2022 EX Trends: The Top 2 Things Employees Must Have in Their Next Job

Even if you don’t work in the HR space, you’ve probably seen the term “The Great Resignation” cross your news feed at least once (or 100 times, more likely). At the very least, no matter what department you operate out of, you’ve seen the unprecedented level of churn the job market is experiencing right now. And that might leave you wondering: what employee must haves are convincing employees to leave their old jobs for new ones?

There’s a lot to unpack with The Great Resignation, but one of the core truths playing out here is that many employees aren’t getting what they’re looking for from their employers in 2022. We dove into that in our recent 2022 Experience Trends Report (you can check out the full findings here), but we’re going to quickly cover two of those things here for you today.

What Do Employees Want from Their Employers?

  1. Supportive Culture
  2. Connection to Customer Experience

Employee Must Have #1: Supportive Culture

It may sound like a no-brainer to have an employee-supporting culture in place at your organization, but if the amount of employee churn going on right now is any indication, far fewer brands have that scheme in place than you might think. A lot of folks believe that the COVID-19 pandemic was the starting line for employee churn, but the truth is that the pandemic only exacerbated a lack of employee support that had already been there for a long time.

This is why it’s so important for organizations to invest heavily in this employee must have if they haven’t already. The best ‘employee support’ is what EX experts call employee commitment, wherein companies roll up their sleeves and dig deep to learn how they can better drive transparency, trust, and communication. Much of the churn we’re seeing with The Great Resignation stems from employees feeling that these elements were absent at their previous workplace.

Whereas the traditional employee response model has been to react to problems only as they arise, it’s become pretty clear that that’s no longer sufficient for retaining talent. Helping employees feel a human connection to their brand has never been easy, and the specs of that mission vary from company to company, but investing the time and effort into identifying what that looks like for your organization will make all the difference when it comes to employee retention. Remember; employees don’t want you to react to problems after they’ve occurred. They want to feel a bold, human connection to your brand.

Employee Must Have #2: Connection to Customer Experience

As important as it is for employees to feel connected to their organizations, workplace connections are only part of the puzzle. There’s another element here that employees are actively seeking as they look for opportunities in 2022, and that’s a connection with the customers and clients that brands like yours partner with.

On the surface, this may seem like yet another no-brainer. Employees become more committed when they see how their work makes a difference in a customer’s life. The thing is, though, is that a lot of companies have committed to illustrating that difference only to frontline employees, when the reality is that every team, frontline or otherwise, works together toward that goal. 

With that idea in mind, it’s vital for brands to find ways to let even those non-customer-facing teams know how their work contributes to Experience Improvement (XI) among customers. This contributes to employees’ sense of value at your organization and reduces the risk that comes with the siloed feeling many non-customer-facing individuals may encounter during their work. Demonstrating that link will look different at each company, but organizations need to find a way to do so now more than ever. 

The 2022 Employee Landscape

All in all, employees are seeking two major factors in 2022:  a culture that commits to them rather than just reacting to issues after they occur, and a chance to see how exactly their work matters to customers no matter how far they are from the front line. 

These tasks are by no means easy to execute on, but if you put the time and effort into figuring out how, you’ll be able to retain your talent and continue building meaningful experiences for both your employees and your customers!

The Importance of Employee Loyalty in the Workplace

We all know that employee loyalty is important, but oftentimes we forget how employee loyalty is connected with customer loyalty and how loyal employees contribute to the success of the entire business.

“Profit and growth are stimulated primarily by customer loyalty. Loyalty is a direct result of customer satisfaction. Satisfaction is largely influenced by the value of services provided to customers. Value is created by satisfied, loyal, and productive employees. Employee satisfaction, in turn, results primarily from high-quality support services and policies that enable employees to deliver results to customers.” (Putting the Service-Profit Chain to Work, Harvard Business Review, 1994)

Leadership and Loyalty

There is a strong relationship between employee satisfaction and employee loyalty and between employee loyalty and customer loyalty and, ultimately, profitability. So what is the secret to fostering employee loyalty and preventing employee turnover? Effective leadership.

In fact, according to a survey conducted by Korn Ferry, 33% of employees plan to look for a new job due to being bored and needing a new challenge.

Leaders who genuinely care about their people—who are “plugged in” to their organizations and listen to their employees for suggestions on how to improve—will develop corporate cultures that naturally support the concept of the Service-Profit Chain. By no surprise, employees who trust and respect the leadership of an organization often feel more empowered and motivated to do their best, which reduces employee turnover and its costs.

Those costs, particularly when layoffs are involved, can include low morale among stressed employees, and widespread distrust of the company by employees, according to the American Psychological Association’s 2014 Work and Well-Being Survey.

Metlife had similar findings in its 2011 Annual U.S. Employee Benefit Trends Study, which reported that employee loyalty was  at a 3-year low. However, the study’s 2017 findings, titled “Work Redefined: A New Age” focused  on what companies can do to inspire loyalty: “With so much change, employees are looking for more stability, protection, and a safeguard against disruption. If they can find it in their employer, they’ll show their appreciation through loyalty.”

Much of the report examines what kind of benefits inspire employee loyalty in the workplace, but even great benefits can’t make up for a poor work environment, so it’s more important than ever for leaders to embrace and implement changes that encourage loyal employees who uphold your brand’s values.

6 Tips for Fostering Employee Loyalty

These tips, which are drawn largely from the experience of customer service reps (CSRs), are widely applicable since in the end we all ultimately serve the customer.

1. Give Employees the Tools They Need

Develop tools that allow employees to quickly look up the answers to common problems, share best practices and solutions with each other, and contribute to the company’s knowledge base. Train employees in soft skills as well, like de-escalating a situation, and feeling and expressing empathy.

