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CTDO Magazine

Better EX Can Re-Energize Employees

Friday, October 15, 2021

Workers are tired and worn out. Prioritize meaningful communication and work experiences.

Nine in 10 employers say they are prioritizing the employee experience (EX) for their postpandemic success, according to global advisory firm Willis Towers Watson’s 2021 Employee Experience Survey. Only 52 percent rated EX as a top priority prior to the pandemic.


The reasons for the renewed focus are clear: Numerous reports claim employees are feeling an acute escalation in stress and burnout, and organizations are struggling with employee engagement and retention.

“Employers recognize the urgency of improving the EX as they adapt to their new reality and face turnover and engagement challenges,” the report asserts, calling the escalation a “great EX awakening.” 

Productive but burned out

Microsoft WorkLab’s 2021 Work Trend Index reveals that more than one-third of the global workforce says companies are asking too much of them.

After exploring data from more than 30,000 people in 31 countries and analyzing trillions of productivity and labor signals across Microsoft 365 and LinkedIn, the researchers conclude that while self-assessed productivity has remained the same or higher for many employees during the past year, it has come at a human cost. More than half of employees feel overworked, and 39 percent feel exhausted.

“People’s reevaluation of their lives means employee engagement has been replaced as a company imperative by employee experience,” says The Definitive Guide: Employee Experience, a Josh Bersin Company report.

The Bersin research analysis used data collected from more than 982 organizations—including in-depth interviews with HR and business leaders with 15 key companies such as Deutsche Telekom, IBM, Kraft Heinz, Microsoft, and Unilever—to uncover what practices have the most significant impact on employee experience.

Important practices include regular and transparent communications from leaders, demonstrations of care for employees, an emphasis on integrity and empathy across an organization, a well-defined company mission, and a culture that cultivates a sense of belonging and inclusion among all employees.

According to the Definitive Guide study, such practices can drive significant impact for the business, workforce, and innovation. Companies leveraging EX strategies are 2.2 times more likely to exceed financial outcomes, 3.7 times more likely to adapt to change, and 5.1 times more likely to retain workers.

That concurs with Willis Towers Watson’s data, which reveals that 82 percent of employees believe that positive employee experiences make staff more productive. And 84 percent of workers report that positive employee experience benefits their ability to engage.


Increase EX

For organizations looking to boost their EX, Bersin offers a framework that highlights six critical areas: meaningful work, strong management, positive workplace, health and well-being, growth opportunity, and trust in the organization.

For example, companies with effective EX practices related to meaningful work ensure jobs and values fit, that staff have the tools and autonomy to succeed, that they work well in teams, and that they have the time needed to create additional value for customers.

Meanwhile, a positive workplace means employees have the tools and processes to help them do good work and connect; there is flexibility around when and where they work; and the workplace is inclusive and diverse and offers a sense of belonging and community. Finally, for growth opportunity, employers need to promote a learning culture that offers multiple inroads to training and development and actively facilitate employee mobility and career paths.

Read more from CTDO magazine: Essential talent development content for C-suite leaders.

About the Author

Ryann K. Ellis is an editor for the Association of Talent Development (ATD). She has been covering workplace learning and performance for ATD (formerly the American Society for Training & Development) since 1995. She currently sources and authors content for TD Magazine and CTDO, as well as manages ATD's Community of Practice blogs. Contact her at [email protected]

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