Insights into how employees are coping and how well they feel supported to do their jobs will be critical to maintaining productivity and engagement as the coronavirus pandemic plays out, specialists say.
All areas of the employee experience journey – from recruitment and onboarding through to training and performance – have been up-ended for many organisations, says David Blakers, managing director of InMoment (formerly MaritzCX).
Productivity is the big challenge right now, as many organisations adapt to completely remote ways of working.
This requires ensuring teams are still able to do all the things they were able to do on-premises, he says.
"Making sure they're enabled to do a good job is critical, because one of the biggest drivers of staff churn is where people feel they're not supported and not able to deliver a good experience to do their job well.
"That's a really fundamental requirement."
Blakers expects organisations to get on top of that "really quickly", with the next employee experience obstacle around communication and recognition.
"Where teams are being creative, and going above and beyond, it's going to be harder to see those behaviours in a distributed [workforce]," he says.
"So the recognition side of things will follow the focus on enablement."
With little physical oversight of employees, InMoment is already seeing an increase in employers conducting "pulse checks" and using quick-form surveys to check in on employees, enabling them to express when they're not doing well or feeling unsupported, Blakers says.
"I think the organisations that are listening to their staff and acting on that feedback now, through the crisis, are going to come out of it a lot stronger."
And although it's difficult right now, employers must keep one eye on economic recovery, he says.
"If organisations are downsizing at the moment, as the economy starts to pick up and the crisis averts, the organisations that have adapted better through this are going to be able to attract and retain the right levels of talent."
That's the next battleground, Blakers notes. "People are still fixated on challenges in front of us and not thinking about the recovery, and I don't think that's too far out. So the organisations that are listening and learning based on what staff are saying will be better equipped."
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Echoing Blakers, Culture Amp CEO Didier Elzinga says the employee experience is a crucial consideration during tough times, "when an organisation's commitment to its employees is laid bare".
"Employees are especially keyed in to issues such as which benefits get cut first, and whether sacrifices are fairly distributed between units and levels. They are also likely adjusting to completely new ways of working."