The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted everything about work and what it means to be an employee of an organization. The employee experience, defined as a set of psycho-cognitive sentiments about the experiential benefits of employment, has shifted. Employees are having to work in new environments, think in new ways, and act differently. Many are juggling their work alongside other pressing concerns such as childcare or caring for sick family members. Employees in essential roles have been under pressure to maintain social distancing measures, keep up with sanitization practices, and support customers all while being concerned about their own health and putting their family members at home at risk.
Even before the world—and the world of work—was disrupted overnight, the employee experience was a top priority for HR leaders. With unprecedented changes to our society, economy and businesses, the way employees experience work has become even more critical. Yet as important as it is, research from Deloitte found only 9 percent of business leaders believed they were ready to address this issue.
Here at CCI, we are witnessing this first-hand in the discussions we’re having with our clients. As businesses around the world explore methods to transition their workforces back to the office or some mode of “normality,” they need to be mindful of how the changes they make and approaches they take will impact the employee experience. In the end, employees will continue to be an organization’s greatest asset and a significant differentiator in the overall productivity, service, and success of the company.
Despite all of the challenges, Josh Bersin recently declared, “COVID-19 May Be The Best Thing That Ever Happened To Employee Engagement.” We believe the employee experience, and its relationship with engagement and performance, has always been crucial to understand and prioritize. COVID-19 hasn’t changed that; however, it has changed the lens we need to look through.
The employee experience is the sum of what your people think, feel, and do as they progress through your organization—from initial application to when they leave your company. Employee experience borrows heavily from customer experience management, using design thinking strategies to optimize the company’s work environment, culture, HR services and events.
Employee experience impacts nearly every aspect of an organization, which is what makes it so important. Some of those aspects include:
Before the coronavirus pandemic, much of the focus on employee experience revolved around perks, career development, recognition, and compensation. However, the employee experience encompasses so much more: it is the company’s values, culture, and its ability to come together as an organization and a community to overcome challenges and carry on. It is about understanding employees’ fears and concerns; creating policies and procedures that support new legislation and a more flexible work environment; having open and honest communication; and demonstrating empathy and compassion.
Organizations that were focused on the employee experience before the novel coronavirus now must reassess and redefine what it is. And organizations that had not yet focused on building their employee experience must start.
The employee experience will look different for every organization. The best way to start building (or rebuilding) your employee experience is with an assessment of employees’ needs, coming from the current perspective of your employees. A pulse survey is great tool to gain this critical insight. A pulse survey will help you understand how your employees are feeling; assess their fears and concerns; identify the resources and information they need to perform their jobs; learn where extra support is needed; and clarify the expectations your employees have for new ways of working. Surveying your employees is also a way to connect with them emotionally and shows them that the organization values their feedback and is committed to making their lives at work better.
There may be a number of key challenges and pain points that are uncovered. As you use this insight to inform the changes and decisions your organization makes, it’s important to take the entire employee experience into consideration and not just solve for a problem. Furthermore, you’ll want to anchor the employee experience to the core values and purpose of the organization. Today, more than ever, employees are seeking the flexibility and support from their employer to not only manage but enrich their lives – both inside and outside of the office. And given that the office is in our homes right now, this is an even more timely need.
This our moment to reflect, reassess and shape a new (and maybe even better) employee experience. Organizations will find that if they invest in their employees, employees will invest in them and their business will accelerate forward.
We’ve designed a workforce pulse survey based on our 30+ years of studying employee engagement and experience to help organizations quickly gain the critical employee feedback they need to move forward. It’s the same survey we used to gather feedback from our own team members and inform our post COVID-19 employee experience and business strategies. Contact us today to learn more.