How has Employee Satisfaction changed in 2021?

With vacancies at a record high and turnover rates their highest in seven years, the job market is in a very volatile state.  Salaries are rising fast across many sectors, whilst areas such as hospitality and transportation are seeing labour shortages as employees seek opportunities elsewhere.  This change is due in a large part to the impact of the pandemic, which has prompted many people to reconsider their priorities, as well as causing changes in working practices with the rise of policies like flexible hours and remote working.  All of which is affective employee satisfaction, engagement and wellbeing.

Younger workers especially are moving out of areas like retail and hospitality, attracted by better salaries, support, working conditions, flexibility and career progression in other sectors.  Additionally, this reconsidering of priorities and career trajectories has led many longer-serving worker to take early retirement.

Workplace Satisfaction Survey Trends

This background gives context to an interesting trend we’ve seen in our employee surveys over the past year or so.  Whereas there was a slight rise in overall engagement and satisfaction following the advent of the pandemic, this trend has recently reversed.  This is partly because, with the impact of the pandemic having subsided, the everyday frustrations of their work lives have become more prominent.  However, high turnover levels are also having an impact on employee engagement.  Many organisations are struggling to maintain staffing levels, and for the remaining staff this leads to increased workload and responsibilities in many cases.

Our recent employee surveys have highlighted workload and staffing levels as areas of lower satisfaction, especially in roles which are not office-based, and these topics are frequently brought up by employees as the main area for improvement in their organisation.  This can translate into a lower intent to stay, especially since employers are increasingly offering higher salaries and more flexibility.  This is a particular problem for sectors such as healthcare and hospitality, where most roles cannot be performed remotely or on flexible hours, and where organisations may lack the resources to offer substantial pay rises.

The graphs below show some trends picked out from our norm database.  In the period between April 2020 and April 2021, people responding to our clients’ surveys felt they had a better work/life balance than before, perhaps due to not having to commute.  However, this positivity has fallen over the course of 2021.

Able to balance work and personal life

It seems that despite feeling that they had a better work/life balance, employees weren’t much more satisfied with their workload levels over this period.

Supported to manage workload

Interestingly, employees were actually more confident that their organisations had a good future over this period than before, perhaps because many senior leaders made an extra effort to communicate openly with their employees about organisational performance.  Since April 2021, this has fallen back to below the level seen before the pandemic, reflecting concerns over the continued financial impact of the pandemic on businesses.

Confident of a good future

The greatest challenge for these employers, therefore, is to maintain or increase their population whilst offering them an improved employee experience.  It will be interesting to see how this trend changes in the long term, and whether retention and recruitment issues continue to affect certain sectors after the job market has calmed down.

For further employee insights and and survey support, you can click the links previous.  Alternatively, give us a call on 01255 870735 and we can chat through any needs you might have around understanding satisfaction or wellbeing through our tailored employee satisfaction survey and staff welling survey.