The Start Smart

Engagement Poll

What Employee Wellbeing
Reveals About Organisations

The Start Smart Research Team, Davide De Vellis and Yinny Wong

January 7, 2021

12 min read

What is The Start Smart Employee
Sentiment and Engagement Poll

The Start Smart Employee Sentiment and Engagement Poll (November 2020) is a
collection of responses to 16 specific questions about matters related to employment,
employees and employers, from more than 2000 people across Australia. The poll was
conducted in addition to, and to support, The Start Smart’s comprehensive Initiation of
Recovery Research, which provides detailed insights from 5000 respondents into the
critical recovery factors for the post-pandemic period, for organisations amongst 27
industries and across 9 global regions.

How was the poll conducted

The Start Smart polled the target audience through key digital channels to ensure
independence and timeliness of responses. The targeted audiences were determined
with extensive research to ensure appropriate representation of the target market.

The questions were determined according to key themes that were identified and
highlighted as key areas of interest and/or concern, during the research and
development process of the Initiation of Recovery Research report.

The poll was conducted anonymously and the flight period was open until the
representative sample response target number was achieved.

Poll Results

We polled over 2000 professionals across Australia regarding their sentiments of work in the pandemic.

Have you used your organisation's support
programs to cope with the pandemic?

Do you believe your workplace is cohesive
and unified when it comes to decision making?

Has your employer done enough to assure your
job security?

Do you think everyone has the same voice in
your organisation?

Have you been involved in the recovery effort
of your organisation from the pandemic?

Do you believe your workplace is ready for the
new year after the pandemic?

Do you believe you and your manager are
aligned to the same goals?

Do you think employee surveys are effective?

Do you trust the decision making process
of your employers?

Are you experiencing digital fatigue due
to the amount of systems at your workplace?

Are you experiencing digital fatigue due
to working from home?

Do you feel more productive working from
home than in the office?

Has working from home negatively impacted
your wellbeing?

Do you think going back to the office will help
your wellbeing?

How engaged do you feel in your

Since the pandemic, have your one-on-one
meetings been as effective as before?

What can we learn from the Poll?


Wellbeing is a condition that is exhibited by a group or individual. A high level of
wellbeing dictates a more positive and peaceful state of mind or being. A low level
indicates a negative state which can be exhibited through stress, mistrust, anxiety and

With 75% of respondents stating that they do not feel engaged in the workplace,
more emphasis needs to be placed upon employee wellbeing to ensure that morale is
improved. Employee wellbeing and happiness is related to a high level of engagement
and productivity, therefore, organisations should consider more emphasis on wellbeing

Unified Recovery

Unified Recovery means the collaborative effort between the employers and
employees to recover from the damage of catastrophic events and unprecedented
circumstances. Both parties are listened to and concerns from both parties are taken
into consideration.

Our results show that many employees are left out of recovery efforts (86%) and as a
result 67% of employees do not have faith in their organisation’s operating capabilities
in the new year after the height of the pandemic. This showcases a lack of unity in
recovery and heightens the potential for other issues such as a loss in employee
wellbeing due to employees feeling like they are just an asset to the organisation. The
consequence of this if allowed to be ongoing can point to lowered rates of retention
and lowered operational outputs.

Digital Fatigue

Digital fatigue relates to stress experienced through being overwhelmed by having to
become adept at new technology quickly and having to continuously adapt to
technological changes in short periods of time.

In regards to digital fatigue, the responses were much more positive. We attribute this
to employees having settled into their new covid-normal - an era that is substantially
more high tech and technology dependent than prior to the pandemic. However, in
saying so, 13% of employees are still experiencing digital fatigue at work due to the
systems used while 14% are experiencing it during work from home settings.

There is a potential that the employees who affirmed that they were feeling digitally
fatigued have more systems to account for compared to the ones who responded no.
This points to the possible necessity of more status check ins and employee well being
focused 1:1’s in order to grasp the full context prior to forming an action plan.

Voice of Employee

Voice of Employee (VoE) is defined in this case as how effectively employers and
organisations take into account their employees concerns, thoughts and feelings.

From our poll data, employees believe that 1:1 meetings have not been as effective
since the pandemic (84%) and majority also admitted that they think not everyone has
the same voice within their organisation (81%). This points to organisations needing
more robust communication / listening channels so that employees feel that they are
not only heard, but that they are recognised as a valued member of the organisation
and not simply as an expendable asset.

Job security

Job security is a scale that dictates the probability of an employee keeping their job. A
low job security causes insecurity, meaning that employees will have a lowered chance
whereas high security on the scale means employees have a high chance of retaining
their job.

According to our poll data, 76% of employees say that their employers have not done
enough to assure job security. This statistic informs us that employers would benefit
from revisiting their employee well being initiatives as well as ensuring that 1:1’s are
effective and that transparency is put at the forefront of employer to employee
communications. If the issue is not addressed, a heightened level of job insecurity can
cause low morale which affects productivity and employee retention rates.


Trust is a belief in the ability, truth and integrity of someone or something, in this case,
we assess trust based on the level of which employees believe in their employers and

An overwhelming 81% of employees admitted that they did not trust the decision
making process of their employers. The direct cause of this remains to be ascertained,
however, employers would benefit greatly from improving communication and
transparency with employees. Additionally, ensuring a sentiment of security coupled
with giving employees more control over their day to day work circumstances would be
largely beneficial towards rebuilding trust.

WFH vs Office

When the pandemic began, the majority of businesses had to mobilise quickly to
resume operations from home. This caused a big shift in how people worked and with
it, came fluctuations in sentiment, productivity and wellbeing. As such, The Start Smart
worked to capture those notions into data to provide insight and opportunity to learn
about this shift.

The results regarding the work from home questions showed that the majority of
employees reported a higher wellbeing when working from home (75%). However,
66% felt that they were more productive in the office. With employee wellbeing being
a cornerstone of employee productivity and engagement in the office, the results reveal
that it would be beneficial for employers to allow employees to have more control over
their working arrangements. While the majority of employees have embraced working
from home, there is still a percentage of employees who prefer the office. Therefore,
catering to both groups and allowing for employees to have flexible working setups
dependent on their requirements would be beneficial to maintaining wellbeing

Employee Survey Effectiveness

There is an inherent misconception that asking an employee how they are doing, or
conducting an internal survey, is enough to effectively capture employee sentiment to
catalyse change. While these options may capture data or surface level insights, it does
not provide sufficient insights to develop deep understanding, and more importantly,
an effective action plan.

With 87% of respondents believing employee surveys to be ineffective, the results
reveal that organisations need to take a different approach to maintain employee
wellbeing, engagement and productivity.