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3 Trends Shaping the Future of Employee Experience in 2019

Christina Zurek

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In looking ahead to the coming year, we predict that efforts to refine and enhance the employee experience will continue to be a top area of focus for employers everywhere. And they should—companies that have a dedicated focus on employee experience tend to also have a strong culture, heightened employee engagement, employees who feel proactively supported, a diverse and inclusive environment, and high levels of touch throughout the employee lifecycle. Here are our predictions for the top three employee experience trends we’ll see in 2019.

 

1. Adaptation of Customer Experience Successes to Influence Employee Experience Strategies

Similar to the lessons learned through years of focus on customer experience (CX), organizations are realizing that the employee experience (EX) is more than simply the job or task an employee does—it’s the culmination of every interaction (good and not so good) that the employee has with an organization. It's emotional and encompasses both high-impact moments, as well as subtle, nuanced moments that build over time.

If you’re looking to increase meaningfulness and the positive impact of experiences that employees have, it takes more than occasional snacks or a ping pong table. Increasingly, organizations are considering foundational marketing and CX tactics to develop more thoughtful approaches, including:

  • Developing journey maps to understand those moments that are most critical to employees.
  • Identifying employee personas to understand how, in an increasingly complex workforce, strategies can be tailored to maximize engagement and provide (what feels like) a hyper-personalized experience.

These can be significant undertakings for an organization, though, so be prepared to justify your investment if you’re looking to elevate your EX with these proven strategies. We expect to see a continued uptick in the use of sophisticated analytics that not only help HR scale these efforts to identify areas of strength and opportunity but also correlate their investments in EX back to bottom-line results like reduction in turnover, profit/revenue growth and customer service/satisfaction scores.

 

2. Continued Shifting in the Nature of How Work Gets Done

As younger generations enter the workforce, their expectations for how things “get done” will fundamentally change how businesses function. We’ve already started to see this impacting organizations—and it will continue to do so for years to come. The presence and expectations of these younger professionals are signaling to organizations that they need to fundamentally redefine the programs, policies and perks offered. Those who can do it well will be front-runners in attracting the valuable new talent entering the workforce. They’ll also be in position to win in the retention race, too, by engaging (and keeping) the talent they already have who are gradually embracing these new ideas as well.

The impact millennials have had in the workforce for the past 10–15 years is undeniable. Previous generations may have been more apt to stay silent about the change they wanted, but millennials are vocalizing their needs and are eager to work for organizations who give them that voice.

While millennials may be the ones who helped usher this change in, this increased acceptance of voicing needs has been embraced by many in the workforce—making it more than a passing fad.

For that reason, we anticipate we’ll see a continued focus on employee listening. To monitor employee emotion and collect feedback throughout the employee journey, more organizations will move away from the traditional once-per-year survey to continuous feedback approaches. This includes more frequent company-wide surveying, as well as surveying of employees during those critical points in employee journey (after onboarding, after an internal role change, after returning from leave, etc.). For more advanced organizations, this will likely also include direct listening tactics like focus groups or crowdsourcing exercises, but also indirect or passive techniques, like social listening.

We’ll also see an increase in the employment of contingent and non-traditional workers, in part to respond to the shortage of skilled workers companies are struggling to find. These workers—an estimated 10% of U.S. workers who rely on the gig economy as a full-time source of income—are looking for different things from employers. Since they don’t have the same benefits as full-time employees and are likely contracted through a specific task, it’s vital to understand the changing employment relationship in the new environment and move from an “employee value proposition” to a “talent value proposition” to engage the full population of workers.

But be aware: While many organizations feel like they’re getting a handle on the changes millennials have ushered in (including a propensity to prioritize finding a fulfilling job over one that pays the bills), early indicators are showing that Gen Zers may prioritize one that offers financial stability over one that they enjoy.

But they also have been empowered growing up, so they aren’t going to back down from pursuing what they want or need. This approach will likely disrupt the “new normal” that many of us have settled in to in the wake of the millennial wave, and savvy companies will be paying particularly close attention to how Gen Z talent acclimates to their first few years in the workforce.

 

3. A Renewed Focus on the Emotional Drivers of Engagement

Retention is the top metric for organizations in today’s highly competitive labor market and will be a heavy focus in the year to come. Organizations understand it takes more than good pay and benefits to keep top performers happy and loyal—those are becoming table stakes. To differentiate, organizations will turn their focus to the emotional and psychological forces that support engagement and loyalty.

This manifests in a variety of ways throughout the employee lifecycle. Effective onboarding creates a strong, connected start.

The most effective organizations onboard new hires for the duration of their first year—their most vulnerable period. This approach to learning and development should be offered beyond the onboarding period, though.

Logically, a more highly-trained worker is going to complete better work, but there are also significant benefits that they can derive on an emotional/psychological level. Those that are constantly learning on the job are measurably more engaged, productive and successful than their peers.

Similarly, creating an environment where people can be who they are, that values their unique talents and perspectives, and makes them want to stay seems obvious, but inclusion is often more elusive than one might expect in the workforce. We’ll see an increased emphasis by companies to bring people and teams together as a way of fostering that inclusivity. The key will be better understanding who your employees really are.

And lastly, one of the strongest emotional drivers for much of today’s workforce is purpose. A strong organizational purpose will connect with the hearts and minds of all types of workers. Why? Because workers are able to make connections between their day-to-day work and a bigger picture. But, for maximum impact, there needs to be a tie in to an individual’s purpose as well. This focus on the employee’s individual and global impact is something that is proven to positively impact employee engagement, and we anticipate that staying at the forefront of many employer brand campaigns.

 

If we could summarize our predictions for the year ahead, it comes down to personalization. The efforts organizations take to evaluate the moments of impact in the EX, to respond to the needs employees are vocalizing and the efforts companies are making to humanize the way they support their employees are all aligned around that goal. Implementing these tips to create personalized employee experiences will help your company build a cohesive, engaging work environment where employees and the company alike can thrive.

Ready to start making changes to your organization’s employee experience? Download our ebook, Improve Retention and Engagement by Enhancing the Employee Experience.


Christina Zurek's picture

Christina Zurek

Christina creates innovative solutions by combining her enthusiasm for motivating and engaging people with more than ten years of consultative solution development experience. She thrives on completing research and analysis, collaborating with others, experiencing new things and drinking craft beer.

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