Study: What Employees Want in a Better Work Experience

A new survey from the HR tech firm Topia finds that workers want less busywork and fewer random perks—and instead want an employee experience that lets them show off their true personality.

When younger employees sign on with an employer, they don’t want to feel like they’re leaving themselves behind all for the sake of a job.

But when culture gives way to busywork and doesn’t let workers show their true selves, it can cause disillusionment—and that could soon lead those employees to start looking elsewhere.

This is the central idea of “Adapt or Lose the War for Talent: Why Your Employee Experience Needs an Upgrade” [registration], a new report from HR technology company Topia, which finds that fewer than 20 percent of workers give their employer an exceptional rating for employee experience. Notably, general workers tend to give their employers lower experience ratings than HR employees do—implying a disconnect on the employee experience front for the rank and file. A reason for that, the report argues, is that the employee perks of old just don’t resonate anymore.

“The world of work is evolving, and employee expectations are evolving with it,” the report states. “Shifts in culture shape our values and priorities, and these changes are reflected in what people want from their employers. A decade ago, foosball tables and a kitchen full of snacks got candidates interested. Now, it’s less about perks and more about purpose.”

The trouble might be rooted in the complexity of basic upkeep, the report notes, with complicated tasks proving to be a major deterrent for many workers. More than a third of respondents (37 percent) say filing PTO requests is particularly annoying, while slightly less than a third are frustrated with the processes of understanding HR benefits (31 percent) and filing expense reports (29 percent). These menial tasks get in the way for many workers; just 41 percent of respondents call their HR tools “simple or easy” to use.

What Actually Matters for Employees

Of course, tools aren’t the only factor when it comes to employee experience. The study finds that many respondents think that the team will become more geographically distributed over time, with a wider range of backgrounds and experience—a trend likely to increase thanks to COVID-19. Accordingly, more than three quarters of respondents (76 percent) agree that it won’t matter so much if everyone is in the same location.

But one thing that will matter is a stronger focus on diversity and inclusion, something 79 percent of respondents say leads to more creativity and innovation. Despite this interest in stronger diversity, roughly a quarter of employees say they feel like they’re having to hide their political beliefs from their coworkers, while another quarter also say they have to hold back elements of their identity.

“Making diversity a priority is definitely important, but what is equally important is open tolerance of diversity—in all its forms,” the report adds.

In comments on the report, Meghan M. Biro, CEO and founder of TalentCulture, noted that the trend lines highlight the need for fewer perks and busywork, and more organizational support.

“HR teams must recognize and adapt to the reality that free lunches and foosball tables aren’t enough anymore, especially in a challenging year like 2020,” she said in a news release. “Employees want genuine opportunities, authenticity, and empathy from their employers.”

(katleho Seisa/E+/Getty Images Plus)

Ernie Smith

By Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is a former senior editor for Associations Now. MORE

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