Employee experience (EX) was the third most important key initiative among HR leaders in 2019, according to Gartner. And while Gartner’s most recent report on HR leader priorities for 2021 places employee experience as the fifth highest, it’s undeniable that this trend will continue to be relevant and important heading forward.
Focusing on the experience that employees have with the company, much as a brand focuses on the customer experience, can:
- Boost productivity
- Improve satisfaction
- Lead to greater employee loyalty
- Encourage investment in the company’s vision
However, thanks to the slew of changes caused by the pandemic, the employee experience has taken on new shape and meaning.
“The battle for the hearts and minds of employees’ has become even more important,” Millner said, “especially when the leadership/management and employee relationship in a number of instances is very different to how it has been previously.”
Formerly in-person connections have become completely technology-based. “When it comes to leading and engaging people, you never really know how someone responds best until you’ve worked with them for a while and entered into a meaningful dialogue with them,” Millner explained. “Both of these elements are now very different.”
How does that play out at a practical level moving forward?
“The link between the rise of automation and the employee experience is being made to provide personalized solutions and information for the workforce in a cost-effective and sustainable way. HR will need to focus on those critical HR practices and understand how they can be improved and made more relevant for the workforce of tomorrow,” Millner said.
Another way for companies to improve the employee experience in uncertain times is to give employees a voice. A Qualtrics report found that gathering feedback from employees and then acting on their input is the best way to improve EX, with 65% of employees saying it’s very or extremely important for their company to listen to feedback. The study also found the following benefits of “turning feedback into action”:
- Employees are twice as engaged compared to those at companies with no listening program.
- Almost 70% are very or extremely likely to stay with a company longer.
- More than 90% will be more resilient in the face of change.
However, stopping at EX improvement isn’t enough, according to Dave Ulrich, a professor, author, speaker and HR thought leader. He believes the idea of the employee experience needs to be taken a step further for organizations to truly realize the benefits. “Building employee experience is not enough—HR must link employee experience to customer experience and investor confidence,” he wrote in an article shared with us.
“Many suggest that ‘people are our most important asset,’ but today, that should be modified to ‘our people are our customers’ most important asset.’ HR initiatives that foster the right talent for customers will have much more lasting impact in a perilous world. As customers experience dramatic pandemic change, talent has to adapt as quickly (e.g., using digital information to access products and to manage people virtually).”