COVID-19 has improved employees’ satisfaction & motivation: how to accelerate it, going forward

Author - Søren Smit. Director

New Ennova survey shows that COVID-19 has greatly improved employee satisfaction & motivation from a global perspective. However, when designing a good employee experience, HR and management should draw 5 lessons from this situation so as not to return to square one.

We are nearly one year into the pandemic, and the effect on the labor market and on the actual work has been massive. Among other things, COVID-19 has led to job insecurity, more work from home, and virtual collaboration with colleagues. However, despite this, Ennova’s surveys spanning 250,000 employees show that, compared to before, satisfaction & motivation have generally improved from a global perspective – and more companies are also reporting better customer satisfaction.

How has this been possible, and what lessons should the companies learn with respect to employee satisfaction & motivation as they move towards a time without COVID-19, in order to maintain and further develop the new level of satisfaction & motivation?

Increase the focus on top management visibility, empathy, and “soft” management values

Top management has stepped up during the pandemic, and Ennova’s surveys show that the employees appreciate this. In many companies, there has been a level shift in the employees’ assessment of top management. The employee experience during the pandemic has been prioritized on par with the financial key figures and customer satisfaction. In part, this took place through an increased focus on employee wellbeing and working conditions in conjunction with a high level of visibility and trust. In parallel, we have seen ongoing, empathic communication with the employees via virtual town halls, more frequent internet communication, etc.

Top management should continue this focus going forward, as the employees like it and the loss will exceed the “COVID-19 gain” if they return to the pre-pandemic level of priority of the employee experience.

Continue to listen to the experience of the employees – and to act!

During the last year, companies have started to supplement their annual satisfaction & motivation measurements with ongoing and agile pulse measurements. This focus has accelerated during the COVID-19 period, where some companies have increased the number of surveys in order to gain frequent insight into their employees’ wellbeing, work from home, virtual collaboration interfaces, etc. Among other things, the insights have been used to optimize the strategic communication, approaches to procedures, etc.

The team leader has also benefited from more frequent surveys during the pandemic. Creating a good employee experience with new work habits, for example in relation to working from home, imposes new requirements on the team leader’s ability to sense the wellbeing of the employees. This is where pulse measurements have been critical.

The companies should maintain and further develop the ongoing insights into the employee experience since technology and the increased global competition will only lead to further changes to the organizations and thus the work and frameworks associated thereto.

Establish homogeneous employee experiences in a future hybrid organization

The companies have worked hard on ensuring optimal collaboration interfaces and social activities as the work has shifted from physical to virtual.

The companies and the employees themselves have shown impressive initiative in establishing virtual Friday bars, quizzes and company concerts, which have supplemented the formal professional meetings. Is it possible that such social events have been even more frequent than before the pandemic?

Correspondingly, we have seen companies act with lightning speed to introduce initiatives for digital hiring, digital onboarding, digital collaboration interfaces via technological platforms, etc. Extensive experimentation and adjustment has been continuously taking place, and many initiatives have enjoyed great success.

The companies should, however, stop up now and take a close look at which homogeneous experiences the employees should have in the future, spanning physical, virtual or hybrid attendance – in part based on the experiences from the pandemic thus far. This approach can be compared with the efforts of customer service, online and marketing on providing customers with a homogeneous experience across sales and support channels.

As part of this work, HR, managers, and employees can employ agile working methods to an even greater degree, such as design thinking, employee journey mapping, and hackatons, so as to design the best employee experience of the future.

Accelerate the focus on the employees’ experience with working from home

Working from home has been accelerated during the pandemic, and the expectation is that we will continue to see a significantly increased level of working from home in the future after COVID-19. Several companies have taken great steps with respect to improving their employees’ experience at the point of contact for working from home, with respect to optimization of tables, chairs, internet connection, connection to the workplace, monitor, webcam, lighting, digital collaboration platforms, etc. However, you should ask yourself and the employees if there are further optimization opportunities, for example adjustable office desks, improved internet speeds, and gross salary agreements, so as to provide a sustained excellent experience at this key point of contact.

Similarly, it has become even more important to help the employees master the balance between their work and personal lives. Therefore, it continues to be very important to inspire, train, and help the employees to establish rules that fit their individual lives, so that there is a clear differentiation between when they are at work and when they are off. In this regard, it may, for example, be helpful to pack up the computer after work so as to get the feeling that you have “come home from work”. Furthermore, employees can be encouraged to take breaks throughout the day, and going out for fresh air should be permitted.

Personify the employee experience even more

COVID-19 has been an exorbitant, unplanned work experiment, which has resulted in a number of lessons with respect to employee experience. With the introduction of working from home and flexible work hours, a busy family with children has had an easier time managing their day, resulting in more time and energy – both at work and in their personal lives. The young extrovert employees without children have missed their time at the office and the social interaction, while the busy salespersons have realized that it is possible to sell online without always being on the go. The companies have also come to understand that the 8-16 “monitored” work hours at the office are not the best setup.

No two employees are entirely alike and the pandemic has enabled even more individually-customized experiences in the future, where the company’s focus should be on output rather than a strict “one size fits all” attitude to the process and setup. For example, use advanced analysis so as to segment the company’s employees based on different needs, the way it is done for customers. The team leader should involve the individual employee to an even greater degree in two-way communication that takes the employee’s individual needs into account and helps the employee to establish the best employee journey.

The opportunities are vast and can contribute greatly towards future satisfaction & motivation and employee productivity.

Do you want to learn more about good employee experience? Get a free extract from the book “Mastering Employee Experience - 16 specific step to take in your EX transformation” here:


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Søren Smit. Director

Søren Smit. Director

Søren Smit is passionate about employee and customer experience. He is head of Ennova’s EX and CX business development. He has worked for over 10 years with customer experience as a director and as the person responsible for establishing a data- and analysis-driven CX culture as well as a transformation of the customer experience at TDC Group.