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Employee Experience in 2023

Companies May be Focusing Efforts More Narrowly

State of the employee experience market

The excitement that has grown around the idea of employee experience (EX), the technologies that support positive EX, and the initial stories of success were spurred by the massive shifts caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. These shifts have been deeply felt across all industries and at every department level.

An evolution that many say was already in progress before the pandemic has accelerated with a balance of power starting to migrate toward employees. Companies started to become more human-centered, and human resources (HR) grew its focus to include not only operations and productivity, but also employee experience, health, and wellbeing. These shifts resulted in companies investigating and implementing a broad range of technologies and solutions across the EX technology ecosystem to not only decrease day to day friction in an employee journey, but to attempt to meet the expanded desires of a changing employee population.

In the time during and after the pandemic, many companies were both exploring ways to modernize their HR stack and add additional features that will enhance EX. For some companies it was a time of filling in the holes that had always been there, but were made more obvious in the chaos that occurred over the past three years. Companies needed to dig in on some of the basics such as payroll, scheduling, and communications, attempting to modernize their HR tech stack. Others did this as well, and also improved feedback mechanisms and investigated other “softer” areas of improvement such as rewards and recognition, programs for wellbeing, and community building.

So…what now with the threat of a recession, inflation, and layoffs in the news daily? In late December, Dash Research did a webinar on CX Trends to Watch in 2023 and we opened it up for questions. The last one we took was not surprising. Someone asked in the coming year, if there was a battle for experience dollars, how would it shake out between CX and EX? My colleague, principal analyst Keith Kirkpatrick and I still strongly feel EX will continue to be a critical piece of providing outstanding customer experience moving forward.

There is data pointing to the tie between CX and EX, and more importantly the cost savings and increased revenue that positive EX has on CX. There is a lot of content out there (mine included) that points to the benefits of EX and how it is more important than ever to invest in technologies that will keep employees engaged, happy, and healthy. But the fact is, hard decisions will need to be made in the coming year in many industry segments. EX is still an immature market. And in the coming months, companies might be leaning a bit more into investments in technology that they are more familiar and comfortable with, and that fall more squarely in the CX category. The hope is that the gains made in EX remain. We do not foresee the coming year derailing the nascent EX segment, but there is the potential for those companies who have not yet started their journey with EX technology to reprioritize, home in on what parts of the EX ecosystem are most needed for their organizations, and move forward in a more focused and potentially less broad manner.

This is not necessarily a doom and gloom scenario. And it is easy to get wrapped up in the train wreck of what is going on right now in the technology sector, losing sight that other industries might not be quite as hard-hit in this coming year and could potentially be using 2023 to build on the gains made in their EX programs over the past year.

Dash Research can point to a few areas that will be areas of focus. Some that can help solve the problem of “doing more with less” and others supporting engagement and retention. It is still TBD whether the Great Resignation will continue or not, but preliminary signs indicate that this trend will not disappear.

Training, Development, Upskilling

There has been a lot of movement in the labor market, partially spurred by the Great Resignation, the exploration of new career paths, retirements, and now layoffs. That means a lot of institutional and company-specific training walking out the door, and the market is experiencing a real skills gap. Aside from the pain point this is causing employers, training and capability development is becoming a critical component of an employee’s experience. People want to be supported in building or deepening skill sets that they can use for personal and career development.

This need goes across age groups. For Gen Z and Millennials, learning and development opportunities are top factors in why a job is chosen. Training can be a source of empowerment for employees. PwC research concludes that workers whose jobs required specialist training are more likely to recommend their employers as a place to work. Employers are starting the shift toward ongoing coaching and conversations to help identify and address potential skills gaps. That approach can benefit those for whom real-time training is available.

This focus on training and development needs to be applied across organizational levels, including managers who have had to weather an enormous amount of change.

Feedback and Listening Programs

Discussion about EX may often lean a bit heavy toward surveying, feedback, and listening technologies. This is a part of the technology ecosystem that is more mature. While the act of collecting is becoming commoditized in the EX market, it is that data that fuels the information flow that uncovers successes, failures, and areas of growing concern. This helps to shape investment and activity in all the other parts of the EX ecosystem.  

Companies must continuously gauge employee sentiment, concerns, questions, and friction areas so that action can be taken to support staff. Gauging burnout will be an important task as companies seek to retain the employees they have.

We see companies making sure their strategies in this area are solid. For those still leaning into surveying, it could mean making sure the cadence, channel, and focus areas are optimal. For those further along, it could mean expanding past surveying to a broader listening strategy that includes crowdsourcing, communities, and social media listening. Getting an “inside-out” view can also help with CX efforts.

Automation and AI

AI and automation capabilities are becoming more important to the employee experience, both for the employees accessing them as well as the teams that are getting relieved of some work. AI has long been used in EX to sift through employee feedback and listening data and tie together the various incoming information flow. However, there is an increased need for automation and technologies like artificial intelligence, chatbots, and self-service technologies to help with employee touchpoints that might not need an initial human contact. These technologies can help ease HR and IT workloads, as well as provide employees with the ability to solve their problems faster.

With possible reductions in staffing, there is a trickle-down effect on as companies rejuggle responsibilities and workloads. The same technologies that can smooth out CX also have application with EX and will be important to help field what could be a deluge of questions, schedule changes, and administrative tasks.

Source: Dash Research

Recognition, Rewards, Wellbeing

While increased investment in this area may not be a top priority for any cash-strapped companies, there is no doubt that the upcoming year could be a rough one for the workforce. Being laid off, worrying about being laid off, being asked to do more, reassessing work/life balance, and reconsidering if your place of employment is the right place you will remain issues heading into 2023.

The concept of wellbeing is a broad one, and includes not just physical wellbeing, but other factors such as emotional, financial, and social wellbeing. Losing focus on employee wellbeing can lead to turnover, lack of productivity, stress, and health issues. As previously discussed, workplaces will need to keep a pulse on how their employees are doing, via using strong feedback and listening mechanisms, but may need to utilize other tools to act on the feedback being received.

These tools could include reward and recognition programs, which have been shown to have positive effects on engagement and wellbeing, as well as cost savings. Additionally, supporting a strong, healthy sense of wellbeing can be accomplished via a flow of relevant and transparent communication to build trust in an organization, the use of tools such as mobile apps to provide positive and personalized behavioral nudges, and opportunities for employees to build stronger connection with co-workers.

Highlighting these areas does not preclude interest or investment in other parts of the EX tech ecosystem. For end users, EX investment can be highly company specific. Company size, budget, employee base, and demographics are all considerations, as are factors such as where employee experience initiative are housed within the organization. There is nothing that is “typical” yet in this emerging area.

Dash Research looks forward to diving into the evolution of EX more deeply in the coming year, touching base with providers across the EX technology ecosystem, as well as getting a pulse from end users on their priority areas.

Author Information

As a detail-oriented researcher, Sherril is expert at discovering, gathering and compiling industry and market data to create clear, actionable market and competitive intelligence. With deep experience in market analysis and segmentation she is a consummate collaborator with strong communication skills adept at supporting and forming relationships with cross-functional teams in all levels of organizations.

She brings more than 20 years of experience in technology research and marketing; prior to her current role, she was a Research Analyst at Omdia, authoring market and ecosystem reports on Artificial Intelligence, Robotics, and User Interface technologies. Sherril was previously Manager of Market Research at Intrado Life and Safety, providing competitive analysis and intelligence, business development support, and analyst relations.

Sherril holds a Master of Business Administration in Marketing from University of Colorado, Boulder and a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from Rutgers University.


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