Employee experience: best practices and emerging trends for hybrid workplaces

The increasing importance of talent management proves that the workforce is no longer seeing work as a means of sustenance – instead, employees expect their jobs to bring purpose and satisfaction. 

To fulfill this tall order, HR operations have shifted from payroll processing and infrastructure support to focusing on employee experience and taking a holistic approach to building the workplace of the future. 

In 2022, as the global workforce is coming out of the pandemic, the focus on employee experience and well-being are clear but the demands of the market have changed drastically. The desire for flexibility pushed office benefits into the background while connectivity and tech support are at the forefront. 

In this post, we will take a data-driven snapshot of post-pandemic employee experience management – its key components, trends, and best practices for talent management. 

Why companies cannot afford to miss out on employee experience 

The case for the importance of EX is strong from two key viewpoints. On the one hand, data shows drastic improvements in productivity, retention, and growth in organizations that focus on building a satisfactory experience for their talent. 

At the same time, trends like the Great Resignation prove how flexible the workforce of today is. Given the costs associated with hiring and onboarding, team leaders want to keep their top performers and can only do so by focusing on an employee’s individual needs, goals, and ambitions. 

Here’s a quick recap of the wins organizations can score if they set up an employee experience strategy and the losses they will be risking by not having one. 

importance of employee experience
Employee experience is an important driver of organizational success

In 2022, employee experience management is no longer an optional add-on that will give organizations a competitive edge – it is a necessity for talent acquisition and retention. Over the last 3 years, talent has grown more vocal about holding companies accountable for acting on their values: 67% of surveyed employees will quit if the employer doesn’t “walk the walk”. 

How well do organizations meet employee experience needs? 

In the post-pandemic workplace, there’s a growing employer-employee disconnect when it comes to flexibility, recognition, and well-being at work. Organizations are often too slow to reshape their approach to meet the needs of the post-pandemic workforce. 

Also, as companies shift to hybrid work, a new layer of employee needs – setting up remote workstations, enabling seamless connection with dedicated technology, and supporting employees in an environment of increased mobility – is uncovered. 

Employee experience and engagement questionnaires show that leaders struggle to provide teams with the tools they need to stay engaged, connected, and efficient: 

  • Only 28% of employees feel understood by the HR department and 29% are involved (Gartner).  
  • 91% of US employees surveyed by Gallup quit changed companies because former employers didn’t focus enough on well-being (Gallup)
  • Less than half (45%) of surveyed employees are satisfied with how their employers managed their exit (HBR
  • 42% of employees don’t have essential office supplies or network speed and 46% said their companies don’t cover work expenses (Qualtrics). 

It’s worth noting that, compared to their counterparts managing fully office or 100% remote teams, hybrid team leaders are in a tighter spot. They are facing the challenge of aligning two distinctly different processes and making sure employees are equally fulfilled on both ends. 

To successfully navigate a hybrid workplace, HR managers and employee experience managers should understand its challenges: stress (reported by 80% of employees surveyed by TinyPulse), burnout, and the need to change habits. 

Over time, EX will likely evolve to account for these challenges. The key differences between the traditional (office-focused) and flexible (hybrid and remote) approaches are already emerging. 

traditional vs flexible employee experience
A recap of key emerging EX trends

Compared to the EX playbook companies used three to five years ago, the new approach to the employee experience strategy is a lot more seamless. 

Leaders can no longer expect employees to see work as the focal point of their day since many have reconsidered that approach during the pandemic. 

Instead, employees are looking for opportunities that would give them enough time to pursue hobbies and personal passions, connect with families, or enjoy the yearned-for ability to travel. 

Key components of employee experience in remote and hybrid workplaces 

In the new landscape, employee experience is becoming more robust and multi-layered. According to McKinsey, there are 9 key components talent managers should keep in mind as they support, nurture, and guide talent.

9 key employee experience components according to McKinsey (image source)

1. Relationships 

The pandemic led people to realize that the social aspect of work is fundamental to their well-being. Having switched to remote work, many gained flexibility and freedom but felt cornered by the inability to celebrate milestones as a team, meet new people at work, and build relationships that transcend conference calls and chat messages. 