2. Give Employees the Time They Need

Think about voice of the customer (VoC) for a moment, and how often feedback comes from a post-interaction customer satisfaction survey, whether it’s an automated phone call or email.

Now think about how much customer service is outsourced to call centers, which work effectively in keeping calls short. One call center explained the need for time limits this way:  “Companies account for customer service as a cost center, not a profit center, and companies need to keep costs down.” Talented, hard-working employees with great people skills might be forgiven for hearing this as, “You cost us, and the only value you have is your ability to keep costs down.”

This is hardly a way to build loyalty, and the pressure to keep calls short contributes to the call center industry having the highest turnover of industries worldwide. (In a 2016 post Talkdesk, a provider of call center solutions, reported the yearly turnover as 30-45%, double or triple that of all U.S. industries in 2013.)

3. Change How You Account for Customer Service

A better way to think about customer service and build employee loyalty is to think about how many customers your employees talk with and interact with each day. That gives them valuable perspective on customer wants, needs, frustrations, and satisfaction. Think about ways to record and gather that perspective, and how you can use the data to improve your services, products, offerings, and, especially, profits.

4. Measure the Right Things

Remember that not all projects take the same amount of time. Strict time limits or quotas may discourage talented employees from taking on difficult tasks. Quality Assurance and Training Connection (QATC) reported that one company saw a significant increase in retention by designating more resources and adjusting performance expectations a little for a particularly stressful call type. Think about the knowledge and experience the company held onto by keeping those employees. (Not to mention the cost savings.) QATC’s article ends with a table breaking out the line items behind the oft-quoted cost of about $6,500 to replace a non-supervisory employee.

5. Solicit Employee Feedback

How does an employee show loyalty? Through open communication. ATB Financial, which has appeared repeatedly on Achievers’ 50 Most Engaged Workplaces list (and most recently as one of The Elite 8), encourages its employees to logon to the recruiting site Glassdoor and leave anonymous reviews of the company. The chief people officer’s response to fears that employees might leave nasty reviews? “Then we’d better get a hell of a lot better,” Lorne Rubis told the Financial Post. “I’d much rather know and have the courage, strength, and conviction to allow for the data to be free-flowing than to worry about what kind of governance we put on that.”

6. Study What Other Companies Are Doing To Build Employee Loyalty

Achievers compile an annual list of 50 Most Engaged Workplaces by looking at eight categories: Leadership, Communication, Culture, Rewards and Recognition, Accountability and Performance, Vision and Values, and Corporate Social Responsibility. A good place to discover what other companies are doing is the citations for The Elite 8, the top companies in each category.

InMoment was honored to appear as one of the 50 in 2011 as Mindshare Technologies, and we’re tremendously proud to have employees who are engaged, passionate about their work, creative, and committed to providing the highest quality of internal and external service. At the heart of our company is a phenomenal leadership team that has created a culture where people work hard, care about each other, are innovative, and fun to be around.

By constantly improving from our employee feedback, we were recently awarded the Top 50 Most Engaged Workplaces in the United States.

Ready to improve employee loyalty and satisfaction in your company? See how InMoment can help you increase employee loyalty in the workplace and boost business success.

3 Things You Can Do Right Now to Create More Inclusive Employee & Customer Experiences

Diversity and inclusion initiatives have become front and center for many organizations in recent years. It’s important for brands to create diverse and inclusive customer experiences (CX) and employee experiences (EX)—not ‘just’ because being more inclusive is the right thing to do, but also because organizations have a lot to gain from accommodating greater diversity in every experience they create.

Of course, an organization stating diversity and inclusion goals is a good start, but how can brands like yours translate such goals into tangible Experience Improvement (XI) strategies and tactics that create more inclusive customer experiences? There are many, many opportunities here, but the most important thing to do is to just get started. 

So, here are three quick thoughts you should apply right now to create more inclusive employee and customer experiences.

3 Keys to Creating More Inclusive Customer Experiences

  1. Key #1: Don’t Be Afraid to Make Mistakes
  2. Key #2: Engage New and All Audiences
  3. Key #3: Apply What You’ve Learned

Key #1: Don’t Be Afraid to Make Mistakes

It’s understandable for organizations to be intimidated by the prospect of making mistakes while attempting to accommodate and include new audiences. Such mistakes can quickly become viral via social media, review sites, and other tools, creating headaches both for brands and the customers (or employees) at the heart of such events.

Though this worry is certainly a valid concern, it’s better to accept that mistakes might be made and press forward with your diversity and inclusion efforts than to allow timidity to outright impede either. These are the growing pains of becoming more inclusive with your customer and employee experiences, and facing them head-on will also give your team an opportunity to consider how best to handle such mistakes and learn from them. 

Experience shows that both customers and employees accept that mistakes inevitably occur and are a result of activity. Being passive is not an option when trying to create more inclusive customer experiences. Overcome the fear of making mistakes and concentrate on a transparent and authentic way to deal with them when they occur.

Key #2: Engage All Audiences

If you’re still concerned about how best to connect to audiences you haven’t consistently talked to before, this is the section for you. For many years now, the big idea behind CX and EX programs has been to simply gather as much feedback as possible from as many people as possible. However, before turning any listening posts on, you should sit down with your team and design (or reorient) your experience initiatives with your end goals in mind. You must ensure that you give all audiences you want to hear from the opportunity to provide feedback. 

In this case, if your goal is to create more inclusive experiences, you should consider which audiences you need to reach out to and how to do so. This means doing some legwork to find out how those audiences communicate, what their preferences are, and bringing all of those insights to bear when meaningfully improving your experiences to accommodate diversity and inclusion. 

