London, 3rd November 2021: Despite their best intentions, most employers are facing difficulties responding to changing employee expectations around employee experience and wellbeing during the pandemic. 69% of HR leaders admit that their efforts to improve employee experience are being held back by a lack of a clear strategy, and 76% report that they are struggling to adapt their employee experience to meet the needs of a hybrid workforce.

According to new research from Benefex, the company behind OneHub, the leading employee experience platform, 96% of HR leaders state that employee experience has become a more important priority during the pandemic. Businesses have recognised the need to pivot their employee experience and wellbeing provision to support staff during an exceptionally challenging time, with entire workforces having to rapidly adapt to completely new work practices, without the routines and relationships that previously provided professional, personal and emotional support.

However, the majority of employers are seeing their efforts to improve employee experience undermined by a wide range of factors, including budget constraints (84%), difficulties measuring ROI (79%) and a lack of ownership around employee experience and wellbeing (69%).

Elsewhere, 62% of HR leaders state that poor HR technology and processes are hindering their efforts to deliver exceptional employee experiences. And 81% of organisations are unable to integrate all elements of employee experience (wellbeing, recognition, benefits and communications) within a single, centralised technology platform and, as a result, are providing a fragmented experience for their staff.

The research is presented in the white paper, Employee experience in the new world of work, which explores the changing demands and priorities for HR leaders today, and the approaches they are taking to optimise employee experience and support staff wellbeing in this uncertain and rapidly evolving environment. 

A disconnect in perceptions of employee experience

Interestingly, despite the many challenges they are facing in optimising employee experience, 51% of HR leaders still rate their employee experience as ‘excellent’. This positive sentiment is felt even more keenly within the technology and media sector, where almost seven in 10 (67%) HR leaders claim their organisation provides an excellent employee experience.

At the same time, only 1 in 4 HR leaders (27%) feel that their employees would rate the employee experience at their organisation as excellent.

Reflecting on the findings, Matt Macri-Waller, Founder and CEO at Benefex, said: “HR leaders need to constantly listen to employees to ensure they understand their needs and drivers. By doing this, they can develop a unified and sustainable strategy for employee experience which covers all of the bases and is agile to respond to changing needs. It doesn’t really matter whether business and HR leaders think their organisation is delivering a great experience; if employees don’t feel that they’re getting what they need or don’t feel listened to, then the strategy is not working.”

Line managers and employee experience platforms – HR leaders look to drive improvements in employee experience

The research reveals the wide range of initiatives that employers are pursuing to drive improvements in employee experience, particularly around wellbeing, diversity and inclusion, employee benefits, communications and recognition.

There is also a widespread desire to integrate all of these different areas into a unified employee experience strategy, and to manage each element through one single technology platform. Currently, only a quarter of businesses have an employee experience platform in place, but 67% report that they will be looking to implement one over the next 12 months.

Elsewhere, 89% of HR leaders acknowledge that they could do more to engage line managers in improving the employee experience, and this will be a major focus for businesses over the coming year, as teams and departments get used to working in a remote or hybrid environment.  With line managers on the frontline and already playing a pivotal role across many aspects of employee experience – be it wellbeing, recognition or communications – HR leaders will be looking to galvanise and tap into this group to play an even more active role in improving the employee experience.

The permanent shift in work culture brought about by the pandemic is causing employees to re-evaluate their relationships with their jobs and employers. Recent workplace surveys point to strong desire from workers to leave their current employers by the end of the year and/or to pursue new opportunities post-pandemic.

Macri-Waller concluded: “As HR leaders prepare for what will undoubtedly be a challenging and unpredictable 2022, it’s essential they have access to both the skills and technologies to help them drive sustainable and measurable improvements in employee experience. And as businesses continue to wake up to the importance of employee experience in creating a future-fit workforce, HR and reward leaders have a unique opportunity to take the initiative and drive tangible outcomes for their organisations.”