Employee experience is not just another buzzword but a critical component of the changing nature of work. Employees entering the workplace today seek meaningful work, flexibility, autonomy and mentoring on a foundation of collaborative communication.

While most companies have realised the benefit of focusing on customer experience, many have not grasped the parallel human-centric approach that is needed when it comes to employees.

In fact, almost half of employees (41%) surveyed* feel that there is inconsistency when it comes to adequate communication provided by top management in South African organisations – giving them little room to voice opinions and provide feedback. This is according to a recent employee online poll* conducted by Wyzetalk. Even more concerning is 25% feel that the current communication within their respective companies is inadequate.

“This was one of several interesting issues raised by the poll, which points to the wider challenge of employee engagement and experience,” says Gys Kappers, CEO of Wyzetalk. “Thanks to the connected environment in which we live and work, expectations from employees are changing. The consumerisation of technology has given impetus to this shift with digital transformation reinforcing it. People expect to be engaged differently. In turn, organisations must drive workplace strategies in new ways.”

When asked what the predominant channels are that their respective organisations use to communicate with them, over two thirds of respondents (68%) indicated that their organisations mostly use traditional digital channels such as email or an intranet. This was followed by only 14% who mentioned collaboration tools and 9% who indicated that their companies still use printed collateral such as newsletters, posters, noticeboards and suggestion boxes. No matter the medium, sentiments around whether their employers are investing in creating a positive employee experience was split with a third (33%) saying it was not a priority and 27% indicating that they are thinking about how to improve things, but there is nothing currently in place.

2019 will be a significant one for change and it will be interesting to see how employee’s get to experience their workplaces and how leadership views the benefits of engaged employees.

“It’s great to see that some companies are recognising the value of personalisation in reinforcing the employer/employee work contract,” adds Kappers. “Merging data, drawing insights, and performance measures are helping achieve this. However, poor data management and integrity are some of the biggest hindrances in delivering on the employee experience strategy. This can largely be attributed to how software and systems do not solve compliance issues around the business or its people. Building on from the employee experience, the natural outflow will be a changing communication environment placing more focus on the employee engagement team.”

And when asked about the importance of the employee experience, a resounding 57% of respondents indicated that it was important as they are most productive when they feel valued. 27% felt it was non-negotiable and that they cannot work in an organisation that doesn’t priorities its people. Only 1% indicated that employee experience was not important to them.

According to the poll, the following rated as the top 3 areas employees feel contribute to a positive employee experience, ranked as follows:

Autonomy, where they are trusted, accountable and empowered to do their job

Opportunities for growth, supported by training, learning and fair performance appraisals

A flexible working environment that’s inclusive and humanistic, where the well-being of each person is important

So, what’s holding companies back from achieving an exceptional employee experience? Silos, a lack of interdepartmental collaboration and integration was cited as the main reason at 43%, followed closely by a lack of focus, where a companies’ focus is all about sales/production rather than people (41%). Inefficient communication and resource limitations to focus on employee engagement was also cited as additional reasons.

Employees want direct and personable communications and companies need to realise that they are underestimating the importance of this, and as a result are either under-resourced or underqualified to deliver on this new employee experience expectation. Integrating and automating employee touchpoints including HR processes will help drive efficiencies within the business.

“2019 will be a significant one for change and it will be interesting to see how employee’s get to experience their workplaces and how leadership views the benefits of engaged employees. The degree to which South African businesses are willing to invest in this change will depend on how serious they are about growth and their people,” concludes Kappers.

* Wyzetalk conducted this online poll with BusinessTech, where over 2140 respondents participated in the employee snap-shot survey.

This article was published by Bizcommunity and IT Online.