2022 4 Pillar EX

Trends Report 

Reflecting on the year that was, it’s exciting to see how important the employee experience has become for more organisations and their leaders. In today’s dynamic, multi-faceted workplace, there is an even greater need for meaningful conversation and connection.

For the most part, people are driven more by purpose than pay – and will seek out working environments that reflect their values, offer purpose-driven work, and support them in being their most authentic selves at work.

This shift to creating an empowering workplace has driven the need for action regarding the employee experience. Using the framework of Torque’s tried and tested 4 Pillars of Employment Experience methodology, companies are transforming how they operate – and witnessing the positive effects in their workforce.

 

 

What are the 4 pillars?

Conversation

Frequent two-way dialogue, supported by multi-media channels, allows for the employee’s voice to be heard, and for the feedback to inform ongoing communication.

Rewards

Understanding what matters most motivates employee behaviour and prompts a reciprocal response defines how employees are seen and recognised for their contribution.

Community

With a sense of belonging comes a sense of purpose.

In fostering an inclusive and supportive work environment, employers will attract purpose-driven people who feel supported in their mission.

Function

A positive employee experience requires using tools to reduce friction in day-to-day work. The more employees are enabled to do their best work, the better the outcome will be for all.

 

Through our ongoing client interactions, we have the privilege of seeing our methodology in action and the positive results manifested in involved workforces. In the process, we’ve also witnessed growing trends in employee experience that influence how strategy is executed.

Conversations that count

Employers who are leading in this space make it a priority to have frequent check-ins with their employees. Knowing what people are feeling and the friction they’re experiencing is as essential as understanding the channels they’re using to share on.

The emphasis is on meeting people where they’re at in their respective contexts and showing empathy through relevant communication.

Rewarding insight

Having a deeper understanding of employees’ lived experiences and what matters most to them will inform how to attract, retain, and reward them. Acknowledgement for excellent contribution is more meaningful when it’s attached to personal motivation.

Mission-based goal setting features highly, as does the opportunity for personal growth and well-being. The most rewarding is the bespoke option, where people are given choices in how they’re rewarded.

Community through connection and collaboration

Organisations that include their people in their purpose, and forge a sense of belonging, are seeing the shift from surface-level engagement to community-minded involvement. Storytelling is used as a device to break down prejudice, and the establishment of cross-functional teams is entrenching authentic connections and collaborative networks.

Employers who concern themselves with building social capital, managing complex workforce ecosystems, and involving employees in ESG and CSI initiatives will have the winning edge.

Form and function

Employers who set their people up for success will be the employers of choice. This involves enabling people with the right tools for the job and providing learning opportunities to further their skills.

Leading companies are also dedicating time to employee wellness initiatives and investing in their well-being. Part of this includes a focus on automation and building digital workflows and self-service opportunities.

Read on as we lift the lid on the employee experience in 2022 in relation to our 4 Pillars of EX. This report shares our industry insights and best recommendations to empower your workforce and involve your people.

Glossary

“Money motivates neither the best people, nor the best in people. It can move the body and influence the mind, but it cannot touch the heart or move the spirit; that is reserved for belief, principle, and morality.”

Dee Hock, founder and CEO of Visa

introduction

2022 sees the Human Experience perspective shifting from bargaining through depression to the acceptance that there is no ‘new normal’, only never normal. The world of work, employee experience, and unique company context have forever altered how we earn a living.

From a Torque perspective, we have seen the shift from contemplation to action around the employee experience.

Some of the big topics and pieces of work from this year have included:

  • Employee well-being – in all aspects – but a considerable focus on mental health, de-stigmatisation, and burnout
  • Focus on the inclusion of deskless and front-line workers
  • A spotlight on the low wage / high turnover trend
  • Strategies for managing a hybrid workforce
  • Identifying the various employee ecosystems and mapping personas
  • Refreshing the EVP and matching it to the various employee personas
  • DEI: making it real and understood in organisations, and establishing a base of psychological safety
  • A focus on realising purpose and authentic ESG within organisations
  • The changing role of the leader, specifically line-managers
  • Learning and the metaverse
  • The ‘involved employee’: moving from engagement to involvement

Looking at, and working with these topics throughout 2022, we have compiled our annual insights report.

