Despite the disruption wrought by the coronavirus pandemic, employees are not unhappy at work.
In fact, research by digital workplace platform Beezy found that happiness at work has remained largely stable with pre-pandemic levels, and has actually increased for some.
However, according to Beezy, it is important to remember that employee happiness and employee engagement are not the same things. The latter focuses on their emotional commitment to their role and their employer — and Beezy’s survey of 800 US employees found this has been steadily declining during the pandemic.
51% of those surveyed said they were struggling to feel connected to their colleagues and their employer in remote working settings. While 41% noted they were missing the sense of camaraderie with coworkers that they had in the office, and 39% struggled to feel a sense of belonging and culture at their company.
In addition, while organizations have tried to transition their culture onto online settings, 45% of respondents noted these attempts were ineffective and 18% said they were extremely ineffective.
HR tech overload hinders productivity
Feeding into this disengagement is meeting fatigue; a well documented phenomenon in this pandemic.
Beezy’s research found that 54% of employees are attending more meetings virtually than they ever did in the office and 41% were attending up to seven more meetings a week.
Employees are not convinced that these meetings are actually productive — especially since almost half said at least two virtual meetings every week were disrupted by technological issues.
85% of respondents said they would be able to do their jobs better if they had fewer virtual meetings and calls. However, it is not only virtual meeting technologies that are undermining productivity.
Beezy’s research found that 41% of remote employees are overwhelmed by the amount of workplace tech they were using; with 12% feeling extremely overwhelmed by the range of HR tech in use.
61% noted they were not satisfied with workplace tools and tech, primarily because they were buggy and unreliable, but also because they didn’t integrate properly with other tools.
Additionally, 58% noted that frequent app notifications affected their productivity at work, and 13% said it significantly decreased their productivity. As a result, 54% said they were working more hours than pre-pandemic.
Some of the tech pain points employees have experienced are issues with the company’s intranet and challenges. In addition, 54% of those surveyed found that they struggled to follow workflows using software tools.
As a result of the gaps in workplace tools, many employees (40%) are turning to alternative, unsanctioned technologies to communicate and collaborate with colleagues. This was particularly the case for younger employees, ranging from 54% for millennials to 33% for Generation Z.
Empowering employees in hybrid future of work
Beezy CMO Mike Hicks commented: “After a year of remote work, employees are more burnt out than ever thanks to an abundance of meetings, hundreds of notifications, and little sense of belonging to their company.
“It’s on business leaders to fix these disjointed digital workplaces, especially as we enter a new era of hybrid-virtual work.”
The first thing for employers to do is to reduce the number of meetings – thereby freeing up employees to use their time more strategically and prevent them from overworking.
However, in order to keep projects progressing, Beezy suggests that employers need to leverage other digital tools.
To prevent tech overwhelm, the company notes that organizations must work to streamline the tech they use, as well ensure the tools are interoperable and easy to use. In implementing any new HR tech, Beezy notes companies must listen to the views of employees about their needs and preferences.
Beezy also suggests leveraging HR tech that mimics social media using newsfeeds, employee profiles, and bots that focus on facilitating better communication – both informal and work-focused – as well as collaboration within teams.
“Collaboration and communication have never been more important, and digital workplace tools that make these tasks simpler for employees will be paramount in the hybrid work environment,” notes Hicks.
“With the right infrastructure and a digitally optimized culture, we can all look forward to work.”