What it takes to deliver a meaningful employee experience in 2021

Employee experience is no longer just a buzzword, it’s priority for business leaders. However, creating the right strategy continues to prove challenging. Here at Unily, our digital workplace experts have helped leading enterprises bring their EX-visions to life, and now they’re sharing their secrets in our new podcast.  

Looking back: 2020 as the impetus for change 

2020 brought an underlying truth to the surface. While many leaders may have thought they understood employee experience and its importance, the global pandemic put it to the test.  

As employees left their desks and settled into their home offices, the relationship between worker and employer changed. Colleagues now see inside their teammates homes, juggle childcare and conference calls, and generally connect with their employer on a deeper level. While 2020 didn’t change the meaning of employee experience, it certainly raised the stakes. 

Opening up the conversation about employee experience 

With six years of delivering industry-leading employee experience platforms under our belt, we wanted to open the conversations we were having about the future of employee experience to our larger community. At a time when the concept is under a microscope, we’ve decided to launch a new podcast dedicated to exploring what it takes to deliver a meaningful employee experience.   

We hit the ground running with our first episode, which focuses on what a compelling employee experience looks like in 2021. Hosted by our own Technical Specialist Paul Seda, we look back at how 2020 has changed the playing field and revolutionized the way we work. 

To forecast trends that will shape employee experience in the future, we’ve brought in a few of our own experts: Senior Consultant Alex Gabelli, Product Manager Kaz Hassan, and Kaitlin Auriemma, a Presales Engineer. Together, the four of them discuss the evolution of employee experience and share their tips for developing your own strategy. 

3 characteristics of a compelling employee experience in 2021 

While a meaningful employee experience strategy cannot be copied and pasted, there are some overarching themes that will guide its design. We discuss several hallmarks of a strong employee experience strategy in our podcast episode, including the following insights: 

#1. Connection takes center stage 

The mass transition to remote work reduced opportunities for water cooler chat, but it didn’t eliminate your employees’ innate interest in connecting with their peers. With in-person catch-ups temporarily on hold, employees began leaning on technology more heavily to reveal their full personality.  

We’ve dropped the curtain slightly. We’re letting people in more and letting them learn about who we are and where we live because we cant have a conversation necessarily,” notes Alex GabelliYour employees are now using technology to do more than facilitate virtual interactions through likes and comments. They are taking connectivity one step further by building their own digital identities.  

A compelling employee experience in 2021 gives every team member the opportunity to share who they are and learn about their colleagues through digital channels. Whether your employees are returning to the office or working remotely, they can build authentic relationships with their peers and develop connections that recreate the in-office experience. 

#2. All eyes on mobile 

For a few years, leaders have set their sights on being mobile-first. Every organization wants to ensure that they can reach and engage their entire workforce, whether they are in the field or in front of their laptops. But in 2021, there will be a new emphasis on what employees are actually looking for in their mobile experiences.  

“It’s not just about having a mobile offering anymore but really thinking about how does the device of mobile fit within the employee experience,” notes Kaz HassanTaking mobile experience to the next level requires an understanding of how and when your employees are using their devices.  

Even if most of your employees are currently working from home, they may use mobile apps to check in with work and keep an eye out for pressing updates before fully settling into their daily tasks. Simultaneously, their colleagues on the frontlines may rely on their mobile device as their primary source for organizational news and communications. In 2021, experiential enterprises will go the extra mile to understand and anticipate how their workforce utilizes various technology and ensure their digital offerings evolve to fulfill these use cases. 

#3. The rise of the employee voice 

Two-way comms is no longer a new idea or something to experiment with, but rather a pre-requisite for a compelling employee experience. It is impossible to cultivate the kind of workplace environment your teams are looking for without their input. 

Instead of solely asking for feedback, take employee experience to the next level by letting your workforce lead the ideation process. I do think what is finally gaining ground is letting some of the ideas bubble up from the bottom. Set your watch running, see what happens, and don’t be too prescriptive, notes Paul Seda.  

Similarly, when it comes to evaluating employee sentiment and judging overall satisfaction, don’t forget to look inwards. See what is trending internally, because that will tell you more about your culture and your employee experience versus forming it from the top-down,” advises Kaitlin Auriemma. 

Eager to learn more about all things EX? 

If you’re looking to join in on the conversation and discover more of our team’s insights on employee experience, check out our podcast episode. For guidance on launching your own employee experience platform, get in touch with our digital workplace experts. 

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