Also, don’t forget: You need the right tool to collect feedback from all audiences as well as to disseminate that information to all members of your organization. Make sure you are using accessibility tools like screen readers, larger font sizes, higher contrasts, etc.

Key #3: Apply What You’ve Learned

You can and should apply the above mindset to any experience goal you have across the entirety of your business. Applying it here will give you the intelligence and landscape map you need to achieve Experience Improvement (XI) for new audiences. 

However, intelligence and roadmaps are only half the battle; taking action is imperative to actually making your experiences more inclusive. The work is ceaseless and oftentimes difficult, but if your team is ready to continue making an effort, you can be assured that the audiences you need to reach will respond.

As you continue to take action on what those audiences tell you, you’ll be able to meaningfully transform your business and realize your goal of a more inclusive experience. Being more inclusive is an invaluable component of marketplace leadership, but it’s also what will set your organization apart from your competitors in your customers’ eyes. The result is a mutually beneficial, meaningfully improved experience that will demonstrate to all your organization’s commitment to diversity and inclusion as well as faster revenue growth and higher profitability.

Click here to learn more about the importance of diverse and inclusive experiences in my full-length point of view article. I take a closer look at the topics explored here and go over a few other best practices you might not have had the chance to read about elsewhere.

Stress Awareness Month: 3 Ways Your Employees Can Combat Stress Year Round

Did you know that April is Stress Awareness Month? Merriam-Webster defines stress as “a physical, chemical, or emotional factor that causes bodily or mental tension and may be a factor in disease causation.” And looking at the world around us, there are many elements that could lead to immense feelings of stress. 

Rather than rattling off a list of possible stressors, we want to talk about how you and your employees can manage these feelings year round with practical, accessible tools and coping strategies. So without further ado, let’s get zen!

3 Tools to Share with Employees for Stress Awareness Month

Tool #1: Leverage Company Mental Health Resources

Over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, companies realized that they needed to provide mental health resources (such as tele-therapy) for their employees as they navigated “unprecedented times.” And though the pandemic is becoming less central in our everyday lives, those resources are still absolutely vital. 

If you are on your company’s human resources team, it might be worth reiterating available resources to your employees via email or your company’s internal communications channels (especially since it’s Stress Awareness Month). This communication should also feature clear instructions on how to access those resources to increase accessibility. Having those resources is only helpful if your employees are aware of and using them!

Tool #2: Create Space with Meditation

Stress can create feelings of helplessness, decrease ability to focus, and stir up racing, negative thoughts. To combat this, encourage employees to create mental space with meditation. 

Meditation will look different for everyone, but the goal is to “focus your attention and eliminate the stream of jumbled thoughts that may be crowding your mind and causing stress.” One common method is to sit quietly and focus solely on your breath for at least two minutes. If you get distracted, that’s okay! Just refocus your attention on your breath.

There are also apps and websites that provide guided meditations and tools to help achieve a meditative state. At InMoment, we provide our team members with access to an app called Sanvello, a mental health app that supports people through self care, peer support, coaching, and therapy. One of the tools available on Sanvello is guided meditations.

“We are so happy to give our InMoment Team access to Sanvello, a mental health app that focuses on the importance of checking in with yourself,” said InMoment CHRO Wendy Rand. “Employees will be able to leverage the app to access self care tools like daily mood tracking, guided journeys, coping tools like meditation, and more to help them manage stress in a world full of noise. This is a wonderful step to support our team both inside and outside of the workplace.”

In addition to apps like Sanvello, you can also find free guided meditations on Youtube and other sites. These resources can be communicated via the same method we mentioned in tool number one.

Tool #3: Plan for Moments That Matter

At InMoment, we have this saying: “Own the Moments That Matter.” And though this is applicable for improving experiences for customers and employees, we also mean that it’s important to really be present in the moments that matter most to you personally. 

We each have our own “moments that matter,” whether it’s going on a walk with our dog, taking an exercise class, spending quality time with our family and friends… the list goes on! In these stressful times, it’s more important than ever that we are deliberate about setting time aside for the things that make us feel our best. 

At the beginning of each week, set aside time in your schedule to do something for yourself, and encourage your employees to do that too! It can be something as simple as taking 20 minutes to get up from your desk to stretch, or you could even utilize your paid time off to have an extended weekend. Whatever it is, we each need to take the time to create (and own) our own moments that matter.

Encouraging a Self-Care Culture

It’s simple: companies are most successful when their employees are successful—and this stretches beyond professional success. To be their best at work, employees need to know that their employers encourage them to do what they need to in order to thrive. That means companies must clearly communicate about mental health resources and provide the tools necessary to assist their employees year round—not only during Stress Awareness Month. Doing so clearly displays employee commitment, and will lead to cultural and business success long term.

What is employee commitment? And how can brands demonstrate that? Learn all about it from InMoment employee experience experts here.

11 Articles You Need to Read About Today’s Employee and EX Landscape

In the midst of the fallout of a global pandemic and the Great Resignation, the employee experience (EX) is an incredibly hot topic. With such a complex EX landscape, what do brands need to do to retain their employees, inspire their commitment and advocacy, and attract new talent?

If you’re looking for the answers to these questions, say no more—InMoment EX expert Michael Lowenstein is here to help with all the thought leadership you need. Check out these must read articles below!

#1: Employee Engagement: Does the Defense’s Case Still Hold Water? 

When it comes to optimizing the employee experience, does an engagement-based approach still work? More and more, we are finding that employee commitment represents a more progressive and actionable EX construct. It better reflects the realities employers face in today’s talent landscape, and how employees are making job-related decisions.  

Read It Here!

#2: What Causes Employee Turnover? How Does Today’s Unprecedented Employee Churn Impact Customers Tomorrow?

