Did you know that, generally, women in the UK are happier working from home when compared to men? Or that the bigger the business people work for, the happier they are on furlough? We found these and more facts on employment and worker satisfaction during the latest round of our COVID-19 independent research. Our survey shows that right now – during a global pandemic that massively altered our working routines and priorities – is the most crucial time ever for companies to understand how their employees feel.

Here are a few things we learnt from the data recently shared by full and part-time employees across the UK, including key workers and people on furlough. These facts are helping us build an image of what the future of the work environment could look like in the country, and how this can affect your business.

The current state of furlough

When asking about furlough, we focused on mental health and employee engagement. This is what we found:

+ People in the UK have responded relatively well to being on furlough, with 64.0% of people saying they have enjoyed the experience.
+ Women have responded better than men to being put on furlough: 57.3% of men said they have enjoyed their time on furlough compared to 65.4% of women.
+ People tend to dislike being on furlough if they are in a smaller business, with 27% of people in businesses with less than five employees saying they haven’t enjoyed their time on the scheme.

When looking at how often companies are communicating with their furloughed employees, these were some of our key findings:

+ 18.3% of people on furlough have had no updates from their employer about returning to work, and 49.5% said they are getting inconsistent updates from their employer.
+ Larger businesses (with 250+ employees) are less likely to give scheduled updates (weekly or fortnightly), but are keeping employees notified sporadically, while mall businesses (10 or less employees) are more likely to give weekly updates.

We also explored how people on the scheme are feeling about returning to work in the future.

+ 61.8% of people are looking forward to going back to work, with 16.4% saying they don’t really mind either way. On the opposite end, 21.8% of people are not looking forward to returning to work.
+ Women are feeling less enthusiastic about returning to work than men, with 24.6% of women not looking forward to it compared with 14.6% of men.
+ People in smaller business (less than 10 employees) are more excited about returning to work, with 72.2% of people feeling excited about it. 28.1% of employees working for medium-sized business (51-250 employees) are not looking forward to come back to work after furlough.

What about the people currently working?

Our report segmented between larger organisations (250+ employees), medium-sized businesses (50-250 employees) and small businesses (49 or fewer employees).

Here is how enterprise organisations fared compared with people in smaller businesses in terms of employee engagement and satisfaction levels.

+ 43.7% of remote workers in larger organisations claim they have been more productive since the pandemic – this is higher than those in small businesses, although small businesses did have more people working remotely prior to the pandemic.
+ Employees in larger organisations only want to go back to the workplace 1-2 days a week, with medium-sized organisations preferring 3-4 days working from an office per week. As we are already seeing, this could mean a shift in the number of people working in offices and other fixed locations in the future.
+ 25.8% of people working in larger organisations are more likely to consider changing jobs after the pandemic is over. This is a lot more when compared to smaller organisations.

What about satisfaction levels? Are people happy to be working from home at the moment and how can we continually measure that?

+ Employees in larger organisations tend to be happier with their companies’ approaches to the pandemic, with 84.8% saying they were at least somewhat satisfied with how their employer handled the consequences of COVID-19.
+ In general, employees across the board have been satisfied with the way their organisations have approached it, with 82.7% of people saying they are pleased with their company’s response to the pandemic, and 1 in 3 people saying they were very satisfied.
+ Of the dissatisfied employees, most are working in companies with between 11-50 employees.

One element that was highlighted in our latest survey with dissatisfied employees is around what their workplaces can do to make them feel more motivated or engaged moving forward.

Here are the top motivations for attracting and maintaining the right talent during the pandemic:

+ Work-life balance focus
+ Flexible working hours
+ Remote working
+ Healthcare
+ Pension scheme
+ Social team outings
+ Childcare

Remote working – the new normal?

We wanted to investigate work trends and what the plans and preferences are for remote working going forward. Here are the key takeaways:

+ 61.4% of people in large businesses (250+ employees) said they now work remotely. This is a larger number than small businesses who already had more remote working in place before the pandemic.
+ Employees in enterprise organisations are expecting part of their teams to remain based in the office and some people to remain remote.
+ Larger organisations are also not sharing with their employees as much information about their future working plans compared to employees at smaller companies.
+ Larger organisations are better at ensuring their staff are set up for working from home, with 61.6% of people having had equipment purchased for them to allow them to work from home.

How do you get information from your staff?

At this strange time, it’s not just about furlough and staff retention; there are more important elements of support people will need and it’s essential for businesses to understand how their employees’ priorities have changed. It’s also an essential time to look at how people’s mental health is affecting their motivation levels and productivity.

How are you finding employee engagement and have you found people’s motivations to work have changed since the beginning of the pandemic? If you don’t know the answer to these and other relevant questions, this might be the right time to start thinking about running regular surveys with your workforce. You can do this yourself or instruct your HR department to run these engagement studies with your employees, but there are advantages when working on this with a third-party like People for Research.

👉  A usual problem with employee satisfaction surveys run by an employer is that workers don’t feel like they can be completely honest. By working with a third-party like PFR, there is a guarantee of anonymity that will lead to more accurate and representative feedback.

👉  Our team has worked on thousands of online questionnaires, surveys and screeners for a number of clients and industries, so we have extensive experience that allows us to create the perfect engagement survey to fit your needs, as well as the technical knowledge and access to the right tools.

👉  Finally, the third main benefit is that you don’t need to worry about compliance and data protection. A third-party should have all the necessary GDPR protocols in place to keep your data secure and make sure you only receive pseudonymised or anonymised information, depending on your requirements.

If you are considering running employee engagement surveys with your workforce and would like to find out more about our services, fill in the form below, email with any questions, or find out more about our service here.



Jason Stockwell, Digital Insight Lead

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At People for Research, we recruit participants for UX and usability testing and market research. We work with award winning UX agencies across the UK and partner up with a number of end clients who are leading the way with in-house user experience and insight.