donned garbage bags. In other cases, bosses forced employees to come to work even after testing positive for the virus.
Some of the most egregious situations left people feeling they had no choice but to act as whistleblowers. Famous whistleblowers in society also faced major repercussions.
- Jeffrey Wigand was a biochemist who sounded the alarm about cigarette companies failing to be upfront with consumers about nicotine dangers. That situation eventually led to tobacco brands paying a $368 billion settlement to the federal government.
- While working in Wuhan, China, ophthalmologist Dr. Li Wenliang became one of the first whistleblowers to raise concerns about the COVID-19 pandemic. Sadly, Dr. Li Wenliang contracted COVID-19 after treating an infected patient and later passed away.
Employees expect the companies they work for to operate ethically. It's too soon to tell whether some of the pandemic's darker incidences will make people less willing to remain silent when they witness wrongdoing at their workplaces.
However, if that does happen, it'll almost certainly affect employee loyalty and company reputation.
People Let Pandemic Work Experiences Shape Their Loyalty
Many people began working from home for the first time during the pandemic. Although it didn't suit everyone, remote employees commonly found techniques that eased the transition. For example, turning a TV into a second monitor became an option that boosted productivity.
According to a study published in April 2021, some current remote workers will leave their employers if they no longer allow them to work from home.
- About 87 percent of American employees who worked remotely during COVID-19 wanted to keep doing it afterward. However, 68 percent of people believed a hybrid model was the ideal solution.
- Another 42 percent of respondents said they'd look for work elsewhere if their employers ended remote options after the pandemic. That wasn't the only factor pushing them to quit, though.
- Career growth also came into play, as 80 percent who planned to seek work elsewhere cited that as a concern.
- Furthermore, 42 percent of those planning to leave their current employers gave them a C or lower for handling culture and connectedness during the pandemic.
Elsewhere, a Deloitte study of females' experiences during the pandemic revealed that loyalty increased when working for employers that prized gender equality.
More specifically, 79 percent of people currently employed by gender equality leaders felt loyal to them. The segment fell to only 32 percent when people worked at organizations that lagged.
These findings show a snapshot of how various work experiences associated with the pandemic could influence people's workplace sentiments.
Human resources professionals should always take employee feedback seriously and remember that severe dissatisfaction could cause an employee to speak badly of the company.
Post-Pandemic Loyalty Is Not Straightforward
It's not necessarily easy to predict what will make employees stay at or leave their organizations in the post-pandemic world.
However, as long as the health threat exists, treating people fairly, equally, and making decisions that help them feel as safe as possible while working is critical.