Today, there are multiple drivers, or causes, of employee turnover. And, there are definite connections, or links, to how the rate of employee resignations can, and does, impact customer experiences and perceptions of value. So, how will unprecedented employee churn today impact customers tomorrow?   

Check It Out!

#3:  The Key Post-Pandemic EX Holy Grail for All Companies: We’re Now in the Era of Required Employee Commitment and Linkage to CX

The COVID-19 pandemic has actively contributed to a reassessment of priorities by both employees and employers. Employees are reconsidering the personal value represented by their jobs and roles. Employers are reconsidering methods for building connections as well as performance. So, post-pandemic, what are the key enterprise considerations for improving employee experience?    

Discover the EX Holy Grail

#4:  The Impact of YOLO on Employee and Customer Experience

YOLO (You Only Live Once) is a current societal force which has been over 250 years in the making. Today, it is directly fueling the Great Resignation—especially among GenZ and Millennial employees. This has contributed to greater attention to factors of YOLO which influence employee behavior, especially employer disconnection and churn. So, what is the impact of YOLO on employee and customer experience?   

Find the Answers

#5:  In EX, Quo Vadis? Translated from Latin: Where Are We Going with Employee Experience Improvement?

The employee landscape is undergoing dramatic and rapid change, with a heightened emphasis on emotional drivers and connection to the employer’s culture. For instance, organizations are coming to understand that everyone in the organization is responsible for developing and delivering customer value. So, where is employee experience headed? 

 Learn the Direction

#6:  Do Companies Recognize the High CX Value of Employee Advocates? Shouldn’t They Want to Cultivate the Kind of Behavior Advocacy Represents?

Employee commitment and advocacy behavior influences customer experience, on both an indirect and a direct basis. Significantly more than either satisfaction or engagement, where employees are viewed as costs, committed employees are key enterprise assets, delivering superior, differentiated customer value. So, how well do companies recognize the value of employee commitment and advocacy?  

Read Article

#7:  Diagnosing and Improving Employee Connection to Company Culture

Employees’ connection to, or disconnection from, the employer’s culture—its fairness, transparency, equity, humanity, career opportunities, communication, management trust, etc.—is perhaps the biggest contributor to today’s high resignation rates. Yet, traditional engagement research only minimally addresses, if at all, what cultural factors work, or don’t work, for employees. Through new and focused research approaches, there is a clear, actionable path to enterprise culture improvement. So, will organizations do more to understand the importance of, and level of employee connection to, company culture? 

 Connect Employees to Customer Culture

#8:  Potentially, How Will the Future of Work and ‘The Great Resignation’ Impact Customer Experience?

Today, many organizations are focused on how the future of work will affect both customer experience and employee experience.  A major challenge, however, is the continuing high level of employee turnover. This is largely because employees, who actively desire to work for companies with a more humanistic culture and a purpose which they can support, are too often finding these lacking in their present employer. These perceived shortcomings can be reversed. So, how will key realities in the employee landscape impact CX? 

 Uncover the Impact

#9:  It’s Time to Recognize the Impact and Value of Employee Behavior: Making Employee Experience an Organizational Priority

As organizations become more mature in their approaches to employee behavior and experience, a key question which needs to be addressed is the level of enterprise priority, and investment of resources, employee experience receives. And, directly connected to this question, companies need to understand the degree to which employees are recognized as key assets, not costs, when their research and initiatives still follow an engagement-based model. Moving the strategic focus to employee commitment is the next, more progressive, stage of employee experience maturity. So, are organizations making employee experience and employee behavior a priority?  

Make Employee Experience a Priority

#10:  Employee Advocates: Their Role as Committed Company Assets, Active Communicators, and Key Contributors to Stakeholder Value

Advocacy, where employees are identified as active contributors to business outcomes and are recognized and leveraged as significant enterprise assets, is the ultimate stage of EX maturity. Although developing a corps of such employees is attainable with focused discipline and investment, few organizations reach this level. Not only are employee advocates committed to the organization and its customers, they are emotionally connected to the culture and purpose of their employer. They are active partners in delivering superior customer value. So, do companies see employee advocates as essential enterprise assets?    

Learn More

#11: Elves Rule: Employees ‘Make’ the Experience for Customers, and They Should Be Recognized for It

Just before Christmas, good little children all around the world are preparing their lists of preferred gifts. They are told that the holiday presents they receive will come courtesy of Santa (and Ms.) Claus. But, isn’t it the elves, toiling in anonymity (except for the occasional movie) at their North Pole workshop, who—like employees everywhere—are those most responsible for creating customer joy? So, how well do organizations understand and recognize employees’ essential role in the customer experience and the creation of value?

Check It Out

3 Employee and Customer Experience Trends for Banks, Wealth Advisors, and Credit Unions in 2022

What is the future for employee and customer experience trends in banks, wealth advisory firms, and credit unions? InMoment recently dove into the financial services industry’s 2022 outlook—and there’s a lot to unpack. 

Through our dedicated Strategic Insights Team, we collected data from bank, wealth advisor, and credit union consumers and employees across North America. This year’s trends report has unearthed a few key discoveries that these businesses must pay attention to if they want to differentiate themselves in this competitive market.

When you have both customer and employee perspectives, it’s easier to rethink the workplace and how one experience affects the other. Let’s think through this together to improve finserv experiences for the long haul:

Employee and Customer Experience Trend #1: Digital Experiences and Personal Engagement is Vital to Improving Experiences

One of the first questions we asked customers and employees was, “what experiences are you looking forward to in the following industries [in 2022]?” 

