Ready or not: How to keep up with the new employee experience revolution
Putting people first is no longer a demand, it’s an expectation. So businesses need an employee experience strategy that makes sense. Here’s what you need to know to get started.
Why employee experience matters
Two years ago, when we created our first guide to employee experience (EX), it was an emerging trend fueled by our common experiences during a global pandemic.
Who wants to return to ‘normal’, we asked, when 58% of employees are unsatisfied with their day-to-day job 1 and 63% don’t have the level of autonomy they need? 2
The answer, it turned out, was nobody.
Fast forward to 2022 and the need for organizations to prioritize EX is more urgent than we ever could have predicted.
of businesses say the pandemic has negatively impacted employee experience
of companies have an undefined or basic employee experience strategy
of frontline workers globally have suffered or feel at risk of burnout
And of course, all of this is set against the backdrop of larger disruptive forces. Most notably, the ‘Great Resignation’.
of US professionals are thinking about quitting even though they don’t have a role to go to
of the Chinese workforce have embraced flexible working vs full-time roles
of frontline workers globally are planning to leave for a better paid role
are considering leaving the frontline altogether
The underlying message of the 'Great Resignation' couldn’t be clearer: the dynamic has shifted. Employees are now in control and are not afraid to search for an experience that works for them.
The employee experience hierarchy of needs
Our own research suggests that employee experience has crystallized around a new hierarchy of needs.
At the base of the pyramid is an expectation that employees will have equal access to information and resources. This is especially important for frontline or other marginalized workers who may previously have been excluded from flexible working, company benefits or other career opportunities.
Employees expect organizations to set them up for success. That means providing them with the tools they need to do their job, including information-sharing, knowledge management, internal comms, onboarding and more. The days of enterprise technology lagging the consumer market are over.
Perhaps it’s no surprise that the rise of insecure jobs and the gig economy has gone hand-in-hand with an increased desire for connection. While some people are ready to embrace the benefits of side hustles and job-hopping, many more are looking for deeper meaning. Employees want to feel they're part of a community and companies that can provide that will reap the rewards in terms of loyalty and performance.
Against the backdrop of the 'Great Resignation', companies are having to think harder about how to retain their best talent. Growth, development and recognition are key. The question is how HR executives in particular can help people feel seen, heard and valued.
At the top of the pyramid is the expectation that employees can be themselves at work. But more than that even, they want to be part of a company whose values align with their own, where they can show up authentically and develop a sense of belonging. Organizations are already responding by putting an emphasis on Economic, Social and Governance (ESG) initiatives. And for good reason - employees who feel like they belong are 3.5 times more likely to feel engaged than those who don’t.
Defining employee experience roles across the organization
Delivering on these needs requires the kind of cross-department collaboration that many companies traditionally find challenging. The good news is that it’s not unusual these days for organizations to hire employee experience leaders (we have one here at Meta), but it’s still important to define areas of responsibility across the business.
The role of HR
While employee experience is a true cross-functional effort, HR is ultimately in the driving seat. HR leaders are responsible for bringing the right teams to the table, prioritizing focus areas and designing the overall program and policies for the duration of the employee lifecycle. The buck stops here.
The role of Comms
One of the biggest risks while establishing community within an organization is miscommunication, or even greater than that, absence of information altogether. Comms’ critical role is to create and manage the channels that enable the right information to flow freely to everyone, and allow community to flourish. This takes more than email. It will require investment and innovation so that employees can hold conversations, discover ideas, share their interests and more.
The role of IT
IT plays a key role in 'EX' by enabling experiences through removing barriers and providing technology which amplifies an organization's goals. IT leaders support business goals through building connections and enabling the workforce.
The role of leadership
Leadership can make or break employee experience by loudly and publicly endorsing it as a business priority. CEOs need to embody new ways of working, building a personal brand that exemplifies the values they want to instill across the organization.
Planning an employee experience strategy with Workplace
While planning an effective employee experience strategy isn’t just about the tools you use, investing in the right technology is a good starting point.
Workplace is well positioned to help you solve your most critical employee experience pain points because we’ve always been focused on removing the barriers that prevent people from feeling connected, and creating a sense of belonging across organizations.
