How pay raises can be a critical tool to boost employee experience

When it comes to the modern employee experience, a new survey has bolstered the idea that when all is said and done, one of the best ways to drive a positive EX is by helping employees strengthen their financial wellness.

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The report, “Champions of Change: How HR Decision-Makers Are Delivering Employee Experiences That Matter” from HCM provider isolved, found that 59% of organizations have given cost-of-living raises to employees in the past year, and 32% plan to do so in the near term. For its fourth annual report, isolved surveyed more than 1,000 HR leaders across various industries regarding HR’s biggest threats, successes, and opportunities.

Ongoing high inflation and uncertain economic conditions are making such salary increases especially critical for employee experience, says Amy Mosher, isolved’s chief people officer.

“When we think of a traditional benefits package, we think of 401K, PTO and life insurance, but it takes more to really engage, recruit and retain employees, especially in an uncertain economy,” Mosher says.

Improve employee finances, improve employee experience?

Mosher adds that over the last few years, rising inflation has strained employees’ financial health and resulted in a gap between employee earnings and inflation-driven costs. For many employees, she says, this gap manifests itself in the workplace through stress and increased absenteeism.

“During a time when employees continue to struggle with burnout and obstacles in their personal lives, cost-of-living adjustments can be one strategy to demonstrate a commitment to supporting employee wellbeing within and outside the workplace,” she says.

Amy Mosher
Amy Mosher, isolved

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Other recent isolved research of more than 1,000 full-time employees found that more than half said inflation has caused them to save less and 45% have dipped into savings; meanwhile, 41% have tapped retirement funds to make ends meet.

HR leaders appear to be taking note of their employees’ financial stress and its potential impact on employee experience. Respondents to isolved’s study of HR leaders cited competitive compensation as the top investment HR can make to create an employee experience that matters—followed by competitive benefits and DEI initiatives. HR leaders also noted employee experience as the top threat facing talent retention.

Yet, the survey uncovered a clear disconnect between what employers believe they’re offering with their EX and what employees are actually experiencing. While 95% of HR leaders are confident in their employee experiences, 58% of employees are considering new job opportunities this year—11% higher than last year.

“Effective HR teams want to create great employee experiences,” Mosher says, noting that the challenge of meeting that aim is not about convincing HR professionals to create talent-focused experiences. Rather, HR leaders need access to the right data to help them build the case for business decisions that will ultimately drive better employee experiences.

“It’s no wonder that this year’s research highlights HR leaders’ desire for data to help them drive decision-making in their organization,” she concludes. “When [HR] can find middle ground [between what leaders and employees want]—and analytics can help them prove their case—they can create employee experiences that matter for both the employer and the employee.”

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Tom Starner
Tom Starner is a freelance writer based in Philadelphia who has been covering the human resource space and all of its component processes for over two decades. He can be reached at [email protected].