For Customers: Most banking customers responded with “tap-&-go or digital wallet” (Apple or Samsung). This hammers in a point this industry is all too aware of: digital transformation is a crucial element that all banks need to pay attention to as customer expectations evolve. And that extends to other types of financial services businesses as well, be it investment management or credit unions.

For Employees: On the other hand, employees have a unique perspective to add to this conversation. One stated that they would like:

“More time [spent] with customers around personal investments.” 

— Financial Services Wealth Advisor

Of course, different firms operate with different goals in mind, but what’s important to take away here is how the customer experience is impacting the employee experience and vice versa. With this insight in mind, businesses across the financial services industry should include the employee perspective in their customer experience efforts. What do your bank tellers know about friction points in the in-branch experience? What improvements do your advisors think can be made in client sessions? The answers could lead to major improvements in the customer experience and to bottom line influencing factors like customer retention.

Employee and Customer Experience Trend #2: Focus on Both Digital and In-Person Interactions to Serve All Customers

We’ve all seen the articles claiming that the “in-branch experience is dead,” but that couldn’t be further from the truth. According to our data, there are those customers that prefer 100% self-service capabilities, but there are also those customers that rely on in-person interactions—and there are employees that find fulfillment in serving those customers.

When asked what their primary expectations for their experiences were, the majority of consumers voiced their desire for self-serve options, specifically with investments profiles, banking services, or credit union interactions. At the same time, employees also expressed at the same time that they want training to support customers better, whether that is in a contact center, over live chat, or in-branch. 

To satisfy both employee and customer expectations for experiences, finserv businesses need to make sure they are focused on both digital and in-person interactions, and make sure they are consistent while they’re at it.

Employee and Customer Experience Trend #3: How to Optimize Talent Acquisition for Gen Z

Employee values tend to shift from generation to generation and it’s the responsibility for businesses to acknowledge those changes if they want to last. That’s why employers everywhere have been thinking more about Gen Z and how they’ll carve out a future for the workplace, and finserv businesses are no exception. 

To help banks, investment advisors, and other finserv employers understand Gen Z, we leveraged our latest trends report to dive into Market Pulse data as well as indirect and inferred transactional data and put together a pros and cons profile for the most critical factors in recruiting a Gen Z employee specifically in the finserv industry. Check it out below!

Based on these findings, Gen Z seems likely to be attracted to a work setting that prioritizes instilling a sense of purpose in employees and supporting a collaborative work community, on top of, understandably, ensuring financial security.

There are many ways to foster these attributes in your company’s work culture, but one thing is for sure: as Gen Z grows more prominent in the workforce, it is vital that businesses shape work cultures according to Gen Z ideals if they wish to attract top talent.

Not only did InMoment feature the financial services businesses like banks, wealth advisory firms, and credit unions in its newest Customer and Employee Experience Trends Report, but the research covers ten other industries as well! If you’d like to learn more about what’s happening in 2022’s experience realm, take a look at the full online version.

Optimizing Employee Insights from Structured and Unstructured Data

Power from the People

Employee insights can come from a multitude of sources like unstructured data; and, with churn at record levels (overall turnover rate is estimated at 57.3 % per year, and with Gen Z changing jobs at a rate 134% higher than in pre-pandemic 2019)—and the cultural, operational, and customer value discontinuity this can create—it’s essential for every company to have, and apply, every piece of relevant data.  

Information from employees gives businesses power and can be leveraged to enhance customer experience, resulting in higher retention, more positive customer behavior, and stronger business outcomes.

Workforce Analytics and Voice of Employee

Employee data streams come from two principal frameworks: People Analytics and Voice of Employee (VoE).  People Analytics aka Workforce Analytics, are the data sets HR uses to make recruitment more effective, increase retention and longevity, and improve fit, alignment, and productivity. The pandemic has had a profound effect on people analytics, with challenges coming from differing industries, job/role types, and locations. Today’s most successful companies can and do, utilize internal and external data to enhance workforce strategy through better planning.

Voice of Employee is a bit more complex, and given today’s talent landscape and heightened set of employee responsibilities, perhaps even more crucial. VoE programs collect, analyze, and distill employee feedback to identify areas of performance, challenge, and opportunity. These programs were largely manual until recently, which is both costly and time-inefficient. Also, when traditional people analytics tools were applied to unstructured data, the resulting text analytics were superficial, yielding little real actionability. The best and most contemporary approach for employee-generated text analytics is natural language processing, or NLP.

…Organizations that use workforce analytics have the most engaged workforces, and they thrive in tough conditions. 

— Tim Ringo, Workforce Analytics Isn’t as Scary as It Sounds

Leveraging Natural Language Processing for VoE Analytics

With Natural Language Processing for VoE, organizations can gather an in-depth understanding of factors driving emotionally-based behavior and performance, resulting in clear and impactful programmatic recommendations that drive engagement, loyalty, and commitment. 

  • Gather: All data sources (surveys, reviews, messages, emails, chat threads, and other communication) can form a single stream
  • Process: NLP analyses can be run utilizing HR language, with customized dashboards, or they can be exported to the organization’s business intelligence tool
  • Analyze: Identify areas of focus and experience and emotionally-based sentiment with the power of NLP
  • Act:  NLP enables narratives on topics, trends, and patterns to be developed, along with root cause issues and supporting data

Figures 1&2 / Polarity data visualization from insurance company reviews

Using NLP helps businesses identify key topics, categories, themes, intentions from every document in the data stream, and detailed sentiment analysis. And, when compared to open source and traditional people analytics techniques, NLP is more efficient and requires less technical support. NLP is, as well, both highly configurable and completely secure with any infrastructure.  

All employees have stories about their experiences and those of customers. NLP helps organizations hear, understand, share, and leverage those stories to make business decisions that make work life and their customers’ lives better.

