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Doing Things Differently: Helping Employees Access Events and Technology

COVID-19 Weekly Culture Pulse Survey: May 25-29, 2020

The way employees do their work is changing—perhaps permanently. Employees are modifying the ways they interact with each other, with events, and with workplace technologies. But how can organizations help manage these changes and provide the support that leads to positive outcomes?


Interacting in the workplace


Throughout the Coronavirus pandemic, one thing has remained clear—we’ve had to change the way we work.

Eleven weeks of COVID-19 pulse surveys have revealed the different circumstances that on-site workers have faced compared to their remote worker counterparts. We’ve explored whether employees feel their organizations have provided the tools and safety measures required for them to do their jobs. We’ve also looked at how their confidence, fears, and engagement levels have changed week over week. Now we’re exploring two ways the pandemic has created opportunities to change how we work: virtual conferences and mobile technology.

Business and professional online events increased 1,100% in April compared to April of last year.


This week’s survey results highlight how organizations can better support employees as they interact with people, events, and technology in different ways.

New constraints on in-person contact and the elimination of large gatherings and conferences have forced companies and employees to engage in work differently. How differently?

Incredibly, USA Today reported that business and professional online events increased 1,100% in April compared to April of last year. As you might have suspected, Computerworld noted that the pandemic caused a surge of video conference app downloads.

Following are ways organizations can support their employees as they connect with virtual events and workplace technologies.


Attending virtual conferences


Almost half of employees surveyed said they have attended in-person or physical trade shows in the past. To this point, 31.5% of employees report that they have already attended a virtual trade show or conference since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Even though attendance is now virtual instead of in-person, 52.2% say they plan to attend the same amount of trade shows as they did before, with 28.2% saying they will attend more than before.

It’s easier than ever for employees to attend a virtual event. By encouraging employees to take part in virtual events, organizations can continue to support their development, growth, and ability to take part in new opportunities.

One positive statistic for organizations is that employees noted a slight uptick in feeling supported to attend virtual events (a 4% increase to 61%). That support is not inconsequential.

When an organization was supportive of employees attending a virtual trade show or conference, employees reported:

23.5 eNPS score (up from -9 for unsupportive organizations)

28.9% increase in rating their employee experience as positive or extremely positive

35.8% increase in the perception of opportunity for career advancement

32.9% increase in feeling like they have the ability to continuously learn and grow

31.9% increase in feeling like their organization is innovative

22.9% increase in engagement


Accessing workplace technologies


Our survey looked at how employees are currently interacting with several workplace technologies, including email, instant messaging, and several types of software.

Overwhelmingly, employees prefer engaging with most technologies via desktop or laptop.

A great majority of employees still primarily use their desktop or laptop computer to access work email (76%), HRMS software (70.4%), and payroll software (68.7%). Only about 12% of employees reported primarily accessing these types of tech software from their mobile devices.

About half of respondents said they primarily access the following apps from a desktop: Formal recognition (49.1%), peer-to-peer recognition (50.2%), and instant messaging (46.5%). However, a significant segment (24.7%) reports primarily accessing instant messaging from a mobile device.

Although many employees are comfortable accessing most workplace technologies through a desktop or laptop, there are some cases where greater mobile engagement makes sense.


When to encourage mobile use


The majority of employees say they are comfortable with work applications on their personal mobile device (67.7%). But when looking specifically at employees and their mobile interactions, we found two areas where organizations can improve engagement and usage.

Communication Apps: Keeping in contact during a crisis is critical for any organization. But not all communication lines are open. For employees who primarily use their mobile device for email access, 80.7% report that they have notifications turned off. On the other hand, only 17.1% of employees that primarily use their mobile device for instant messaging say they have notifications off.

This big discrepancy means that if you want to reach mobile-using employees quickly, messaging is a more effective communication tool right now than email. That said, employees felt that messages received outside of business hours sometimes crossed the line (so they were more likely to turn off notifications after hours).

Only 36.1% of employees report that their organization has asked, suggested, or otherwise pressured them to download mobile software.


Recognition Apps: Roughly two thirds of employees who primarily use their mobile device for formal or peer-to-peer recognition say they have notifications turned on. They see value in receiving notifications about the recognition of their peers.

However, organizations are not doing well at encouraging employees to download and use their mobile recognition software. Only 36.1% of employees report that their organization has asked, suggested, or otherwise pressured them to download mobile software. This can be costly, since mobile users give recognition by an average of 98% more than their non-mobile counterparts.

Plus, as reported in previous weeks, encouraging recognition during a crisis is more important and beneficial than during more normal times.


Supporting employee interactions is key


Whether it’s making it easier for employees to attend virtual events and trade shows or helping them interact with workplace technologies, the payoff comes when organizations support their employees. Encouraging and helping them adapt to new ways of using workplace communications and technologies will go a long way to ensuring they enjoy positive employee experiences and continued opportunity.


For more insights from the O.C. Tanner Institute, check out our previous COVID-19 pulse surveys. And check in next week for new ones.

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