COVID-19 2020 Benchmark

Since we launched our COVID-19 Pandemic Response survey, we’ve had over 200 customers be proactive in seeking feedback from their employees with regards to their organizational response.  In fact, while we received sufficient data from early adopters by early April to provide benchmark information at our full benchmark level (this requires a minimum of 20 companies, and 20,000 responses), we have now been able to update and supplement this with additional data collected by organizations. 

The insights we share below now reflect all data collected from the launch of this survey to date (up until Early May).  Initially, we had considered releasing benchmark data in separate time interval snapshots, however upon inspection of the data, since themes have stayed true, we have created a single benchmark by merging the two datasets. Therefore, the following data and insights cover the whole time period. Where there were marginal differences between the two datasets, we’ve called them out specifically.


Before we get into the valuable benchmark insights, we wanted to pause and outline some limitations to keep in mind in reference to this data set.  

  • Early adopter status: given the nature of the impact of this pandemic, organizations who have been able to pivot their organization quickly to the circumstances are far more likely to have felt ready to get feedback from their employees on the effectiveness of their organizational response.  As such, the high scores seen in this first benchmark might not be an accurate reflection of ‘typical’ companies but instead represent a cohort of ‘early adopters’. By responding quickly and seeking feedback early, they are likely to have higher favorability.
  • Profile and diversity of the organizations who have launched: almost 40%  of the data collected comes from North America, with representation from organizations in Europe and Oceania similar at 18 and 19% respectively. Finally, 16% of organizations represented are from Asia, with much less data coming from other parts of the world currently. We know that geographical regions are in different phases of COVID-19 and as such the stage of organizational response will also differ. Asia for example is already starting the transition back to work while in North America organizations are still adapting to new ways of working. The industry make up of the benchmark is also skewed towards Computer Software and IT (reflective of the ‘early adopters’ mentioned above), with these industries likely able to pivot faster in their response and ability to work remotely. Therefore, for organizations from other industries the challenges may well look very different. 

How to use this benchmark

You can load this benchmark as a source of comparison within the platform. While interpreting keep in mind the limitations that we mentioned above. Our hope is the benchmark gives you additional context for how your response compares to other organizations, but shouldn’t be seen as a target to hit. 

Especially during this time, each company’s experience will be unique. While some organizations have been teleworking for years, others are unable to complete their roles from home. Some businesses are growing 10x while others have seen their business slow to a trickle. In these times it’s even more important to use yourself as a benchmark. That means seeing where you are scoring relatively low compared to your other questions, and how your results change over time. 

Trends we're seeing

Overall, we are seeing favorability scores for this survey trend much higher than we would for a typical engagement survey. This is likely because the nature of the questions differ markedly from our other templates.  Given the extreme demands of the pandemic, we created our question set to focus on making sure employees’ most basic needs are being supported. When considering Maslow’s hierarchy of needs these include physiological needs, safety, and belonging.  Given the context, assessing higher order needs around self-esteem and self-actualization are unlikely to i) be sensitive or sensible to ask employees around, and ii) be within scope for most organizations to influence right now. 

We're also seeing participation is lower than for other surveys with the median rate being 78% (almost 10 points lower than for Engagement surveys). This is unsurprising given what is on employees' plates right now, and that the emergency response survey is often open for a shorter amount of time to get quick feedback. 


The outcome index - company confidence

Company confidence is defined using these three questions, getting at the heart of employee perceptions of organizational support and adaptability from the survey template

  • I have confidence in my company's response to the COVID-19 Pandemic 
  • My company is making sufficient adjustments to deal with COVID-19 Pandemic
  • My company is supporting employees during the COVID-19 Pandemic

We’ve found company confidence is exceptionally high at 94% suggesting for companies that are surveying, employees are highly satisfied with their organization’s response. 


Top drivers

We look at which questions most drive our desired outcome of Company Confidence in the organization's COVID-19 response. What our data tells us is that Leadership is highly important, with now all 3 highest drivers from the top 5 pertaining to their roles. In addition, the strength of timely communications and how safe employees feel carrying out their role are also strong drivers.

Driver Rank

April Benchmark

Full Combined Benchmark


I believe the leaders at [Company] are making effective decisions regarding the COVID-19 Pandemic

I believe the leaders at [Company] are making effective decisions regarding the COVID-19 Pandemic


The leaders at [Company] are providing a sense of stability during the COVID-19 Pandemic

The leaders at [Company] are providing a sense of stability during the COVID-19 Pandemic


We are receiving timely communications from [Company] about the COVID-19 Pandemic

The leaders at [Company] are appropriately visible/accessible during the COVID-19 Pandemic


The leaders at [Company] are appropriately visible/accessible during the COVID-19 Pandemic

We are receiving timely communications from [Company] about the COVID-19 Pandemic


We are adapting well to changes in work conditions (i.e. remote work)

I feel safe carrying out my role during the COVID-19 Pandemic


CHANGE: Interestingly comparing our full benchmark to data collected in March and early April, we do notice some changes to the top 5 drivers. Drivers 3 and 4 switched places, with the leadership questions all rising to the very top, and the 5th driver shown here around feelings of safety moving up from 6th place to 5th.  These are of course modest movements, however provide a useful sense of subtle shifts we are seeing over time, as the pandemic unfolds and employees move from focusing on adapting to doing their role in the new normal


Most favorable items

  1. I know what I need to do to keep safe and healthy during the COVID-19 Pandemic (98%)
  2. I am able to access the work systems/technology I need to do my role from home (95%)
  3. I am being treated fairly by my colleagues during the COVID-19 Pandemic (95%)
  4. %ACCOUNT_NAME% is making sufficient adjustments to deal with COVID-19 Pandemic (95%)
  5. I feel safe carrying out my role during the COVID-19 Pandemic (95%)

From this we can see that organizations are demonstrating strength in how they equip their people with regards to keeping safe and healthy, and having access to systems and tech to work from home.  Kudos to the HR and IT teams who have likely pivoted quickly to respond on this front. And despite reports of increased xenophobia across the globe, employees are being treated fairly in their organizations. 


Least favorable items

  1. I feel equipped to look after family/dependents should I need to (83%)
  2. I know where to find [Company]'s most up-to-date COVID-19 Pandemic policy  (85%)
  3. I understand %ACCOUNT_NAME%'s most recent policy for [travel/flexible working/quarantine/reimbursement etc.] (86%)

The lowest scoring items are around those with dependents being about to juggle their caring responsibilities. And companies are struggling to keep employees up to date on changes to policies. 

CHANGE: When we compared to data collected over March and early April, we saw only modest shifts. Previously the least favorable item was “I know where to find [Company]'s most up-to-date COVID-19 Pandemic policy” but since it has increased 3% it has now taken second place. Previously we did not have enough data to have a benchmark for “I understand my company's most recent policy for [travel/flexible working/quarantine/reimbursement etc.]” and now see it is lower scoring which is perhaps unsurprising given the “most recent” timeframe.

Regional benchmarks

We have two regional benchmarks available: North America and Oceania. 



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