- The majority (about 53%) of professional service firm employees surveyed by marketing firm Hinge said they were dissatisfied with their employers' responses to the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Poor communication and lack of planning featured prominently in comments from employees who rated employers' responses negatively, Hinge said. One such respondent noted that their employer took a long time to comment on the situation and was slow to allow employees to work from home "until someone tested positive." The survey collected responses from 217 employees across 200 professional services firms.
- On the other hand, those with positive views of employer responses cited decisive, proactive measures like remote-work capability as being effective.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) included telework as one of its earliest recommendations to employers as the pandemic first triggered massive public health measures in the U.S. As far back as late February, CDC guidance included calls to increase telework options as well as replace in-person meetings with video or phone conferences.
It's guidance that many employers appear to have accepted. Poll results from Axios and marketing research firm Ipsos showed that a growing number of employees have moved to remote-work status, with the latest such count sitting at 45% of the survey’s respondents.
Still, not all are able to move to remote operations. Fewer than one-third of small businesses in a recent Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) survey said that they could operate remotely, and half of employees surveyed by SHRM said their jobs cannot be done remotely.
Even for those organizations that have made the transition, workers now must deal with what can be a stressful, routine-disrupting experience while ensuring work gets done. This impact may be on top of existing mental-health issues, experts told HR Dive. An increasing number of respondents in the Axios/Ipsos poll reported worsening mental health, and the percentage of respondents answering to that effect was highest among those working from home at 41%, compared to 34% of all Americans and 35% of those working normally.
Sources said employers can help remote workers struggling with mental-health issues by making counseling and similar services available, particularly via virtual visits and remote platforms. Morale-boosting activities like virtual happy hours may also be effective at keeping teams together as they work remotely.
And generally, HR departments may need to take inventory of necessary supplies and devices to ensure all workers can transition to remote work successfully, as well as evaluate employee travel policies in light of closures, delays and government restrictions.