You have a company or division to run. You have financial milestones to hit, board imperatives to meet, and client presentations to give. Why should you care about the employee experience? Isn’t that HR’s headache?
One of the keys to attracting, retaining, and motivating your workforce is a talent value proposition focused on employee engagement. And the only passage to a highly engaged workforce is through offering your talent (the true engine of your organization) a premium workforce experience.
The online WorldatWork Glossary defines work experience as elements of rewards that are important to employees but may be less tangible than compensation or benefits. This includes acknowledgment or recognition of effort/performance, balance of work-life issues, cultural issues, development opportunities and environmental factors.
With 85% of employees “not actively engaged” or, worse yet, “actively disengaged” at work, according to Gallup’s 2021 State of the Global Workplace report, most people sadly and evidently hold a negative view of their workplace or have little to no emotional or meaningful attachment to their work or employer.
In the United States, the ratio of engaged to actively disengaged workers is 2.1 to 1, according to a Gallup survey that measured the engagement of 2.7 million employees in more than 50 industries.
This is not good for society, nor is it good for the global economy or bottom-line business results.
As WorldatWork CEO Scott Cawood has stated, “An elevated employee experience, driven in part by a dedication to well-being, yields an elevated customer experience — and an elevated margin.”
So, as a global pandemic begins Year 3 in this extraordinarily challenging era, where do we go from here? What must employers do to stop this vicious downward spiral?
To thrive, organisations need workforces of lifelong learners who:
- Grow with the business.
- Embrace continuous change.
- Master new technologies.
- Build skills for the future that not only enable but encourage them to work with tech and an array of talent partners.
Employees have expressed (loudly of late) that they need:
- Flexibility in how, when and where they work
- Careers that conform to personal lives
- A sense of well-being and purpose
- State-of-the-art software and made-to-order tech platforms that enable and encourage them to connect, collaborate and innovate together.
While integrating new technologies, leadership must focus on the “human operating system” that powers the organization. One paramount challenge is to keep the human touch as we all embrace a tech-enabled future. (“FutureWork: Digital Disruption in the New Human Age,” Workspan, October 2018)
A Direct Path to Employee Engagement
While more astute organisations have made the employee experience a shared responsibility among multiple senior executives, the burden often has fallen on HR to handle.
The employee experience, however, should not be seen as a burden for one department to deal with—it’s an opportunity for the entire executive team to tackle head-on and collectively and enthusiastically own.
Executives should see programs and initiatives focused on enhancing the employee experience as an operational priority and a direct path to employee engagement.
Most organisations haven’t figured out how to move the needle on human capital ROI because they’re using the wrong levers.
Companies in India, for example, are promoting collaborative teamwork augmented by smart tech. They’re encouraging employees to voice their opinions in a virtual set-up to generate new ideas, according to SmartHR 2021, a study covering 120 organisations across 10 sectors. However, only 47% of study respondents believe that their orgs offer an environment that is psychologically safe to voice dissenting views, thereby limiting divergent perspectives and innovation.
By its holistic nature, the employee experience cuts across every facet of an organization’s activity. As companies mature digitally, other C-level executives, including the CIO, need to take on more leadership in this area.
In this age of remote work, flex work and digital transformation, your IT and systems strategy may have a bigger impact on your employee experience than anything that your HR team plans.
“The implementation of technology to support employee experience has lagged significantly behind customer experience,” said Duncan Welling, digital strategy and transformation advisor at Teva Pharmaceuticals. “Before the pandemic, employees were largely willing to roll their eyes and complain to co-workers about a bad experience accessing an internal system. But, with offices closed, these systems have become the only point of contact, and a consistently bad experience may cause valuable employees to go looking for new jobs.” (“Why Employee Experience Is the New Customer Experience: Five Factors Driving Change at Work,” Forbes, May 13, 2021)
Employees who are engaged in their work are more innovative and self-starting. With or without research to back it, this statement is inarguable.
What are you doing to support, influence, grow and invest in your digital capabilities to build the appreciation and loyalty of your best employees?