Number of the day: improving the employee experience

The number of U.S. organizations prioritizing employee experience has surged. Here’s what that means to HR leaders.
By: | July 9, 2021

The vast majority of organizations say improving the employee experience is a top priority, compared with just 54% that indicated it was important prior to the pandemic, according to new research from Willis Towers Watson. The consulting firm surveyed 1,550 employers.

What it means for HR leaders

The pandemic has shifted priorities for employers and proven that company and HR leaders have significant work to do in order to engage, help and develop employees. Doing so will only help employers: Most respondents to the Willis Towers Watson survey believe a positive employee experience is a key driver of engagement, employee wellbeing, productivity and ability to attract and retain talent.

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“Whether due to employer actions such as pay reductions and layoffs or because of virtual work and personal hardships for some workers, the pandemic exposed shortfalls in the employee experience at many organizations,” says Andy Walker, managing director, Willis Towers Watson. “Enhancing the employee experience has therefore become an imperative for employers, and it’s one that will take time and present challenges many are not currently prepared to meet.”

Andy Walker of Willis Towers Watson

For instance, although 78% recognize that the new realities of the labor markets will require a hybrid model for many roles, many employers aren’t ready to realize that ambition. Only 52% of respondents are flexible about where or when work gets done; half (49%) are in the process of reimagining careers in response to changes in the way work is accomplished, and only 31% are segmenting total rewards to account for a different workforce profile. Overall, only 16% are doing all three of these.

“To succeed, [organizations] must start with a bold employee experience strategy that supports their business strategy and is based on a consistent model,” says Suzanne McAndrew, global head of talent advisory, data and software at Willis Towers Watson. “Then, they can turn to execution—adapting programs and policies reflective of flexible work, paying employees fairly, enhancing benefit delivery and wellbeing programs, supporting workers in a more agile and flexible workspace, and aligning total rewards programs to meet the needs of a diverse workforce.”


Learn about the latest in employee experience this fall at the HR Technology Conference in Las Vegas.

Kathryn Mayer is HRE’s benefits editor and chair of the Health & Benefits Leadership Conference. She has covered benefits for the better part of a decade, and her stories have won multiple awards, including a Jesse H. Neal Award and honors from the American Society of Business Publication Editors and the National Federation of Press Women. She holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Denver. She can be reached at kmayer@lrp.com.

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