Looking Back on 2020’s Employee Experience, How Does the Workforce Feel at EOY?

Wednesday December 30th, 2020

Estimated time to read: 2 minutes, 15 seconds

The end of the year (EOY) is usually a time for reflection. It’s an opportunity to look back over the successes and lessons of the past 12 months and to start setting new goals and priorities for the coming year. But, as the workforce nears the end of a highly unusual and disruptive year, how are employees feeling? 

In October 2020, isolved checked in with more than 300 full-time employees around the U.S. to get a sense of the general sentiment and any shared perspectives as EOY approaches.

Let’s explore some of the key findings from our Holidays 2020: End-of-Year Employee Experience Report, to see how they create a picture of the state of employee experience (EX) and employee sentiment at the end of 2020. 

2020’s EX wasn’t awful — but there is room for improvement

Employee experience is made up of all employer touchpoints and interactions, before, during and after their time with a company. A lot of factors go into creating that lasting impression — and when EX changes so rapidly and significantly, employees take note. 

When our respondents were asked to rate their company’s employee experience in 2020, most (44.6 percent) considered EX this year “average.” Another 28.2 percent said it was “good” and 16.7 percent felt it was “poor.” Not surprisingly, just 10.6 percent rated the 2020 EX as “outstanding.”

New expectations and challenges — like experiencing Zoom fatigue from a cramped guest bedroom or having to shoo the barking family dog away during an important phone call — have certainly taken a toll on EX overall. So have the financial ramifications of the pandemic.

Of the full-time professionals we surveyed, 53.5 percent said their employment was negatively affected by the pandemic this year. The top three changes respondents experienced were:

  • Reduced pay
  • Reduced hours
  • Not receiving an expected pay increase

The financial realities of reduced work or income can leave a dark cloud hovering over an otherwise okay employee experience. However, despite these disruptions, 81.1 percent said they still believe they have job security at EOY.

As company culture evolves, it’s becoming increasingly important

It’s no surprise that the pandemic’s impact has created a significant shift in company culture. For many professionals, comfortable offices and coworking spaces were swapped for makeshift home offices. For others, physical distancing and safety measures have changed the day-to-day experience dramatically. 

A variety of factors have impacted EX and workplace culture, such as:

  • Traditional office jobs going remote, separating colleagues from each other and putting a new strain on work-life balance
  • Full-time professionals having to juggle virtual schooling and other unforeseen responsibilities
  • Teams formerly reliant upon travel and in-person activities pivoting to new ways of working

Given the rapid rate of change experienced this year, and the unknown reach of the pandemic into 2021, employers will need to keep an eye on workplace culture — whether it’s experienced onsite or at home. At EOY, 87.5 percent of employees agree that company culture is now as important or more important than it was a year ago.

The importance of EX will be amplified in 2021

Overall, 93.5 percent of the workers we surveyed said employee experience would be just as important or more important to them in 2021 compared to 2020. In fact, the majority (55.7 percent) believed its importance would increase. 

Given the adaptability, effort and energy many workers are putting in to keep up with the new way of working, they are no longer simply looking for an okay or lackluster employee experience. Employers will need to step up in the coming months and address new EX priorities. No matter what the new year holds, companies that make an effort to put people first and make smart EX investments will be able to create a positive change in the workplace. 

Learn more about employees’ evolving expectations and preferences by downloading isolved’s Holidays 2020: End-of-Year Employee Experience Report.

Amberly Dressler

Director of Brand and Content