The latest global study by Qualtrics shows that top engagement drivers have statistically shifted during the global pandemic from ‘confidence in leadership’ and ‘growth & development’ in 2019, to ‘belonging’ and ‘company purpose’ in 2020. And the research reveals the importance of taking action on feedback, with 92% of global respondents stating that employee feedback is important, but only 7% say their organisation actions that feedback really well 

Qualtrics, the leader in employee experience and creator of the experience management (XM) category, today released the 2021 Global Employee Experience Trends Report. Learnings from the report include new drivers of employee engagement around the world, key employee experience stats for the UK, and a snapshot of how the UK compares against European neighbours. It also shows the importance of taking action on feedback, and key actions HR leaders can take to improve the experience for their people going into 2021.

The study examined more than 11,800 full-time employees across 20 different countries – including 800 in the UK – to find out what’s changed in employee experience, and what is driving employee engagement in a post-COVID world.

Key Takeaways:

  • Engagement and intent to stay are up, but there’s work to do: employee engagement in the UK increased by 11% from 2019, but few organisations are listening and acting upon feedback, a key driver of engagement

  • Top engagement drivers have shifted: globally in 2019 the leading drivers were “confidence in leadership” and “opportunities to learn and grow”. In 2020, “a sense of belonging” and “a sense of pride” in the company’s efforts to have a positive impact on the world took over as top drivers.

  • Taking action on feedback: While 92% of global respondents stated that employee feedback is important, only 7% say their organisation actions it really well.

  • Sense of belonging: Employees who feel like they belong are 3.5x more likely to be engaged at work than those who feel like they don’t belong.

“It’s not been easy for UK organisations,” said Jake Outram, Senior XM Scientist in EMEA. “They’ve scrambled to keep their operations running smoothly, and oftentimes employee feedback has fallen through the gaps, evidenced by a drop from 2019 in the number of employees who believe their feedback is acted upon. Remote working has also eroded the perceived connection between feedback and action. Plus, more frequent pulses – collecting group-level data – may have been conducted at the expense of engagement surveys and engagement pulses, where more local reporting and action is the norm. Here’s where people leaders in the UK build upon a strong 2020. Make it faster and easier to give feedback in a variety of ways, and enable managers to take action more effectively.”

“2020 will be remembered as a time when the expectations of the employee experience and the role of employers have irreversibly changed. Top engagement drivers have statistically shifted more this year than the past several years combined—surprising organisations with an increase in engagement and intent to stay during these challenging times. The organisations that are shifting to prioritise efforts in belonging, resilience, and well-being are seeing the biggest gains and are poised to thrive in 2021,” said Jay Choi, EVP and GM of EmployeeXM, Qualtrics. “The entire workforce was tested in ways they’ve never faced and as we look to a new year of challenges and opportunity, leaders need to understand how emerging trends will reshape the workplace.”

Qualtrics EmployeeXM™ is used by organisations around the world to identify what their people need, and what actions they can take to improve the everyday experience to improve the bottom line. In 2020, Qualtrics EmployeeXM was recognised in “The Forrester New Wave™: EX Management Platforms for Large Enterprises” report as a leader in Employee Experience Management. Qualtrics is the only Leader who received a Differentiated rating in seven of ten criteria, including vision, market approach, customisation, and others.

To learn more about the 2021 Global EX Trends Report, please click here. To learn more about Qualtrics EmployeeXM, please click here.

About Qualtrics

Qualtrics, the leader in employee experience and creator of the Experience Management (XM) category, is changing the way organisations manage and improve the four core experiences of business––customer, employee, product, and brand. Over 12,000 organisations around the world are using Qualtrics to listen, understand, and take action on experience data (X-data™)––the beliefs, emotions, and intentions that tell you why things are happening, and what to do about it. The Qualtrics XM Platform™ is a system of action that helps businesses attract customers who stay longer and buy more, engage employees who build a positive culture, develop breakthrough products people love, and build a brand people are passionate about. To learn more, please visit

By Lisa Baker, Senior Editor

Senior Editor Lisa Baker is the owner of Need to See it Publishing Group, providing contract news for business and news sites across the UK. Lisa is an experienced HR writer and commentator, editing HR publications for more than 5 years.