It’s 2021: time to take employee experience to the next level
Employee experience (EX) is now on the radar more than ever for companies in India and, indeed, globally.
This pandemic has transformed our workplace, work, and workstyle. Many of us are still struggling with our teams – how do we keep everyone safe, included, motivated, well supported, and happy? One of the biggest concerns for leaders today is driving a change agenda with a fatigued and exhausted workforce. The majority of the employees continue to deal with prolonged stress and work-life balance issues brought about by the realities of the pandemic at professional and personal levels.
What will make a difference is energizing employees through a robust EX strategy that is Empathetic, Enriching, Embracing, and Efficient, according to Mercer’s Global Talent Trends 2021. A clear shift from earlier engagement concepts in physical setups and frequent person-to-person contact.
Companies in India need a clear philosophy and well-thought-out approach to deliver on the employee experience, focusing on the employee life cycle, particularly in a remote and distributed setup. Today, more and more companies are committed to deeply understanding their people in a quest to deliver a strengthened employee experience. Companies are migrating from annual surveys to pulse technology and continuous listening. Continuous feedback tools are now the most popular EX technology. Companies are going to greater lengths as 63 percent plan to use design thinking and interactive processes to co-create new employee experiences.
Working on flexible working
Last year changed the game for everyone in terms of remote work. It gave organizations a great opportunity to trust unsupervised working. Indian companies in particular are comfortable with that and most believe that they have a process in place to ensure that the company culture can be retained, even as employees move to a blended working model.
Flexible working is now central to the new EX strategy. The jolt to HR’s thinking on how the EX has changed how we work flexibly (71%), how we manage virtual workers (68%), and how we onboard (63%) will be one of COVID-19’s legacies. For the most part, the experiment with new ways of working flexibly has been a surprising success and many Indian organizations have already begun institutionalizing flexibility for the long term, at least for some employees.
But the flexible work experiment remains ongoing. What is getting lost in the conversation is how to create flexibility for all employees long-term. All jobs can flex in some way and that starts with looking at what flexibility is possible (against the five dimensions: where, when, how, what, and who), what is desirable, and what is sustainable.
Health is wealth
One thing that your team members are worried about in particular is their future health and their health care, which makes this an important driver for team happiness and success. We have seen that trend emerge in India as companies push to re-engage employees through programs to care for their long-term health.
Nearly 10 percent more organizations are thinking about a health and wellbeing strategy compared to a year ago. With access to traditional health care providers largely curtailed, use of digital health has mushroomed and services like telehealth are no longer an afterthought in employee benefits: nearly half (47%) of Indian companies plan to offer more access to remote health and benefit options, compared to only one third (36%) of their global peers. There is a recognition that both physical (47%) and mental/emotional (56%) health benefits and services need enhancement. Interestingly, Indian companies also see the manager playing a critical role in employees' mental well-being with 40 percent saying they will train managers to spot mental health issues.
A plethora of virtual health initiatives have been adopted by organizations including meditation-mindfulness apps, mental well-being platforms, yoga/nutrition programs, etc. Indian organizations feel they can do more in the wellbeing space through improving preventive care, whether it is through better leveraging technology to nudge employees for health checks (26%), or simply monitoring the lack of pick-up of preventive care and screenings (25%).
Rethinking the HR Model
So what can HR teams do to simplify and ensure sustainable EX gains in flexibility and digital health? 56 percent of companies believe that the pandemic has led to rethinking HR.
In 2021, HR transformation will need to regain prominence and the HR function will have to make smart choices about the trade-offs required for reinvention. When it comes to priorities for the HR function, accelerating programs for flexibility and redesigning HR processes for a remote work experience are number one and number two on the HR agenda.While redesigning HR processes, companies should focus on personas and target interactions. For example, with five generations now in the workforce, employers might be surprised to learn what employees want.
User personas have long been used by companies as an integral part of the UX design process, mostly to design consumer experiences. More and more companies are now applying UX methodologies to EX. Our study indicates that 1 in 4 companies are finding value in creating employee personas, which can provide a more personal representation of employee needs, behaviors, and goals, and identify the differences across different employee populations.
This would enable HR to become a more people-centered function that places a premium on exceptional personal and digital experience, with employee satisfaction as the key success metric. Target the desired employee experience for different personas as the starting point and build on end user’s needs such that the needs of people and business drivers come together. An interaction model is also the most likely approach to ensure service adoption – enabling efficiency, enrichment, and belonging.
You are not alone
An EX partner can bring EX insights, solutions, services, and lessons learned from other companies all around the world to your door, helping your organization to understand, enhance and personalize the employee experience for your team. Start by defining your success factors and then begin the journey through a well-crafted roadmap that includes continuous employee listening, co-creation, technology play, analytics, and culture changes for a dispersed and demanding multi-generational workforce.