With the advent of the pandemic, there has been a significant shift in the perspective of the working class. With remote work culture on the rise, employers and employees emphasize mental well-being, a phenomenon generally absent before the pandemic.
Moreover, it has also given rise to the Great Resignation movement which shows that employees are no longer satisfied with just financial compensation and actively seek a work-life balance. Thus, it is evident that for any established or burgeoning business to thrive in 2022, they have to make a few major adjustments.
Prediction 2022: Employee Experience Trends to Watch
Many employee experience trends will shape the future of work. Unpredictable macro-economic conditions, a burgeoning global population, changing technologies, and new ideas will influence how people expect to interact with their workplaces in 2022.
Here are a few employee experience trends that workplaces can implement this year.
1. The 4-day work week culture
There is an increasing demand among working professionals for flexible work schedules. This includes the coveted '4-day work week,' which can allow them to focus on other aspects of their lives. A sentiment essentially ignited by the eponymous book, many companies realize that result-oriented work culture has more incredible benefits to the business than enforcing stipulated work hours on employees.
Furthermore, it improves the workforce's well-being without affecting productivity. Not just that, field studies have shown that it has even boosted it.
The managers, too, could correlate with this data, as 87% of executives stated that they were satisfied with the productivity of their respective teams.
An additional benefit of this employee experience trend is a marked reduction in attrition rates, a blessing during the Great Resignation.
Apart from Bolt, many major companies like Nectafy and Kickstarter have embraced a 4-day work week, prompting more organizations to consider it seriously in 2022. However, it is essential to note that this employee experience strategy doesn't necessarily need to extend throughout the organization and businesses operating round the clock can make adjustments accordingly.
2. Higher investment in employee onboarding
A basic yet often neglected employee experience strategy is investing more time and resources in employee onboarding. The rationale behind this trend is simple. When new employees join a workplace, they want to feel welcomed and the sooner they develop a sense of belonging in the company, the better.
Many tech companies are going above and beyond with their employee onboarding process to facilitate this. The teams responsible for employee experience management are beginning to understand that onboarding is more than just filling out forms.
Companies worldwide have executed diverse tactics to reel in new employees, including formal boardroom introductory meetings and fun office parties with some refreshments. However, it is understandable that in today’s post-pandemic, remote work setting, creating such a personalized experience is challenging.
A leading healthcare data provider in Kentucky, their primary challenge during the pandemic was instructing employees to set up their computers and workstations. Hence, they began delivering all the necessary equipment to an employee’s house and company merchandise and balloons for a more human touch.
Apart from improving interpersonal experiences in remote settings, companies rely on various employee experience platforms to streamline onboarding these days. It includes effectively bringing their new employees up to speed with multiple company processes and work-related tasks more efficiently.
3. Custom cloud solutions for stability and growth
During the pandemic, many companies found that IT support can be a nightmare while managing a remote workforce, even for organizations with strong and dedicated IT teams. Thus, it’s evident that for businesses that don’t have such a robust IT department, the situation became even direr during the pandemic, prompting many to switch to cloud-based or Software as a Service (SaaS) solutions.
This has eventually become a significant employee experience trend in 2022, with an increasing number of businesses switching to customized cloud-based solutions to manage IT logistics and improve internal employee communication. Its popularity is general, hassle-free in terms of setup and supervision, offering dynamic user management and robust backup and recovery services. Businesses have also been adopting cloud-based platforms for their physical security, such as smart door access control solutions, that allow their building security to be managed remotely and integrate with their everyday tools through open APIs.
This trend has also received a phenomenal response from employees as they don’t want to face technical problems related to IT infrastructure when working in a remote setting. Hence in 2022 and in the coming years, more companies will embrace cloud and SaaS solutions to improve their employees’ work experience and boost company growth.
Until 2014, Coca-Cola, the beverage giant, faced overwhelming traffic in their servers during the super-bowl, to the point where it became unmanageable.
In 2014, they switched to cloud computing services with AWS and realized a 40% savings in operational costs almost instantly. Moreover, it also gave the company more leeway to introduce automation to boost their functional capacity and improve their employees’ experience.
4. The rise of flexible benefits
With hybrid culture here to stay, companies are looking to offer equal perks and benefits to all their employees irrespective of where they work. Things like free lunches, designated parking, and a foosball table are no longer as appealing or accessible to employees working remotely.
The pandemic's unpredictability and chaos require a more comprehensive approach to employee experience management.
In a bid to shift towards more flexible benefits, businesses worldwide are already looking into offering perks and benefits to their employees through partnerships with retailers and health-fitness providers. More and more companies are ditching the rigid healthcare benefits and incorporating mental health ailments in their health coverage.
Furthermore, irrespective of geography, companies are looking to pay their employees reasonable wages, as long as the nature of work is the same. For example, an employee logging in from New York and an employee working from India might get similar compensation. The location is no longer a barrier to productivity and output.
Thus, to appease the employee's demands for more flexibility concerning benefits, more companies are set to follow suit in 2022.
Honoring the dedication of their remote employees, Automattic offers employee experience perks such as unlimited paid time off work, a stipend for home office setup, sabbatical programs, paid maternal and paternal leave programs and even stipends for learning.
5. Focus on employee well-being
While the early stages of the pandemic were a tense time for employers, it soon became evident that productivity did not suffer much during the transition to remote work. Many companies saved up a lot in terms of resources which were a part of their expenditure in a conventional office setup.
