Navigating Return to Work: Insights Employers Need to Know

Evive’s second COVID-19 survey was administered on April 30, 2020. While our first survey probed the general population’s attitudes and behaviors around risk and preventive adherence, this survey unpacked employee sentiment on return-to-work dates, policies, and other concerns during this new stage of the crisis.

Questions we asked included:

  • How often have you heard from your employer about returning to work?
  • When do you think your employer should re-open the office?
  • What would influence your choice to go back to the workplace right now?
  • Which workforce strategies would make you feel protected?

The survey found that most employees feel ready to return as soon as possible, but not without concern—especially when it comes to how their own co-workers will adhere to workplace preventive policies. Meanwhile, readiness to return and overall employer sentiment are highly correlated with how frequently employers are communicating with employees about return-to-work and COVID-19-related updates.

Here’s a look at three core areas of our findings:

Employees are ready to be back

When surveyed on the very eve of May, more than 1 in 2 people said they would prefer to return to work sometime in the next month, if given the choice—and a full 75% of the surveyed employee population anticipated a pre-August re-opening of the workplace. Men were more likely than women to be ready to return, but otherwise simple demographics didn’t show much difference, nor did the presence of high-risk factors in the household: with one stark exception. Those with asthma in the household were significantly less likely to be ready to return (which isn’t surprising, given how similar some of the symptoms are to those of COVID-19).

New policies are welcomed (and people are willing to comply)

Employees are largely agreeable to two common workplace safety measures: COVID-19 symptom reporting and staying at home with symptoms. In fact, nearly 9 out of 10 employees said they’d be “at least somewhat likely” to report mild symptoms, such as low-grade fever, sore throat, or dry cough, if required by their employer. When asked about other preventive strategies that would make them feel protected, 80% of respondents said they would find mandatory face masks at least somewhat helpful, 66% said they would find self-certification forms somewhat helpful, and 86% would find social distancing at least somewhat helpful (these were just a few of the options explored). However, 58% of employees said they lack trust in their co-workers to comply with the same measures. 

Communication from the employer matters

Consistent and relevant messaging from employers brings value in a number of ways. One example is a strong correlation to a higher employer NPS score; 53% of respondents hearing from their employer daily about return-to-work falling into the NPS promoter category. Another correlation is overall readiness to return: a full 2 out of 3 employees hearing from their employer daily about return-to-work, on average, felt ready to go back in May.

Navigate return-to-work with these insights and more

The full survey report goes deeper into each of these findings. Download it to learn more on the best ways to support employees right now, the most impactful re-opening strategies, and the important role of communication through all of this.

Get the full report