EX Matters – what’s important
by TIM LOTHERINGTON & BECS REFFELL | Published on February 2nd, 2024
We were reflecting recently how the past few years in the world of talent have been amongst the most interesting and challenging of our time. And, how unpredictable and exciting the future looks.
The role that work plays in people’s lives has shifted beyond our wildest predictions over the last four years, and we still see people’s motivations continuously change.
We’ve all heard the buzz words. Quiet quitting; rage applying; live quitting; lazygirljobs; #worktok (which recently hit 2bn posts). The endless debates about hybrid working. Frightening (for many) headlines that AI will take our jobs. The tensions of the multigenerational workforce where Gen Z are often called out as being ‘pushy’ as they question the norms that have kept so many of us ‘nose to the grindstone’ for years.
Actually, Gen Z are not alone in wanting a better experience at work. People of all ages (including the authors!) are reprioritising. Learning; stability and meaningful work are key goals. They want to have genuine impact on the big picture; to work somewhere that supports their health & wellbeing. They want real DEI progress, action on sustainability and values that match their own. Not too much to ask to keep your people engaged, motivated and loyal, right?
So what if you’re not delivering? Terrifying headlines about talent scarcity, the cost of unfilled vacancies and disengagement, not to mention the $bns lost in productivity, mean the pressure’s on for employers to make meaningful improvement to Employee Experience (EX), urgently.
While a lot of this isn’t new (to those of us who’ve been doing this for – ahem – a while) – we’ve seen a significant increase in investment and action by companies aiming to address these challenges and to increase their competitive edge with external talent.
And with stress and burnout at unprecedented levels, globally*, perhaps it’s not surprising that many of our clients are dialling their efforts in EX up to 11 (for those that have seen that most brilliant film).
So how can organisations get it right? Understand the needs of their people? Boost engagement? And meet and exceed their business goals and targets?
Well, it starts by being honest with ourselves about 4 key areas of EX:
1. Connection to the company
Do your people truly feel the purpose and the values of your company? Do they have the right networks, social interactions and supportive relationships with peers, management and leaders? Does the culture give them a sense of belonging? Of psychologically safety? Do they trust that the organisation has their wellbeing at heart?
2. Meaningful work
Do people have a say in the direction of their career whilst doing interesting work? Can they see the impact of their everyday work on the purpose and strategy? Do they have the learning and development opportunities in the flow of their work?
3. Where and when we work
Is the balance between office, home and hybrid working clear and accepted by your people? Do your non-office employees have safe, functional, accessible and inspiring workplaces? Do all working environments inspire inclusion, collaboration and help the organisation’s culture come alive? Can you flex your policies to support flexible working?
4. Tech & tools
Do people have access to the right technology, knowledge and tools to enable their productivity, efficiency and wellbeing? Do they feel prepared for changes to the tech & tools they use? Do they know about the tech & tools available to them?
So where do you even start?
Nobody is suggesting you try to solve every challenge upfront. The investment would be too huge and you’d still be working on it in 2075. If the last four years have taught us anything – it’s the power of experimentation; of trying things out and of creating change quickly.
We see the starting point of any EX work as understanding the current state of play and identifying where to invest to make the biggest difference. The answers to the questions above (and more besides) will be different for every organisation and you’ll probably know some of them already.
Perhaps you’ve done some research for your EVP and it’s identified some pain points in your EX? Perhaps your values have become stale and need to be refreshed and re-embedded? Maybe everyone (apart from the CEO) is quietly wondering why they’re the only one that doesn’t ‘get’ the strategy after that Townhall? Or (and we see this a lot) perhaps you’re going through significant change and need to make sure your people are with you for the journey – and are willing to play their part in it.
We could keep going. There are as many different employee experiences as there are people in your organisation. And, even if you have great engagement and your people are happy and productive, you can always take EX to the next level.
Yes, definitely an exciting time to be in the talent comms space. As the world of work continues to change and evolve – maybe EX will soon get dialled up to 12?
Tim and Becs
*Gallup found that 81% of employees globally were feeling at the risk of burnout in 2022