August 6, 2021
The importance of customer experience is a common conversation in businesses of every industry. However, as we move into a post COVID-19 world we must consider employee experience (EX), why it matters, what we need to be focusing on in 2021, and how automation and productivity apps can help or hinder our people.
From a business standpoint, research from MIT’s Center for Information Systems Research (CISR) shows that companies with superior EX realise significant business benefits. For instance, they see double customer satisfaction, based on Net Promoter Scores, twice the innovation in terms of percentage of revenue from new products/services, and 25% greater profitability compared to competitors.
Recent Qualtrics research highlights how 2020 changed EX, including engagement and the employee-employer relationship. The researchers found that employee engagement increased despite significant disruptions, up from 53% in November 2019 to 66% a year later.
The research also found that top engagement drivers statistically shifted more in 2020 than in the past several years combined. In particular, two new key drivers emerged. These were a sense of belonging and a sense of pride in the company’s efforts to have a positive impact on the world.
According to Qualtrics, employees who feel like they belong are 3.5x more likely to be engaged at work than those who feel like they don’t. The research also highlights a shift in response from employers, with the percentage of employees who felt their company was listening to them increasing from 51% in Q2 2020 to 69% in November 2020. Overall, Qualtrics states that COVID-19 drove many businesses to improve their approach to employee wellbeing, work safety issues and general sentiment.
Research from McKinsey echoes these findings, stating that organisations have stepped up in critical areas. Overall, 78% of respondents say their organisation has responded to the COVID-19 crisis appropriately, 80% state that leadership has acted proactively to protect their health and safety, and 77% state they have the necessary information to plan and adjust.
There is still room for improvement, however, with 92% of Qualtrics respondents stating that employee feedback is important, but only 7% feel their business takes action on feedback well.
We’d be remiss not to mention the important influence that EX has on customer experience (CX). While every business strategy is unique, depending on overarching long and short term goals and allocation of resources, it is a recurring trend that businesses willing to focus on their employees ultimately improve their CX and profit margins.
This trend is apparent with businesses that consider EX as more than compensation, office perks or holiday time. Excellent EX that impacts CX requires businesses to consider the emotional factor. It requires businesses to consider each individual’s personal and professional development. The fact of the matter is, fulfilled and happier employees produce better results, are more innovative and creative, collaborate more effectively, and are more likely to stay with the company for a longer period of time.
To put it into numbers, an analysis of more than 250 global companies [via Culture Amp] found that those scoring highest on EX have 4x higher average profits, 2x higher average revenues and 40% lower turnover than those who didn’t.
For the purposes of this blog we’re going to focus on EX for those currently employed, not on recruiting and attracting talent, although these are also important factors. In 2021, business leaders must be focused on retaining and engaging staff, clear communication, professional development, health and wellbeing, and flexible working.
To achieve great EX, business leaders must determine their top priority, understand how to best capture data and feedback from employees to ensure investments match what employees want, and use smart software to achieve a comprehensive view of the entire employee lifecycle. They must build in processes that account for each employee’s journey with the business and consider their contentedness holistically - not only accounting for the hours they spend at their desk.
This begins with onboarding. First impressions count, and a proper introduction can ensure employees will start off on good terms. Businesses must know how best to establish the employee within the team and company as clearly, efficiently and openly as possible, providing them with all of the tools and support they need from their very first day.
As time goes on, this support must be maintained. An onboarding programme or easily accessible information repository can become the foundation for the employee’s knowledge and understanding of their role and the business’s overarching mission statement. Clear information combined with ongoing feedback can help to identify gaps or inconsistencies in knowledge and training, and ensure employees feel listened to.
At every step of the way communication is key, including clear expectations, ongoing collaboration and consistent accountability. For instance, employees should have access to a handbook with policies relevant to them, such as working from home guidelines, best practices for productivity and workflow tools, and professional development pathways.
As remote or hybrid working setups are normalised and businesses continue to digitise operations, the role of IT and employee apps becomes a hugely important part of EX.
In 2021, we will see more pressure on IT as businesses cut budgets in response to economic difficulties and also look to develop better software solutions for EX and workflows. Increasingly, IT will need to work out how to help employees find relevant information, collaborate between teams and departments, and prioritise tasks.
Business leaders across different sectors are building their own applications to help employees achieve targets and goals, streamline productivity tools used by the organisation, and improve security in the time of remote working.
Building an EX app has many potential benefits for businesses. For instance, it can integrate with employee directories and HR software to allow employees to find and assist new staff members. It can also integrate with software for workplace management, facility maintenance, room reservation, mail management and visitor management in order to ensure employees have one place to find information, input requests and complete tasks.
Reducing dependency on third party tools also increases security by keeping information and IP within the business network, ensuring sign-in protocols are being upheld, and tracking activities.
2021 is the year that organisations must consider how best to serve employees and retain top talent. This is the year when employees must feel considered, taken care of and understood. It’s the year when IT plays an important role and EX apps provide a way to empower employees. Ultimately, we see the businesses that will ride out this challenging time as those who put their people first.
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