Despite the fact that COVID-19 hit Australia less severely than other parts of the world, only slightly more than one in ten employees felt fully engaged with the workforce in 2020. That’s a key finding from a recent study by HR research institute ADP, which sought to examine the impact of COVID-19 on workplace engagement and resilience.

While it comes as little surprise that employees felt disengaged during a time of such upheaval, the researchers were surprised to find there was not a correlation between Australia’s comparatively strong response to COVID and workplace engagement. Australia’s score of 13 per cent was in line with the global average of 14 per cent, despite the fact that other countries were impacted much more severely by the disease itself.

What’s more, only 12 per cent of Australian workers surveyed scored highly for resilience, versus a global average of 15 per cent.

Interestingly, when respondents were asked if they had a personal experience with the virus (such as a positive test, or a family member getting sick), they were 3.8 times more likely to say they felt “highly resilient”.

According to Eddie Megas, Managing Director of ADP Australia, “The findings from this study are fascinating, particularly that a personal experience with COVID-19 results in higher levels of workplace resilience. The data reinforces the well-known notion that people can often emerge stronger after a setback or crisis.” It’s interesting, then, that the overall Australian score for resilience was that much lower, given fewer Australians are likely to have had a personal experience of Coronavirus.

Megas says the data simply demonstrates that Australian and global employers need to do more to build engagement with employees in order to bounce back after the pandemic. “To achieve this, employers need to work on improving their communication with employees and to strengthen the employer/employee relationship to build a bond of trust and mutual sense of appreciation.”

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