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What is the state of employee experience in 2021 and how can we improve things for all?

Engagement and wellbeing have continued to be two of our most important topics over this past year. But perhaps the key to solving both is by taking a broader view. That’s where the concept of workplace experience comes in. That’s why we’ve thrown together this employee experience 2021 guide to help you get to grips with the future of work!

Defining employee experience in 2021

Employee experience is the broad term that encapsulates every aspect of a person’s working life. So, as you can imagine, having good employee experience strategy can really impact employee engagement in your business. That said, it’s important to draw a distinction between the two.

While experience encompasses everything you deal with in and around your workplace, employee engagement is specifically the extent of a person’s attachment and obligation to their role and peers, as well as the organisation and its goals.

So, for example, your daily commute is part of your employee experience. But the effect of an overly long commute is that it can negatively impact your sense of engagement. Now, let’s look at the state of employee experience in 2021.

Employee experience 2021 stats you need to know

The 2021 Employee Experience Survey from Willis Tower Watson found that almost the entirety of surveyed UK employees (98%) view employee experience as being a top priority in their business for the next three years. Compare that to stats gathered before the pandemic, where only 52% rated it as a top priority, and it’s clear to see that COVID 19 has pushed many of us to re-evaluate.

Balancing out our list of employee experience 2021 stats, the employees in this survey also reported the major benefits of prioritising employee experience:

  • 88% believe that nurturing employee experience can make talent recruitment and retention more effective.
  • 84% report that positive employee experience benefits their ability to engage.
  • Positive employee experiences make staff more productive, according to 82% of employees.

In the words of Amanda Scott, Head of Talent and Rewards Business at Willis Tower Watson, ‘To succeed, they [employers] must start with a bold employee experience strategy that supports their business strategy and is based on a consistent model. Then, they can turn to execution — adapting programs and policies reflective of flexible work, paying employees fairly, enhancing benefit delivery and wellbeing programs, supporting workers in a more agile and flexible workspace, and aligning Total Rewards programs to meet the needs of a diverse workforce.’

Why does employee experience matter?

Employee engagement and employee experience may be distinct concepts, but as we love to remind you, it’s impossible to manage one without considering the other. And, because employee experience covers just about everything, there’s more or less an infinite number of ways it can go wrong.

Without a solid employee experience, you’ll never be able to engage your workforce. This means that your business will be bringing in an average of 2.5x less revenue than a similar business with a highly engaged workforce. On top of that, you could stand to lose as much as £30,000 per employee lost to turnover

It’s not just the experience of your employees you should be concerned with, but also the experience of ex-employees. If the experience of the average staff member in your organisation is a bad one, word will eventually travel. This can make replacing departed staff that much more difficult, which can hit you right in the budget.

At the very least, you need to be conducting exit interviews to get a view of the damage you’re inflicting on your own recruitment potential. Ideally, these interviews should happen after you’ve supplied a nice, glowing reference to ensure maximum honesty.

Supporting the employee experience in 2021

We’re not going to list literally everything you could do to support employee experience, because we’d be here all day. But here are what we consider to be the top priorities for you to keep an eye on:

  • Fair treatment and appropriate compensation: In an ideal world, the ability to take pride in your work would be all anyone needs. But all that goes out the window if you aren’t being treated fairly. Ideally, engagement and motivation should be intrinsic, but money is the extrinsic motivator that pretty much everyone needs.

    When the workplace is rife with favouritism, and people aren’t being paid what they deserve, it will wear on the nerves of employees, no matter how much they enjoy parts of their job.
  • Job flexibility and work/life balance: If we learned two things during the pandemic, it’s that A) The vast majority of remote workers love working from home, and B) Allowing for job flexibility won’t make you crash and burn like some people feared it would.

    In a world where hellish commutes and long-hours cultures are commonplace, supporting flexible work is the secret for how to keep employees happy. Flexible job arrangements can give employees back the control they’ve been missing. It also ensures that typically demanding careers can be made more accessible, which takes us to our next point…
  • Diversity and accessibility: Arguably, two especially vital parts of employee experience in 2021 are diversity and accessibility. Diverse workplaces are hotbeds of creativity and innovation, while making workplaces more accessible to those with disabilities or out-of-work commitments can widen the applicant pool and help businesses to overcome supposed talent shortages.
  • Wellbeing support: Without a doubt, wellbeing is the most essential part of workplace experience. The whole reason we’re giving you the employee experience 2021 rundown in the first place is because employee wellbeing has become more important than ever this year. Employers must encourage staff to look after their physical and mental health, and give staff the support and flexibility to get whatever help they need.

But just remember, if all else fails, then the most important thing you can do for employee experience is to communicate effectively. After all, you can’t give people the support they need if they can’t tell you what they need firsthand!

Time to find out how a simple employee check-in each week could help improve your workplace culture?