Understanding “The Great Resignation” and Brands’ Own Role in Creating It

The news media has been rife this last year or so with stories of The Great Resignation—an unprecedented tidal wave of job market churn that has seen millions upon millions of employees quit their jobs. As with most topics related to employment and the economy, the finger-pointing over who and/or what’s behind this phenomenon has been incessant… and loud. No matter which lens the issue is viewed through, though, one fact is apparent to all: the phrase “I quit” has become one of the employee world’s loudest slogans.

Despite what all the debate over The Great Resignation might imply, though, there is in fact a hierarchy of causes and events that we can definitively track to what we’re seeing in the job market right now. What follows is a quick illustration (and examination) of the sequence of events that precipitated The Great Resignation, as well as what brands like yours might be able to do about it if you find that many of your employees are headed for the exit.

The Great Resignation’s Deep Roots

The first misconception about The Great Resignation that I’d like to dispel is the notion that the COVID-19 pandemic is directly responsible for its inception. This assumption is built almost exclusively on the close timing the two phenomena share, which, frankly, is correlative reasoning at best. Additionally, when the pundits pushing this idea actually care to delve deeper, they insist that the challenges and perspectives brought about by the pandemic caused many employees to reconsider their positions, hence the current job market churn.

The truth, however, is much more nuanced than that. As countless employee experience (EX) experts have been documenting for years now, many employees were feeling dissatisfied with their jobs or disconnected from their wider organization long before COVID-19 was even a term. Burnout, disengagement, and a lack of employee support have, unfortunately, been hallmarks at many organizations for many, many years. The pandemic, therefore, did not mark the beginning of the sentiments that culminated in The Great Resignation; it merely catalyzed employee sentiments that had already existed for a long time.

Culture, Infrastructure, and Operational Challenges

There’s more to the story of The Great Resignation than widespread employee dissatisfaction with their daily work or their disconnection from their employers’ brand purpose. In fact, much of the narrative is that many companies have insufficiently invested in employee support resources. Though you might expect that more brands would be proactive about countering declines in employee performance and tenure, the sheer and extraordinary amount of churn now being seen tells quite a different story. That story, unfortunately, is one of countless companies’ inability to provide even the most basic support and experience value for their most critical assets.

It’s pretty clear where this story is headed:  a combination of employee disconnection, perceived cultural toxicity, and burnout due to factors like lack of available support resources has directly impacted the job market. When the COVID-19 element was added to this set of challenges, with all of the disruption, stress and uncertainty it brought, it became a catalyst for The Great Resignation.  Many employees were already worn down from facing these issues, and their conclusion was to seek new roles not just outside of their current employer, but even beyond their own industry.

In other words, high percentages of employees, feeling they have only one life to live, said:  “I quit.”

A More Progressive Employee Experience Concept

Even if your brand isn’t one of the thousands of companies around the world currently scrambling to remedy its employee support investment problem, you’ve probably heard the phrase “employee engagement” get thrown around as a remedy to The Great Resignation. As the story around this approach goes, employee engagement espouses policy creation as the solution to employee disengagement and burnout. It’s built around discovering employee discontentment, reacting to it with new policy created within HR departments, and hopefully lowering costs all the while. 

However, while policy certainly has its place in any organization, employee engagement alone will leave any company falling woefully short of its retention goals. There’s a much higher strata of the employee world known as employee commitment that brands will need to reach not ‘just’ to survive The Great Resignation, but also to build fundamentally human connections with employees and thus achieve Experience Improvement (XI) for them.

Click here to read my full-length point of view document on employee commitment, and how it can help your brand achieve more foundational and transformative goals than what can be achieved with reactive policymaking.

Diagnosing And Improving Employee Connection To Company Culture

This article was originally posted on CustomerThink.com

Why Is There An Urgent Need For Companies To Do This Now?

Covid-influenced working conditions have contributed to employee disconnection from company culture, disaffection, and even emotional burnout, resulting in high prospective churn rates in many business sectors, i.e. “The Great Resignation”. Employee disconnection and discontinuity also have both an indirect and a direct impact on customer behavior. As viewed by many consulting organizations in their evaluations of this unfolding era of chronic talent shortages coupled with low unemployment rates, the conjoined, common themes of enterprise humanity and reframed purpose seem to be among the most attainable stakeholder prescriptives for dealing with the current employee landscape.

So, the state of organizational culture has tremendous and undeniable influence on employee behavior. In the famous words of Peter Drucker, “Culture eats strategy for breakfast.” Unfortunately, and rather irrespective of the beliefs of some corporate leaders and consultants, no amount of strategic corporate sophistication and modeling can work a company out of a toxic, unfocused purpose, and non-humanistic culture. It must come through disciplined leadership, investment, assessment, and change.

The challenges for many organizations, though, is that they have either minimally addressed or completely missed the impact of enterprise culture on the level of employee connectedness, contribution, and commitment.

Why Can’t Traditional Employee Engagement Research Target Company Culture For Improvement?

Classic engagement research, as practiced since the mid-1980’s, is very effective at identifying employee perceptions into the nature of their jobs, the relationship between employee and manager, employee and co-workers, and the line of sight between the employee performance and company performance. It also functions on the frequently disproved tactical assumption that ‘happy employees = happy customers”, and so is designed to only superficially address the relationship between deeper feelings and beliefs about enterprise culture and resultant employee behavior.

For organizations to recognize employee needs and wants within today’s rapidly changing landscape, there must first be a recognition that employees, as stakeholders and assets to the company, have many of the same behavioral and life stage issues as customers. And, just as customer behavior can range from high negativity/sabotage to high positivity/advocacy, so too can employee behavior. The goals for employees, then, are commitment and connected behavior, with advocacy as the highest state. 

