By Emily Berridge
Scrolling through LinkedIn, the future of more widely accepted remote and flexible working practices, as well as an acknowledgment of employees and their wellbeing, seems to be here. Linkedin, Forbes and HRMorning all predict that “for companies to attract, retain and grow the talent that will bring them sustained success, they need to fine-tune – or overhaul – their culture to meet the expectations of professionals to be seen as human beings first.”
A recalibration of work-life balance and an emphasis on wellbeing and employee engagement has been due for a long time and should be welcomed and embraced with open arms. If my Linkedin feed is to be believed it appears that employers are beginning to take note, and what a wonderful thing it is.
As our recent survey of approximately 900 employees demonstrates, the above components are hugely important to ensuring that employers are meeting employee expectations of work as we move forward to a post-Covid future. With expectations centred around employee focus, work-life balance and positive working climates coming within our top 10, companies that don’t focus on internal culture will likely lose out when it comes to attracting and retaining talent in 2022 and beyond.
Throughout our top 20 expectations, caring for employees and their wellbeing shapes the majority of expectations. Our findings demonstrate the importance of prioritising this throughout business using learning schemes, wellbeing initiatives, employing supportive management, career development opportunities and adequate time off policies. There’s nothing new here; after all, at the beginning of 2021, an article by Indeed suggesting ways to care for employees included all these things and more (Indeed, April 2021). However, if we compare our data from this year with a client we worked with in 2021 on their Employee Experience (EX), there is a shift that shows the employee experience is vitally important. We see almost every expectation in our top 20 this year centre around the employee as opposed to more of a focus on the business as a whole.
All the above is intriguing and as someone at the start of her career, it is exciting to look forward to a future where the employee matters. Not only that it makes good business sense; there is a plethora of research and statistics that make a link between employee engagement and business success.
Focussing on your employee means:
- you are investing in them
- you are listening to them
- they enjoy coming to work every day
- they are coming in refreshed because your time off policies are exemplary
Doing this means you will keep your employees and they will care about the company and its success in return.
A renewed emphasis on the employee experience also brings the idea of the Employer Brand (Ambler and Barrow, 1996) to mind. The Employer Brand is a concept defined by the importance of marketing your brand with a specific focus on attracting and retaining talent. Research by Moroko and Uncles in 2008 highlighted the specific value of both attracting talent (attractiveness) and ensuring a match between Employer Brand promise and actual employee experience (accuracy) (see figure 1). Arguably, the pandemic has increased the relevance of the Employer Brand. In an extremely competitive environment, employers need to ensure there is a match between their offer and reality (our expectations-based method is a really good way of measuring this, FYI).
Figure 1 – a typology of Employer Brand success characteristics (Moroko and Uncles, 2008)
But hang on, is that the whole story?
However, a word of caution: before we rely entirely on hybrid working and employee wellbeing strategies to attract and retain talent and embark on an Employer Brand strategy, we need to consider the role of operations in employee expectations.
Another expectation that makes our top 20 is the expectation that an ideal employer will maintain ‘effective and efficient processes’ in the day-to-day of work life. This expectation ranks after ‘flexible working arrangements’ but just before ‘remote working arrangements,’ telling us that while it’s important to offer the ‘fluffy stuff’ of flexible and remote working, it is worth noting the importance of ensuring that your company is operationally efficient. What our research has shown, albeit on a small scale, reaffirms that “a large part of the employee experience depends on everything that makes for operational excellence: people, process, technology. In concrete terms these are the elements that structure daily life: employees work with people, follow processes and use tools.” (Source):
- If your employees are facing daily barriers to carrying out their work, it won’t matter that they’re at home or in the office.
- If your employees cannot meet your client’s needs because of a lack of resources, or slow technology, that emphasis you put on empowerment at your annual meeting will not mean anything.
- In an era that prioritises employee wellbeing, your wellbeing initiatives will fall flat if their benefits are negated by stressful, time-consuming working practices.
- Successful operations have the power to reaffirm the ‘fluffy’ stuff at the centre of your strategy, ensuring that your
- Employer Brand is both attractive and accurate.
In other words, don’t neglect the processes that shape how your employees work and perform their daily tasks.
For more on how Promising Outcomes can use expectations-based experience management to improve your employee experience, take a look at our website. For the full report on the above study, drop us a line here.