A persuasive body of scientific research also proves that the value of connection is too high to ignore and the impact of isolation is too detrimental to make peace with. Studies discover links between burnout and loneliness while employee surveys prove that positive relationships are more important to teams than salaries and benefits. 

According to an HBR article, workplace relationships are a patchwork of the following: 

  • Values: employees tend to follow humble, ethical, and compassionate leaders 
  • Authenticity: studies find that inauthentic behaviors are interpreted by the brain as a threat, whereas transparency helps foster effective leadership. 
  • Emotional intelligence: the ability to empathize with others, process emotions without letting them impact the team negatively, and help teammates with emotional processing. 
  • Inspiration: a leader’s ability to be deeply driven by the underlying philosophy of the organization
  • Self-care: following and promoting positive habits and routines within the teams. 

2. Teamwork 

While new hires might join the team inspired to do their best, enthusiasm will die down if the rest of the team is not passionate about reaching peak performance. 

Making sure that every team member feels included, understood, and motivated by the environment will go the long way in improving employee experience, aligning operations, and increasing workplace productivity. 

3. Work organization

Infrastructure is a critical component of a hybrid workplace where people use technology to connect, make decisions, track performance, and complete tasks. If an employer fails to support the team with high-speed Internet connectivity, tools for communication, and resources that help employees master the technology, efficiency, fulfillment, and retention are at stake. 

In the same vein, there should be no confusion in the particulars of hybrid work policies: schedules, compensation fluctuations, payroll distribution (a challenge for global organizations), and others. 

“The failure to set up clear-cut processes and workflows will slow the team down and undermine trust in the leadership.”

4. Social climate 

Fostering a sense of belonging and inclusion is critical for welcoming new hires. Employees who start new positions remotely are specifically burdened by the inability to quickly connect with and become part of the team. 

Leaders should recognize and mitigate communication gaps in hybrid organizations by setting up regular feedback sessions, using tools that promote and facilitate connections, and making sure that the contribution of remote and in-person employees are celebrated equally. 

5. Growth and career development 

The landscape of uncertainty and recession fuels anxiety among employees and feeds the fear of being underskilled. That’s why making sure teammates feel confident about their skills and stay up-to-date in their fields, leaders should consciously prioritize career development. 

In a hybrid workplace, distributing learning resources equally between on-site and remote teams is another challenge. Finding a common learning environment for both employee groups (e.g. creating online courses on LMS platforms) helps eliminate disparity and level the playing field for the entire organization. 

Encouraging knowledge sharing is another effective way to foster growth and learning. 

Companies use different approaches for knowledge transfer: peer reviews, pair working sessions, internal workshops, and others. Surveying teams on the effectiveness of different learning approaches should help managers arrive at the optimal workflow for employee training. 

6. Flexibility and autonomy 

Flexibility has become the key factor that attracts employees to a company and drives them off when unmet. According to McKinsey, three layers of flexibility are important to employees: 

  • Location flexibility (important to 9 out of 10 employees). The ability to choose between going to the office, working from home, or at a nearby co-working space is at the core of workplace flexibility. If employees are constrained to always stay within the range of office commute, flexibility becomes lip service rather than a sincere commitment. That’s why team leaders must be ready to give teams full autonomy over choosing their favorite work spots. 
  • Time flexibility (important to 3 out of 4 survey respondents). In the post-pandemic world, employees value the ability to manage their time and not be micromanaged by team leaders. Employee trust is crucial in implementing flexible working hours – managers should redesign hiring and team management in a way that helps them stay confident in the high quality of their reports’ work. 
  • Work flexibility: 3 out of 5 surveyed employees want to have freedom over structuring their workday, prioritizing tasks, and choosing tools to reach KPIs and milestones. As they strive to achieve the best employee experience, managers show commitment to organizational flexibility by allowing teammates to put the time they saved by working efficiently on passion projects, self-care, or building relationships in the workplace and outside of work. 

7.  Purpose

Numerous studies have shown the benefits of a purposeful life – it reduces the risk of dementia and stroke and contributes to productivity in all fields of life. 