As a business communication tool built upon the same technology that connects 3 billion people worldwide, Workplace brings culture and technology together to create a future of work that works for everyone, everywhere. As BT CEO Philip Jansen put it:
Let’s take a closer look at how Workplace can help HR, Comms and IT leaders address critical areas across the employee experience hierarchy of needs.
Grant access to your entire company
Equal access starts with getting everybody on the same platform, so anybody can find the information, people or knowledge they’re looking for, regardless of their role type, location or seniority. At Workplace, that starts with integrations with identity providers like Azure AD and Google so it’s easy to roll out across the organization, even if the workforce is widely distributed. It also has specific features for frontline employees, like access codes and phone number invites for people who don’t have a corporate email address.
Once you’ve brought everybody together, the question is how do you share information so knowledge becomes widely available. With Workplace, you can automatically assign people to company-wide Groups so they never miss an update. And we created Knowledge Library, a mobile-friendly intranet with built-in engagement features, to make it easy for Comms teams to create and share key company documents.
What’s more, any employee can leave reactions or comments in either a Group or on Knowledge Library documents to make sure their voice can be heard.
Bridge the gap between consumer and enterprise technology
Workplace is from Meta, which means it benefits from over 15 years of experience in building technology that over 3 billion people worldwide love to use - whether that’s on desktop, mobile or even virtual reality. Unlike other tools, it also means IT teams can launch Workplace with little-to-no training, and can expect to see adoption rates way above the industry average.
Create community at work
Our mission is to ‘bring the power of community to everyone at work.’ What does that mean? It’s about bringing people together in a way that helps them feel seen, heard and valued. A great example of how we do this is through events.
Our events tool makes it easy to schedule, set up and run a live event on Workplace, even if you want to host the broadcast on a different platform.
And to make sure events are as inclusive as possible, we also have features like live captions, Q&A and automatic translations.
Help employees grow and develop
For too many employees, career growth has taken a back seat over the last couple of years, with companies now forced to play catch up. On Workplace, learning is continuous, whether that's in formal classes that are broadcast live so anyone, anywhere can take part; or informally, through mentoring or peer-to-peer feedback in groups or chat threads.
When it comes to recognition, it’s often the little things that make a difference. That might mean leadership simply dropping a comment on a Workplace post to say ‘good job’. Or a project lead creating a specific 'thank you' post to call out the contributions of the team. It might even be a little more sophisticated, like using a Thanks Bot to automate the process and track recognition over time.
Lead with purpose
When all needs have been addressed, people want to feel like their work is meaningful. For companies, this means being able to communicate a clear purpose built on shared values and beliefs. We’ve seen organizations use features like Polls and Surveys to find out what employees actually expect of their mission and purpose. It has also provided a crucial tool in crowdsourcing the next best ideas, which in turn creates a meaningful feedback loop with leaders. They then use Live Video to share that mission, take questions and respond to feedback. By setting up Groups, they can also manage ESG initiatives day-to-day and quickly build teams to deliver on company promises.
Of course, there’s another piece of identity - the ability to bring your authentic self to work. Workplace has always been focused on creating more inclusive cultures, whether it’s adding phonetic pronunciation and pronouns to Profiles, or the use of employee resource groups to help people share their passions, find their tribe or simply discover new perspectives.
How to take action today
If there’s one lesson to take away from the increased focus on employee experience, it’s this: ready or not, change has come.
For years now, we’ve looked at data that shows businesses struggling to motivate, engage and retain employees. The global pandemic was simply the point at which those employees said ‘enough’.
As organizations race to catch on or catch up, they’ll look to HR for guidance, expertise, policies and leadership. To Comms for enabling a transparent community and encouraging two-way conversations. And to IT for partnership and a tech stack that can deliver employee experience plans and enable fundamental changes in culture.
The insights in this playbook are just a first step. If you’re ready to go deeper, we’d love to speak to you about it.
Head over to our employee experience hub and schedule a call with a member of our team today.
1,2: Deloitte, ‘Human Capital Trends’, 2019
3: Qualtrics, ‘Design the Future of Work’, 2021
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