A focus on Employee Experience – Workforce Trends for 2021

ManagementApril 07, 2021 14:52

Written by Max Loong

As companies scramble to adapt to the disruptions caused by the pandemic, they must move quickly to redefine workforce strategies and reimagine the Employee Experience (EX).

What exactly is employee experience all about? In this article we share what the components of an effective Employee Experience (EX) so that business can continue to thrive and stay relevant with a robust workforce.

What is Employee Experience?

From the moment someone looks at your job advertisement, to the moment they leave your company, everything that a person learns, does, sees and feels in a workplace contributes to their EX. For an organisation to master EX, it must listen to its people at each stage of the employee lifecycle, identify what matters most to them, and create personalised, bespoke experiences.


"In a world where money is no longer the primary motivating factor for employees, focusing on the employee experience is the most promising competitive advantage that organisations can create."

– Jacob Morgan, author of The Employee Experience Advantage


This is a shift from a process and transactional based approach of people, to a customer-centric approach. This approach puts emphasis on human experience and behaviour, to prioritise on what matters most to employees and maximise engagement, build trust and job satisfaction.

While the term “Employee Experience” has gained traction, in this context “employee” must really consider the end-to-end workforce that includes candidates, employees, contingent workers, and alumni.


Why the need for Employee Experience?

Change in Employee Expectations

According to the World Economic Forum, millennials will make up 75 per cent of the global workforce by 2025. With a new generation integrating to the workforce, it is also time for a change in the current talent management framework.

Different from the generations before them, the millennial generation wants more opportunities to have their say and companies need to get a deeper understanding of a group who feel, think and behave differently. There is also an expectation for personalised employee experiences – employees now expect to be treated as a unique person, just like they are when they interact with leading B2C brands as a consumer.


Shortage of desired skills

The increasing and rapid changes in the market signals a shift in the skills required in an organisation’s operations. This will result in a competitive talent landscape than ever before – where there are now more candidates for fewer jobs.

In order to step up and attract and retain talents with the desired skills, building a robust EX is one of the last ways to differentiate yourself as an employer.


Better business performance

The goal of EX is all about ROI. Companies with highly engaged workforces see a measurable bottom-line impact, significantly outperforming their peers and making their organisations stand out during a time of disruption.

For instance, organisations that invest most heavily in EX are found to be:

  • 11.5x as often in Glassdoor’s Best Places to Work
  • 2.1x as often on the Forbes list of the World’s Most Innovative Companies

Not only does EX help with company reputation, it can also deliver business results too. Studies have documented a clear statistical relationship between increases in frontline engagement, increases in customer service, and most importantly revenue growth.


How to design an EX strategy

Similar to designing a customer experience, an EX covers the full journey of an individual’s interaction with a company – from a potential employee looking at a job advertisement to their eventual exit from the company. Leaders need to see employees as customer, and use design thinking to create an environment that allows employee to thrive in their career.

There are various frameworks out there by management consulting firms, but mainly focusing on enhancing the workforce experience that spans across multiple departments and functions.

Source: Deloitte Consulting LLP

Source: Accenture Strategy

Jacob Morgan, author of The Employee Experience Advantage, highlights three basic environments, no matter how large or small your organisation, that make up EX.

Culture – A company’s culture is a mixture of leadership style and organisational structure, sense of purpose and the mixture of personalities who work with you. Corporate culture is the vibe that you feel when you come in to work – it can motivate or stifle, energise or drain, empower or discourage its employees.

Technology environment – No one likes to find out that they will be using an outdated system on their first day of work. Forward-thinking organisations invest in suitable tools for employees to get their work done efficiently, with future developments in mind. 

Physical workspace – Employees who are happy in their work environment will concentrate better, have improved well-being and will be more productive. A physical workspace is not necessarily always in the office. Having the autonomy to work from home or in multiple workspaces can also contribute to a positive EX.


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