One of the biggest concerns for leaders today is driving a change agenda with a fatigued and exhausted workforce brought about by the realities of the pandemic.
The employee experience is central to that agenda.
A global Gartner HR survey, released when the pandemic began, found that 88% of organizations had supported work-from-home policies, which empowered employee productivity while prioritizing their health and safety. Post-pandemic, this emphasis on employee engagement has become even more pronounced, with a recent Gallup study linking it to 17% higher productivity, and a 21% increase in profitability.
Employee experience (EX)
This focus on Employee Experience (EX) is a continuation of trends in recent years. Research papers, published globally, have identified EX as being as critical for businesses, as Customer Experience (CX). Business tools used to track their CX are being used to measure engagement with employees as well.
Sajid Azmi, CEO of Yegertek, a solution provider in brand engagement and customer loyalty said: “EX, at an inflection point like the post-pandemic reopening of the economy, is crucial for businesses. With creativity, innovation, and problem-solving at a premium, high turnover rates, especially among experienced employees, is not an option.”
Great employee journeys lead to staff that are brand ambassadors, and greater workplace creativity and collaboration. Industry leaders, across all sectors, are investing in digital technologies that enhance workplace collaboration, eliminate communication gaps, and empower employee-centric initiatives, using data analytics and AI-based tools.
Employee loyalty and engagement schemes such as leader boards are where achievements are rewarded, applauded, and shared.
“While the GCC leads the global average in employee engagement by 5% at 70%, a closer look also reveals that the region’s best-ranked employers have a 19 point advantage over the market average, in implementing EX technology.”
Discovering employees’ inner workings
Companies are migrating from annual surveys to pulse technology and continuous listening. Continuous feedback tools are now the most popular EX technology. Companies are going to greater lengths as some data shows up to 63% of companies plan to use design thinking and interactive processes to co-create new employee experiences.
More and more companies are now applying UX methodologies to EX. Almost 1 in 4 companies are finding value in creating employee personas, which can provide a more personal representation of employee needs, behaviors, and goals, and identify the differences across different employee populations.
The problem is that the employee engagement industry has based its products and services on anonymity for decades. Surveys treat the workforce as one homogenous blob. An organization might score badly on how well it communicates but people may have given a low score if they don’t have enough one-to-ones with their manager or perhaps they haven’t been briefed properly about what’s expected of them in their role.
Asking questions anonymously and acting on these results as though everyone feels the same will never drive change.
According to a recent employee experience (EX) survey from Forrester Consulting that was commissioned by SAP SuccessFactors, Qualtrics, and EY, about 40% of people managers were not satisfied with the quality of corporate training they received. What’s more, while human resource (HR) leaders rated coaching and learning as one of the most important drivers of good EX, they rated learning software as one of the least important tools for enabling it.
In year two of the pandemic, employees expect far more flexibility in all aspects of work, and training is no exception. Just over half of employees said they received the coaching and training/development they needed to grow and only 37% of employees felt their employer was accepting of mistakes and used them as a source of learning and growth.
Digital employee experience (DEX)
Given the rise in remote and hybrid setups, it’s not just EX that HR leaders need to keep their focus on, but also digital employee experience (DEX).
A new report from DEX management company Lakeside Software found significant gaps in how employees and the C-suite perceive DEX. For instance, 67% of IT workers said DEX is a critical priority for the organization, yet only 17% of employees believe that senior executives place a high or very high priority on DEX. Similarly, 60% of IT professionals surveyed rated DEX at their respective companies as good or better, while 64% of employees assess it as average or worse.
The report highlighted other divides in perception among IT, C-suite leaders and employees. For example, more than half of employees expect to be working from home at least part-time after the pandemic, a figure that stood at 43% for senior executives and less than one-third for IT professionals—a disconnect that report authors note “could lead to ill-equipped digital workplaces and poor digital experience.”