The foundation for attaining this goal is an understanding of cultural impact. More specifically, today organizations need to identify, and leverage, employee perceptions of culture relative to:

  1. Cohesion of functions and units/groups within the company
  2. Enterprise/functional/group customer and value focus
  3. Management/leadership effectiveness, integrity, and trust
  4. Influences on morale – diversity, inclusiveness, communication, latitude
  5. Support for personal career, growth, training, and work/life balance

Is There A Clear And Actionable Path To Company Culture Improvement?

The quick, and encouraging, answer is ‘Yes. There is’. This path, however, requires several things. First, senior leadership must have, or develop, an understanding of where the cultural challenges exist for employees. Next, the organization must be both disciplined in discovery and change and willing to make at least some investment. The financial and time investment comes through macro culture maturity assessment, targeted qualitative and quantitative employee research focused only on their connection, and commitment to, company culture, and development of communication, process, and other techniques for building and sustaining greater connection with and by employees. 

This path is not necessarily simple, and sometimes not easy, because cultural DNA is often strongly embedded, and change-resistant, within the enterprise. But, in the wise words of Yoda when confronted by Luke Skywalker’s reluctance to embrace new thinking: “You must unlearn what you have learned.”

Want to learn more about the power of employee experience (EX) and the benefits it brings to your bottomline? Read our eBook on understanding the power of employee engagement.

The Top 3 “Blended Experiences” Retail Consumers & Employees Expect This Year

In 2022, modern retailers will face many challenges as the industry continues to recover from the global pandemic. During the unpredictable lockdown, retail brands were forced to transform their in-person experiences to digital ones. And now, according to our most recent EX & CX Retail Trends research, both customers and employees expect a blended experience.

But what does the term “blended experience” really mean? Well, it’s essentially bringing the digital experience to the in-store experience. Hence, “blended”. Still not getting the gist of it? Then let’s take a look at three concrete examples we’ve discovered based on data our Strategic Insights Team collected from consumers and employees across North America. Here’s what people are truly expecting:

Blended Experience #1: Buy Online, Pick Up Instore

It’s no surprise that being able to buy products online is an expectation, but customers also want options on how to receive said product. During quarantine, retail stores often offered same-day home delivery, curbside pick up, and buy online, pick up in-store (BOPIS). The question is, which of these will last? 

For employees, curbside and delivery have proven expensive to operate and don’t drive sales like in-store traffic does (especially if retail employees are working commission).  Meanwhile, because delivery is no longer considered a free necessity, and because curbside pick-up times aren’t as flexible, customers are less impressed with these options. So, BOPIS is a compromise: customers get to easily buy products online and receive their items relatively quickly, while employees get to engage with customers in-store while avoiding the obstacles those pickup types present.

Blended Experience #2: Pick Up, Walk Out (Automatic Payment)

After a long two years, customers and employees are used to a contactless experience and find it convenient for reasons beyond COVID. Additionally, with grocery stores continuing to capitalize on self-checkout experiences and innovations like Amazon Go’s Just Walk Out technology, more customers are expecting the retail industry to follow suit. Simply removing checkout lines can save retail stores over $37.7 billion and allow customers to shop without the hindrance of wasting time waiting in line.

Blended Experience #3: Virtual Try-On

Augmented reality in retail blew up during the pandemic. And, with the many social media filters that younger customers use daily, it’s no wonder that virtual try-on capability has emerged as a top expectation. Of course, customers would rather not wait to change in a stall or travel all the way to a store, but the real kicker is that virtual try-on actually minimizes a lot of risk for them.

One of the greatest barriers for online retail experiences is the reality that customers can’t really try on what they buy. With a virtual feature like this, customers get a visual sense of how the items they’re eyeing could fit in their lives, without ever having to leave home. After a virtual try-on experience, customers are reassured that their purchases truly suit their desires, reducing the chance of returns.

The In-Store Experience of the Future

It’s clear that, when it comes to retail, customers want a blend of digital and in-person experiences, not just one or the other. Both types of experiences have their pros and cons, and it’s our job as experience professionals to deliver an integrated interaction that brings forth each of their valuable qualities. Hopefully, these examples can help your brand take a second look at the experience you’re currently providing customers and spark meaningful Experience Improvement (XI) this year.

But this dynamic doesn’t stop at just blended experiences. The retail world is being impacted by changes in feedback methods, the influence of social media, and the Gen Z perspective. There are many opportunities beyond blended experiences for retail stores to meet customer needs, which you can learn more about in our new eBook: EX & CX Trends: What Retail Brands Need to Know in 2022.

Three Elements that Create and Sustain Employee Engagement

Employee engagement has become a hotter topic than ever in the age of The Great Resignation. Millions of employees are quitting their jobs and heading elsewhere, leaving countless organizations scrambling to retain their remaining talent and/or evaluate why their workforce is in such flux. If your org is in that boat right now, we can help you keep sailing with a look at three elements that create and sustain employee engagement:

  1. Organizational Culture
  2. Customer-Focused Processes
  3. Ambassadorial Behavior

Element 1: Organizational Culture

One of the hard truths about The Great Resignation is that many departing employees feel that their former organizations lacked a supportive workplace culture. Contrary to popular belief, feelings like these existed long before the COVID-19 pandemic; that event, and the stress that came with it, simply added fuel to an existing fire. Culture is fundamental to an employee’s sense of purpose and belonging, so see whether that word is cropping up in feedback from current and former workers. If it is, you should take a hard look at why employees are feeling that way, ideally with the assistance of an experience platform that can isolate actionable insights from unstructured feedback.

