Thrive XM Index 2020 Report: The Case for Employee Experience Driving Business Results


Over the last several months, human resources (HR) leaders have taken strategic and deliberate action to take charge of the changes their organizations – and their employees – have faced. While many have determined how to maintain business operations, HR leaders have been at the helm to help ensure employee experience remains a No. 1 priority.

From worker safety to well-being, it is the human experience at work that is essential to business continuity.

The new Thrive XM Index 2020 Report shows definitively that companies that prioritized the employee experience not only performed better once the COVID-19 pandemic hit, but many of them actually grew. Put simply, people determine whether companies succeed or fail. And investing in people is what makes the difference.

In good times, employee-experience efforts are drivers of sustained growth; in turbulent times, they are key to an organization’s resilience and adaptability. Happy, cared-for employees are more driven, dedicated, and innovative – especially in times of crisis. In other words, companies that seek better business outcomes can achieve them by focusing on employee experiences that directly touch the moments that matter the most to individuals — both personal well-being and work lives.

Better Experience, Better Business Results

In 2019, SAP SuccessFactors partnered with Qualtrics, Thrive Global, and Fortune to better understand how 20,000 employees from more than 900 companies felt about their organizations’ support of, and influence over, life moments – including things like career development, the birth of a child, or the loss of a loved one. Six months into the pandemic, that data was compared to the mid-2020 financial results of the participating Fortune 500 companies.

Organizations that scored in the top 20 for experience grew revenue on average by 16 percent year-over-year. Companies that scored in the top 10 in the Thrive XM Index improved their rank by 11 places in the Fortune 500, year-over-year. These scores also translate directly to dollars. Every Thrive XM point equates to an added US$53 per employee in revenue.

The study used a unique scoring algorithm that assessed companies in three distinct-yet-equal categories:

  • Experiences, or the company’s impact on broad life categories, such as time and finances
  • Moments, such as parenthood, onboarding, flexibility, and more
  • Well-Being, or feelings of organizational trust, belongingness, and more

Inspiring and Motivating Employees to Give Their Best

How can companies do a better job of supporting employees through the moments that matter? The short answer is technology, but it is also about leading with empathy and care for a person’s whole self. Technology provides people the tools to do their work fast and efficiently, giving them the time to be creative, innovative, and thoughtful. And when employees feel valued and fulfilled, they work better and smarter. As leaders, we should all be thinking about how to provide an enhanced experience, whether by selecting the right tools and technologies to simplify the flow of work or by giving the support individuals need to prioritize personal well-being. Here are some examples:

  • Career Growth: The Thrive XM study found that professional development is especially important to new employees, Gen Z and millennial workers, as well as employees who identify as ethnic or racial minorities. Building a culture of continuous learning shows employees that the company is invested in their potential and future growth. Developing and nurturing talent from within bolsters retention. Appropriately, Thrive XM participants who work at the top-scoring companies reported that they are more likely to stay with their organizations.
  • Health and Finances: Employees should never be left wondering what they are working for. It should be clear, at any moment of any day, how much they are earning and contributing to benefits. This matters equally to tenured employees of all ages, and especially to Gen Xers to boomers. Using the right tools will instill people with confidence that they are paid fairly and accurately. Employees also benefit from sound financial-wellness advice. Additionally, employees should feel heard when it comes to benefits. HR managers need the ability to adjust benefits packages according to employee feedback. In other words, make work more than a place to get a paycheck and healthcare – make it a relationship built on altruism and trust.
  • Stress Management: Most companies will say they are concerned about employees managing stress. But those that actually work to identify and address specific types of stress build trust with employees, retain, and inspire them. There is no one-size-fits-all solution, however. One approach might be to provide coaching for younger employees to help prevent burnout, and offer resilience- and agility-building resources to working parents. Regardless, organizations must work to identify and soothe specific points of stress. This will ultimately improve output and performance.

The new Thrive XM study tells us that technology is just one piece of the puzzle and should be used to facilitate more informed and productive personal connections within the company. People, and more specifically leaders, do the rest. To progress and even sustain growth through challenging times, it is essential that companies embrace the employee experience and put workers at the center of all business decisions.

The proof is in the data: investing in your people means investing in your bottom line. It’s simply the right thing to do.

To learn more, view the Thrive XM report.

Jill Popelka is president of SAP SuccessFactors.