We have provided direct and indirect employment to more than 53,000 people on average during 2020, of whom around 71% are our own employees and approximately 29% are employed through contracted partners. We also provide employment to around 1,600 people with a distance to the labour market, primarily in our sorting and delivering processes. We aim to provide favourable working conditions for our entire workforce.
In 2020 we welcomed around 4,000 mail deliverers and 300 staff employees from Sandd and hired more than 1,000 new employees to fill the vacancies that remained following the integration. As part of the Sandd integration, we offered all of the company's production employees jobs with PostNL and gave around 1,800 other Sandd employees priority when applying for other positions within PostNL. This will help us provide a reliable, accessible and affordable postal service, with greater job security for thousands of employees.
We also welcomed additional employees at Parcels to bolster the growing business and hired office staff, for example to accelerate our digital transformation. We continue to develop our workforce in line with business developments and capability needs.
Our primary focus in 2020 was on ensuring the health and safety of our employees, and the employees working indirectly for us through contracting partners, during the Covid-19 pandemic. We had to make challenging adjustments to our processes at our locations, while continuing to deliver our services. As explained in our 'Impact of Covid-19' chapter, our absenteeism rate increased only marginally for 2020. While we saw a clear increase during the first wave of the pandemic in March and April, we believe the measures the company and our people took together, and how seriously everyone focused on the national guidance, helped limit the full-year impact. Influenced by successful home working, the absenteeism rate of our office employees improved by 0.5% point compared to 2019.
Our safety performance was stable throughout the year and showed a slight improvement compared to 2019, with 4.0 recordable accidents per 100 full-time equivalents (FTEs).
Year ended at 31 December
Absenteeism (share of total working days)
Recordable accidents (per 100 FTE)
“Our primary focus was ensuring the health and safety of our people and those working for us.”
Employee engagement increased from 80% in October 2019 to 84% in October 2020, which is in line with the benchmark figure in the Netherlands but higher than levels seen across the logistics sector. Compared to the average results of 2019 and our target for 2020, the share of engaged employees grew by 8% points. Engagement is one of the four key objectives within the company, and we are delighted that our focus on our people is displaying results. The results in 2020 were partially positively influenced by Covid-19. Consequently, we have set our 2021 target at 81%, which is above our 2020 target.
Year ended at 31 December
Share of engaged employees (May survey)
Share of engaged employees (October survey)
Share of engaged employees average
In 2020 we carried out an extensive diversity and inclusion assessment amongst employees, the first we have held in four years. The results show that our programmes have yielded results, and we have improved strongly on this important topic. Our overall diversity index increased by 15% points from 64% to 79%. The score is a combination of three aspects: acceptation, inclusion and diversity. As a large employer in the Netherlands, we are a reflection of society and we aim to continue to make steps in these areas going forward.
In this chapter we explain the key elements of our strategic execution based on the relevant social focus areas. We have a clear strategy to help our employees develop and feel engaged with our company.