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A year on from the pandemic: Have employee expectations changed?

Recently, we undertook a piece of research which took a deep dive into the needs and wants of employees in 2021. Drawing upon a similar scope of research done in June 2020, we wanted to see whether, a year on, the expectations of teams have shifted as a result of a year of living in the depths of a crisis.

It’s no exaggeration to say that the whole world has been completely turned upside down in the past 14 months. After yo-yoing in and out of lockdowns and having to adapt to a ‘new normal’, it’s undoubtedly a relief to us all that the light at the end of the tunnel is shining brighter than ever before. But as we begin on this path to recovery, it’s clear that our way of life is going to look very different to what we left behind last year.

Canvassed from 395 employees, our Employee Expectations 2021 report looks at how the events of the past year have changed our priorities and desires, personally and professionally.

Key findings include:

We’re a more settled remote workforce  

In June 2020, 11 per cent of employees claimed it was a lot harder to work from home whereas now, this number has more than halved (5 per cent). The predominant reasons for this shift include: 

  • A larger percentage (85 per cent) of employees now having dedicated workspaces compared to last year (72.5 per cent). 
  • A significant increase in financial support from employers towards proper working equipment (53 per cent now compared to only 37 per cent last year).  

There’s a desire to work from home more than in the office

This year sees a higher demand of people wanting to solely work from home, (22 per cent compared to 19.5 per cent in 2020). Of those who want a mixture of home and office working (69 per cent), more days spent at home continues to be the preferred option, with 2 days office / 3 days home being the most popular choice. 

…but it’s not everyone’s cup of tea

One in five employers have rejected flexible working, much to frustration of many employees who, as we’ve seen, desire at least a hybrid working model post-pandemic.  

There’s a call for better mental health support 

In our recent Staff Welfare Survey, 64 per cent of employers felt they had supported their staff’s welfare well. However, the Employee Expectations 2021 report showcased that employees did not share this sentiment. Over a quarter (27 per cent) felt their organisations should have done better. 

This disparity has come at a cost. Back in June 2020, 28 per cent of employees said their mental health had declined during the pandemic. This number shot up to nearly half (49 per cent) of employees in the latest report in 2021.  

Our Managing Director, Chris Goulding, said: “The COVID-19 pandemic has undoubtedly changed the way people have been living their lives across the world for the past nearly-18 months. People being thrust into home working has led to the increased desire for flexibility, inclusion, collaboration, work-life balance and autonomy.  

“The way that leaders manage their staff will have to change, with more emphasis on results garnered than time spent to meet those needs and desires of employees in this ‘new normal’. Employers not willing to at least meet staff halfway must be prepared to see a significant 
decrease of staff loyalty, employee numbers and brand reputation.” 

If you’d like to read the full report, click here to redirect to the download page.