The early results are in, as we continue to collect data about people’s wellbeing and resilience at work. And they’re worth shouting about.
350 individuals from across the world took their iPPQ resilience and wellbeing survey this April as part of iOpener’s quest to understand how people are managing their work life and work performance during COVID-19 times.
Employees are reporting that they are more energized, engaged and happy
Comparing this April’s results with iOpener’s iPPQ data collected over the past 12 years, people are reporting significant increases in feeling energized, engaged and happy during their work days. And there is a considerable increase in the percentage of overall work tasks that people say they love doing too.
That’s worth emphasizing. Yes, you read it right! People are saying that, today, they are much more energized, engaged and happy at work than over the last 12 years.
By continuing to collect iPPQ data, we will be able to explore if this is a sustainable change and discard the hypothesis that we could be seeing a honeymoon effect; perhaps created by people’s increased autonomy and control brought about by the ability to work from home.
Average happiness at work, made up of 18 elements that matter most to people’s happiness-performance link, scores an average of 5.57 out of 7 for the April respondents. This is an overall 12% increase compared to the mean of the previous 12 years of data. This could, in part, be explained by the relatively small sample of respondents in the past month (350) and, in particular, because they opted in to take the iPPQ rather than being required to take it by their organization.
But, in fact, people’s responses about the percentage of their time at work spent energized, engaged and happy at work have increased much more than just 12%.
|Percentage of work day |
|iPPQ database mean||April 2020 iPPQ mean|
|happy at work||41%||73%|
People are relating to a greater sense of purpose
Stepping back to look at the big picture, we know that having a sense of Purpose is one of human beings’ main motivators in life and at work. It seems that organizational leaders’ messaging and focus during COVID-19 times has enabled employees to get better clarity of purpose. Even if this is a basic focus on business survival, it is enabling employees to prioritize what is most important at a time when they are being stretched due to colleagues being off work ill, being in quarantine and having been furloughed.
In addition, organizations’ CSR programs have sprung up to help their communities far and wide. One of the largest increments in the happiness-performance link is people’s ability to see the positive impact that their role is having on the (/their) world (up by 18%).
An appreciation of organizational Culture is experiencing a revival at the moment too. More people would apparently recommend their organization to a friend than ever before, and the highest score of all in the iPPQ is respondents’ assessed appreciation of the values that their organization stands for (6.14 out of 7). Trust in their organization has increased by 16% and trust in their leader’s vision has similarly increased by 15%.
People are reporting that they are much more motivated at work (up by 19%). And loving their job a lot more than in times gone by (also up by 19%).
But some factors are losing out
But these wins have come at the expense of Camaraderie. In usual (pre-COVID-19) times, this was the number one contributor to employees’ real-time reported happiness at work. Right now, it’s dropped to fourth place behind Culture, Purpose and Voice.
Efficacy has also taken a knock. Whilst people may be more energized and engaged at work, they seem to be frustrated that their expected efficiency and effectiveness (by leveraging a sense of control over their daily activities) is not matched by the reality of what they manage to achieve in a day’s work. And they are feeling challenged by the disruption to work normalcy as they know it.
A constant reminder from iOpener’s clients and coachees is that they feel that Recognition for work achievements and effort is not sufficiently forthcoming from their bosses. In a time when Camaraderie and the feel-good factor of social connection at work are hard come by, we are priming leaders that they have to work much harder than normal to spot what is going well, to give positive feedback, and to acknowledge effort as well as output. Don’t take anything, or anybody, for granted!
Employees are also yearning more support. They score low on having the support they need to perform at their best. They say that they go out of their way to help colleagues more than they receive help themselves. And their usual confidence that they do things better than others is adversely affected by these unprecedented times too. This goes some of the way to explain that their resilience is being tested. But, we do know that resilience is best acknowledged after the event, not during it, so it is another element of the happiness-performance equation that we will keenly monitor as the weeks go by. Interestingly, respondents deem their leaders to be less resilient (8% less) when it comes to coping with difficult times than they are themselves.
As always, the lowest of all responses to the iPPQ is that about achieving potential. Individuals only score their current achievement of potential as 4.69 out of 7. What they’re saying is loud and clear. They’ve got a lot more to give. And – just perhaps – it’s in times like these that they’re even more aware of this and are raring to find opportunities to step up and make a difference.
Let’s make some noise about the positives!
This data evidence (reinforced by iOpener’s anecdotal data gathered via various sources, including iOpener Connect) flies in the face of the overall negative media reporting during Coronavirus. Mindful of the devastation, disruption and despair that Coronavirus has wreaked on many families and organizations, there are positive repercussions to the changes of our way of working. This is a narrative that is worth telling. The media’s negative news reporting is an easy attention-grabber and fodder for the lazy reader. And it fuels catastrophic thinking; the reason why we are advised to stop news-bingeing.
The remedy for catastrophic thinking involves generating hope for the future. Research by Professor Dan Tomasulo of Columbia University shows that adversity is the catalyst for hope. And so, as we face the adversity that Coronavirus is making us face right now, we must look ahead and plan how we want the world of work to be when we come out of this.
People with high levels of hope are more likely than others to see adversity as a challenge that they can do something about, and that is what our data is showing. They’ve generated a sense of hope and commitment that can explain this upturn in energy, engagement and happiness at work.
Let’s make some noise about the positives and learn from our human capacity to adapt to tough times. And let’s remember that, as the human race, we do yearn meaning, belonging and the chance to do something great.
By Oriana Tickell & Katie Demain – 1st of May, 2020
P.S. More good news! We initially offered the iPPQ free of charge for the month of April, but have now decided to continue offering it free of charge whilst we continue in these COVID-19 circumstances.
If you would like to take part and get your own personalized report about your wellbeing and resilience at work, please register here.
We will continue to monitor the incoming iPPQ data closely and to write about our findings as the results come in.