What New Research Tells Us About Employee Experience Around the Globe

October 9, 2017 Greg Stevens


Know when and how to get out of the way.

That’s increasingly the message for HR and business leaders. It’s also one of the insights from a recent WorkHuman Radio conversation (click above for the full audio) between Bob Schultz, general manager, IBM talent management solutions and Grant Beckett, VP global product strategy at Workhuman.

Layers of bureaucracy have built up over time, a lingering mindset from the Industrial Era. They are ineffective at best and damaging at worst in response to growing complexity, change, and competition.

To be clear, getting out of the way is an intentional rather than passive approach requiring thoughtful design and implementation. It’s about more than just dismantling bureaucracy. Modern organizations are focused on adaptability and agility as drivers of competitive advantage, and for that, energizing rather than stifling employees is key.

This is the mindset of the Human Era. Organizations are successful when they create human-centric workplaces that foster positive employee experiences – in essence, when they get out of the way and let employees get on with their jobs.

New global research on the Employee Experience Index from WorkHuman Research Institute and IBM’s Smarter Workforce Institute reveals how organizations can effectively get out of the way by providing the right environment and context. The data uncover the key relationships between human workplace practices and a positive employee experience.

These practices share an emphasis on minimizing the amount of bureaucracy and control, allowing employees to work in ways better suited to our core human nature. To examine just a few of these practices:

  • Meaningful Work emerges as the single largest contributor to a positive employee experience (27%), a pattern we observed around the world. Humans naturally search for meaning to help guide behavior. Understanding the “why” behind work helps to align behaviors to a shared mission and values.
  • Empowerment and Voice, explaining 17% of the employee experience, is also crucial. Empowerment ensures that employees are active and inspired participants in the workplace. It creates an environment of shared leadership and responsibility in place of traditional command-and-control.
  • Feedback, Recognition, and Growth, explaining another 16% of the employee experience, captures all aspects of performance development. As performance occurs in real time rather than through formal and infrequent processes, it expands the notion of performance far beyond the traditional appraisal and training rhythm.
  • Coworker Relationships, also explaining 16% of the employee experience, is about the social connections that are created to get work done while creating a shared sense of community. These relationships are the conduit through which many of the human practices above flow.

It ought to go without saying that organizational processes should not be entirely absent. There will be times that assistance or nudging is required, or where human capability can be augmented and enhanced. Increasingly, technology can help organizations move at the pace of their people, jumping in where appropriate with a personalized experience.

As Bob and Grant discussed, social and cognitive technologies applied to HR are well positioned to not only intervene at the right time and in the right way, but they are also able learn. At this intersection of technology and humans, organizations are poised to become more flexible, human-centric, and ultimately, successful.

How is your organization responding to the Human Era?

Read more about this research in the new report, “The Employee Experience Index Around the Globe.” Or watch the video below of Workhuman CEO Eric Mosley discussing the research in his keynote at WorkHuman 2017.

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