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How Employee Experience Priorities Have Shifted During COVID-19

Wednesday November 11th, 2020

Estimated time to read: 2 minutes


Nearly 7 in 10 organizational leaders believe the coronavirus pandemic will change the employee experience (EX) to a high or very high extent, according to the Institute for Corporate Productivity (i4cp). In fact, 56 percent of full-time employees state that employee experience will be more important to them in 2021 than it was in 2020 according to isolved’s end-of-year survey.

Of course, these changes are starting to manifest in tangible and significant ways — for instance, companies leaning into remote work. Of employers that transitioned to a work-from-home approach at the start of the pandemic, the majority (67%) expect these policies will remain in effect for the foreseeable future or indefinitely, according to S&P Global Market Intelligence.

However, there are also changes occurring in terms of EX priorities and employees’ shifting values. Let’s explore the ongoing EX evolution, and how HR leaders can adapt.

Employees need flexibility, technology and training to support the work-from-home EX

Given their new way of working, employees who recently went remote now care less about traditional office perks and opportunities. Instead, they are more interested in having the right level of flexibility and the right technology to carry out their job responsibilities.

The i4cp survey revealed that compensation, leadership development and performance management were the top three EX factors prior to COVID-19. However, in the midst of the ongoing public health crisis, the focus has shifted. The top three priorities are now:

1. Technology that supports remote work

2. Compensation

3. Flexible work arrangements

Moreover, workers who are less experienced with advanced digital technologies and at-home IT troubleshooting may be anxious about requesting additional support and training. But limited skill sets may hinder their ability to adapt and work effectively. McKinsey & Company has also noted opportunities for development in areas such as remote management and leadership in times of crisis.

HR’s response

First, HR and management teams can connect with each employee to ensure they have the right tools in place. Next, they may wish to discuss the schedule and work arrangements in detail to establish a plan that meets the needs of both employee and employer. Finally, they should be proactive about providing ample virtual training resources for any and all employees who may benefit from it.

Workers crave security and stability in an uncertain environment

Given the disruptive nature of the pandemic on work and personal life, the impact runs deeper than having the right tools and structure to support remote work. New EX themes of job stability, security and trust have become increasingly prominent.

As found in a separate McKinsey study, employees’ top needs and values include:

1. Job security

2. Financial stability

3. Healthy work-life balance

4. Fair treatment

5. Trustworthy colleagues and leadership

Employees are craving the assurance that their companies are staying afloat and they will still be able to earn a paycheck. Without this peace of mind, productivity and performance are likely to suffer.

HR’s response

To meet these growing desires, HR and company leaders should be as transparent and forthcoming as possible with these types of communications. Virtual performance reviews can be seen as opportunities to reassure workers and praise the strengthening of soft skills such as resilience, leadership and emotional intelligence.

Learn how you can continue to employ, empower and engage employees now and into the future by downloading our Holidays 2020: End-of-Year Employee Experience Report.

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