Alex Chan | Content Strategist | July 26, 2023
Recent changes in the world of work have shifted the way employers engage with and manage their employees. Many activities that previously happened face-to-face now occur remotely. Indeed, in today’s workplace, you may never meet your manager in person and may only interact with your coworkers virtually.
On top of the shift to remote or hybrid work, we’ve also seen a change in what employees expect from their employer. A 2021 Pew Research Center survey found that low pay, lack of opportunities for advancement, and feeling disrespected at work were the top reasons workers left their jobs. However, these aren’t the only reasons staff leave; other reasons reflect recent changes in the workplace—for example, not having the flexibility to choose their work hours or the opportunity to relocate.
To address the changing relationship between employee and employer, more human resources departments are investing in the employee experience, emphasizing culture, feedback, development, and well-being in the workplace.
The employee experience (EX) is the sum of every interaction and touchpoint an employee has with their employer, from the moment they choose to apply for a job all the way through to their last day at the company. There are many components that contribute to the employee experience, including a company’s physical or virtual workspace, its culture, technology, and processes, and an employee’s interpersonal relationships. Even factors that impact employees’ home lives, such as the benefits a company offers, are part of the employee experience.
Since the employee experience encompasses every aspect of a worker’s professional life, the responsibility for creating a positive employee experience must be shared across the organization. By embracing a shared vision of an ideal employee experience—and working together to make it a reality—every part of the organization can reap its benefits, which include reduced attrition, increased productivity, a stronger corporate culture, and happier employees.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, a record 4 million workers quit their jobs in 2021—surpassing the previous record of 3.5 million in 2019. Employees are seeking work that is more fulfilling, meaningful, and aligned with their values.
At the same time, the competitive labor market is driving demand for better compensation, benefits, and work-life balance. The Bureau of Labor Statistics also reported a 3.4% unemployment rate in January 2023 and the addition of more than 500,000 new jobs to the economy. That means that, with record numbers of staff leaving their jobs, competition to fill those newly opened positions remains fierce.
In short, if the experience employees encounter in their jobs is misaligned with their expectations, it will cause a variety of problems for their employers that can include worker attrition, loss of productivity, and lower profits. Employers must address these challenges to deliver an employee experience that will help attract (and retain) the talent necessary to run a successful business.
For a business to reap the benefits of a positive employee experience, leadership needs to overcome some common business challenges. Here are seven barriers that can prevent your organization from delivering the experience your workforce expects.
New technology can deliver significant business benefits. But what if employees reject the new tools or feel the additional work a new process requires outweighs the potential benefit? Employee rejection of new technology can result in wasted money and negatively impact morale.
To avoid this, companies must implement technology that actually helps their employees do their jobs, engage with each other and their work, be productive, and effectively collaborate. Such tools must be user-friendly and easy to adopt and deliver an obvious productivity benefit. The technology must also be capable of integrating with other internal systems; this saves employees the pain of navigating multiple disconnected platforms and gives managers a complete view of workforce productivity.
To achieve these goals, managers need to capture employee needs, and decision makers need to consider their input alongside business requirements. Surveys can help gather information about the tools employees need to get their work done and gauge what they expect from the tools they currently use. The right human capital management (HCM) platform can support an organization’s data collection activities while offering a host of other benefits that can positively impact the employee experience. For example, the City of Memphis uses a cloud-based HCM platform to consolidate all employee data in one system. This makes it easier for their HR team to analyze employee needs and trends and also deploy surveys to gauge employee opinion. The system also gives HR leadership a centralized way to promote training opportunities and adjust compensation and benefits. Since the implementation of the system, the City of Memphis has reported a 14% increase in employee engagement.
Finally, prioritizing tools that help employees connect and communicate can help workers see the immediate benefit of new technology. Technology for communication can include group chat tools, video conferencing platforms, and cloud-based file sharing and editing tools. Taking an employee-centric approach to new technology can improve communication, collaboration, and morale among teams while also helping ensure organizations see a strong return on their technology investments.
Employees want to feel valued and heard. This can be more challenging for remote and hybrid workers who, understandably, may feel less connected and more isolated compared with onsite staff.
