How Covid Made Experience Even More Complicated

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Building an employee experience was difficult enough even before everyone trekked into the office. But at that point employers at least had some control over the environment in which their employees worked. That changed with Covid and the shift to remote work. In a scant matter of months, organizations had less influence over how employees approached their work, their communications and their climbing the corporate food chain. More than anything else, the overall work experience was influenced by the employee and their behavior.

What’s that look like in practice? It’s more challenging to manage, for one thing. For example, parents may be more challenged by arrangements for their children, and how they have to juggle the kids’ schedule with their own and the overall company environment’s. The bottom line: Employee expectations have changed. That begs the question: How are employers evolving to meet them?

For one thing, they’re taking proactive steps to manage their employee’s experience in the post-pandemic world.

Acknowledging Changing Employee Expectations

Despite layoffs, organizations are still challenged to recruit and retain top candidates. Many companies are downsizing and upsizing at the same time, focusing their efforts on key hires and technology to fuel growth despite a potential economic downturn. So, employers are assessing compensation and benefits packages to align with employee expectations.

Such efforts go far beyond the paycheck. While compensation is still crucial, 61% of the 13,000+ employees surveyed by Gallup said a better work-life balance and personal well-being are top priorities in their future work. With employees reporting higher levels of burnout and feeling overwhelmed by their jobs, many companies are providing more robust mental health options.

Investing in the Employee Experience

Meanwhile, a Gartner study reveals that 58% of organizations have invested in improving the employee experience, while another third say that’s on their immediate agenda. To provide more flexibility for frontline workers and help with recruiting and retention, these employers are prioritizing:

  • Flexibility and control over work schedules
  • Stability in work schedules
  • Paid leave and time off

Evolving Management Styles

For most remote employees, contact with their company comes, by and large, from their immediate supervisor. There’s less interaction with colleagues and other employees, meaning a greater effort is required to nurture the company’s culture and experience.

Only half of employees think their manager is effective at explaining how day-to-day activities align with organizational culture. Yet, employees crave the purposeful work that helps maintain high engagement. To embed a continuing sense of purpose, managers need to tie tasks to culture and ensure employees understand the role they play in the company’s success.

For many managers, this is a significant change in the style and approach they must take to meet employee expectations, which is why many organizations are investing in support and training to help their management teams adapt successfully.

Improving Communication and Transparency

Trust has always been the foundation of a solid employer-employee relationship. During the pandemic, the best employers provided continuous, timely and updated information about what was happening and how their companies were operating. In fact, such communication is no longer optional for organizations that want to succeed.

With inflation concerns and layoffs in the news, employees want transparency and honesty about economic conditions and how they may be impacted. Employees are also increasingly anxious about new technology such as artificial intelligence, which is upending many industries. Goldman Sachs says 300 million jobs may be impacted by AI and automation.

Meanwhile, an MIT Sloan study says that above all else, employees want information about their job and company, combined with clear and accurate communication.

There’s no question that Covid disrupted the workplace. It also signaled an abrupt change in how employees approached their jobs and their expectations moving forward. As we redefine the workplace for the future, companies that want to remain viable must address the evolving employee experience.

Image: iStock

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