The abrupt transition from in-person interactions with colleagues and management prior to COVID-19 to communicating, collaborating, and connecting mainly from afar was an experience shared around the globe. Our workplaces have undergone a seismic transformation as the pandemic accelerated trends of hybrid and remote work, digitization, and AI, while permanently altering employee expectations in the process. There were 11.5 million job openings and 4.5 million quits in March 2022, both at their highest levels since 2000. People leaders must rethink and redesign the entire employee experience (EX) in order to attract, inspire, and retain talent.
Employee experience: why does it matter now more than ever?
As perks of office-based work continue to lose their relevance, organizations will need to adapt their employee experience strategies. Technology has become the modern workplace, inextricably linking EX to the willingness of employees to adopt new platforms and their ability to utilize them efficiently. The new imperative is for leaders to leverage the digital tools at their disposal to personalize the employee journey while ensuring seamless collaboration from afar. To do so successfully, individual needs, values, personality types, skills and capabilities, development goals, and the ability to acclimate to rapidly changing environments must be taken into consideration.
Employee experience has always been important, a recent study found that it was rated important or very important by almost 80% of executives while further evidence suggests that organizations that perform well on EX metrics are more likely to increase customer satisfaction. Additionally, employees who have a positive experience perform markedly better than those enduring a negative one, with the former being 16 times more engaged and 8 times more likely to stay with their company in the long run. This further supports the imperative for organizations to constantly assess the entire employee journey and redefine it to meet the standards of their current and future workforce.
How can organizations redefine and revamp employee experience?
- Taking a holistic approach- The employee journey has multiple touchpoints and all must be taken into consideration when creating lasting and impactful experiences. Taking a holistic approach and starting early in the recruitment process when candidates first begin to assess potential employers and form expectations is key. This is where the influence of branding in job postings and promotional materials comes into play, enabling organizations to differentiate themselves and create a strong awareness of their experience initiatives for future employees.
Research shows that varying experiences in three main areas of EX—social, work, and organization—explain most of the discrepancy in how employees perceive their journey within the company. When it comes to the first core area of experience, organizations looking to enhance the social element should examine social climate, wellbeing, remote collaboration, and ever-evolving relationships with managers, customers, and colleagues. To truly influence work experience requires prioritizing flexibility and leveraging technology to support remote collaboration and productivity. Adapting growth and development opportunities to meet individual needs is critical as these elements impact lives within and beyond the organization. The digital experience has become paramount to EX as research indicates that if employees have technology that supports their work, they are 230% more engaged and 85% more likely to stay in the company for more than three years. The third core area, organization, revolves around purpose, brand, and culture. The organization element is dependent upon the ability of leaders to reinforce company values. It is crucial that employees align and connect to the organizational purpose and mission.
- Leading with company culture and values- Current and potential employees are keenly watching how organizations move forward post-COVID. Business leaders are faced with three interlinked transformation imperatives to leverage the vast potential of digital technologies, deploy new business models, and have employees thrive in the new world of work. Current and future success hinges on a corporate culture that is open to transformation, adaptable, and authentic. Research shows that 70% of employees feel included when companies are aligned with them on an issue while 67% expect alignment with prospective employers on social issues. To proactively build and communicate culture, leaders should instill a shared purpose and articulate how the organization engages with the broader community. To go one step further, managers can help employees identify the overlap between the company’s purpose and their own. To translate ideas into action in remote and hybrid environments, regular check-in’s can help build trust and solve any issues that may emerge.
- Clarity in communication at all levels- In the face of uncertainty, employees look to their leaders and managers for adequate support, direction, and communication. Any form of major organizational change requires transparency to cultivate a workforce willing and able to adapt. However, the role of managers has evolved and in order for them to effectively communicate and support changing needs, the appropriate training is necessary. Surveys show that poor communication skills of managers ranked among the top challenges for 2022. In fact, 34% of employees feel that their managers lack access to communication training and only 38% of staff undergoing a change in their organization felt they experienced effective communication. To adequately prepare managers to navigate change, influence transformation, and champion workplace wellbeing, organizations must develop communication capabilities. The behaviors expected of leaders such as willingness to accept mistakes, and consistently leading in a way that adheres to company values must be properly conveyed and taught. To lead effectively, first-line managers should act as partners and demonstrate empathy. Aware that they are setting an example, they should engage in self-reflection, role-modeling, and continuous learning and development.
- Driving engagement and satisfaction-Research indicates that salary increases are no longer sufficient when trying to promote engagement and retention as today’s employees are increasingly prioritizing meaningful work, fairness and inclusion, and authentic leadership. Driving engagement and satisfaction requires understanding the changing expectations and priorities of employees and responding accordingly. The distinction between work and life has blurred with more than 60% of employees saying it is important for employers to share in caring for their families and communities. Beyond the investment in professional development, more than half of employees want their employers to provide programs for personal growth. In fact, professional and personal growth development programs have been proven to increase performance and intent to stay. It goes without saying that employees seek more autonomy – from who they work with to what they work on. Otherwise known as “radical flexibility”, this level of autonomy can raise the number of high-performing employees by 40%.
- Leveraging Data- In today’s digital workplace, conditions are ripe for the large-scale adoption of data-driven strategies when it comes to employee experience. By utilizing powerful AI machine learning technology, organizations can make meaning of existing workplace signals to produce real-time, actionable insights. Taking a data-driven approach by leveraging platforms like Montara, empowers leaders by providing deep powerful insights on everything from engagement, wellbeing, DEI, and more. Studying data to understand employee experience in its entirety is an essential part of making informed people decisions in the new world of work. A continuous picture of employee engagement and helpful recommendations for boosting passion along with personalized, actionable insights not only help improve EX, but ultimately contribute to organizational transformation. Discover how to gain deep insights into remote relationships, attrition, wellbeing, leadership, and more in one unified solution.
New working habits emerged during the pandemic as research reveals that 46% of employees chose to relocate and the high preference for remote work could result in 35% of employees seeking a new job if given the mandate to return to the office full-time. To avoid a mismatch of expectations between employees and employers, HR and leadership need to adapt to the new reality. Workers, voting with their feet, have already redefined the employee experience they are willing to accept. Leaving companies with a narrow window of time to focus on redesigning EX not just to attract talent, but to keep them motivated. When it comes to employee experience in the new world of work, assumptions need to be tested, progress continuously reviewed and processes tweaked as needed.
It’s time for a new approach to employee experience. Learn how to empower everyone across your organization with real-time insights today.