A positive employee experience is very critical as it reflects how invested an employee is in the organization. With the start of the pandemic, people were forced into home office, a convenience that quickly turned into a nightmare for a lot of employees. So where do we stand 2 years later?
How can you as their employer make the employee experience better, even in times of uncertainty and continuing lockdowns? A positive employee experience is so critical as it reflects how invested an employee is within the organization. If there are employees not truly invested in the organization’s success, they often end up needing more attention while underperforming. This results in wasted time, resources, and lost revenue, which could ultimately cause damage to the company. With the changes and pauses to the world’s economy generated by COVID, organizations need to be more conscious now than ever as they cannot afford to make mistakes and waste resources. It is, therefore, crucial to ensure a positive employee experience within the workplace to achieve the best ROI from your employees and help boost the quality of output that they produce.
When the pandemic first started in the spring of 2020, we all considered it to be through the worst by summer. Now 2 years later, we know better. Covid will continue to influence our daily life at home and at work. To start off a promising business year, employers need to make sure their employees stay motivated despite the continuing uncertainty and the negative impact on daily life. The best way to do that is to take efforts in enhancing the employee experience.
To understand what employee experience needs to do for your people in 2022, you need to know about their current pain points first. We have summed up the most important issues for you:
In the beginning home office appealed to a lot of employees because of the expected better work-life balance. Less time spent in the car or bus means more time to yourself, right? - Well, that illusion has busted for a lot of people by now. In reality, time just shifted to other tasks your employees might didn’t have to take care of before. For example, in many companies employees enjoyed the convenience of free or price-reduced lunch at work. So instead of winning time by not having to drive, the time is now invested in cooking.
In fact, a lot of employees are fed-up with home office. Less separation between work and private life, missing commodities of office life (e.g. social contacts with colleagues), and more things to juggle on the spot (e.g. homeschooling, working next to screaming babies or partners who are on a conference call in the same room at the same time). On top of that, social isolation has taken its toll on their mental health.
Over the last 2 years we were pretty much forced to stay at home the whole time, besides some weeks in between numerous lockdowns. Options to travel or even go to the movies were rare and minimized. Although the pandemic is not gone, we are ready to rise. We are eager to broaden our horizons, getting out of our boring comfort zone. Employees might have sat in home office reevaluating their lives and their careers. They are eager for change, for opportunities, and personal growth.
With continuing mutation of the virus which seems to get more and more contagious, insecurities among people rise as well. Will this virus ever go away? Will going back to the office jeopardize my health? What if homeschooling returns for my kids? Do I still have the option to work from home? What does going back to normal even mean?
While the omicron variant has once again placed a lot of people in home office, the trend in 2022 is set on returning to the office. That could turn into a culture shock to some degree. Returning to one's desk after almost 2 years will feel bewildering. Especially, because not everyone is returning. Beloved colleagues have lost their jobs due to the pandemic. Besides feeling relieved to still be around, employees will also feel a sense of „survivor’s guilt“. This might soon transform into frustration because in certain positions one person has to work for two now. More pressure and the fear of „will I be fired next?“ will drain energy and demotivate your employees.
The year 2022 has the potential to be a turn-around. You can sense the drive for change in the atmosphere. Acknowledging that there is a transition happening is the first step. But what should you focus your employee experience strategy on? We have summed up the 4 main trends to look out for in 2022.
With home office the line between work and life has blurred. Consequently, employees yearn for more work-life balance. At the same time, they are now used to certain flexibility, like e.g. running important errands during the day and finishing off work later, if applicable. This common practice during home office times could easily be the end of the typical 9 to 5 routine in office jobs.
The right mix of home office and flexible work hours combined with meetings at the office will be the key to a successful work-life-balance.
Companies that win the culture war will be ahead of the legislation and invest in privacy around working from home, states Forbes in its 2022 article about employee experience.
"Even in a hybrid work environment, leadership and personal development are becoming top priorities as job seekers refocus their energy on rebuilding their careers after a challenging two years“, says Cameron Yarbrough, CEO at Torch, a learning and development platform based in San Francisco. He for sure is right about that. Employees and employers alike are eager to make 2022 their year. Giving your employees the opportunity for personal growth, training on-the-job and off the job will give their motivation a kick and enhance their employee experience. Be aware that a clear and comprehensive talent management strategy is the foundation of any employee development action.
Considering the continuous insecurities that employees face every day, regarding their health as well as their employment, company culture is crucial for survival.
Especially, when budget cuts forced the layoff of dear co-workers, the remaining employees need to feel a sense of community and trust. In order to make returning to the office as comfortable as possible consider a returning program. Comparable to an onboarding program it should be a map for the return to the office for your existing employees. Think of a first-day event to support reconnection between colleagues, offer guidance through clear communication of values and goals. Show your employees how they fit into your plan and that they are meant to be here. Providing an atmosphere of open communication, addressing even those questions nobody dares to ask, will go a long way too. Based on the 2021 study by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) 52% of the managers spent 1 to 10 hours weekly on managing their company culture. The study also showed that employees talk more openly and more honestly about their work with their managers if the company culture is perceived to be well.
Already before the pandemic there was a certain shift in HR visible to the educated eye. The so-called gig economy was on the rise, fostering freelancing opportunities. This practice has become more common, now that a lot of companies were forced to provide IT that allows working from home. All of a sudden considering employees from other corners of the world is not as surreal anymore. Getting freelancers onboard, from near or far, can bring diversity and support to your company culture. On top of that, freelancers can help your employees lift the workload when there is a current shortage of people.
Since freelancers can be hired for shorter time periods, they provide a budget-sensitive alternative to hiring. According to the 2021 State of Hybrid Work Report for Europe, conducted by Owl Lab, 32% of European businesses plan to hire worldwide, focusing on skills rather than location.
The pandemic has changed the business world and the workplace significantly in just 2 years. Forced into a lot of compromises and experiencing stagnating careers, employees are as eager as ever to make 2022 their year. Employers are challenged to provide a work environment that motivates their employees to stay in the company and put their energy and aspirations at work for them and not the competition. By redefining the work-life balance, increasing training and growth opportunities, as well as investing in company culture and potentially even bringing new faces in, as e.g. freelancers, employers can address common pain points and create the required employee experience. Consequently, employees regain motivation and loyalty for a successful business year 2022 and beyond.
Based on our experience in all areas of HR, we at Dimpact also offer to consult in regards to employee experience. We create people-related processes to improve your company’s culture and enhance your employees’ experience, both to ultimately achieve your set business goals for 2022. Get in touch with us to find out more about our Employee Experience Design 3 Stage Process which allows you to frame, design, and implement a positive experience for you and your employees:
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