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6 Employee Experience Gaps That Need Your Attention, ASAP


Picture of inner circle, with employees on the outskirts looking in
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Many organizations suffer from a perceptional divide between leadership and employee, with one layer after another separating top executives from their desk jockeys. But has the workplace upheaval from COVID-19 exacerbated this divide?
Research firm Gartner, in analyzing results from its 2021 survey of 4,000 employees on hybrid work, finds evidence that the divide could worsen should leadership teams fail to address employee expectations around the future of work. And, the firm suggests that organizations that don’t get this right could be at a competitive disadvantage.
In a preview of its findings, Alexia Cambon, director in the Gartner HR practice, shared that the firm had “discovered significant dissonance between employee and executive sentiment across” all crucial areas in planning for the future employee experience.
These gaps are around:
  1. Culture of Flexibility — In its hybrid work survey, Gartner found that while 75% of executive leaders believe they’ve created a culture of flexibility, only 57% of employees indicate that flexible work is part of organizational culture. The gap is particularly clear — and concerning, Cambon said — “when it comes to autonomy over the decision to work flexibly.” Here again, most executives, at 72%, say they’re free to work on a flexible work arrangement with their managers, but only half of employees feel they can do the same, she said.
  2. Remote Capabilities — Two-thirds of employees say they have technology to work effectively outside of the office, with 59% of employees agreeing that their organizations have invested in making it possible to work in the same way onsite as virtually, Gartner found. This compares to 80% of executives who say they have the right technology for remote work and 76% who’ve seen necessary related investment. “The gap between executives and employees in their ability to work from home is likely to further disadvantage employees if it makes them less likely to take advantage of flexibility,” Gartner stated.
  3. Trust — Not surprisingly, executive leaders have a higher level of trust than employees: 69% compared to 41%, respectively, believe that senior leadership acts in their best interest. The same sort of perceptional gap materializes around how much an organization trusts employees not to abuse work flexibility, Gartner found. Absent such trust, employees might not be willing to share their true sentiments about the future of work, Cambon noted. According to the survey, she said, “only 56% of employees agree they feel welcome to express their true feelings at work, compared to 74% of executives.”
  4. Voices Matter — Less than half of employees, at 47%, think their perspectives factor into executive decisions; conversely, 75% of senior leaders feel their perspectives play a role.
  5. Communications/listening — This is the crux of the where-we-work turmoil of today’s workplace planning. Here Gartner found “a clear disconnect between how executives and employees perceive the content and effectiveness of their organization’s communication.” As an example, the firm pointed to its data showing 71% of executives agreeing that their organizational leadership has expressly conveyed a preference for a return to their pre-pandemic work model. Only 50% of employees have that same impression, Gartner said.
  6. Purpose — The pandemic has wreaked havoc, and organizations are trying to counterbalance that punch by creating a shared purpose for everybody. However, the perception of success depends on where somebody sits within the corporate hierarchy: Gartner research shows that 77% of executives feel like they are a part of something important, but only 59% of employees feel likewise.
These are all difficult issues to resolve, but resolve them leadership must if they’re to move forward with success. As Cambon stated: “If left unaddressed, this division may lead to a critical failure to build trust and employee buy-in for future of work plans” — and as the Great Resignation has shown, staying put regardless seems to be a thing of the past.