European Company Surveys

The European Company Survey (ECS) has been carried out regularly since its inception in 2004–2005 as the European Establishment Survey on Working Time and Work–Life Balance (ESWT). The second survey, under the new title European Company Survey, was completed in 2009, the third in 2013 and the fourth in 2019 in collaboration with Eurofound’s sister agency Cedefop.

Survey objectives

The main objectives of the survey are to:

  • map, assess and quantify information on company policies and practices across Europe on a harmonised basis
  • analyse relationships between company practices and their impact, as well as looking at practices from the point of view of structures at company level, focusing in particular on social dialogue
  • monitor trends
  • contribute to the Agenda for Europe through mapping and understanding company policies and practices upon which Europe can build an economy that works for people, safeguarding EU core values – such as the importance of well-functioning dialogue – and fit for the digital age

How is the survey carried out?

The ECS is a questionnaire-based representative sample survey of business establishments with at least 10 employees. Interviews take place with the manager responsible for human resources in the establishment and when possible with an employee representative.

Focus of survey

The first edition of the survey covered issues around working time arrangements and work–life balance at company level. The second edition looked at different forms of flexibility, including working time flexibility, contractual flexibility, variable pay and financial participation, as well as accompanying human resource measures, and the nature and quality of workplace social dialogue. The third survey looked at workplace organisation, workplace innovation, employee participation and social dialogue in European workplaces. These topics were repeated in the fourth edition which also includes questions on skills use, skills strategies and digitalisation.

Scope of survey

The following countries are covered in the various editions of the survey:

  • ECS 2020 COVID-19 follow-up: 28 countries, including the EU Member States and the United Kingdom. In November 2020, ECS 2019 management respondents that had agreed to be recontacted received an online follow-up questionnaire aiming to capture the impact of COVID-19 on workplace practices.
  • ECS 2019: 28 countries, including the EU Member States and the United Kingdom
  • ECS 2013: 32 countries, including the EU Member States, Croatia, North Macedonia, Iceland, Montenegro and Turkey
  • ECS 2009: 30 countries, including the EU Member States, Croatia, North Macedonia and Turkey
  • ECS (ESWT) 2004–2005: 21 countries, including the EU Member States, Cyprus, Czechia, Hungary, Latvia, Poland and Slovenia.