The importance of employees and their experience at the workplace has been gaining prominence over the decades. Be it start-ups or large-scale MNCs, getting the Employee Experience (EX) right is critical for every organization. They need to unearth the depths of employees’ perceptions about what works and what does not work for them. Future Workplace defines employee experience as “the sum of all experiences an employee has with their employer throughout their relationship – from recruitment to onboarding and career development, to exiting the organization.”
With the onset of the pandemic, there has been a drastic shift in the way we work, impacting the EX as well. It has accelerated the timeline by which most employees will work from home, either part-time or full-time. Employers had to adjust to the times of their employees to keep them happy and create appropriate EX. As each employee’s home-work environment is unique, solutions had to be customized for each individual to ensure a positive work experience. During pre-pandemic times, Employer Brand, Organization Culture, and Engagement were top areas of EX. However, in the current hybrid work environment, the focus is more on reinventing the wheel of employee experience and personalizing them.
1. Compassionate Leaders: Leadership infused with empathy has become the norm, more in pandemic times. Merely validating the situation and feelings of an employee is a thing of the past. Actionable measures with deeper understanding are now key modern management strategies. Compassion is a vital competency and not just yet another optional soft skill. Compassionate leaders have become a necessity for an organization to deliver the best possible Employee Experience.
2. Opportunities to Learn & Grow: Opportunities for learning and career advancement/development are critical because they are the second-highest driver of employee engagement. With the advent of virtual learning, customized training with a wider range of budgets is helping HR professionals. Sufficient opportunities to learn and grow, both personally and professionally, drive EX to great heights.
3. Diversity and Inclusion: Employee Experience and D&I go hand in hand – one cannot exist without the other. To give an employee a sense of belonging and the confidence that no diversity-related factor can impede his/her career progression is yet another primary factor under positive Employee Experience. This key factor can go a long way in driving higher engagement and retention.
4. Timely Response and Action to Employee Feedback: Employees wait for an opportunity to positively contribute to the organization, agnostic of location and role. Creating such opportunities by which they can positively contribute to the organization’s success is essential for a higher level of engagement. One of the traditional ways to get employees involved in organization culture building is to seek their feedback through appropriate avenues. Acting on employee feedback on time is critical for creating a successful employee experience.
5. People Analytics: In 2022, organizations can no longer delay implementing people analytics. While there are moves in the right direction, there is more to be accomplished. Analytics, virtual working technology, and upgraded learning platforms, all seamlessly integrated, will be top priorities for HR.
6. Organizational Culture: A positive and nurturing organizational culture can contribute to the success of both an organization and its employees. A shared culture helps build trust, gives the organization a clear identity, and in doing so, can encourage employee actions that propel the organization’s success.
7. Decentralized HR: Centralized HR functions can no longer cater uniformly to the needs of employees. Hyper-local models will be the order of the day, roping in managers to cover the last-mile connectivity with each individual. It can apply to different elements of the HR function — from strategy and policy-making to recruitment and onboarding, to events and engagement.
Measuring employee experience annually or bi-annually is no longer apt for the present agile and dynamic economy. Continuous assessments of the EX, beyond the feedback surveys, have become a necessity to understand the sentiment of the employees and hear their real voices. In an era of technology and digitization, adopting AI chat bots and tools to have real-time conversations are strategies that can help organizations enormously. Such personalized actions will help identify unhappy, disengaged employees early, and assist organizations in further customizing the EX for such individuals.
Changing dynamics of business and the global economy requires an effective Employee Experience strategy, with as many as 42% of executives in a Forrester Study considering it to be a critical priority. EX, when delivered effectively, can translate into enhanced customer experience, better talent attraction, and retention rates and drive the overall growth of the organization. When formulated right, Employee Experience can become a competitive advantage.