In recent years, the corporate world has witnessed an increased emphasis on building positive workplace culture. In the past, this has meant providing ample benefits, offering opportunities for career growth, and making employee-work relationships fair and equitable throughout the organization. And these are just a few pieces. There are many elements that comprise what is simply described as ‘culture,’ but the development of a strong workplace culture is far from simple. —
A business’ culture is established by the people that make up the corporation, and it is communicated by the actions of leadership that trickle down throughout every level of the business. COVID-19 introduced an additional layer of complexity to workplace culture and how organizations care for their employees, and from these challenging times has sprouted a new area of focus: Employee Experience, also known as EX.
“A corporation—that is the legal entity itself—is relatively simple,” explains Deepak ‘Dee’ Agarwal, a longtime entrepreneur and C-suite executive with over 20 years of experience founding and growing major corporations, including an online retailer NoMoreRack.com. “But corporate culture is a more abstract quality that is pervasive throughout the company as a whole, and it majorly influences the experience of employees. Therefore, company culture and EX go hand-in-hand.”
Collectively, employees’ experiences of their workplaces were undoubtedly impacted by COVID-19. With the onset of the global pandemic at the beginning of 2020, organizations were struck by an immediate need to shift operations due to social distancing mandates and other operational implications of conducting business amidst unprecedented worldwide events. Statistics around workforce anxiety and depression skyrocketed throughout the entire year of 2020, with much of the workforce reporting moderate to severe negative impacts to their mental health and wellbeing.
“At this time, it became the responsibility of corporations to not only acknowledge the struggles that employees were facing at this time but to also offer solutions,” notes Dee Agarwal. “The lifeblood of any business is its people, and when the people are struggling, so is the company. EX became more important than ever.”
While there is hope for a COVID-free (or at least limited) future, the demand for companies to support their employees in a more human, relational way will likely become the standard for years to come. Employee experience will continue to be a primary focus of corporations that desire to be competitive and attract quality talent. In fact, in a recent study by Willis Towers Watson, a survey indicated that 92% of organizations plan to prioritize EX over the next three years.
“The relationship between a business and its employees is dynamic,” explains Dee Agarwal. “While people tend to view a corporation as a well-oiled machine with cogs and components designed to keep pace with the ever-hungry market, we must remember that it is made up of people, and their experience working for a company is incredibly important.”
To address the growing emphasis on EX and wellbeing, companies are being challenged to find new ways to engage and deepen their connections with employees to make them feel understood and valued. Companies that embrace and focus on EX will also be more likely to attract more candidates than companies that are perceived as uncaring towards employees.
“Prioritizing EX is not only an indicator to employees that they are important to the organization but also an expectation of prospective employees looking to add value to a company,” says Dee Agarwal. “Set employee experience initiatives in place to strengthen your corporate culture and reinforce the value of your team.”
For more expert business leadership tips, read How to Practice Resilient Leadership.
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