- Employee experience has emerged as a top management priority amid the pandemic, with organizational success being defined by how employers shape the ways employees work and live, according to a July report published by the Josh Bersin Company and commissioned by Microsoft.
- The report, based off of responses and interviews from more than 950 organizations, found that those with positive employee experiences cultivated trust between employees and their organizations; valued meaningful work in which employees have autonomy and the support of co-workers; and offered rewards that were both fair and equitable, based on accomplishments, capabilities and results rather than favoritism.
- Such organizations also had management teams that identified clear goals, practiced transparency and offered regular coaching and feedback. In addition to building a diverse and inclusive workplace, employers also focused on employee safety, security, health and well-being, The Bersin Company said.
The call of focus on employee experience is not a particularly new idea; even before the pandemic, consultants and HR leaders pointed to the importance of measuring experience and engagement.
2019 research by Willis Towers Watson described a "compelling and predictive link" between positive employee experience and stronger financial returns. The same year, coaching platform BetterUp found in its research of employees that those who scored higher on an employee experience index experienced greater productivity and job satisfaction compared to their peers.
However, The Bersin Company's analysis found that certain practices may not contribute as much to improving employee experience as others. For example, providing above-average pay and benefits, using pre-hire assessments and offering tools and resources for remote work had a relatively low impact, per the report.
High-impact activities included fostering a culture of integrity, embedding mission and purpose as part of work activities and inspiring trust in leaders. "When companies don't just pay lip service to supporting ethical behavior and standing up for doing what's right, when leaders model this approach, and when rewards and recognition are aligned with this, people feel empowered to behave the same way," the report said.
There are concerns about employee experience as workplaces grow to embrace more flexible ways of working, including hybrid work and fully remote work. In May, a survey published by software vendor WorkForce Software suggested that deskless workers had somewhat different views about scheduling policies and flexibility than managers did.
The Bersin Company report called hybrid work "a great example of mutual trust—or mutual distrust." It detailed the example of General Motors, where CEO Mary Barra allowed employees to choose the work scenarios that "are most conducive to their circumstances while they define a new reality of hybrid work."