Beyond the lack of in-person interaction with colleagues, data shows that remote workers feel they are less likely to get promoted. After surveying more than 2,000 US adults, the American Staffing Association found that 56% of onsite, hybrid, and remote staff believe employees who work exclusively in the office have a competitive advantage over their fully remote colleagues when it comes to receiving raises and promotions.
To support remote and hybrid workers who feel disconnected from the opportunities their onsite peers enjoy, it’s critical to promote open and regular communication with leadership. The right technology can help leaders connect with their workforce and build the trust employees need to feel engaged in a remote or hybrid work setting.
Managers also have an important role to play. They must keep direct lines of communication open with their team members using tools such as email and video and web conferencing platforms. They should also communicate their availability to their staff and promote the use of instant messaging technology as a means of quick and easy connection. Regular contact can help build more trust between staff and management and reduce the potential for miscommunication. Managers should also make a habit of recognizing the efforts and accomplishments of remote workers, keeping staff updated on shifting initiatives, and promoting the frequent exchange of feedback among employees.
Managers can also create time for their team members to connect with each other and offer emotional support to help their employees feel less isolated. Opportunities for social interaction during work hours can help team members feel a stronger sense of belonging. These informal interactions and conversations about nonwork topics can take place during the first few minutes of a team call, during an informal team hangout, or at a virtual office party. Managers can also ask employees questions about any stress or concerns they are experiencing and empathize with their struggles. These conversations can reveal important insights that can help improve the employee experience.
The employee journey within an organization will be different for everyone. One-size-fits-all employee experiences leave people feeling unheard and undervalued, which can lower productivity and employee retention. Understanding your employees’ journeys from recruitment to retirement (and helping them develop and advance along the way) lets you give them the support they need to stay productive and achieve their goals.
To gain valuable insights into each employee’s lifecycle and the best ways to promote their development at every stage, companies need technologies that can track every employee touchpoint and connect employee data to a central repository. Advanced HR platforms let employees create personal work profiles that explain their skills and competencies. Having this full view of each employee allows employers to deliver personalized guidance and an optimized employee journey that promotes development, advancement, and retention.
Collecting and responding to employee feedback is also key to an employer’s ability to support their team members throughout their individual journeys. While it’s important to capture all the points of contact employees have with their employers, some specific touchpoints can offer HR departments valuable feedback that can influence the personalization of employee journeys. These include
Workers should be given the right platforms to share their feedback on these touchpoints—whether via surveys, conversations with their managers, or other channels—and develop an employee journey that fits their needs.
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Managers are uniquely positioned to improve employee satisfaction. To help managers cultivate relationships with their employees, organizations need to give them better visibility into the current levels of employee satisfaction.
They can accomplish this by implementing the right tools and policies. Employee engagement surveys can offer managers a baseline measurement of engagement and insight into what their staff like and dislike about their work. Surveys can also capture worker satisfaction levels in different areas, such as management expectations, relationships with colleagues, and career progression. Employee engagement software often offers tools to set up surveys that can track employee satisfaction levels regularly, analyze their feedback, and help determine what employees truly want from their workplace.
The HR department can also create an employee Net Promoter Score (eNPS) process to periodically ask employees how likely they are to recommend their employer to others. The responses are on a scale of 0 to 10, so the results are simple to measure and can give leaders a clear point-in-time assessment of employee loyalty, engagement, and satisfaction. And because eNPS surveys typically ask only one simple question, they’re an efficient and effective way to measure employee satisfaction regularly and track trends over time.
An exceptional employee experience ensures that workers enjoy their jobs, their managers, their colleagues, and the company they work for. This encourages staff to be engaged and invested in their work, which can increase productivity. Management is held accountable for employee productivity, and the impact of employee engagement on productivity shouldn’t be overlooked—analysis from Harvard Business Review in 2021 found that employees who are happy and satisfied at work were, on average, 31% more productive.
But employee productivity is also a function of the tools an employer provides. Employers should provide communication and project management tools that help employees make the most of their time. These tools should be easy to use and access so employees can quickly and fully adopt them and start using them in their work. Video conferencing tools that are accessible on both computers and mobile devices can make it easier for remote employees to meet and collaborate in real time. Applications for instant messaging between employees can also encourage rapid communication and increase productivity. Cloud-based storage and file sharing tools can increase productivity by reducing barriers to access shared documents and promoting collaboration.
