Employee experience and engagement has been a focus point for organisations and leaders for some time. Organisations were thinking about how to create the right employee experience balancing human centredness with digital. The COVID-19 pandemic has struck the employee experience at the heart. The focus of many employees quickly shifted from career progression, personal growth and meaningful work to concerns about health, wellbeing, finances and job security – the base layer of ‘physical needs’ on Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. Forget about the ‘right next role’, many were lucky to have a role.
Organisations and leaders have had to adjust the employee experience in real time, with the focus on the physical needs and safety of their employees being at the forefront. With 92% of individuals experiencing some level of anxiety as a result of the Coronavirus and 61% experiencing some level of financial concern, this reassurance, support and security is likely to be desired for some time.
When looking for the silver lining, 95% of organisations have demonstrated a sincere interest in employee wellbeing and safety, and 89% have put measures in place to ensure that people feel supported during this time. 76% say collaboration of overall organisation has improved significantly1. Even the least human centred leaders have been forced to make a shift, which can only be a good thing.
So, where to from here? See below for our top focus areas for your leaders on how to create the experience your employees need to thrive in the future:
1: Wellbeing – employee wellbeing should be at the forefront and will be a measure of business and employee performance (see CB Insights diagram below). Employee wellbeing should include both a formal program (e.g. resources and practical help) as well as creating a culture of wellbeing. Checking in with your team, being comfortable talking about mental health, leading by example and recognising that many employees have undergone a priority shift in 2020 are all important. Employees will want to work for an organisation and leader that supports wellbeing and demonstrates empathy, authenticity, inclusiveness and resilience.
2: Digital – The majority of the workforce have experienced some level of digital transformation in the way they work during 2020. Salesforce believe that technology needs to be an important part of the employee experience strategy. They say that ‘today’s employees are consumers of the workplace and expect a personalised, digital experience’. And that ‘organisations that trust their employees like premium customers, from the recruiting process through to the alumni experience, are best positioned to retain talent and see the highest performance in return’
3: Recognition – many employees recognise that pay rises and bonuses are unlikely in the current environment, but they want to be rewarded and recognised for what they do. Reward programs will need to shift – to focus on outputs instead of inputs, to show recognition in different ways in a virtual world and for leaders to recognise the importance of saying ‘thank you’.
4: Development and progression – in the past learning has been about formal learning classroom courses or online self-directed training. The future will be about learning in the flow of work, reskilling and exposure to new opportunities regardless of where they are in the country/ world. Career paths will change, employees will drive their careers more and will need leaders that support and encourage this. See our blog on creating a learning culture.
5: Trust – 59% think that working from home policies will remain in place after the pandemic,1 with many employees seeing the benefits of a more flexible approach to work; spending more time with their families, getting regular exercise and cooking nutritious meals, for example. Businesses have also seen the benefits of higher productivity in some cases and reduced overheads. With the future of work being about bringing work to people; trust in your leader and trust in your team as a leader is essential.
6: Evolution – 31% of organisations surveyed their employees about the impact of COVID-191 which is surprisingly low. To create the right future culture and employee experience, regular check-ins with your workforce is essential. This can be regular check-ins by team leads but also by pulse survey. Data gives you insights, and insights give you power to adjust and evolve the employee experience for the benefit of your workforce and your business.