Employee Experience in 2020: The Moments that Mattered
By: Dr. Laura Hamill
Throughout 2020, employees struggled with burnout, depression, loneliness, fear of COVID-19, fear of discrimination, and fear of having to choose between family and career. And in an era of mistrust of the government and the media, they looked to their companies for support.
Some got it. Some didn’t. This is employee experience. How those employees felt their company supported them, communicated with them and cared for them will have a lasting impact.
Why you should care about employee experience
The Limeade Institute defines employee experience (EX) as how all interactions, big and small, affect how employees feel about their work each day. As you can imagine, a positive EX gives companies an edge. Of those employees who have a positive EX, 90% have greater well-being, 75% feel less stressed, they are 11 times more likely to stay 3+ years and 3 times less likely to feel burned out.
For most companies, their EX strategy starts at major moments of an employee life cycle, like onboarding, anniversaries, promotions and exits. These moments deliver opportunities to assess EX drivers and outcomes, reinforce values, and identify strengths and gaps. Companies have to get this right to shape a positive EX.
But there’s something that sets certain companies apart. I believe it’s their ability to show care at the in-between moments that happen along the way. The ones that are unforeseen and might not match up with the fiscal calendar. These are also the moments where the quality of our managers and leaders play out — and where topics like engagement, inclusion, care, culture and trust are all crucial.
What we learned about employee experience in 2020
2020 brought some of the most poignant of these moments. As employees navigated the pandemic, the Black Lives Matter movement, a contentious election and more, they needed support more than ever. These moments matter too — maybe even more. They’re where trust and community take shape. Where companies show their true colors. And where employees know if they’re in the right place or not.
One of the highlights of my year has been watching our customers do just this. They used Limeade technology to keep their frontline workers safe on the jobsite, to show support of racial equity and to connect employees when the rest of the world feels so divided.
To bring an experience rooted in care to life, organizations need to focus on the whole person — the integration of holistic well-being, sense of inclusion and culture at work. Cool surveys, AI and analytics are important, but they can’t do it alone.
Employees and companies are hoping that 2021 is brighter. I hope so too — and I believe that it can be done with the right technology, capabilities and a trusted partner that can help deliver these moments in a way that isn’t heroic, it’s every day.
7 times 2020 put your EX strategy to the test
But before we move forward, let’s look back at the countless opportunities that employers had to show care to their employees in the moments that mattered. If your efforts fell short, it’s not too late. Let’s learn from the past and work together to build a better EX for everyone.
1. COVID-19 begins spreading across the globe
In March, distant rumblings of a virus suddenly became a real threat to communities around the world. No one knew exactly how it spread, what the symptoms were or how deadly it could become. In one of the most frightening times in modern history, some companies took immediate action in delivering the care, community and resources their employees needed. Others did not. This is #EmployeeExperience. Usage of the Limeade platform increased 54% in the weeks to follow, as customers used solutions to reach employees where they were, when they needed it.
2. Frontline heroes stepped up to help
In the blink of an eye, work changed forever. White-collar employees opened up shop at their kitchen tables — meanwhile healthcare workers, first responders and even grocery clerks became known as heroes, risking their lives to deliver safety and care to their communities. Would it last a month? Two? More? Employees looked to their companies for answers and reassurance. Some of them got it. Some didn’t. This is employee experience. With Limeade, customers reached frontline workers on their mobile devices with relevant, timely information and emotional support.
3. Remote work fatigue & isolation set in
It’s May and we’re still stuck at home. We’re still wiping down groceries and still glued to the news. Worst of all, we are missing our families, our friends and the social events we used to look forward to. Remote workers are getting Zoom fatigue and burnout has increased by 30%. This is the employee experience. Limeade customers were able to target managers with tools & resources to support employees in crisis and create human connection.
4. George Floyd’s death fuels the racial justice movement
When George Floyd was killed, the Black Lives Matter movement permeated society with energy reminiscent of the civil rights movement. Protestors took to the streets while social media exploded with discussion around systemic racism and proposed calls to action. White people looked inside themselves, exploring new approaches to allyship and activism. And employees of color wondered if the global support would be fleeting or create lasting change in pay equity, workplace inclusion and diversity hiring. This is the employee experience. Limeade customers knew silence wasn’t an option, so they used the platform to share support and alignment.
5. Back to school looks very different
As summer ended, a grim reality became clear: Students would either be starting the year remotely, in a hybrid model or in an environment filled with masks, distance and aggressive hand-washing. Parents grappled with what this meant for their jobs and many (mainly women) left the workforce all together. Work flexibility went from a perk to a lifeline, and caregivers became desperate for compassion, understanding and connection to others in the same situation. This is employee experience.
6. Election season heats up
The U.S. election wasn’t just a day — it was one of the most stressful and polarizing times in the nation’s history. Social media updates and news alerts made it difficult to focus on work. And members of both parties felt the weight of the results on a deep, personal level. Some companies avoided the topic all together, and some shared proactive support for their people. This is employee experience. Limeade customers were able to reach their people in a timely way that objectively supported democracy and mutual respect.
7. A challenging year closes and we look to the future
We made it to December. It was difficult in so many ways — and we also learned a lot about ourselves, our communities and the companies we work for. Employees will always remember how they felt showing up to work in 2020. This is employee experience. As we speak, Limeade customers are reaching their people with reflection, gratitude and a positive outlook on the future.