Moreover, working professionals found themselves working around the clock. All these factors led to the much-expected fallout in record employee burnout, a steep rise in mental health issues and eventually the Great Resignation, as many young professionals have prioritized their mental peace overcompensation. This is why organizations need to keep employee well-being at the forefront.
Following this employee experience strategy, a lot of companies are paying particular attention to employee well-being by implementing the following strategies:
- No email communication after 6 pm, as even work-related communication post that time can cause undue stress.
- No working on weekends, as putting in time on weekends is a sure-fire way to increase stress and reduce productivity.
- Free therapy sessions for employees facing burnout, which occurred a lot in the past two years due to work and health-related crises.
- One-on-One life coach sessions to help employees unlock their productivity and achieve their career goals, for a healthy dose of motivation is equally important.
- Virtual mentorship programs where remote employees work with virtual mentors in the company to foster a connected human experience within the organization.
- Paid paternity leaves for new fathers so that they can take care of their newborns.
- Offering mental health break days.
- 1-2 off days for female employees when they are menstruating.
Ultimately, all companies can implement these employee experience strategies to better retain their workforce.
6. Single sign-in & ID management for improved security & access
Effective employee experience management involves offering perks, focusing on their well-being, and helping them streamline their work, consequently improving time efficiency.
To make the lives easier for employees, many employers are now switching to a single sign-in process that allows access to all the necessary tools for the employees. This way, employees don’t have to manage multiple login credentials for different systems and carry on with their work more efficiently.
The perks of a streamlined ID management plan also extend to the IT department, as they can easily observe and manage users logging into various operational systems. Moreover, with fewer credentials to monitor, they can also identify potential security breaches with relative ease.
Single sign-on allows employers to provide or revoke access for employees with ease, which comes in handy when an existing worker is quitting, or a new employee is joining the workforce.
Another noteworthy employee experience platform is Okta, which allows different organization members to connect remotely and for the IT department to manage these interactions from a single, centralized point. Hence, one can expect to see more of this trend in the coming years.
7. Rising need to go hybrid
While the pandemic did give rise to remote work, it also eroded the communal experience of working in an office space with colleagues. With many companies opening their physical doors once again, there's an apparent rift between those who want to get back to the office (as it offers a free flow of ideas) and those who wish to continue remote work as they are more productive in a solitary setting.
While working on-site will boost team bonding and uplift the company culture, it will also force some professionals to take long and arduous commutes, which many aren't inclined to do. Conversely, working remotely might cause burnout and mental fatigue, despite all the flexible perks and care packages.
Thus, the best course of action for optimal employee experience management is to give each professional a choice to make that decision instead of enforcing one plan.
For organizations sceptical about the hybrid system, it can be easily field-tested for a few months before it is drafted into company policy. Hence, companies must go hybrid, for those that don't and unnecessarily force their staff to work on-site will create disgruntled employees and consequently increase the attrition rates.
8. AI in HR
Artificial intelligence (AI) is not the next big thing anymore. It is already influencing major work trends around the world. Unsurprisingly, artificial intelligence is also booming in Human Resource Management as more and more companies realize the benefits AI offers to hiring, employee engagement, onboarding, training, performance appraisal etc.
The technology is highly efficient in operation as it performs its tasks with great accuracy and speed and constantly learns. Hence, the system becomes more streamlined and effective with each iteration. Thus, using AI technology is a definite blessing for large organizations that run a massive hiring process.
Moreover, the benefits are not limited only to the employers. For employees, AI offers transparency in HR processes and improves the ease of learning new skills while also ensuring effective communication between employees and management. Thus, it can add aid in the overall holistic growth of the organization.
Despite best efforts, bias is unavoidable when people are involved. Bias might also seep into human resources, making HRs take conscious or unconscious decisions based on gender, age, religion or race.
However, with machine learning, it is possible to enable more diversity in the organization and eliminate bias while solely focusing on skill and merit, which is enabled by tools such as HiringSolved.
Thus, with so much promise, it is clear that most companies will opt for this employee experience trend in the coming years.
9. Complete investment in employee engagement journey
While using AI technology can handle many analytical problems, the human element is perhaps the most crucial factor for the new generation of workers. A vital aspect of this human element is clear communication between the top brass and the regular workers of an organization.
While it was much easier to accomplish this in a traditional office setting through boardroom meetings and lunchroom interactions, this two-way communication is more crucial than ever in the present remote work culture.
Company-wide pulse surveys and one-on-one interaction between managers and employees help you gauge the quality of employee experience within the organization. When managers and company leaders are personally invested in the well-being of their employees, it brings a much-needed sense of camaraderie to all teams.
Another aspect of this investment in employee engagement is providing the right opportunities for them to grow and thrive within the organization. Most companies can significantly reduce attrition rates by investing some time and energy into crafting an optimal career path for an employee.
This includes steady financial progression as well as improvement in roles and responsibilities. If vertical growth is not possible, organizations should try to move them laterally to learn new skills, continue to grow, and feel motivated to contribute. The idea is to keep the employees happy and satisfied from the moment they join till their retirement, a career path that is becoming increasingly rare these days.
To sum it up, for organizations looking to gain the upper hand during the Great Resignation, it’s prudent to heed these significant employee experience trends to ensure a satisfied workforce and minimize attrition.