Millennials want social interaction and feel that working from home has a significant effect on mental health (more than at other ages). Having focus is also an important point of attention for this group. They indicate that involvement, contact and communication are important in the current home-working situation. Older employees look for better collaboration tools, technical support, an ergonomic home office and they find trust, attention, and clarity from the employer very important.
What works for one, seems less effective for the other. People Analytics shows that listening to employees’ need and personalizing the employer response increases the impact with 20%, compared to a simple one-size-fits-all. The headlines of our research are also published in newspaper ‘Het Financieele Dagblad’ (article in Dutch) and many other newspapers.
Recently, we closed the research and more than 2000 respondents participated. In this article the latest results are provided.
What support do employees need whilst working from home? And how do companies keep their employees engaged and productive? A research consortium initiated by Crunchr People Analytics, Insurer Nationale-Nederlanden and HR advisory firms AWVN and Focus Orange have conducted a large-scale study to answer exactly these questions.
- We launched this Open Research to understand how the new homeworkers feel and what the employer can do to support them. The participants played a gamified conjoint analysis game in Crunchr where they ranked all possible interventions.
- For the average homeworker: collaboration tools, flexible working hours and social interaction are most important. However, preliminary analysis also show significant spread in the answers: what works for one, may not work for the other. For example, ‘staying fit’ is really important for 24.2% of the participants and at the same time very unimportant for almost sixteen percent (15.2%).
- With Crunchr, we calculated 4 personalized support interventions that show 20% higher effectiveness than a one-size-fits-all.
- Employees with children living at home (55.2% of respondents) benefit more than the overall group from flexible working hours and the availability of collaboration tools. In addition, having focus is appreciated also a bit more.
- Age is an important factor in employee preferences, for example, flexible working hours is more important for the age group 35-44 then the other groups, but it also differs based on the industry you work in. Financial and business services have the same needs, while it is extra important for employees in the trade industry to be provided with updates from their manager and having the availability to the right work supplies to perform their work effectively. Employees who are more concerned about the economic situation also find updates from Management more important than the other groups.
- Does working from home have negative impact on productivity? 21.3% of the respondents say it does. This is almost 13% less than a month before when we started the research, by then it was 34.1%. Also, 24.2% say that it impacts their mental health. These two groups show correlation but are not the same (15.2% says they both see negative impact on productivity and on their mental health).
- 62% of all respondents are concerned about the economic impact of the pandemic (of whom 40% are very concerned). 90% is satisfied with how their employer is responding. 90% is satisfied that they manage to work from home, this was 83% at the beginning of the lock down.
What can employers do for employees to keep them productive and engaged?
Let's start by explaining how we collected the results. We asked employees who are now working from home due to COVID-19, to play a conjoint analysis game in Crunchr. They had to order 16 items (see below), to how much each support intervention would help them.
Each item has definitions and the game forced the participants to really think what is most important. The position on the top (most important) gets 7 points, the position on the bottom gets 1 point. Below are the average results (not filtered on particular engagement or demographic).
Not every homeworker has the same needs
From the summary of the results (see above), you might think that collaboration tools (e.g. Google Hangout, Microsoft Teams, Zoom) and flexible working hours are most important. However, looking at the spread of the answers we see the following:
This gives the first indication that what is important to one person, might not be equally important to the other. In this anonymous research study, we asked the participants to fill out some demographics. These allow us to better understand the needs for every group.
If we zoom in on participants up to age 35 (blue) and compare them to the benchmark (orange), we see that social interaction and focus become more important.
So, what should employers do to support the homeworkers? People Analytics helps with the answers!
The mistake most HR teams make is that they base their action on the average results. They assume that the average results are effective for the average homeworker. But an average worker does not exist. There are different personas. So, to design effective support interventions for the new homeworkers, we need more than just average and slicing/dicing.
We experimented with cluster analysis. We asked Crunchr to calculate four different propositions to help the new homeworker. The results are surprising. The one-size-fits-all results (for the non-existent average homeworker) yield an average match of 48%. When Crunchr designs four personalized interventions, the impact increases up to 70.2%.
The visualization shows nicely how support can be different by persona. For example, 24% of the respondents are matched against proposition 1. The impact of support interventions increases from 48% to 68% (on average). Compared to the one-size-fits-all,staying fit and focus drop below the midpoint.
So, how do homeworkers feel?
We also asked the respondents how they feel. As you can see from these graphs, also here is a spread.
This research was accessible from the beginning of April till the 15th of May. We noticed over time that home workers became more satisfied! At the beginning of the lockdown 83% of the respondents were satisfied while working from home. This percentage grew to 90% a month later. The participants also indicated that their productivity increased, and they are less worried about the economic situation.
At the same time, it remains important to be attentive to custom employee needs. Read more about these insights in our article: Corona homework research by Crunchr and Nationale-Nederlanden: Working from home offers opportunities in the New Normal
To download the complete research report with all the main conclusions on how to keep homeworkers engaged and productive, click here.
The cool thing now is that we can start combining all results to answer powerful questions:
"Who are the people where productivity is impacted most and what can the employer do to help them?". The brief answer:
These are mostly people who live alone or with roommates, slightly more females over males and in the age range up to 44 years old. Surprisingly not only millennials!
This group is less worried about the economic situation than the benchmark (-7.6%).
And to help this group, focus on social interaction, flexible working hours and access to easy to use collaboration tools. Probably personal check-ins.
Read the summary of the results here.