We have included thoughts and recommendations in this report under our 4 Pillars of EX approach, with the specific lens of looking at the employee experience of the office-based employee, the hybrid employee, and the front-line employee.

What has shone through is the need to include our people more in all aspects of the organisation. The value of co-creation and conversation cannot be emphasised enough. Organisations, including their people, are seeing the shift from engagement to involvement and the following ROI.

As Gartner put it, “A human deal orients toward employees as people, not workers; provides the attributes that are critical to that person’s life experience, not just work experience; and delivers a positive emotional response. 

Moving towards the human deal means creating organisations where employees feel understood, autonomous, valued, invested, and cared for. Creating an organisation where its people feel this way reaps the reward of having people that are well, perform better, are loyal and intend to stay – over simply advocating for and promoting the organisation. 

At Torque, we are driven by our belief that employee experience must be inclusive, so this report’s significant focus is on how you can ensure that EVERYONE at your organisation has an excellent EX. 

We hope you find these points practical and helpful to reflect on your achievements in 2022 and to help you plan your strategy for 2023 and beyond. As always, we are here to help and work with you to implement your strategy and make it a huge success.

introducFirstly, a refresher on the Torque Formula for a Great EX solutiontion

From a Torque perspective, when an EX system is a success, there is a balance between all 4 Pillars so that we are serving the needs of the employee and allowing them to bring their best self to work and be empowered to do their job to the best of their ability.

CONVERSATIONs

Employee conversation with the business is key to success!

To promote a good employee experience, you need to provide the tools, environment, and culture so employees can do their jobs to the best of their abilities. This starts with excellent communication so your employees clearly understand the organisation’s vision and goals and their role in its success.

However, we prefer to use the word conversation because it must be two-way for proper engagement

A continuous listening strategy is non-negotiable and allows the employee’s voice to be included in key business objectives.

Current trends in this space:

  • Sentiment collection and daily check-ins with workflows to proactively address well-being, especially burnout and mental health.
  • Pulses, polls, and surveys are shorter but more frequent.
  • 360, 1-on-1 and thematic listening.
  • Deep analysis of exit interviews, stay interviews, and pre-interviews.
  • Working with employee focus/resource groups to ask questions and gather verbatim

What should you be thinking about:

  • Survey fatigue is real. Short, sharp check-ins give a balanced view of your employees all year round and allow for proactive management of emerging issues, as well as being able to track how business and world events affect your unique workforce.
  • Feedback. When your people have taken the time to share their thoughts and feelings, the business must give feedback on what was received and what will be done about it.
  • Well-being, much like DEI, is intersectional. Understanding where each person is, and their lived reality and goals will allow you to target their offerings. Blanket well-being campaigns fail because the employee feels unseen if they are not consulted and included.
  • If you haven’t mapped your employee personas, this must become a key objective. This will allow you to target your EVP to attract new talent and retain your current talent.

Pro tip: Segmenting your messaging by persona, roles, divisions and locations also allows for a more effective landing of communication.

Pro tip: Segmenting your messaging by persona, roles, divisions and locations also allows for a more effective landing of communication.

Areas that need careful monitoring under this pillar:

  • Tonality and language. There is a massive call for language to be simplified for all employees – make sure your language is straightforward, and don’t use jargon or acronyms if you can help it.
  • Make certain communications are being sent to the right people at the right time – change processes exist for a reason and with the amount of change fatigue out there, getting all stakeholders on the same page is essential.
  • Send your stakeholders the artefacts they need to do their job or communicate what is needed. Send it to them if they need to read a letter and pin it to the notice board.

TORQUE RECOMMENDATIONS

  • Checking in with different groups at different frequencies based on areas of concern.
  • Adding sentiment check-ins.
  • Making your communication channels data-free.
  • Not limiting your conversation strategy to one channel, embracing multiple channels – app/USSD/email/web/printed aids/daily meetings – remember, not everyone has a smartphone!
  • Communicate, communicate, communicate. Transparency and what is happening in the business cannot be overcommunicated. Fear is rampant around job security, and communication is the number one way to get around this.

REWARDS

Now, rewards don’t necessarily equal cash. Reward systems serve several purposes in organisations. Understanding who, what, and when to reward can improve employees’ performance. Effective rewards can encourage employees to gain the necessary skills to help them and the organisation to grow. Renowned business management psychologist Frederick Herzberg’s theory of motivation in the workplace is that pay and working conditions can only ever minimise an employee’s dissatisfaction with work.

