The impact of the Covid-19 pandemic has been monumental. Where work is concerned, businesses across the world have experienced seismic shifts in how they operate, and the same can be said for employee loyalty. With discussions of a global resignation surge gaining traction last year, it became clear that many people had begun to rethink their working lives. With a view to investigating these changes, global feedback company Netigate has analysed 200,000 employee Net Promoter Scores (eNPS) from 274 companies.  

Falling eNPS scores and the Great Resignation 

Netigate’s data shows that the average eNPS for 2019 was 9. It then increased to 17 in 2020, showing that employee loyalty was higher despite the uncertainty and turbulence experienced during the start of the pandemic.  

an image showing an employee who prefers flexible working hours. Flexible working hours are the way to improve employee loyalty.

Moving into 2021, however, the results show that employee loyalty decreased, with the average eNPS falling from 17 to 13. This drop coincides with the global discussions of a Great Resignation that began in the second half of last year. The findings indicate that while employees may have remained loyal to their employers early in the pandemic, this began to change as it progressed. 

Commenting on the findings, Netigate CEO Mikkel Drucker says:

The Great Resignation discussions that came out of 2021 are an indication that employees around the world want more from their employers. It seems that the pandemic has given people a new perspective on working life, and many are now looking for employment that meets their evolving needs.” 

What does this mean for business? 

Netigate’s findings, coupled with the Great Resignation discussion, indicate that employees are experiencing increasing dissatisfaction with their employers and are feeling empowered to do something about it. Indeed, research carried out by Microsoft found that 40% of workers globally were considering leaving their current employer by the end of 2021. This could potentially spell trouble for companies that are competing within a widening talent marketplace, thanks to the rise of remote work. 

For businesses, now is the time to listen carefully to employees. What has worked well for them during the pandemic? Which elements of their work would they like to see change? What are the key drivers of engagement and loyalty among employees? The answers to these questions will form a basis in preparing the next steps to improve employee loyalty. 

Key approaches to improve employee loyalty

Between 2019 and 2020, Netigate conducted a survey of 3000 Swedish employees who answered 29 engagement driver questions in combination with the eNPS question. Analysis of these results showed that business elements concerning leadership, work tasks, personal development, and clarity regarding organizational vision and goals are closely related to employee loyalty. By understanding these high-level drivers of loyalty, businesses are better able to target their efforts towards improving it.  

It’s important to recognise that the drivers identified by Netigate span the business as a whole and aren’t limited to factors like work tasks that are specific to individual employees. This means that companies need to be prepared to look at themselves from the top-down. As well as to consider how crucial a role organisational elements like culture and management have to play in overall employee loyalty.   

Establish an ongoing feedback loop with your employees 

Netigate’s research also shows that employees who did not participate in any type of employee survey in 2019 and 2020 gave lower eNPS scores compared to those who took part in at least one during the same period. These findings indicate that actively seeking out feedback from employees plays a pivotal role in how they feel towards their employers. Supporting this is data from a Salesforce special report, which shows that employees who feel listened to are 4.6 times more likely to feel empowered to do their best work.  

If businesses don’t already have a robust feedback process in place, now is the time to implement one. From annual employee surveys to more regular ‘pulse’ check-ins, listening to the voice of your employees is the only way to truly understand what will improve their experience.  

The work doesn’t end with the asking, however, and it’s essential that businesses take steps to act on the feedback they receive. A key part of implementing a feedback process, therefore, is designing a plan for actively working with the feedback once you get it.  If a company fails to act on feedback, it can create frustration among employees, resulting in lower loyalty scores.  

Embrace and refine a hybrid-remote working environment 

In January 2021, McKinsey reported that 52% of employees wanted a hybrid working model following the pandemic, while 11% wanted to work fully remotely. Many businesses have responded to this accordingly, and a study by Gartner shows that 94% of organisations are allowing employees more flexibility with regards to where and when they work.  

Remote work became a silver lining around an otherwise bleak situation for some employees during the pandemic, and a failure to continue offering it could lead to a significant decrease in employee loyalty. As a result, adopting a hybrid-remote working model should be high on the agenda of companies seeking to keep their employees happy.  

Commenting on Netigate’s eNPS report, the University of Dundee’s Professor Graeme Martin says, “I suspect that how firms deal with work design, flexible and remote working, especially in addressing different needs among employees, will be influential […] If people value something and come to expect it, then not living up to these valued expectations becomes a problem.” 

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