HR departments begin to report that less of their time is being spent purely on COVID-19 response
A survey of 264 HR professionals by XpertHR six weeks into lockdown has suggested that staff engagement was higher than it was before the pandemic for a third of UK employers (32.2%).
The research also found that almost half (49.2%) felt there had been no change and fewer than one in five (18.6%) thought employee engagement had fallen.
Around one in five HR professionals (20.8%) said that all or almost all of their work is driven by the crisis, which was less than half that number (42.8%) in XpertHR's survey on 2 April, and down from one in three (32.2%) on 16 April.
Since the lockdown was first announced, HR initiatives to drive engagement have included regular business updates and messages from senior management, wellbeing and mental health guidance, as well as practical tips on homeworking and virtual social events.
More than half (57.6%) said that engagement in their organisations was ‘good', while around a fifth (21.2%) said it was ‘excellent' and 18.9% said it was ‘fair'.
Some of the approaches to show staff appreciation during lockdown include saying ‘thank you' to staff members in company emails and newsletters from CEOs, home working allowances, continued professional development, asking employees how the organisation is doing and sending gifts.
XpertHR content director Mark Crail said: "Despite all the worry and uncertainty of the past few weeks, HR professionals can be proud of the job they have done. They put in place many of the systems and mechanisms that kept their organisations running when the crisis hit, and they have continued to support staff through a very difficult period. The results of their work can be seen in what are quite remarkable levels of continued employee engagement."
Despite this, many HR professionals continue to report that they are struggling with inconsistent and changing government guidance, unrealistic expectations from within their own organisations, and the need to balance their own work and home lives.
One survey respondent said: "HR is having a nervous breakdown due to the absence of the crystal ball everyone thinks it possesses."
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