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Flex is next: Employers and employees grapple with different views of employee experience

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Britta Schellenberg
Published on

Just as yoga practitioner’s continually work on their flexibility, organizations must continually focus on employee experience. 

It takes constant attention because employee experience is a moving target, an aggregation of expectations and perceptions that employees have about working within your organization. Employee experience goes way beyond compensation, embracing company culture, management/supervisor support, technological enablement, and more. 

At its core, employee experience means listening to employees and responding to their evolving needs.

As VP of Marketing here at Robin, I read a lot about the hybrid workplace, and every two weeks I share my favorite articles with you. 

Feel free to let me know what YOU think.  

Survey: Opinions differ on employee experience

The just-released NTT Global Workplace Report: Connecting Your Hybrid Workforce shows that business leaders and employees continue to have vastly different perspectives on employee experience. 

As a rule, employees can be relied upon to accurately evaluate their own experiences compared to their CEOs, but here’s some highlights from the report -- CEOs were 28% more likely to believe that their organizations are effective at preventing burnout than employees (many of whom are actually experiencing burnout); CEO are 41% more likely to be “very satisfied” with their organization’s employee experience capabilities compared to employees (64.4% of CEOs vs. 23.3% of employees).

In addition, CEOs are more confident than employees that their organizations are supporting employees/employee experience with the right technology to enable hybrid work. As the report suggests to resolve this tech “confidence gap”: 

“For technology to enable optimized working, organizations need to consider the technology itself, the network and infrastructure which supports it, and most crucially, the needs and profiles of employees who are using it.” 

Who’s right here on employee experience, CEOs or employees? If you re-read the intro of this newsletter where employee experience is defined, you already know the answer. 

MarketWatch: The hardest work for leaders is . . . 

All leaders learned, whether from business school and/or every book ever written about leadership, that listening is an important part of the decision-making process and leads to better decisions and improved collaboration. 

Yet leadership listening is still not being done enough, according to a terrific MarketWatch article entitled, We’re going back to the office but workers won’t stay long unless the boss learns this No. 1 skill (spoiler alert: that No. 1 skill is listening).

A stunning 63% of employees in a survey cited in the article felt that their voices had not been heard by their managers or their company’s leadership. If you asked those managers and business leaders whether they were listening to their employees, you’d get a resounding “heck yes we listen.” What’s going on with this perception gap? These types of divergent perceptions on employee experience have been consistent across multiple surveys we've discussed in previous versions of Flex is Next.

Too often, business leaders equate listening with agreeing (and/or a lack of decisiveness), but they are not the same thing.

As MarketWatch explains: “What leaders must do to move forward after the WFH (work-from-home) revolution is to hear, respect, and acknowledge employees’ concerns, desires, and fears, while at the same time reserving the right to make decisions that may not be what those employees would prefer.” 

Listening with empathy doesn’t constrain a leader’s decision, but facilitates it. If employees feel their concerns are heard and validated by leaders, they’re more likely to accept and even support decisions.

Inc: Burnout is accelerating ‘the great resignation’

I loved the title of a recent article from Inc. magazine: As The Great Resignation Accelerates, CEOs Face A Grand Reckoning, written by CEO Lisa Curtis and describing what’s at stake as we rethink the way work happens. The article cites one study of 9 million employees that shows workers “who are resigning today are much more likely to be millennial workers in tech and healthcare who are experiencing increased pressure.” 

After months of heavy workloads, RTO starts and stalls, mixed messages on mask and vaccine mandates, and the vagaries of working from home, a historically-high number of these workers have decided to make a job change. 

Author/CEO Curtis explains that employee experience goes way beyond salary, embracing management support systems, tech enablement, and workplace culture, and she closes her article by asking the critical question all business leaders now face: “how can we design a workplace where employees feel valued, connected, and with a good work-life balance? It's clear that the old ‘normal’ is never returning. It's up to all of us to create a new normal that makes workers excited to stay.” 

At Robin, we believe that creating a great employee experience that retains and attracts talent takes two-way communication and holistic support for employees that embraces technology, flexible scheduling, and management practices that facilitate new ways of working. We’re in the employee experience business, and focus on it so much because it’s what matters most in today’s rapidly changing business landscape.

Thank you for reading and see you again in two weeks.

Meanwhile, continue to focus on employee experience — when you accommodate the needs of your employees, they’ll reciprocate with their productivity and loyalty. And if you’re not sure how your employees feel, just ask them.

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