The news headlines on how companies create great employee experiences have been dominated by their investment in office perks — think standing desks, nap pods, “bring your dog to work day” and free lunch. According to a survey conducted by the National Business Group, Health (NBGH) and Fidelity Investments employers across the country spent an average of $3.6 Million on employee wellness programs.
Many of these “perks” have focused on the physical office space which may no longer be as relevant today. The time is now to reset employee experience during the Covid-19 pandemic to create a more meaningful and lasting emotional connection between the employee and their employer.
Gartner estimates than 88% of organizations have encouraged or mandated employees to work from home due to Covid-19. As work from home becomes the new normal for many, if not most, of us employee experience is a strategic business approach that touches every aspect of how the employee engages with the organization. As noted by Dr. Steve Hunt, Chief Expert, Technology & Work at SAP, “Employee experience management tells us the ‘why’ behind the perceptions employees have about the moments that matter to them and allows employers to get inside the heads of employees, turn on the sound, and understand what is working and not working for them.”
Future Workplace defines employee experience as the sum of all experiences an employee has with their employer over the duration of their relationship – from recruitment, to on-boarding and career development, to exiting the organization.
I see a number of reasons for why employee experience matters now more than ever. First, we are working up to three hours more each day as we work from home and juggle increasing demands from our employer, our spouse/partner, and our children. So, if you’re feeling Zoom fatigue, you are not alone! While employers and workers are reporting increased productivity working from home, the productivity gains are coming with a cost to our mental health.
A random sample of 1,099 US workers conducted by SHRM shows that 41 percent of U.S. employees feel burnt out from work, while another 23 percent report feeling depressed. This survey of the mental health of workers was conducted under the pandemic lockdown and found employees struggling with negative emotions, concentration, and feeling unmotivated to do their job. Notably, these rates were higher among women, younger workers, and those living with a vulnerable person. The toll Covid-19 is taking on employees is yet another reason for employers to focus on the employee experience, especially as some employers- notably Facebook, Twitter, Amazon, and Shopify – have announced they will allow employees (who meet key criteria) to continue to work from home permanently.
Third, and perhaps most important of all, workers are increasingly looking for ways to develop emotional connections during times of social distancing and feelings of isolation. With unemployment surpassing 40 million in the U.S., developing emotional connections with employees is especially important as now companies are reducing full-time workers and increasing digitalization and automation in the workplace.