By Simon Daly, Employee Experience Strategy Director, Qualtrics
What does the future of work look like in 2024? Qualtrics, the experience management company I work for, asked frontline employees what they see as most important to them for our 2024 EX Trends Report.
I’ve been reflecting on the main findings – and have framed my response into what I think are useful actions HR leaders might consider heading into this year.
1) Embrace the ideal ratio for days in/out of the office
Every organisation is unique and will have needs which may affect their hybrid working approach. But based on what 37,000 workers tell us they want, three days a week in the office seems to be the optimum. Our data says this number of days maximises connection to the company, people’s ability to do the job, and prevents feeling cut off from career development opportunities.
Interestingly, the lowest scores against these metrics are when people spend five days in the office.
2) Unlock the power of passive listening
Many businesses run an annual employee survey. But, with collaboration tools and platforms like Slack and Teams, as well as email and conference calls, there’s a lot of additional information about what employees do all day in the workplace. But how do you capture and make use of these inputs to improve the employee experience?
Our findings say if employees think that they will see positive results, people are comfortable sharing work emails and chats to fuel “passive listening” – but there are no go areas. Just 41% of our sample are comfortable with their social media posts coming under scrutiny.
My read on this is people don't fully believe that more personal stuff would end up being used just for the purpose that it's designed for. There are perhaps worries it could be used for something else, and they are therefore reluctant to have that information shared. On the plus side, teams are very receptive to opening their emails, work systems, or processes such as diaries and calendars to help with passive listening.
So: be incredibly clear and upfront with employees as to why you would want to access any of their anonymised information and spell out the benefits that they’d get back. Clear guidelines on any passive listening policy will encourage people to be more open about sharing. This gets you much closer to harnessing people data beyond engagement surveys.
3) Focus on the frontline, now
A definite cause for concern from our data: frontline employees are the unhappiest, worst supported and least trusting. For example, while 64% of all non-frontline workers we spoke to are happy with their pay and benefits, only 50% of frontline workers are; 70% of all non-frontline workers trust leadership, that drops to 60% for frontline.
This needs to be addressed. Managers need to form better connections and take time to listen to this vital part of their human capital.
4) Embrace AI
The bottom line: employees love the idea of AI helping them, but they hate the idea of AI somehow monitoring or assessing them. Intriguingly, EMEA staffers have a more positive attitude toward AI than other geographies, so there is a potential open door here. But, be prepared to understand that gap if you’re thinking about introducing AI into work processes next year.
For more details on the latest trends in EX, click here to download Qualtrics 2024 EX Trends Report.