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Employee Experience: What to Watch for in 2022

No surprise, but worth exploring nonetheless, is that optimizing the employee experience will be a top workplace trend to watch in 2022. This isn’t a surprise – the trend is carrying forward from 2021 – but this trend is worth exploring, nonetheless.
The workplace challenges that fueled last year’s growing interest in employee experience haven’t disappeared. Video meeting fatigue is one example, as we’ve seen in our global Unified Communications Management and Endpoints: 2021-22 research. In that study, 44% of 395 participating companies named video meeting fatigue as a top concern. Omicron’s upending of return-to-office plans may likely exacerbate the problem.
On a more positive note, the greater the use of meeting services and other collaboration tools, the more usage data becomes available to help shed light on how to address video fatigue. We saw significant activity around meeting analytics for use in understanding the employee experience in 2021, and can expect to see more in 2022 as companies begin taking advantage of the offerings.
Some of this activity comes from the meeting/collaboration tool vendors themselves. For example, Microsoft marked its entry into the employee experience market with the February 2021 introduction of its multifaceted Viva platform. Viva Insights aims to provide productivity and wellbeing guidance in part by surfacing insights based on work patterns discovered in the use of its team collaboration and meeting app, Teams. Individuals can track their own behaviors, and managers have a view of aggregated team data, for informed decision making, like setting meeting time restrictions or disallowing meetings one day a week for their teams.
Cisco similarly introduced the ability to surface meeting usage data for an individual employee’s eyes only in its Collaboration Insights for Webex suite, and it closed out the year with the introduction of a new component of the suite: Connections. With Connections, Cisco provides Webex users at-a-glance visibility into how and with whom they’re collaborating. The aim is to inform employees about the value they’re getting out of their meetings, and to help them take action on the insights they receive. For example, the data might show an employee that they need to set aside focus time for productive work, help them identify which colleagues would make good collaborators, or provide guidance on how to fine-tune a meeting schedule for an improved workday experience . Rather than accepting an invitation for a standing weekly meeting they rarely actually attend or actively participate in, the employee might instead turn down the invite and instead catch up via meeting notes. Likewise, usage data might show that the employee, as host, is routinely late to a team meeting. The employee can either commit to being on time to boost team efficiency or push the start time back five or 10 minutes to better accommodate their schedule.
Other vendors in the employee experience market take data from collaboration apps such as Teams, Webex, and others to provide insights from within their own platforms. Vyopta, for example, offers a view across these apps in its Collaboration Performance Management offering and, for facilities leaders (assuming a return to the office), provides insights into how meeting spaces themselves are being used. As another example, workforce analytics provider ActivTrak integrates its data into a variety of apps, including Teams. Via the integrations, it can put a spotlight on collaboration tool usage trends that point to potential burnout, or provide guidance on how to achieve the most productivity from meetings . For example, ActivTrak might deliver coaching on how to curtail or eliminate multitasking during meetings and other collaborative activities.
I’ve only just scratched the surface here on what’s been happening and what we can expect to see more of in 2022 around employee experience. And to be sure, it is a decidedly IT-centric view. But IT leaders have the opportunity here to help influence a more positive and healthy employee culture by allowing employees to glean insights from data available from meeting and other collaboration apps and, depending on the tool, chart meeting metrics data themselves . With their usage data in hand, employees should be better able to see, at a glance, how they’re spending their days and have informed discussions with managers on how to address imbalances between focus time and collaboration activities leading to burnout in general and meeting fatigue in particular. IT leaders should also be sure to coordinate across departments with other workplace leaders looking to improve the employee experience. How might collaboration data work within an HR-oriented employee experience platform, for example?
Being able to analyze and act on usage data from collaboration tools is just one way to get at the employee experience challenge. But, given how much time employees spend in meetings, it’s not a bad starting point.