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The Employee Experience post COVID 19

Most Australian employees expect things to improve in their workplaces as a direct result of changes being made by employers and their response to the COVID-19 pandemic. They expect to see more flexible work schedules, greater focus on hygiene and for employers to take greater notice of employee feedback. Will Australian employers live up to these expectations?

Rebecca Wilson, Director of Human Experience at Sprout Strategy

“2020 has changed the way people work and live”, says Rebecca Wilson, Director of Human Experience for Sprout Strategy. “As well as the oft-cited changes to the way brands connect with their target audience, it has also changed the way that businesses connect with their employees. Working from home has accelerated and has resulted in a re-think about how to keep employees connected”. 

In managing their employees’ needs in terms of safety, stability and security during the COVID pandemic, most Australian employers rose to the occasion as best they could. According to a recent study by Qualtrics, where 1000 Australian employees across a variety of industries were surveyed, most respondents (58%) rated the way their employer responded to the pandemic as “above average”.

Steve Bennetts, Head of Employee Experience for Qualtrics APJ

“As a result of their employers’ quick thinking and actions, the majority of workers across Australia currently feel a lot more valued (47%) at their company, and a lot more proud (54%) to work for them”, said Steve Bennetts, Head of Employee Experience for Qualtrics in APJ.

This doesn’t mean that employers should rest on their laurels. Bennetts comments, “While many have made steps in the right direction, businesses cannot afford to take their foot off the gas. Employees want to be listened to, and there is more change on the road ahead as people return and industries adapt. To ensure they continue to successfully move forward businesses need to formalise the human-centred approach adopted with employees”.

Better EX means better CX

Australian employers have an opportunity to improve the success of their customer experience initiatives by building on the positive attitudes, trust and feelings they’ve earned with their employees during the COVID pandemic. Wilson says, “employees who feel they belong and are supported and enabled will perform better in their job and be more likely to provide discretionary effort. Frontline employees, such as customer service and sales staff, are brand ambassadors and they can have a massive impact on the customer experience whether that’s positive or negative”.

Companies who maintain their commitment to the addressing the emotional needs of their employees will witness greater success with their CX initiatives as well as a range of financial benefits. According to the Harvard Business Review companies that invest in employee experience are four times more profitable than those that don’t.

Treat them as individuals

The more you can tailor and personalise the employee experience to the individual level, the more success you will have engaging and empowering your employees.

Just as customers like to be treated as individuals so do employees. Australian companies need to look at the employee experience in a way that acknowledges people’s individual differences, whether that’s with their home lives, ambitions, skills and capabilities, or personality traits.

Wilson comments, “The latest techniques in behavioural science allow companies to address employee experience in a more targeted, profound as well as dynamic manner. The more you can tailor and personalise the employee experience to the individual level, the more success you will have engaging and empowering your employees. And this can be done in a way that builds cohesion and shared values across the entire workforce.”

Listen to their feedback

The Qualtrics study revealed more than three quarters (78%) of workers think it’s very important their employers listen to their feedback during a crisis. However, only half of workers in Australia say their employer has listened and acted on feedback more during the pandemic.

“With situations continuing to change very quickly, being able to listen to and deliver what your employees want is a key advantage in ensuring they feel safe and supported. Longer-term, employee expectations have been changed forever by the pandemic, requiring a shift in the way businesses have traditionally managed engagement. It’s now business critical that businesses have real-time insights into the things that matter most, and the skills and leadership to act on them effectively,” said Bennetts.

The manner in which employers have addressed the needs and concerns of their employees during and after the COVID-19 pandemic will determine what type of employer they are. This in turn will impact employee loyalty, motivation and customer satisfaction.

What type of employer are you going to be?

“While there is so much talk of when things will go back to normal or how we’ll come to terms with the “new normal,” those conversations are fundamentally missing the point, and missing an important opportunity to come back better, stronger, and more inclusive than ever. We’ve witnessed how changing the way you listen to and engage employees can have a positive effect, which is why those who make lasting changes now will have a key advantage in the future – from attracting and retaining talent through to improved loyalty and productivity,” concludes Bennetts

Mark Atterby

Mark Atterby has 18 years media, publishing and content marketing experience.