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The Employee Experience Platform | Culture Amp
Sophia Lee, author

Sophia Lee

Writer, Culture Amp

Since the beginning of the pandemic, Culture Amp has worked with its customers to collect data and understand trends in employee experiences during COVID-19. One of the most common questions we’ve received during this period is: what are companies doing to respond to these trends?

To address this question better, we launched the “How Companies are Embracing a New Future” survey to our entire customer base earlier this year. The report, collected from 349 Culture Amp customers worldwide and across various industries, shares key insights on remote work and employee wellbeing. We’re excited to share these findings with our HR community and provide data to inform your decision-making for 2021 and beyond.

3 key insights from our COVID-19 report

To give you a sense of what you might find in our report, we shared three key insights below on remote work, performance management, and measuring the effectiveness of COVID-19 adaptations.  

1. Remote work isn’t going anywhere

One of the most profound changes organizations experienced in 2020 was the transition to remote work. Almost overnight, companies were suddenly faced with deciding who could and should work remotely – including those with virtually no experience being part of a distributed workforce.

Our survey found that, before COVID-19, just 5% of organizations were entirely (or predominantly) remote. However, we now see that 75% of organizations have most, if not all, of their employees working remotely. Even organizations with no or very few remote employees pre-COVID now have 72% of their workforce working this way.

What this means for 2021

While the transition to remote work has generally gone well, these initial decisions have now transformed into new questions about moving forward in the upcoming year. Our survey results indicate that the remote workforce landscape won’t be returning to what it was before the COVID-19 pandemic.

Of the companies with little prior experience in remote work, 35% will keep more than half of their employees working remotely, and 39% will have less than half of their employees remote. Only 19% of these companies will return to mostly in-person work.

But is this a sustainable decision for these businesses? Our research indicates yes. When we tie in the investment to remote work this year with our performance findings, we found that most companies are at or above pre-pandemic performance levels. This is evidence that remote working can be an effective choice for most organizations with the right infrastructure.

2. Companies are still prioritizing performance management

The pandemic has shifted business demand for many companies, forcing them to change existing operations and policies. In response, organizations have been questioning how to proceed with performance management. 

Specifically, is performance management still relevant during this unprecedented time? And how can we fairly judge performance when the market is rapidly changing in unpredictable ways? We found that over half of the respondents still kept their original performance goals, while a third simplified or reduced their goals. We even saw that 7% of companies increased their performance goals – perhaps because 60% of these companies saw increases in business demand.

What this means for 2021

Given that most companies in our sample are proceeding with performance reviews, we can assume that these organizations will likely continue to do so. We encourage this approach as the performance management process is essential to making informed business decisions. Similarly, performance reviews are necessary to invest in employees’ growth, which is a crucial component of building a responsive organization.

3. HR teams aren’t sure how to approach measurement

With so many changes happening in the workplace during the pandemic, it’s essential to pinpoint precisely which adaptations benefit the organization and which ones aren’t producing results. 

Unfortunately, many HR teams – 36% of respondents – aren’t sure how to start when it comes to measuring the effectiveness of the COVID-19 adaptations they’ve made. This may be harmful to organizations since they won’t be unable to identify and adjust ineffective approaches. Also, People leaders may not receive credit for the initiatives and programs they put into place during COVID-19 without impact metrics. 

What this means for 2021

In our report, HR teams indicated that additional budgeting would help them better respond to the challenges of COVID-19. However, this means that they need to demonstrate the ROI of their programs, which only 64% of respondents currently know how to measure. That’s why, in the upcoming months, we encourage HR to start collecting employee experience and performance data to measure its impact.

With the world of work changing so rapidly, we hope you find it valuable to see how other culture-first organizations respond. Our goal with this report is to arm you with data to make more strategic decisions for 2021.

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