“Athletic agility” represents the new company-evaluation axis for employees

How has the coronavirus pandemic changed the focus for choosing a company from the perspective of employees, who are in the position to do the choosing? OpenWork CEO Haruki Ohsawa offers insight based on an analysis of the feedback submitted to his company’s website.

How can we investigate changes in what employees focus on when evaluating companies?

How do you do. My name is Haruki Ohsawa and I am the CEO of OpenWork, one of Japan’s largest providers of employee feedback-based job and recruitment services. Today, I would like to share with you how the company-evaluation axis of employees has changed amid the coronavirus pandemic based on the more than 10 million employee reviews and evaluation scores that we have collected.

The global spread of the new coronavirus has brought about dramatic changes in the way we live. It has also required us to respond to significant changes in the way we work, such as the introduction of remote work. How has the way that you work changed as a result?

We examined which words started appearing more frequently in employee feedback once the pandemic got underway (2020) compared with before it began (2019). Among the reviews posted on OpenWork, we focused primarily on the comments submitted within the “Organizational structure/Corporate culture” category, which reveal the inner workings of companies, tabulating and comparing word frequency in 2019 and 2020 in an attempt to determine what we can take away from this increase in the appearance of certain words.

Shifts in employee feedback due to the pandemic

Before we get to the results, I’d like to tell you how we collected the data.

We collect data through the responses submitted to the OpenWork company-evaluation report, which is characterized by the following three features.

  • Company information from regular and contract employees who have been with the company at least one year
  • Respondents answer a 500-character or more open-ended question and eight multiple-choice questions
  • Monthly overtime hours (actual numbers) and the percentage of paid holidays taken (actual numbers) are also collected

The data that was analyzed were as follows:

Frequency of nouns appearing in word-of-mouth feedback from current employees on “Organizational structure/Corporate culture” submitted to OpenWork between January 2019 and December 2020.

Even when limiting the results to words that appeared at least 20 times, we were able to identify some 4,996 words and, among these, we collected those with a difference of 0.2 percent or more from the 2020 appearance rate.

Chart 1: Words that appeared more frequently in 2020 “Organizational structure/Corporate culture” employee feedback (translated from Japanese)

What is your take on the frequently used words listed above? The impression they leave will differ considerably depending on whether you view them in a positive light or a negative light, but let’s consider the meaning they may convey.

“Athletic agility” represents the new company-evaluation axis for employees

Looking at the words appearing with greater frequency due to the coronavirus, they can be broadly classified into “telework-related,” “management/supervisor-related,” and “corporate stance/corporate culture-related.”

The words that fall into the “telework-related” category include telework, remote, (at/from) home, and paper. As the pandemic got underway, there appeared to be an increase in comments concerning whether or not remote work would be possible and the measures that would need to be taken to transition to remote work.

Words that apply to the “management/supervisor-related” are top-down, instruction/direction, and sense of speed. 2020 was a year that demanded responding to major changes and it could be inferred that circumstances called for stronger and faster decision-making by top management and superiors.

Lastly, words related to “corporate stance/corporate culture” include culture, seniority, vertical organizational structure, and compliance. These words could be interpreted to reflect dissatisfaction with the inability of organizational cultures and corporate stances to change during a year that demanded adaptation to the external environment.

To sum up these findings, you could say that the “quality of a company’s athletic agility,” its ability to quickly and flexibly instigate change in the face of the coronavirus, has become a new axis for corporate evaluation. To use a sports analogy, this is akin to the sudden explosive power and decisiveness required to respond to an offensive attack. We may now be witnessing in corporate management what Darwin laid out in his theory of evolution when he said that only those capable of adapting to the changing environment will survive.

How are things going in your workplace?