One in four workers report worse relationship with employer since Covid, poll finds

Research reveals half of employees that say relations have deteriorated have also seen their productivity fall

The majority of workers believe their relationship with their employer has changed since the start of the pandemic, with one in four saying it has got worse, according to a new poll.

The survey of 900 employees, conducted by MetLife, found almost three-quarters (72 per cent) felt their relationship with their employer had changed because of their response to the coronavirus crisis.

Nearly half (47 per cent) said their relationship with their employer had improved, with 16 per saying it had done so significantly and around a third (31 per cent) saying it had somewhat improved.

In comparison, a quarter (25 per cent) said it had worsened, while a slightly higher proportion (28 per cent) of respondents said there had been no change to their relationship with their employer.

However, the research, which also polled 300 businesses, found that employers were less optimistic about how their relationship with their employees had changed. Fewer than a third (30 per cent) said they felt their relationship with their workforce had improved as a result of their response to the pandemic, while a similar number (31 per cent) said it had worsened. Another 38 per cent said there had been no change.

The poll was conducted in August last year as part of MetLife’s Re:Me report.

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The research also found there was a strong correlation between the strength of the employee-employer relationship and productivity: of those employees who felt their employer relationship had weakened, half (49 per cent) said they had also seen their productivity decrease.

A quarter of employees whose relationship had worsened (25 per cent) also admitted that their employer’s response to the crisis had affected their level of trust – a sentiment shared by 32 per cent of employers who reported a poorer relationship.

Adrian Matthews, employee benefits director at MetLife UK, said the pandemic had “undoubtedly shifted the dynamic” between businesses and their workforces. 

“Home working has removed many of the cultural, emotional and communications bonds employers have spent decades establishing,” he said.

“Our research shows how this has resulted in significant erosion of how cared for employees feel by their employer and their sense of belonging – a reality experienced across companies of all sizes.”

Matthews added that the outbreak had increased employees' expectations of their employers. The poll found seven in 10 (71 per cent) employees surveyed felt companies had a social responsibility to them, while 61 per cent said they now expected their employer to make accommodation for personal circumstances.