6 Surprising Ways Employee Engagement & Productivity Improved in 2020

Research from the 451 Alliance shows that COVID-19 has had a much more positive impact on employee engagement than we initially predicted.

The pandemic introduced a work model that’s increasing enjoyment and overall positive sentiment toward employers. The survey also highlights where tech and digital transformation leaders have been successful and how that success has positively influenced their employees’ overall enjoyment and engagement at work, further tying tech investment to employee satisfaction.

In a year largely defined by COVID-19, it is evident that the organizations that were able to better respond to the pandemic were more likely to positively impact their employees’ overall work experience.

For many organizations, this year may have proven that investing in the right technologies can not only impact employee engagement but also influence organizational outcomes and their ability to survive challenges of all kinds, including global pandemics.

Despite COVID-19, employees seem to be happier overall at their current organization than they were last year.

According to our 2020 research on employee engagement, 44% of respondents completely agree that they are enjoying working for their current employer, up 10 percentage points from the 2019 survey response.

Compared to last year’s results, there is also a 10-percentage-point uptick of employees (30% in 2019 vs 40% in 2020) who see a future in their organization and are not thinking of working elsewhere. This may have been influenced by hiring freezes and furloughs in the job market; however, it’s also possible that job satisfaction has increased with remote work.

Additionally, there is a 9-percentage-point increase in the number of employees who say they are likely to recommend their place of work to family and friends.

2024 Trends in Workforce Productivity

Job security stress remains low despite COVID-19.

It could be easy to attribute the growth in positive sentiment toward workplaces overall in our 2020 survey to an increase in fears over job security: As employees stress over the economic upheaval caused by the pandemic, they become more likely to look at their place of employment favorably. However, this does not seem to be the case in our survey results.

In our research, some 83% of all respondents somewhat (37%) or completely (46%) agree that their jobs are secure for at least a year.

Compared to responses to this same question in the 2019 survey, there is only a 2-percentage-point increase in those who completely agree, highlighting that job security is not a major concern among our respondents, even during the pandemic.

Employees are feeling more adequately compensated, and money alone isn’t enough for them to leave their current job.

The impact of compensation on overall workplace happiness seems to have dropped from 2019. When asked if they would leave their organization for a 10% raise, the number of respondents who answer “Not at all likely” is up 9 percentage points from 2019.

Not only is compensation not as powerful a motivator to switch jobs as it may have been last year for some employees, it also seems that employees are happier with their pay rate in 2020. When asked if they feel adequately compensated for their contributions at work, 29% of employees completely agree – 6 percentage points higher than in 2019.

Organizations are doing more to increase employee happiness than they were in 2019.

One hypothesis as to why compensation may not be as much of a factor in workplace happiness in 2020 as it once was is that organizations are getting better at making their employees feel valued. It’s likely that enforced remote work played a part in this shift, whether intentional or not.

When asked if they agree or disagree that their employer takes their happiness at work seriously, 26% of respondents completely agree, up 8 percentage points from the 2019 survey.

There is also an increase in the number of employees who feel their organizations give them opportunities for growth (18% in 2019 vs 27% in 2020). Additionally, 5 percentage points more employees feel their organizations recognize and compensate employees for their achievements.

COVID-19 forced businesses to invest in employee productivity.

Enforced remote work due to COVID-19 has pushed many organizations to ensure that their employees have all the necessary tools to accomplish their work outside the office environment.

This could be one factor influencing the increased number of employees who feel their organizations provide them with the tools and technologies they need to succeed. Some 38% of respondents say they completely agree with the statement, up 11 percentage points from 2019.

There is also an increase of 12 percentage points in respondents who feel the tools they use allow them to be as productive when working remotely as they are when in the office.

Tech and digital transformation leaders have a better grasp on what makes employees engaged, happy and productive.

In terms of work enjoyment, organizations that are tech leaders come out ahead. Of the 44% of respondents who completely agree that they enjoy working for their current employer, 50% of them work for tech leaders, while only 33% work for tech laggards.

According to the survey results, tech leaders also seem to provide employees with more growth opportunities. Of the 27% of respondents who completely agree that there are opportunities for growth at their jobs, 32% work for tech leaders, while only 19% work for tech laggards.

Want insights on workforce productivity and collaboration trends delivered to your inbox? Join the 451 Alliance.