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Employee experience: six trends to watch in 2018

Employee experience: six trends to watch in 2018

2017 saw significant improvements in how businesses understand and approach the employee experience (EX). Research is increasingly showing the critical importance of getting the EX right because engaged employees contribute significantly to revenue growth. Businesses that want to sharpen their competitive edge in 2018 need to be aware of the key trends in EX, according to Qualtrics.

Steve Bennetts, EX Subject Matter Expert and Psychologist, Qualtrics, said, “2017 was a significant year for EX. We saw the introduction of real-time data feedback for employee engagement that lets managers take immediate action. EX went beyond employee feedback programs to bring in a 360-degree focus on the employee, incorporating multiple data sets. And, perhaps most tellingly, we saw an explosion of new employee experience roles in HR using various disciplines with the primary goal of building their own in-house EX expertise and resources.”

“All this positive momentum has continued into 2018 and we will see a number of key trends come to the fore.”

The six key trends Qualtrics has identified for employee experience in 2018 are:

1. Right feedback, right time

Organisations will shift away from the scattergun mentality of gathering feedback as frequently as possible and look instead to target feedback at key moments. Recurrent, meaningful feedback is crucial but the scattergun approach isn’t efficient.

Rachel Barker, EX Product Manager, Qualtrics, said, “In 2018, expect to see companies shift to adopt the real silver bullet: collecting and delivering the right feedback at the right time. When organisations build programs that solicit, collect, and distribute feedback at critical moments, leaders can effect real change within their organisations.”

2. EX is everyone’s business

Like safety became everyone’s business a few years ago, now employee engagement and culture are fast becoming everyone’s responsibility.

Rachel Barker said, “A revolution in technology lets companies democratise critical EX insights across the organisation. Guided action plans and manager-enabling technology will direct leaders with expert content in an automated way that hasn’t been seen at scale before. This will free up HR to be more strategic and proactive with their employee experience programs.”

3. Diversity and inclusion

The pressure for meaningful change in this area continues to build and there will be requirements in organisations to create strategies that will help drive results.

Gunnar Schrah, PhD, EX Expert, Qualtrics, said, “Failing to establish inclusive and diverse workplaces will have legal, financial, and social consequences for businesses. Companies will need to adapt organisation-specific strategies to establish and improve workplace cultures. 2018 is the year for diversity and inclusion strategies to be widely adopted across all industries and workplaces.”

4. Implicit data, not just explicit

Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning are driving a data revolution and HR is seeing the benefits. Although HR will continue to collect employee experience insights through explicit channels like engagement surveys, the emergence of AI will allow for the integration of a larger variety of underlying behavioural, emotional, and attitudinal indicators into the equation.

Steve Bennetts said, “Organisations no longer have to rely solely on employees’ answers to direct questions regarding their experience but can use multiple data sources that provide implicit signals. For example, data sources like attendance data at training sessions, frequencies of interaction with social media like Slack or Workspace, and meeting participation can demonstrate engagement within the workplace. This implicit data can signal underlying emotions and attitudes that may not surface in direct questionnaires.”

5. Employer brand will be critical

Employer branding will be critical in 2018, online platforms like LinkedIn, Glassdoor and are a deep well of information for job seekers. Many companies have not noticed this shift in available data and have failed to raise their game when it comes to talent acquisition.

Gunnar Schrah said, “Employee feedback and reaction surveys can help companies build a great employee brand but attracting top talent will require those organisations to market and advertise that attractive brand and employee experience to a wide audience. Smart companies will take steps to reduce the gap between their intended and perceived brand, as well as find external avenues for their employee journey stories to be shared and publicise their positive EX results.”

6. Connecting experiences

EX and customer experience are inextricably aligned: highly engaged employees deliver superior customer experiences, turning customers into fanatics, products into obsessions, and brands into religions. These customers and their recruited companions can then generate outsized revenue and profit for the business. Smart businesses are linking employee experience data with customer behaviours to create a superior customer experience. Nurturing a customer-centric approach throughout the employee lifecycle is crucial to a highly engaged and satisfied workforce.

Steve Bennetts said, “Getting the EX right depends on knowing how employees feel and what it would take to deepen their engagement with a company. By using right measures and tools for feedback at the right time, businesses can improve their employee experience and see those results translate into a strong positive employer brand and ultimately to the bottom-line profits.”