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Employees Feel Big Moments at Work and Even Small Moments in Between Are Lacking, Research Reveals

The State of Employee Experience, What Matters, and What to Do About It

Courtesy of Chaay_Tee / Shutterstock
Courtesy of Chaay_Tee / Shutterstock

While attractive to a new hire up front, stocked fridges, laundry service, and ping pong tables may not be the key to a fulfilled workforce. And with historically low unemployment levels, employers may need to rethink how employees experience work. Employers have made strides to improve aspects of the employee experience, however, a new report from ServiceNow, “The Employee Experience Imperative”, which specifically studies the service experience at work, reveals that employers aren’t supporting employees’ basic needs on a day-to-day basis during the employee lifecycle. 

The majority (85%) of surveyed employees were enthusiastic about their position and company when starting a new job and 72% reported a positive experience in the first few weeks – for many employees, the first few weeks were a dream. But when asked to consider their experience today, only 63% continue to be enthusiastic about their position and the company, a 22-point drop in satisfaction.  

So how do organizations ensure that an employee’s first week isn’t also their best week? 

Employees spill the beans 

Chances are you’ve experienced a new job where the first few weeks on the job are dreamy, but as time goes on the cracks begin to show. Processes seem non-existent, information is scattered, and there’s really no manual to get through it. The honeymoon quickly ends and reality kicks in.  

But why should this have to be the reality for so much of the workforce? The first few weeks on a job should only be the start of a consistently positive experience that gets richer as time goes on. To start, businesses need to recognize that not only are employees’ positive feelings not lasting forever, they’re hardly lasting a few weeks. 

Day-to-day experiences matter 

Employers aren’t delivering on the basics yet alone the key ‘moments that matter’ in an employee’s lifecycle, according to the report. Nearly half of employees still struggle to get information and answers to basic questions – like finding a company policy or resolving an issue with their equipment. When employers fall short on basic day-to-day needs, employee expectations are immediately missed, causing a loss of faith in their companies’ ability and commitment to deliver an employee experience that’s consistent, reliable, and helps them operate at their highest capacity. 

This pain can be alleviated by giving employees access to a portal that provides all of the information they need in one convenient place. Not only is this helpful, but many employees — a full 77% — expect employers to offer a portal to access information in one central location. 

Today we can virtually accomplish anything on our personal devices with a touch, swipe, or chat – order food, request a ride, access real-time navigation – but when it comes to the workplace, only half of employees (52%) say they’re able to use a smartphone to access employee tools from HR or other departments in the workplace.  

Employees see these as table stakes, while companies struggle to provide these basic support functions. And as organizations grow, so does the disconnect.  

Big moments matter too 

Of course, employers have got to get the big moments right, too. Pre-boarding, onboarding, offboarding, extended leave — when it comes to these life events, there’s room for significant improvement.  

Take pre-boarding. Only 58% believed their employer clearly communicated what to expect on their first day and just a third of employers made it easy to complete pre-hire paperwork on a mobile device.  

For offboarding, over half of employees (67%) said their former employer did not conduct an exit interview. Why does this matter? Because only 43% of employees who have a negative offboarding experience would consider working for their former employer in the future, and only 42% would refer a friend or colleague to their former employer. 

When it comes to leave, the numbers aren’t much better. Nearly half of employees did not find it easy to hand off work before a leave of absence, and even fewer did not find it easy to pick up projects upon returning from a leave of absence.  

The message is clear — companies must improve these big, memorable moments with better support staff, better access to information, and better access to communication tools. 

Why a better service experience is crucial  

What comes as no surprise in the research is that employees are personally invested in doing great work for their company and serving their customers. They care deeply about the challenges their company and its customers are working to solve. But, empathy begets empathy – if we want our people to deliver great work and customer service, then we first have to deliver a great employee service experience.  

There’s a strong correlation between people who have a positive experience when it comes to day-to-day employee tools, timely communication, and access to information, and those who are more loyal and likely to stay at their employer. Yet when employees do not find it easy to do seemingly basic tasks like resolve issues with software and find information on a company policy — especially via their mobile devices — it’s clear that the employee service experience is far from simple. 

The next decade of HR and workforce transformation will focus less on how to keep top talent from jumping ship but more so on delivering engaging experiences during the time we have with them – starting with how they experience both the big and small moments at work. To implement real change, employers should consider the service experience holistically across the entire employee journey.  

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