What do you like about the place you work? Now there’s a question that many people have very different answers for than they did two years ago.

After all, many of the perks of working in an office are no longer being enjoyed by employees. The person who loved walking into their sparkling office building with the stocked kitchen and comfy chairs? They’ve been working from their bedroom for over a year now, left to stock their own kitchen. The team that used to go out for lunch twice a week and get drinks every Friday? They’ve only seen each other on their computer screens during meetings because lunch doesn’t translate well to video.

Even the small details that make up a digital workspace – things like Slack channels and home office setups – have had subtle but profound effects on today’s employees.

And now that we’re approaching 19 months since the start of the pandemic, we’re beginning to see the big-picture impact take shape. Namely: employees who have felt stuck, burnt out, and restless during the past year are planning their next move.

As the economy recovers, more people are beginning to look for employee experiences that meet their expectations.

If you were lucky enough to find a new job around April of 2020, or were already employed, it’s fair to say you were likely staying put for the time being. The pandemic left us all in a state of prolonged uncertainty about the future – so even employees who were unhappy were in no hurry to go looking for greener pastures.

Now the landscape has begun to shift. As the job market continues to stabilize, employees who don’t feel connected to their current company have more freedom to look elsewhere.

In fact, a recent study found that 55% of American workers anticipate looking for a new job over the next twelve months.

Though the pandemic has exacerbated this shift, it’s indicative of a trend that was already well underway prior to COVID-19. Younger generations entering the workforce have different expectations for their experiences – and when employers don’t meet those expectations, they’ll leave for new ones who will.

The question is: in this period of transition and rapid transformation, how does a company know if they’re meeting employee expectations?

Employees holds more influence than ever – but are companies truly listening?

In an employee-driven workspace, the onus is on the company to actually listen to their employees. Sounds simple, right? After all, the concept of the “voice of employee” isn’t new to the post-pandemic workplace.

Unfortunately, many companies aren’t hearing the voices of their employees as well as they think they are.

For many years, it was standard practice for an HR department to conduct an annual or semiannual employee satisfaction survey. You know all the standard questions:

  • Do you feel valued for your contributions?
  • Would you recommend the company to friends or family as a great place to work??
  • Are you proud of working for the company?

And so on. Employees would hear about the results later on, or perhaps never hear about them at all – and in many cases, they’d see very little action taken to address any complaints or concerns they expressed.

Today, this limited approach doesn’t cut it. The relationships people have with their work, employer, and colleagues have fundamentally changed. In the absence of consistent face-to-face communication, many employees feel like they work for a company but aren’t really part of a company. And if HR is the only department that’s listening to them, and only once or twice per year (if that), they’re not really being heard.

The way forward: combining the personal and the technological.

Employee experience is now predominantly driven by technology, which means employee sentiment can’t be seen as purely an HR priority.

HR and IT departments now share common goals – because improving technology experiences and improving overall job satisfaction are more intrinsically linked than ever before.

The blurring of the lines between HR and IT is evident when you hear from leaders in these two departments:

  • In a recent survey, 36% of HR leaders cited employee burnout as the top challenge for the remainder of 2021, while 16% cited employee retention.
  • IT leaders were on a similar page, as 28% claimed employee retention was the most crucial challenge their organizations face.

The only way to meet these challenges head-on is through a combination of what HR and IT each do best.

Managers need to be empowered to have the right conversations with employees in order to consistently understand their needs, concerns, and overall sentiment about their relationships to their work. And IT needs to be able to leverage technology to understand exactly where and how digital experience needs to be improved.

As expectations for the workspace continue to evolve, companies who want to keep their employees (and keep their employees productive) need to have clear, specific people strategies. They need to operate with a defined vision of what makes their employees satisfied and motivated at work. And that vision starts and ends with the personal communication and technology that allows the employee voice to be heard.

If you’re looking for more forward-thinking IT insights, you’re not going to want to miss Experience Everywhere, the first virtual conference dedicated to improving Digital Employee Experience in the Work-From-Anywhere world.

Join us on November 16 (Americas) and November 17 (EMEA) for a full day of interactive discussions, illuminating keynote on the future of IT, featuring some of the brightest minds in Employee Experience.