A study finds employees who feel "heard and valued" have better morale and performance.
- 55% of respondents didn't feel their opinions mattered to their bosses.
- Half of employees polled weren't sure that their employers would offer any support during major life events like parental or medical leave.
- Just 37% believed their employers' process-automation efforts were done to improve the worker experience.
Where we work and who we work with is one of the most important aspects of life. Employees spend a large chunk of their time at work, and the overall feeling they have while doing their jobs is incredibly important to productivity and office morale. As such, a newly released study by ServiceNow reveals that the "employee service experience" is important to employees, but employers are apparently dropping the ball.
Throughout June 2019, researchers working on The Employee Experience Imperative Report studied how different companies' working environments affect employee loyalty and satisfaction. They polled 1,400 full- and part-time workers from North America, Europe and Asia-Pacific countries who are employed by companies with at least 2,000 employees.
What researchers found, said Pat Wadors, chief talent officer at ServiceNow, is that a person's role or generation doesn't matter when it comes to their need "to be heard and valued."
"If an employee's experience is lacking at the onset of their new job, the impact for some employees can likely be felt until the employee's last day," she said. "By creating beautiful and meaningful experiences and an environment where work gets done efficiently, employers will benefit from a more engaged and productive workforce."
A lacking employee experience
The fact that employees feel better about work when they feel engaged shouldn't be surprising to anyone. For years, companies have tried to entice workers to stick around by offering perks and changing the onboarding experience. Yet, even with companies trying to make these changes, researchers found that employees feel like it's not enough.
According to the study, less than half (48%) of employees polled said they felt their company was invested in making their experience on the job better. Only 56% said they had easy access to information from HR and other departments, while 50% said their employers "effectively support employees during important life events" like parental and medical leave.
Even everyday tasks were found to be harder than they needed to be. Approximately 52% of respondents said they didn't find it easy to get an update about a request or reported incident, 45% found it difficult to get an answer about their benefits, and 41% said they had a harder time than they'd expected to find out about a company policy.
"I'd say finding policy information isn't hard, but it's not great either," a manager at an information technology and services firm with 300,000 employees told researchers. "It's just OK. Certain policies are easier to figure out than others. The policies can be difficult to decipher. I understand incorporating so many people into a set of policies is complicated, but it seems like they could make it easier for us to understand."
Feedback and office feelings
While discussing these issues, researchers found that employees generally wanted to provide feedback to their managers and employers, but they felt like their tips were falling on deaf ears.
Among respondents, 67% said they felt providing feedback to their employer was a "valuable use of my time," and 60% said they had a "strong desire" to provide feedback if it meant the company would improve. In an almost inverse response, 44% said they believed their employers cared about workers' points of view, and 40% said they believed their feedback would be acted upon.
"Whether or not employees feel heard and listened to can have a major impact on their ability to work and engage effectively," researchers wrote.
When it came to feeling cared for and valued, the study found that "deskless workers" – or people who work outside of the office – feel less valued than those who work at a desk. While 51% of desk workers said their employers were "invested in improving" their experience, only 43% of deskless workers agreed. Similarly, while 53% of desk workers said they felt they were being supported during important life events, just 45% of deskless workers felt they could say the same. Just 37% of deskless workers felt their opinions mattered to their employers, compared with 49% of desk workers.
Employees at larger companies felt similarly to deskless workers. Approximately 71% of workers at companies with 2,000 to 9,999 employees said they felt their managers provided easy and open communication during the hiring process, while 65% of respondents working at companies with 10,000 workers or more said the same.
More than just a generational issue
There are four generations in today's workforce: baby boomers, Gen X, millennials and Gen Z. Typically, researchers can find differences between the groups, but these researchers said they found that the need for a good employee experience transcends age.
That being said, baby boomers tended to have slightly more negative experiences when leaving a job. According to the survey, just 36% of baby boomers said they had a positive impression of their most recent former employer as they went out the door, compared with 43% of Gen X respondents and 47% of millennials. When it came to getting their final paycheck on the way out, 64% of baby boomers said it was easy, while 67% of Gen X and 75% of millennials said the same. [Related: Communicating With a Multigenerational Workforce]
As for expectations, millennials were more likely to expect a mobile-optimized workplace, with 59% of the group saying as much. Comparatively, 52% of Gen X and 46% of baby boomers said the same.
Across generations, 61% rated their employers poorly based on past negative experiences regarding personal leave. While 45% of employees overall said they felt their opinions mattered, millennials were the most optimistic (43%), especially compared to baby boomers (35%).