Employee experience tops reset agenda for organisations

Employee experience tops reset agenda for organisations

Organisations need to marry their transformation agenda with an understanding of the employee experience to ensure they build back in a sustainable way

The old model of work, working, and the workplace is gone. This is the stark message coming from the voices of the nearly 11,000 C-suite executives, HR leaders, and employees who participated in this year’s Mercer’s Global Talent Trends 2022. The survey, which spanned 16 geographies and 13 industries, reveals an unprecedented opportunity to reimagine how we rebuild our mobility practices and policies in the year ahead.But what’s also apparent is that organisations need to marry their transformation agenda with an understanding of the employee experience to make sure they build back in a way that is sustainable for their talent.

Organisational trust is at an all-time high, with 82% of employees trusting their company to do the right thing for society. Despite the physical distance engendered by the pandemic, people are feeling a stronger sense of commitment to the organisation than ever before.

Organisations have learned much about how to listen and empathise and are channelling that knowledge into a new way of partnering we describe as the “relatable organisation.” They are communicating clearly what they believe in and conducting a genuine dialogue with their people about the future of work, with one-third of executives committed to building a more human-centric organisation. These organisations want to ensure their values permeate through benefit and mobility programs to help inspire the next generation of talent.

Significantly for mobility, 41% of C-suite executives believe the fundamental shift in business requires a reset on work, the workforce, and the workplace, and 29% of executives want to grasp this opportunity to reimagine their international rotations. On the HR side, 84% of senior HR professionals reported the pandemic showed them how hard it was to move talent around and 41% said moving jobs to people was their priority for this year.

Employees, for their part, have enjoyed the ability to work in new ways, with 78% trusting their company to empower them to work with minimal oversight. But this new freedom comes with some costs: 81% said they felt at risk of burnout this year, a rise from 67% in the previous survey

Five global talent trends shaping the people agenda in 2022

The most successful organisations are creating a more relatable organisation by focusing on five areas.

1. Reset for relevance: Organisations are building resilience by leading with values, communicating what they care about, and redesigning so they have enough adaptive capacity to respond. For global mobility, this involves ensuring international assignment programs have a strong focus on environmental, social, and governance issues in both policy and practice.

2. Work in partnership: Organisations also need to create equitable, transparent, and rewarding partnerships to truly understand the new mobility views and offer fully flexible international assignments. Whether this involves hybrid working, gig working, or assignments, many employees are working in new ways, forcing a change in the social contract of work. Partnering across geographic, temporal, and digital boundaries can confer a critical advantage, but it requires management teams to develop a whole new set of competencies.

3. Deliver on total well-being: If we nurture a healthy workforce with benefits that matter, we can help ensure international assignment programs address whole-person needs. Organisations must think holistically about their people on assignment to properly look after their safety, health, and mental well-being.

4. Build for employability: In many respects, organisations are making progress in their race to reskill, yet 98% of HR professionals still report significant gaps. A skills-based organisation can help meet future work needs, and organisations can use development assignments to close skills gaps further. Mobility can aid employability by keeping people marketable and organisations talent fuelled.

5. Harness collective energy: People are feeling exhausted, depleted, and fatigued, making it critical for us to assume a more human-centric view to unlock their potential. Truly listening to what inspires and engages talent to create a human-centred work environment can help re-establish the vibrant mobility world that existed pre-pandemic.

What people want from work has not changed: how they want to engage with work has

HR has talked for many years about the move from the loyalty (transaction-based) contract to the engagement (work- and workplace-centred) contract. This involved a shift from merely retaining talent to motivating people, so they are fully committed to work.

The events of the last two years have created a new employment contract across the board. In the new thrive contract, the focus is on the well-being of the whole person to help them recover. People want purpose, equity, and impact. To achieve this, organisations are striving to strike the right balance between the rise in technology and the need for a human-led approach to rebuild some of the touch points lost. This enables healthy experiences for individuals in exchange for a commitment to organisational renewal.

Moving forward, the survey data, particularly from young talent, indicates a future need to reenergize people by helping them move beyond the restrictions of the last couple of years. This contract focuses on “lifestyle experience” to fulfil the needs for choice, connection, and contribution. It requires a human-centred partnership to help build sustainable systems with total rewards that include flexibility in return for broader choices and the promise of continued relevance.

The survey data shows that, under this lifestyle contract, employees are willing to trade pay rises for benefits including greater experience, greater flexibility, and greater mobility, making delivering on these expectations one of the biggest challenges organisations will face this year.

For global mobility, notwithstanding a 21 percentage point increase in policy flexibility since 2019, 47% of companies say that lack of technology infrastructure to support flexible packages for their international assignees is a key challenge for them, according to Mercer’s 2022 Flexible International Mobility Policies Survey.

Employees want their company to partner with them to craft meaningful work experiences

Looking at what employees want from the work experience and where mobility fits in, the data reveals a new confidence in employees’ skills. 37% believe their skills could make them suitable for a role in another part of the organisation. This may be because the proliferation of artificial intelligence, talent intelligence platforms, and talent marketplaces has encouraged them to think more broadly about how they can apply their capabilities in different ways.

I believe my skills could make me suitable for a role in another part of the organisation37%
I would consider a short “workation” – working out of a holiday villa or new city34%
I am apprehensive about business travel because of the pandemic33%
I am worried I won’t have access to talent mobility programs given the pandemic28%
I would not consider an overseas assignment for the foreseeable future28%
I am keen to work in areas outside my functional/technical background27%
Historically, taking an international assignment helps people advance26%
Moving to another business unit or market is pretty tough in my organisation11%
None of the above10%

Employees are looking for ways to contribute to work outside of traditional approaches, whether through a “workation” – working in a holiday home or different city – under consideration by 34% of employees, or an international assignment, which 26% believe has historically helped people advance in their company. The pandemic, which has made 33% of employees apprehensive about business travel, is still weighing on their minds, but individuals are thinking differently about how they can mine their own talent to tap into future opportunities and meet their needs.

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