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Do engagement levels differ between your furloughed and non-furloughed employees?

Furlough. The new F word.

For some, it has been a welcome relief at a time where children and vulnerable family members need full attention. For others, it was the last thing that they wanted.

Regardless, furlough could be one of the biggest things to impact your employee engagement levels this year. The way your organisation has supported and communicated with employees will have either a positive or negative effect on how your employees are currently feeling.

When a furloughed employee returns to work, ideally they will be engaged. However, being away from work for such a long time could result in them being more passive and in fact the thought of returning to work could be causing anxiety for some. Organisations who haven’t handled the furlough process effectively may find their employees are feeling bored, unmotivated and even ready to move on.

Identifying the differences between furloughed and non-furloughed employee sentiment should not wait until they return to work – it’s important to take action before it becomes too late. Highlighting the feelings and anxieties of your people now will provide a baseline measure of engagement, enabling you to take action in the right way. This will also ensure your furloughed employees feel supported and remain engaged as they return to the workplace.

How do we measure the difference?

An employee might feel satisfied within their role, but satisfaction is not the same as engagement. Satisfied employees are happy but passive, whereas engaged employees are active, focused and really understand how they contribute to the bigger picture.

Our engagement surveys evaluate how employees are feeling using our 9 zone feedback model, to establish your engagement profile.

Our model builds on ‘Russell’s Circumplex Theory of Affect’, and provides insight into the current emotions of your employees, by measuring how stressed to calm and how bored to enthusiastic they currently are.

Employees would ideally sit in the top-right quadrant, experiencing pleasant emotions whilst being motivated and highly active.

The uncertainty surrounding COVID-19 may result in employees who were previously engaged falling into the top-left quadrant, where employees experience less pleasant emotions but are still highly active. Some anxiety isn’t necessarily a bad thing; all organisations, regardless of how high their engagement levels are, have employees with more anxious personality traits, it’s just in their nature.

For employees on furlough who’s experience hasn’t been handled well, we may find them featuring in the bottom-left quadrant. Feelings here continue to be unpleasant, but employees are also inactive, they don’t contribute to projects or teams and may even become depressed.

Employees could also feel satisfied, highlighted in the bottom-right quadrant of the model. Employees here feel pleasant emotions and are content at work, but aren’t as active as they could be because they don’t see the value their role adds to achieving the bigger picture.

What insights can we take from this?

In the first instance, you will see where the average employee sentiment sits on our model. However, the model can then be used to see which zones furloughed and non-furloughed colleagues sit in*, as well as how different teams and other demographic groups compare.

Future surveys with Best Companies will also utilise this model, allowing you to see at a glance how employee feelings have changed over time.

How can I access this analysis?

Engagement profile analysis is available with our b-Heard engagement surveys.

For more information, please contact us.

*Please note that to get additional affect model analysis, 30 responses are needed with at least 10  from both furlough and non furlough employees.

Andrew Scattergood
by Andrew Scattergood
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