Here’s a sad truth about work today: Most knowledge workers feel like they’re cogs in a machine rather than valued and respected employees.
This is one of the findings technology company HP uncovered in a survey of more than 12,000 knowledge workers plus 3,600 IT decision makers and 1,200 business leaders in a dozen countries. In the study, only 25% of knowledge workers say they have a healthy relationship with work, as HP shared in its “Work Relationship Index 2023” (WRI) report issued in September.
Not feeling valued and respected can take its toll. Consider these additional findings from the HP WRI: Absent a healthy relationship with waork, employees feel less productive (34%), disconnected from their organization (38%), and disengaged from work (39%). More so, 55% of knowledge workers say an unhealthy relationship with work leads them to struggle with their self-worth and mental health, and 62% say the same of maintaining their physical well-being.
HP spells out six core components necessary to help strengthen employees’ relationship to their work. These are:
- Fulfillment – Employees need to be able to find purpose, meaning, and empowerment at work
- Leadership – Leaders must not only be empathetic, but also must be emotionally connected to their charges
- People-centricity – Decision makers must put people at the heart of their decisions
- Skills – Companies can build enthusiasm among employees while also boosting their confidence by facilitating their ability to learn new skills
- Tools – Driving employee engagement requires companies to put the right technology in place
- Workspace – Not only must companies be flexible in workplace options, but make the day-to-day choice a seamless transition for employees
As part of their employee experience initiatives, many companies are deploying strategies that should help them make a difference in these areas. Here’s a look at some of what they can do based on Metrigy’s recently published “Employee Experience: 2023-24” global research study with 499 companies.
One of the ways companies can help employees feel that they are valued contributors is to implement collaborative goal-setting, via an objectives and key results (OKRs) framework. With an OKR framework, employees establish their personal goals in alignment with overarching corporate goals—the idea being that achieving the big, companywide mission takes effort from everybody. Goals are reviewed, and adjusted, on a regular cadence, such as quarterly, so employees stay in tune with and feel invested in how the company, and others, are doing in achieving the goals. Metrigy’s latest employee experience global research study shows that half of the companies benchmarked for this study will be using an OKR management app by the end of the year. Another 23.2% have OKR management on their 2024 roadmap or are evaluating adoption.
Leadership & People-centricity
As companies strive to create more empathetic and emotionally connected leadership, and place people at the center of decision making, they should consider designating an executive-level position for overseeing employee experience. This role would be tasked with guiding and innovating on employee experience, empowered to take steps such as instituting training and guidance on how to achieve desired characteristics in leaders and bring about cultural change. In Metrigy’s “Employee Experience: 2023-24” study, one-quarter of all companies surveyed reported having a C-level experience officer. 56.4% of the study’s success group, where success is based on improvements in employee productivity, retention, and satisfaction, have designated such a role vs. 43.4% of the non-success group.
Companies can build enthusiasm among employees and boost their confidence in a variety of ways, formal learning and career development programs being among them. In the Metrigy “Employee Experience: 2023-24” study, 67.1% of all respondents offer learning and career development, more so than any other workforce offering. Learning and career development is also a measure of success: 74.5% of the success group offer learning and career development vs. only 55.3% of the non-success group. Mentorship can also help engender enthusiasm and confidence, but is less in use: Only 32.3% of all companies and 36.4% of the success group have a formal mentorship program in place today.
Tools & Workspace
Driving employee engagement requires companies to put the right technology in place, and options are plentiful. For example, 52.1% of companies in the Metrigy study are using or planning to use enterprise social software by the end of the year. With this sort of software, companies can build internal social networks and let employees create communities round shared interests, across roles, departments, geographies, etc., with or without corporate oversight (depending on company preference).
Of course, employees must also have a full suite of communications and collaboration software so that they can connect with each other in a hybrid workplace. Team collaboration and video meeting apps are fulfilling this role for most companies today. For video meetings, companies should be assuring that the experience is equitable for in-office and at-home participants. Using in-room camera systems that provide full-room view or enabling virtual whiteboards that everybody can see and use are two examples of how to accomplish this.
In Metrigy’s study, only 24% of companies say their employee experience strategies are highly mature, that they have solid leadership, technology, and processes and structures in place to achieve their goals. As others work to get to this level, they should do so with those six core drivers that HP spelled out: fulfillment, leadership, people-centricity, skills, tools, and workspace.