The most important employee listening lessons of 2020

Guido Heezen

This year’s corona crisis affected every sector and every organization differently. This is the result of Effectory pulses carried out among 556,161 European employees between March and November 2020, compared to the previous year.

The most important employee listening lessons of 2020

Depending on the circumstances under which employees worked – on the front line, on location or remotely, the sector their organization was active in and the extent to which their organization was profitable – the scores for many different aspects of the employee experience sometimes differed considerably.

Concrete starting points for action

The results show that targeted pulse surveys can deliver critical information about major changes in the employee experience in areas such as capacity to perform and enthusiasm. In this way, pulse surveys give you concrete starting points for the targeted improvement of operational processes at key points within the organization.

1. Major differences between working on the front line, on location or remotely

The corona crisis had different effects in every sector and every organization, and on all aspects of the employee experience. Hospital, nursing homes, care facilities and home care organizations faced enormous employee shortages throughout the year. Overworked healthcare workers, well aware of the importance of their work, did what they could to continue performing.


In education, educators and teachers did their best to keep students motivated under difficult circumstances.


Many organizations also faced another major change: large numbers of their employees became remote workers. They didn’t always know what was expected from them while working remotely, were not always able to collaborate effectively with colleagues and didn’t always have enough time to recover.

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2. Major differences between sectors

Whether the organization faced greatly reduced demand, or in fact grew, proved to have a major effect on the employee experience. In the online sector, a continuous flow of new colleagues had to be onboarded and brought into line with the organizational goals throughout 2020.

In other sectors that keep our society running – such as agriculture, production, industry, logistics, energy, telecom, transport and retail – people also felt more than ever how essential their work was.


3. Enthusiasm remained largely constant in many sectors


In 2020, employees had to adapt the best they could to all the changes they faced. If their organization managed the crisis well, paid sufficient attention to their interests, rallied the troops effectively, formulated an attractive new common goal and maintained or even increased profitability, the enthusiasm of employees often emerged relatively unscathed. Sometimes it even increased. 



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4. Good crisis management and contact with employees is crucial

If organizations couldn’t determine a new course that worked quickly enough, perhaps because the challenges in their sector or niche were too great, their employees were sometimes left bewildered, mentally detached, or very angry or sad.


5. 2021 will also bring changes

A great deal will also happen in 2021. Firstly, there’s a light at the end of the tunnel – the promise of large-scale vaccinations and the return of normal life. Secondly, there will be new changes. But if we have learned anything from 2020, it is that no one can predict the future. This means it will remain crucial to know how employees are doing in the new year, and what they need to perform optimally.

6. The demand for pulse surveys is increasing

In 2020, we saw an increase in the popularity of pulses. Many organizations experienced the power of continuous listening for the first time. They discovered that it allows you to respond rapidly and flexibly to all new developments under all circumstances, regardless of whether these have internal or external causes.

The scope and focus of pulses can also differ greatly. By making optimal use of all opportunities in your feedback landscape, you can recover at critical moments as an organization, motivate your employees maximally and really achieve sustainable growth.

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