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Percent Who Feel Employer Cares About Their Wellbeing Plummets
Workplace

Percent Who Feel Employer Cares About Their Wellbeing Plummets

by Jim Harter

Story Highlights

  • Employees' perceptions of their organization caring about their wellbeing drops
  • During the onset of the pandemic, employees felt employers had more care and concern
  • Employees who feel their employer cares about their wellbeing are 69% less likely to actively search for a job

Fewer than one in four U.S. employees feel strongly that their organization cares about their wellbeing -- the lowest percentage in nearly a decade.

This finding has significant implications, as work and life have never been more blended and employee wellbeing matters more than ever-- to employees and the resiliency of organizations. The discovery is based on a random sample of 15,001 full and part-time U.S. employees who were surveyed in February 2022.

Prior to COVID-19, in 2014, about the same percentage (25%) of employees strongly agreed that their employer cares about their overall wellbeing. Then at the onset of the pandemic in 2020, employers responded quickly with a plan, communication, and what many employees believed was genuine concern for them, their work, and their lives. The percentage who felt cared about nearly doubled, reaching a high of 49% in May of that year. Since 2020, the perception has plummeted to the previous low levels.

line graph showing percent who feel their organization cares about their wellbeing over time

This finding is critical for organizations because employees who strongly agree that their employer cares about their overall wellbeing, in comparison to others, are:

  • 69% less likely to actively search for a new job
  • 71% less likely to report experiencing a lot of burnout
  • five times more likely to strongly advocate for their company as a place to work and to strongly agree they trust the leadership of their organization
  • three times more likely to be engaged at work
  • 36% more likely to be thriving in their overall lives

Gallup's research has also found that teams who are most likely to feel the organization cares about their wellbeing achieve higher customer engagement, profitability, productivity, lower turnover, and have fewer safety incidents.

Considerations:

  • The one-year decline in employees' perceptions that their organizations care about their overall wellbeing was generally consistent across employee job types -- from production and front-line to white-collar professionals. The decline was especially high among managers -- 11 percentage points.
  • Gallup found increases in manager burnout in 2021 and declining employee engagement. The ongoing COVID-19 spikes combined with increased employee resignation rates in 2021 made it difficult for leaders to design and communicate a predictable course of action.
  • The percentage of employees who are extremely satisfied with their organization as a place to work dropped from 23% to 18% from late 2021 to the first quarter of 2022. Perceptions of the overall organization correlate highly with perceptions of leadership.
  • "My organization cares about my overall wellbeing" reached its highest point in 2020 following organizational changes in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Of employees who strongly agreed that their employer communicated a clear plan of action in response to the coronavirus, 73% strongly agreed their organization cares about their overall wellbeing. Of those who strongly agreed that their supervisor kept them informed about what was going on in the organization, 78% strongly agreed their organization cares about their overall wellbeing. Communication matters.
  • Employee expectations of work may have fundamentally changed after the experiences of 2020 and 2021. Many learned new ways of working and may have an updated definition for what an employer caring about their overall wellbeing means. The work-life intersection has new meaning. Gallup finds those who prefer remote work now cite reduced commute times and better work-life balance as the key reasons. These may be new and more serious considerations for many employees, upping the bar for employers.
  • Many organizations have built and maintained great cultures where employees do feel their organization cares about their overall wellbeing. In Gallup's global database, top organizations have six in 10 employees or more reporting they strongly agree their organization cares about their overall wellbeing -- two to three times the overall national rate.

What's Next? Here's What Some Organizations Did.

Gallup found patterns in organizations that consistently improved their cultures-- even during the tumultuous last two years. Some of these patterns include:

  • Using their aspired-to organizational culture and values to guide business decisions. Employees need to see the intended culture and values lived out daily. It is important to listen to people and act based on employees' work-life needs.
  • Embracing flexible work environments while developing future-of-work plans. Flexibility can take on different meanings for employees depending on the type of work they do and where they need to be located to have outstanding individual performance, team collaboration, and customer value.
  • Focusing on employee wellbeing and acknowledging the whole person. Since work and life are blended for many, consider the demands of life inside and out of the workplace. Consider career, social, financial, physical, and community wellbeing impacts and resources.
  • Tailoring communication to reach their team where they are. Transparent and creative omnichannel communication to employees and customers is more likely to reach and resonate with a wide variety of people in many different work-life situations.
  • Enabling managers to manage through times of change with their immediate teams. Consistently upskill managers to coach their employees through their strengths. Every person has a different work-life situation and only managers can understand these nuances and make adjustments based on how each person is wired, how they best perform, collaborate, and bring value to customers.

With new variants of COVID-19 emerging in 2020 and 2021, back-to-workplace planning included many frustrating starts and stops for organizational leaders. With the rates of COVID-19 now at a low and decreasing rate in the U.S., the removal of many social restrictions and mask mandates affords organizational leaders the opportunity to set predictable workplace plans in motion.

This new freedom may present itself as a big opportunity for organizations to differentiate themselves based on what they have learned from the "great forced working experiment" of the past two years. How organizations respond to this opportunity will have a substantial impact on whether employees feel their organization cares about their overall wellbeing.

Improve employee wellbeing in your workplace:

Author(s)

Jim Harter, Ph.D., is Chief Scientist for Gallup's workplace management practice. He recently coauthored Wellbeing at Work, a book that explores how to build resilient and thriving teams in organizations. He is also coauthor of the No. 1 Wall Street Journal bestseller It's the Manager and New York Times bestsellers 12: The Elements of Great Managing and Wellbeing: The Five Essential Elements.

Sangeeta Agrawal contributed analysis to this article.


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