Enhancing the employee experience: what’s top of mind for North American employers?

building a better employee experience

It’s no secret that we live in the experience economy. According to market researcher Gartner, two-thirds of a company’s competitive edge today is based on the experience they deliver to a customer. Indeed, customer experience is now a stronger driver of brand loyalty and purchase decisions than price or product. Against this backdrop, we are increasingly seeing this new service orientation permeate employees’ expectations of work. The frustration is clear: according to Mercer’s research, 1 in 3 employees say it takes them over an hour to complete straightforward HR tasks.

The challenge for organizations is to create employee experiences that are as delightful as our customer experiences. So on October 29, Mercer held a webcast to discover where clients are in their employee experience journey. The topic clearly resonates, as more than 1,500 clients in North America attended the session. Many are already taking steps to build a better employee experience: 1 in 3 employers on the call said employee experience is integrated as a core part of their HR or business strategies, and a further 1 in 3 are integrating an employee experience approach into select initiatives.

These findings confirm what we heard earlier this year from our 2019 Global Talent Trends Study. According to executives, “enhancing the employee experience” was among the top three areas of talent investment that the c-suite said would make the most sizable difference to business performance (just behind redefining jobs and simplifying talent processes).

So what are organizations in North America doing to enhance the employee experience? In our webcast poll we found the top three priorities are: Career Experiences (55%), Employee Programs (50%), and HR Transformation (42%). And research confirms that these areas deserve attention:

  • Career experience has the highest impact on outcomes like engagement and commitment. Career development yields the strongest correlations with outcome measures such as motivation, satisfaction and intent to stay. Indeed, 81% of employees say that they want opportunities to grow personally and professionally.
  • Rewards matter. We know from our Global Talent Trends study that, year after year, a clear employee ask is for employers to offer more types of rewards and compensation. An our research has also found that base pay has a retentive impact for aa millennial workforce, which is not surprising given the increasing cost of student debt that’s leaving younger workers strapped for cash.
  • Your people are critical to transformation. Staggeringly, 70% of digital transformation initiatives fail. Why? Frequently, the sticking point is the poor employee experience of change; without employee buy-in, major change projects fail to gain attraction.

It’s clear that if building better employee experiences are top of mind for organizations today, HR needs to take a leading role. It requires a transformation of HR’s own mindset: A movement from independently defining problems to greater employee listening. It means co-creating with employees on a solution rather than just solving for them. And finally, it means testing and listening again to ensure that the experience improvements are producing the right results and activating for maximum impact.

Susan Haberman
by Susan Haberman

Senior Partner

US Career Leader

Mary Ann Sardone
by Mary Ann Sardone

Partner, Career Market Business Leader – US East at Mercer

Lauren Mason
by Lauren Mason

Principal, Career