 

Neither pay nor working conditions are enough to promote satisfaction or engagement on their own merits. Employees are motivated by a range of other factors – most notable are responsibility, achievement, recognition, type of work and potential for advancement.

Current trends in this space:

  • Review of the total compensation package in line with the EVP.
  • The creation of mission-based goal setting and the linking of company imperatives to employee goals.
  • Integrating well-being offerings with benefits and recognition programs. An employee experience should feel seamless, even if different departments deal with the elements.
  • Making employees feel valued by providing them with personal growth opportunities.
  • Retention bonuses and strategy.
  • Being given choices on how you are rewarded – seeing the personal challenges of employees (persona mapping again).

What should you be thinking about:

  • How are you giving recognition and reward?
  • Can others see and engage with it?
  • Are the rewards fair and equitable?
  • Are we keeping programs achievable for all employees?
  • Could resource be given instead of a traditional prize?
  • Is there a clear gamification strategy, and has it been communicated?
  • Are we allowing for both peer-to-peer and leader-led recognition?
  • Is team recognition being catered for?

Areas that need careful monitoring under this pillar

  • Provide leaders with guides and training to help employees uncover personal and professional aspirations.
  • Keep competitions to a minimum and reward collaboration or behaviours that enhance the culture.
  • Make sure any competition is available to EVERYONE.
  • Keep prizes and terms of competition fair and transparent, i.e. don’t award a prize that not everyone can use, or consider doing many smaller prizes.
  • Make sure that learning and tools are available to those who want to use them.
  • Is the entire workforce ecosystem included, i.e. contractors, gig workers and part-time workers?
  • Linking the learning and development initiatives with employee experience and ensuring that the two work hand-in-hand.

TORQUE RECOMMENDATIONS

  • Innovation and suggestions programs are a great way to harness the on-the-ground or new-ways-of-working trends to not only solve business problems but also provide recognition to employees.
  • Celebrate the impact that front-line workers have on your organisation.
  • Establish a network of champions and advocates.
  • Share stories of impact from your CUSTOMERS to your employees. How did they change customers’ worlds for the better?
  • Create elements of fun.
  • Look at how future trends can be introduced (such as the metaverse) under this pillar, but ensure that no one is excluded because of access.
  • Look at micro-moments under the workflow’s pillars of learning, mentoring, and coaching.

COMMUNITY

Community is the lifeblood of a successful organisation. It makes people feel they can bring their whole selves to their work and makes employees want to work for and further the company’s mission.

The community extends past just the people in an organisation’s permanent employment; the community includes contractors, gig workers, vendors, customers, the local community served or in service of the business, and, of course, the customer.

Whilst the last couple of years have seen a focus on building community through the pandemic, remote and hybrid work and managing a world in crisis, 2022 has seen the community pillar focus shift to social capital, managing complex workforce ecosystems, and involving employees in ESG and CSI initiatives, whilst trying to look through the lens of creating an environment of belonging that is purpose-led. Shew. It was tiring even typing that out – no wonder leaders in the people space struggle with burnout and a lack of self-care.

The single most significant driver of happiness and performance in the workplace is the quality of your relationships, so it stands to reason that using online tools to build employee communities where everyone can be a welcome and participating member will increase their happiness.

By connecting employees beyond the boundaries of their geographies or departments, a digital community empowers employees to direct their efforts from the bottom up. It allows them to build communities of interest, share ideas, solve problems and collaborate in ways that make sense to them – all while delivering measurable business value.

According to McKinsey’s social capital research, 80% of frontline employees say their company provides few connection opportunities at work.

  • Over half (55%) engage with internal corporate communications (e.g. town halls) fewer than once a month.
  • One third (36%) attend watercooler talks with coworkers less than once a month.
  • Over half (55 and 60% respectively) attend work-related events and gatherings or employee resource groups less than once a month.

Despite this lack of engagement, there are two critical groups with whom frontline employees frequently connect, albeit for work-related reasons: their direct supervisor and coworkers on their team. 57% of frontline workers report going to their direct boss or manager and 83%go to coworkers on their team for work-related information at least once a week.

