Employees burnt out, but more loyal and engaged

Recent surveys from Robert Half and KPMG find the pandemic has had mixed impacts on employee wellbeing and sentiment.

Work from home

The pandemic’s sustained disruption of the economy may have stalled career trajectories and left many employees feeling more stressed, overworked and exhausted – however, the crisis appears to have also improved employer loyalty and created a stronger sense of purpose in the workforce, according to findings from separate surveys conducted by staffing firm Robert Half and consultancy KPMG.

The research from Robert Half, released last week, found 27% of professionals stating that their careers have stalled since the start of the pandemic, a number that climbs to 55% for those aged 18 to 24. The firm also found that 49% of senior managers have postponed promoting top performers due to COVID-19, and that 61% worry about the effect it will have on staff retention.

Employees who feel their careers have stalled cite salary growth (62%), career advancement (62%), skills development (42%) and their ability to grow their professional network (42%) as the primary challenges they experienced in recent months.

The fear expressed from senior managers with respect to the impact this will have on retention is well-founded: 28% of employees said they have experienced a “shift in perspective due to the pandemic and want to pursue a more meaningful or fulfilling job.”

However, that desire to pursue more meaningful work differs from the general sentiment captured in another recent survey conducted by KPMG Canada and released late last month.

KPMG’s survey highlights the struggles employees continue to face when it comes to finding work-life balance and avoiding exhaustion during COVID-19, which has resulted in many professionals working from home or in more isolated settings.

Forty-nine percent of employees told the consultancy their workload is “much or somewhat more” right now than it was before the pandemic. Just over 30% admit they’re so overworked that they’re on the verge of burnout – or already experiencing it. And 36% say they’re not getting the same opportunities to develop or showcase their skills or talent – a number that reaches 43% among those aged 35 to 44.

However, the research also found that the crisis has had a positive impact on employee sentiment in other ways, resulting in 29% feeling more more committed or loyal to their employer than they were before. Eighteen percent feel less committed or are actively seeking work elsewhere, according to the firm.

Nearly 60% of respondents describe finding more purpose in their jobs today, noting they “feel more motivated and engaged and that they are making more of an impact compared to before the pandemic, and 80% believe their employer has treated them fairly during COVID-19, with 18% saying their employer “made positive adjustments” during the first months of the crisis. Meanwhile, 36% feel their employer better recognizes their contributions to the organization compared to before the pandemic.

KPMG’s findings come from a survey of more than 1,000 Canadian employees conducted with Delvinia between April 16 and 19. Robert Half’s research includes responses from more than 500 workers collected between March 26 and April 15, as well as 600 senior managers at companies with 20 or more employees in Canada between Nov. 19 and Dec. 18 of last year.

Photo courtesy of Chris Montgomery via Unsplash.