Element 2: Customer-Focused Processes

Another element that’s key to employee satisfaction is the chance to make a difference for customers. What this means for organizations like yours is not just giving those chances to frontline employees, but also giving other departments that aren’t customer-facing a chance to see how their work contributes to making that difference. Sharing data in this way is also handy for making customer experiences more consistent, because it gives everyone in your organization the same holistic, 360-degree view of your customer to reference.

Element 3: Ambassadorial Behavior

Improving workplace culture and refining customer processes are involved and difficult tasks. However, it’s well worth brands’ time to invest in both not just for the sake of retention, but also for creating bold, human connections with your customers that transcend individual interactions. When employees feel meaningfully supported by their organizations and that they have a chance to make a difference in customers’ lives, they won’t ‘just’ stick around—they’ll feed that passion directly into customer relationships and help you maintain an audience with unwavering brand loyalty. In this way, ensuring your employees are happy creates a feedback loop that keeps your customers happy (and keeps them from seeking out your competitors).

A Closer Look

How else can greater employee engagement improve your workplace, your brand, and your experiences? Click here to read our full-length point of view document on employee advocacy. Inveterate employee experience (EX) expert Michael Lowenstein draws on decades of research to sketch out a clear, helpful perspective on how best to advocate for your employees and meaningfully improve experiences for everyone!

Using Holistic Listening to Retain Employees—and Customers

It’s popular to believe that COVID-19 created the unprecedented employee exodus we’ve all come to know as The Great Resignation. For months now, we’ve seen brands struggle to retain employees as millions of workers across virtually every sector of the economy and society leave their jobs, citing a similarly diverse range of reasons for leaving. These include, but are by no means limited to, insufficient pay, hazardous work environments, and having to put up with belligerent customers.

What’s at the Root of the Struggle with Employee Retention?

Though it’s natural to assume that the timing of this event means it’s strictly a product of COVID, the truth about the Great Resignation and employee disengagement in general is that the pandemic didn’t create either phenomenon; it simply exacerbated existing employee issues. Factors like low pay or dangerous work existed long before COVID, which means that the disease isn’t the root cause of The Great Resignation so much as it’s the straw that broke the camel’s back.

The other hard truth that feeds into The Great Resignation is that, frankly, a lot of companies are having trouble retaining their workers because they never understood or invested in improving the employee experience (EX). These brands thus lack the resources, infrastructure, and capabilities necessary to rescue at-risk employee relationships, acquire new talent, and deliver on customer expectations in a time of great turmoil. 

No matter where your organization falls on the EX maturity spectrum, one thing has become clear: improving employee engagement, retention, and acquisition requires a new, more holistic means of addressing employee behavior and commitment.

A Quick Note on Employee Burnout, Disengagement, and the Like

Before we get to those holistic means, though, I think it would be helpful to briefly touch on the difference between disengagement, disconnection, and another term I’m sure you’ve heard a lot recently: burnout. 

The terms are not interchangeable; disengagement and disconnection refer to an employee’s lack of interest and/or investment in their work and organization’s mission. Meanwhile, burnout denotes feeling overwhelmed and mentally unwell as a result of said work or mission. 

My goal with this piece is to help you anticipate and solve for disengagement before it leads to that burnout.

3 Elements of Holistic Employee Engagement

Element #1: Anticipate Changing Needs

The first element of thinking about employee engagement and commitment more holistically is being cognizant of how employee needs and systems will change tomorrow, not ‘just’ what they’re like today. This is particularly important to consider as Millennials’ and Gen Z-ers’ slice of the workforce continues to grow. One of the most important things these digital natives want is a chance for meaningful growth, and if they feel that your brand isn’t considering that or how their needs will change, they will quickly turn elsewhere to find it. With the rise of remote and hybrid work environments, respectively, employees have more options here than ever before.

Element #2: Readily Recognize Value

A second element that can affect employee engagement and commitment is whether or not they feel valued. It’s easy for employees who contribute to organization success to disengage if their contributions aren’t being recognized. In other words, if they feel underappreciated despite their commitment and day-to-day effort, they’ll become discontent and, ultimately, churn. 

There are a number of ways to solve for this problem, such as creating a closed-loop process by which employees can contribute their insights and ideas. These processes are well-honed at best-in-class organizations—some brands not only incentivize idea submissions, but also give employees a cut of the savings their ideas generate.

Element #3: Foster Meaningful Connections

Finally, with the significant workplace changes we’re seeing, creating meaningful connections amongst coworkers and teams has become a critical challenge for leaders. Building sustainable workplace camaraderie in an often-remote work environment, the kind that truly leads to high-performing teams, is easier said than done. 

But the same principles leading to healthy workplace relationships (communication, trust, vulnerability, empathy, kindness) must still exist and be built anew as team composition evolves. Brand leaders who can pull this off will have not only driven improved business outcomes like operational efficiency, but also have built a culture of high employee engagement, commitment, and retention.

Ensuring employees feel heard, understood, and connected are essential to your organization’s success, so the ability to ingest solicited, unsolicited, structured, and unstructured employee feedback is invaluable to finding actionable intelligence. This is especially important when you consider that employee perception of work is the next great diversity frontier. Sex, race, and gender identity are all highly important for organizations to consider, but I firmly believe that diversity in how we as employees  perceive an efficient, effective workplace should be considered in a similar context.

A Better Tomorrow

Considering employee needs, making employees feel valued, creating sustainable camaraderie, and appreciating workplace diversity are all vital to engaging employees holistically, not just to preventing disengagement. Creating and sustaining a workplace environment built on these four pillars is no small task, but it’s what brands will need to achieve if they want to create meaningful experiences for their employees. 

Do that, and your employees will return the favor in the form of greater passion and, ultimately, a greater investment in your customers’ experiences, creating greater success for your organization.

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