Current trends in this space:

  • Communication – using the sharing of stories to tackle DEI, land culture and values, and breaking down of silos.
  • Connection – invest in the tools that will allow everyone to have access to the business.
  • Collaboration – creating cross-functional teams, ERG’s and network leaders to drive change and adoption.

What should you be thinking about:

  • How do you connect your community to your business and your purpose?
  • What do the touchpoints and moments that matter look like to your business? Are you measuring them?
  • How can you create opportunities for employee-led input?
  • How can your employees network and grow whilst also connecting to your company’s purpose?

Areas that need careful monitoring under this pillar

  • Ensuring that different segments of your community have access to communication and benefits.
  • Creating ways to build social capital in the business – mentorship, sponsorship and new ways to grow relationships and connections.
  • Ensuring community interactions are not excluding anyone or are biased towards either virtual or in-person because of leadership preferences.

TORQUE RECOMMENDATIONS

  • Asking groups, formally or informally, how they would like to connect and build community.
  • Creating inclusive spaces; physically and mentally.
  • Employee surveillance kills culture – be transparent and mindful of how and why it is used.
  • A culture of one-on-one/sponsorship and mentorship.
  • A clearly defined ‘How we work’ handbook for virtual/in-person interactions.
  • Creating moments to connect and build relationships that also do good for the people and community.
  • Investing in DEI – do the work, have the conversations and keep the momentum flowing.
  • For the front line, rotate the running of meetings, so employees feel trusted and valued.
  • Sharing stories from all parts of the business allows for more insight into the PEOPLE that work in all aspects of the company.

FUNCTION

As strange as it sounds, some organisations make it difficult for people to complete their work. Creating a frictionless environment for your employees and combining all of their activities into their day-to-day is one that sets their people AND their performance up for success.

Current trends in this space:

  • Giving employees the right tools to unleash their productivity.
  • Much like the customer experience, your employees shouldn’t have their days made more complex because of the silos within the business.
  • Rather than a ‘rip and replace’ mentality, employee platforms can be united with a single ‘front-door’ approach.
  • Building in digital workflows and self-service opportunities.
  • Focus and investment into the digit-ability of employees and working towards eradicating digital poverty.
  • Combining learning experience, leader-as-a-coach, and learning in flow into the employee experience for a seamless experience that delivers on the EVP.
  • Blocking off time for employees to learn, and take part in wellness activities and putting in stricter protocols on meeting times and days with meetings.
  • Having clear communication and modernised policies available, especially concerning how, where, and when work is done.
  • A focus on total well-being interventions tied into the daily pace of work.

What should you be thinking about:

  • Leader-as-coach programs.
  • How your learning programs and systems integrate with your EX systems.
  • What systems and processes can be streamlined.
  • Asking for input from your people about points of friction.
  • Investing in technology for employee experience and combining legacy systems.
  • Ensuring multiple channels are in use to serve the needs of your different employees.

Areas that need careful monitoring under this pillar

  • Accessibility – are you considering the needs of ALL your employees and are the environments inclusive in a practical sense.
  • Constant reinforcement of safe and healthy working environments.
  • Map the employee journey and have a clear understanding of what that path looks like.
  • Consider the languages that are used.
  • Encourage unplugging.

TORQUE RECOMMENDATIONS

  • Digital onboarding, self-service, and employee experience tools.
  • Tools for everyone must be available via multiple channels and be data-free.
  • Spend time and resource on digital adoption, creating a network of subject matter experts, and focus on upskilling and reskilling.
  • Use the data points to personalise the experience.
  • Constantly running update details campaigns to ensure you have all the data you need and that you can use it if you need it.
  • Constantly test the UX of any solution/training or campaign with different employee sets – bias plays a huge role here.

CONCLUSION

When an EX system is a success, there is a balance between all four pillars, allowing employees to bring their best self to work and be empowered and motivated to do their best work.

The 4 Pillars of EX methodology puts the employee at the centre of the experience. It offers verticals to track the employee’s experience in the organisation and is a helpful tool to incorporate when planning your People strategy for 2023 and beyond.

Organisations and leaders looking for relevance in our new context would be well-advised to spend time observing these emerging employee experience trends – and using them to co-create inspiring future workplaces.

Walk the Torque with us and we’ll partner with you to create a bespoke EX approach with tangible outcomes in 2023.

CONTACT US

Sally Acton

sally@torque.pro
@sallyacton