On Wednesday 17 March, Modo25 hosted an expert online panel discussion to explore the future of the office.
Over a year into the COVID-19 pandemic and businesses are starting to consider the long-term realities of remote working. During the discussion, panellist Matthew Phelan, Co-Founder of The Happiness Index, shared his insights into employee happiness over the past year.
Employee happiness reached an all-time low in 2020
Pre-coronavirus, on a scale of one to 10, employee happiness across the globe was 7.3. Considering that employee happiness directly impacts the financial success of a company, this is pretty good.
However, as soon as the pandemic set in, employee happiness dropped to 5.8 – quite a notable difference. It didn’t take long though for the general public to go through a ‘change curve’, which is basically an adjustment period. Once we’d all settled into lockdown a bit more, employee happiness rose up to a 6.1.
This all changed around September and employee happiness dropped to an all-time love of 5.2. Fortunately, this did steadily rise to about 6.2 in the lead up to Christmas as people looked forward to potentially being allowed to see friends and family again following the second national lockdown in November.
How emotional deficit is affecting employee performance
You may have heard this phrase a lot recently, but emotional deficit is a leading issue in terms of society in 2021. Emotional deficit is caused by a lack of interaction with friends and family. We need face-to-face experiences to get things off our chest, share news and have fun. Without that, we are distinctly lacking a bit of a ‘spark’ in our lives.
All of this led to a bit of miscommunication between employees and leaders. Employee feedback almost tripled in 2020 with more of us wanting to voice our concerns and worries for the future. However, leaders didn’t necessarily reciprocate for fear of looking like they didn’t have the answers. This fed into our emotional deficit problem and likely would have contributed to the dip in employee happiness over the year.
Expect employees returning to the office to be different
The past year has affected everyone differently. Some people have absolutely loved working from home whereas others have struggled to find a work/life balance. So, it’s not as simple as saying that working from home is better than working from the office. The experience is different for everyone and should be treated as such.
Everyone is a different person from who they were before the COVID-19 pandemic. Fundamentally, every single employee will have changed in some way whether they had COVID-19 or not. There have been huge shifts in our way of living and our expectation of work and careers. So, it’s unwise to assume that everyone returning to the office will be the same person they were in March 2020.
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