Over three-quarters (76%) of Irish employees believe their employer has a responsibility to provide well-being support to employees during the coronavirus pandemic, yet less than half (45%) of employers currently provide such supports.
The Hays Ireland Well-being Matters: What Workers Want Report 2020, which surveyed 1,700 people across Ireland, examines the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on employee well-being and explores how employers can take steps to support their workforce.
The research found Irish employees want to see their employers show leadership and reassurance during this time of unprecedented change and uncertainty.
However, two in five (40%) employees feel that their employer’s response to the coronavirus pandemic has been “okay” to “poor”.
The research suggests that although over two fifths (41%) of employers say the communication aspect of their organisation has had the most change since the coronavirus pandemic, communications is the main area employees (50%) believe their employers should improve in.
This is followed by improvements in strategy and planning (16%) and remote staff management (14%).
According to the research, almost 40% of employees rate their current work-life balance as “average” or “poor”, with a lack of social interaction being the greatest challenge to their overall well-being (31%).
At a time when an unprecedented number of Irish employees are working remotely, employers must work harder than ever before to maintain workplace morale and foster a positive team spirit.
Over half of employees (59%) say job security has become more important since the coronavirus restrictions, with almost half also stating that work-life balance (49%), mental health support (49%), the work support network (48%), and physical health support (46%) has become more important as well.
Hays’ research suggests that the most prominent supports offered by employers promoting employee well-being include professional training, social activities, online doctors, and exercise initiatives.
The most in-demand well-being supports listed by employees include a greater focus on communications (41%), professional training (21%), and support services such as online doctors or counselling services (18%).
Over one-third of employees (36%) say they want to prioritise their health and well-being in the future.
Other key findings from the What Workers Want report include:
One third of employers are still recruiting staff to fill permanent, temporary, contract and interim positions during the coronavirus pandemic.
62% of employers feel their organisation is “quite” prepared for a phased return to the workplace at the end of the coronavirus restrictions, but almost one fifth of employers (17%) state their organisation is unprepared.
Almost one third (30%) of employers think the greatest challenge when transitioning back to workplaces will be establishing remote working agreements with their employees.
Flexible working policy is the top long-term change (49%) to workplaces that will come as a result of the coronavirus outbreak, with employers looking to retain new communication/collaboration tools (28%) and change the overall communications approach to the business (21%).
Over one quarter (27%) of employees have experienced a decrease in salary since the coronavirus restrictions, with 4% of employees receiving a raise in their salary. The majority of employees (68%) have experienced no change to their salary since the coronavirus restrictions.
Almost one third (30%) of employees are not confident in their ability to progress their career in the short term, with this figure decreasing to 6% when thinking long term.
Approximately eight out of ten employees (84%) check in with the colleagues on their team every couple of days, if not every day.
Almost one quarter (24%) of employees feel relationships with colleagues have become more distant since the coronavirus restrictions.
Commenting on the report, Maureen Lynch, Director of Hays Ireland, said: "As a result of the coronavirus pandemic, it is estimated that 320,000 employees are currently working remotely across Ireland, which represents approximately 14% of the working adult population in the country.
"The coronavirus has changed the way we work and how employees perceive the workplace. This presents challenges and opportunities for employers, who must now adapt to new ways of working and better understand their employees’ motivations.
"On 10 August, we will see the final phase of the re-opening of the Irish economy and more specifically, the re-opening of office buildings across the country.
"We’re seeing some employers already making changes. Less than a fortnight ago, Twitter committed to making its current remote-working practises available to staff on a permanent basis.
"This move is a recognition of the positives that have emerged from this new mode of working, including improved employee wellbeing and, for the employer, new ways of achieving optimum productivity."