While the pandemic ignited the shift from work being the key purpose of the American workforce, for 70% of employees, jobs are the key drivers of meaning and fulfillment. However, only 18% reported seeing over-arching meaning in their work. 

Team leaders should recognize the responsibilities of their organizations by giving employees a tangible sense of purpose. There are several ways to build a value-driven workplace: 

  • Build organizational purpose through continuous dialogue with teams. Leaders often take a top-down approach to defining their organization’s mission and vision, making employees feel excluded from the narrative. A more effective approach would be encouraging contributions and giving frontline employees the platform for expressing their values and vision for the organization. 
  • Effectively communicate purpose through leadership. The transactional management approach often disregards the social side of the organization – the motivations that drive employees to do their best and enjoy the fruits of their work. That’s why cultivating a personalized and compassionate approach to leadership is a better long-term strategy for fostering organizational purpose. Taking time to connect with teammates one-on-one and explain the organizational purpose to them will help leaders share their vision and align operations towards a common goal. 
  • Encourage employee engagement activities: leaders should offer teammates an outlet for expressing their purpose through work by allowing employees to participate in making impactful decisions or express their concerns and ambitions through unionization. 

8. Technology

As we have previously explored, technology is at the center of employee experience in the post-pandemic workplace. From a supporting tool, it has evolved into the key enabler of efficient operaitons management, networking, and high employee satisfaction. 

Companies should take a multi-level approach to assess their tech needs as they move forward and explore flexible work models. Here are the types of software teams need to enable to make sure employees feel no friction in their day-to-day work. 

  • Application tracking systems and talent management solutions for end-to-end talent management. 
  • Employee experience platforms for a unified view of all HR and EX initiatives within the organization. 
  • Collaboration platforms that facilitate communication between remote and in-office teams and help align global departments. 
  • Document management solutions can be a single source of truth for all corporate resources. 
  • Office management tools that help track capacity and build the infrastructure that enables productive in-person work. 
  • Security software: increased employee mobility introduces a range of security vulnerabilities team leaders should be aware of and compensate for with firewalls, VPN solutions, and other types of dedicated technology. 

9. Environment

Making sure that the surroundings in which teammates are working are comfortable and adapted to work is one of the key components of employee experience. 

At the moment, organization leaders put limited effort into finding out what improvements they can make to improve the work environment of their teams. To improve retention, talent managers should encourage teammates to share requests about optimizing their work environments and offer related benefits: 

  • A range of flexible office leases that give employees a place to work as they move around the world. 
  • Hardware that ensures high connectivity and does not slow teams down. 
  • Well-being benefits: covering gym, therapy, and other expenses that are usually included in the list of office benefits for remote employees 
  • Iniatives that encourage employees who work from the same location to connect and build relationships.

Frequently asked questions 

How can I improve my hybrid work experience? 

Here are some ideas for improving employee experience management in a hybrid workplace. 

  • Invest in technology 
  • Give remote employees enough opportunities to speak up 
  • Give your team full flexibility over work location and hours 
  • Run regular feedback surveys and implement the requests of your team. 

How do you engage employees in a hybrid workplace? 

  • Support teams with employee engagement tools: EX platforms, collaboration software, etc.  
  • Host team building events and workshops for employee training 
  • Build transparent workflows to make sure no one feels left out. 
  • Share your vision with the team and focus on motivating teammates to do their best at work. 

What is the role of employee experience? 

Employee experience helps team leaders grow revenue, increase engagement and talent retention, and build an attractive employee brand for job applicants. 

At oVice, we focus on prioritizing employee experience by offering our team flexibility, a rich collaboration toolset, knowledge-sharing opportunities, and the ability to single-handedly impact the company’s course of action. 

We also assist other team leaders in adapting their employee experience framework to the changing demands of the workplace. Specifically, we help them harness the benefits of flexibility by not anchoring collaboration to physical offices. Instead, we create a fully digital environment for seamless onboarding, frictionless day-to-day work, and spontaneous workplace interactions. 

Learn how team leaders use oVice to maintain unity in a hybrid workplace, help new hires feel confident during remote onboarding, and build relationships with a toolset similar to that of a physical office. 

To see an example of a virtual office we offer, take a look at our tour space

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