Listening through change: Why EX is critical to recovery

employee experience

For HR leaders, insights captured by their annual or bi-annual engagement surveys just won’t cut it. While these platforms remain an important channel, such is the rate of change right now businesses need more regular insights – sometimes weekly – into the issues that matter, writes Steve Bennetts, Head of Employee Experience, Qualtrics APJ.

A tired and overused truism among business and technology circles is “change is the only constant.

Whether you love it or hate it, in 2020 there’s no denying this saying has rang more true than usual for the vast majority of us.

HR leaders that can rapidly configure their listening programs to focus on immediate issues and concerns have a distinct advantage today.

One minute it’s business as usual. The next, a global pandemic is on our doorstep. One minute we’re celebrating the success of our national response and discussing returns to work. The next, state borders are shutting for the first time in a century as we battle a new outbreak. Add to the mix the emergence of a global protest movement and we’ve an environment in which being able to understand how people feel in real-time has never been more important.

Change isn’t just constant. It’s accelerating. And it’s having a profound impact on the expectations employees have of their employers. After the last few months it’s reasonable to assume workers will want more workplace flexibility, they’ll want to see explicit efforts to make all groups feel included, and they’ll want to see businesses ensure their safety and wellbeing is a top concern as they return.

As leaders, we must ensure we’re getting back to business the right way and with confidence.

It means listening to employees, understanding what they want, and then taking action to deliver it is paramount to understand how expectations have changed, and what can be done to address them.

To ensure the entire organisation can create and support a great EX, HR must enable other departments with the ability and structure to identify and understand the impact they have on it.

For HR leaders, insights captured by their annual or bi-annual engagement surveys just won’t cut it. While these platforms remain an important channel, such is the rate of change right now businesses need more regular insights – sometimes weekly – into the issues that matter. This enables them to track how sentiment and expectations change over time and monitor the impact of programs and processes being introduced.

HR leaders that can rapidly configure their listening programs to focus on immediate issues and concerns have a distinct advantage today too. For instance, as people plan returns to the office, there’s huge value in asking how comfortable people feel returning and what measures they want to see you take beforehand. This has the potential to deliver huge cost savings, operational efficiencies, and employee engagement.

Finally, being able to distribute insights at scale and make them easy to understand is important. HR teams are drowning in data – and the truth is few are trained data analysts. Ensuring insights are easy to understand makes them easy to act on to deliver value back to the business.

EX is more than HR
As we become increasingly dependent on technology to do our jobs, if any of these platforms do not perform as expected it impacts the employee experience more than it may have in the past. With working from home likely to become a permanent fixture across most organisations, HR needs real-time insights into how IT systems are performing and the impact it’s having on EX.

Alongside the IT experience, when workers do not feel listened to internally and supported they will find their own channels to be heard. They have various opportunities to vent their frustrations externally. Sites like Glassdoor have become repositories of grievances of employees who felt unheard, mistreated, or unmotivated. Such reviews will also impact an organisations’ ability to attract talent going forward.

EX is intrinsically linked to various parts of the business. This is apparent in the fact organisations with high employee engagement demonstrate revenue growth 2.5x that of those with low engagement. The rewards for equipping your workforce with the right tools to do the job are even higher, with revenue growth jumping to 4.5x when employees are highly enabled. To ensure the entire organisation can create and support a great EX, HR must enable other departments with the ability and structure to identify and understand the impact they have on it. This enables teams to rapidly resolve issues and ensure a seamless and superior EX.

Change isn’t just constant. It’s accelerating. And it’s having a profound impact on the expectations employees have of their employers.

Keeping the seat at the table
HR leaders have at long last been given a seat at the leadership table they’ve long deserved. But to keep it requires action.

We can expect to see greater demand and rising expectations among employees as we move forward. Gathering feedback on what expectations are and then taking action to ensure they are met will set businesses apart in the coming years, becoming a key determinant in employee retention and ongoing ability to entice top talent.

It’s important we don’t let change drown out what matters most. A strategic listening program will allow businesses to tap into how employees are feeling at the various stages of recovery, analyse and share that data with key stakeholders, and proactively adapt.

Image Source: Pexels