The productivity of your workforce can be challenging to measure since employees work on different tasks and productivity levels during the periods of time being measured can be influenced by other factors, such as holiday season or tax season. But focusing on a few key metrics, such as whether targets are met for each task, the quantity of work produced per hour, day, or month, and the amount of revenue produced, will help you assess the productivity of your workforce.
Measuring the impact of your employee experience strategy is essential to understanding its effectiveness. Measurement policies may vary from company to company, but key performance indicators (KPIs) are consistently used to monitor the progress of employee experience strategies and improve their effectiveness over time.
The best time to set your employee experience KPIs is before launching an initiative—it’s essential to establish baseline KPIs in order to measure progress over time. That means gathering data on existing performance, engagement, and satisfaction levels to set an accurate baseline. Then you must determine how frequently you’ll gather new data moving forward and the technology you’ll need to track progress toward established employee experience goals and their associated metrics.
When determining a long-term goal, it can be helpful to create interim goals to target along the way. For example, a five-year growth target can include specific milestones to meet each year. It can also be beneficial to remain flexible on these goals as new KPIs are gathered and calculated. Adjusting metrics goals or even creating additional baseline points as a company grows and changes can also be valuable.
Some common KPIs include the employee Net Promoter Score, the number of internal job referrals received, the retention rate, and the rate of employee absenteeism. Organizations can measure these KPIs through a human resources management system, which can store information and insights on metrics related to employee retention rates, performance, development, and more. More-detailed surveys than the eNPS can help obtain important information about employee satisfaction. Additionally, focus groups can be valuable tools, offering a safe space for workers to share their feedback and ask questions.
Without measuring your impact, you can invest a lot of time and effort in areas that don’t help your business improve. Being able to measure important employee experience KPIs—such as employee satisfaction, engagement, and retention—can help determine the best strategies for your company.
Human resources teams, often unfairly, have a reputation for being slow to adapt to change. Employees who feel that HR processes and systems are dated or unresponsive can undermine HR leaders who are genuinely trying to improve the employee experience. So how can HR departments change this perception?
There are many new tools and approaches that can help HR professionals better manage their organizations. Chatbots, for example, can help employees get answers to key HR questions quickly, preventing frustration and promoting compliance with HR policies and practices. Advanced analytics can help HR professionals identify trends, develop new strategies, and even solve problems before they become big enough to impact your business.
In the future, applying artificial intelligence to data from employee engagement surveys will be instrumental in helping HR leaders understand their employees’ needs and concerns. Insights derived from surveys will help HR personnel identify unsatisfied employees, analyze trends, identify engagement drivers, and devise effective strategies that will ensure a better employee experience.
Employee experience challenges exist at every organization. These seven are some of the most common, and they can all be solved with the right strategies and technologies. Improving the employee experience is an urgent imperative, not something you can get to later. A positive employee experience is a critical component of any successful organization and must be prioritized to ensure your team performs at their very best.
Oracle Fusion Cloud HCM is a complete cloud HR solution that can help you address these common employee experience challenges and effectively manage your workforce. For example, it provides communication channels so managers and employees can exchange regular feedback; tools to launch surveys to capture employee sentiment, personalize employee experiences with journeys, and offer skills and development opportunities; and analytics that deliver workforce insights. With these resources, your organization can resolve the issues that are holding your workforce back from having an exceptional employee experience and promote higher employee productivity and satisfaction.
As champions of the employee experience, HR professionals have a key role to play in solving these employee experience challenges. Creating a better and more positive employee experience benefits not just the employees, but the business as a whole: Productivity goes up, costs go down, and people are happier and more satisfied at work.
What are the challenges of creating a great employee experience?
The challenges of creating an outstanding employee experience include deploying the right technologies to keep employees engaged, actively managing employee journeys, improving employee satisfaction and productivity, and measuring the impact of employee experience strategies.
What technologies can improve employee experience?
The employee experience can be improved with tools that promote communication and collaboration, such as video conferencing, group chat platforms, and cloud-based file sharing and editing tools.
How can we define and measure employee experience?
The employee experience can be captured by gathering important insights into a company’s workforce using automated surveys, people analytics, and key performance indicators.