Study Reveals What Employees Really Want

Posted by Deepshikha Shukla

3.5-minute read (750 words)

Employee expectations are evolving with shifts in culture and generation, and many staff members today value purpose over perks. A recent survey reveals that many organizations are coming up short on delivering the engagement and experience today’s employees expect, putting them at risk of losing out on the best talent.

Background: Topia, an HR tech company, conducted an online survey among 1,000 full-time employees in the 18- to 64-year age range who work in large enterprise companies (2,500+ employees) with global operations. Respondents were sourced from the US and UK (500 respondents from each country), with 379 employees from HR departments. Survey responses were gathered from Feb. 25 to March 4, 2020 to gather insights about what employees value about their work experiences and how the activities, technology and environment in which they work can impact their overall employee experience.

Mismatch Seen Between Expectation and Reality

The survey noted that only 17 percent of staff members rated their companies' employee experiences as exceptional. Just 16 percent of non-HR employees said a cool space, food and games matter, while 25 percent of HR professionals thought that was a priority.

Some 40 percent of general employees rated their companies poorly, compared to just 21 percent of HR staff, suggesting a considerable disconnect between how HR perceives the employee experience and what staff members believe. This disconnect means employers aren't delivering an experience that aligns with employees' priorities and motivations.

Employee Experience What Matters Most

The survey found that when employees feel empowered and trusted and know that opportunities exist for them to grow within your company, they want to stay. According to the survey:

  • 58 percent of employees defined a great employee experience as being empowered and trusted
  • 48 percent said having the opportunity for career growth and development through training, job rotation or international assignments is most important
  • 38 percent mentioned that having the right technology is essential
  • Only 19 percent considered an amazing office space and perks among their priorities

"These results demonstrate there's so much that goes into a great experience — like opportunity, diversity, global experiences and trust — and many employees just aren't getting that from their employers," said Meghan M. Biro, CEO of TalentCulture, in a statement about the report.

What Makes the Employee Experience Terrible?

A bad manager tops the list of what makes the employee experience “terrible,” except for one group: for 18-to-38-year olds, a lack of career growth and development opportunities are even worse. Respondents cited the following factors as major contributors to a toxic culture.

  • Bad manager: 54 percent
  • Office politics: 50 percent
  • Lack of career growth opportunities: 46 percent
  • Technology making job harder: 44 percent

Employees Want an Inclusive Experience

Employees believe that having a team with diverse backgrounds and viewpoints leads to more creativity and innovation. According to the survey results, 79 percent of employees wished to work with a more diverse set of colleagues, but there were also splits when it came to age groups:

  • 45 percent of 18-to-38-year-olds, 32 percent of 39-to-54-year-olds and 13 percent of those in the 55-to-64-year age group want a more diverse and representative workforce.
  • 44 percent of 18-to-38-year-olds, 30 percent of 39-to-54-year-olds and 16 percent of those in the 55-to-64-year age group believe that companies should prioritize diversity over experience and capabilities for hiring decisions.

The Role of Technology

Technology plays an important role in defining the employee experience, but it makes employees' jobs harder if they have to switch between different tools to find information or complete tasks. Nearly 60 percent of employees said their HR tools are disjointed, difficult, outdated and glitchy or provide a poor user experience. Employees said that the HR technology experience and offerings at their company could be improved or made user-friendly if:

  • Apps were more connected: 44 percent
  • Better training on the tools was available: 31 percent
  • Processes and steps were simpler: 42 percent

HR technology can equip HR teams with the data and insights they need to better track employee performance, plan talent acquisition and monitor employee engagement. Sadly, only eight percent of HR professionals had the right data and insights from their tools.

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