The Future of Employee Experience: A Q&A with Global HR Industry Analyst Josh Bersin

The Future of Employee Experience: A Q&A with Global HR Industry Analyst Josh Bersin

Leading HR industry analyst Josh Bersin discusses the future of employee experience and a groundbreaking new model called continuous response that combines real-time employee feedback with ongoing action.

The world of employee experience has radically changed. And according to leading global HR industry analyst Josh Bersin, this change is forcing a new model for how organizations engage, understand and act on employee feedback in real-time. He writes about the future of employee experience in his new whitepaper, A New Model for Employee Experience: Continuous Response.

We recently sat down with Josh to discuss why organizations should shift to a continuous response approach and how to best get started. 

In your most recent white paper, you proposed a new model for employee experience, which you are calling continuous response. What inspired you to create this new model?

Right now we are focusing on employee experience as it relates to the pandemic. How do we make sure they have what they need to be successful while transitioning to remote work or into new roles? How do we put their health and wellbeing first? Before the pandemic, HR was dealing with challenges ranging from a tight labor market to difficulty attracting the right talent to long commute times – all of which also impacted employee experience. The thing about employee experience is that there are always problems to be solved; the problems just happen to change with the times. That’s why you need to take a continuous response approach to employee experience. There are many things you don’t know, and the future has many uncertainties. A continuous response approach helps you adapt and evolve as needed.

How are you defining continuous response? Should we think of this as a new category for employee experience or is it more of a shift in how we approach our employee experience strategy?

 With a constantly changing business climate comes a need to rapidly respond to employees. To do this effectively, organizations need a new approach for collecting and analyzing real-time employee feedback that encompasses all aspects of an employee’s work life — one that goes beyond static pulses, takes into account a variety of direct and indirect data, and most importantly, is designed for action. This is the continuous response model. It’s not a new category but rather a shift in how we approach employee experience. Instead of only using surveys to measure engagement at moments in time, we create an action platform. This provides answers to employees’ questions quickly, helps managers identify and address issues before they become big problems, and gives leaders the insights that can help the company stay its course — no matter what challenges they are facing.

In the white paper, you describe how employee engagement has evolved into employee experience over four distinct stages: annual engagement surveys, pulse surveys, action planning and now continuous response. For organizations that are perhaps still operating under the 1.0 or 2.0 model, how can they easily ramp up their program to get to employee experience 4.0?

 There are a few basic steps that every company can take no matter where they fall on the maturity curve. First, get all the right people together. Employee experience extends far beyond HR and should involve leaders from IT, security, facilities, finance, and other functions. Formalize the program. Give it a name. This will help get buy-in from internal stakeholders. Next, decide what area you’re going to focus on. You can’t solve everything so choose where your efforts are most needed — maybe it’s employee safety, onboarding, or in-store experiences. Then, assign who is responsible for what. Who gets harassment claims? Where should you route D&I concerns? Then you can start identifying potential actions and use tools like Medallia to design the kind of interactivities and input you want to collect. Finally, you’ll want to build response plans for each of the involved areas.

What are some other actions outside of capturing survey feedback that companies can be taking to facilitate continuous response?

 There are so many. Town hall meetings. Live chat and chatbot transcripts. The collection of employee-related data indicating sentiment, location, and VPN usage. Teaching managers to frequently check in with people is also important. Especially now that workforces are distributed, we need to check in with each other a lot. Crowdsourcing is also incredibly powerful — especially when employees can vote on other employees’ suggestions. That is a great way for employers to get ideas on what to do and empower employees to be a part of the solution.

What is one thing that you want every HR leader to take away from this white paper?

 Companies have made large investments in technology over the last few years to improve the employee experience. But if you don’t have a continuous response infrastructure, you can’t know how or if all of this HR tech is working to actually enhance your employee experience. You need a platform like Medallia that can bring together all of this data, analyze it and then make it actionable. Trust me, your life will get a lot better when you no longer have to read surveys all day long and then manually send them along to all the right people.

Learn more about the future of employee experience in Josh Bersin’s new white paper and use real-time employee feedback and a continuous response model to shorten the distance from listening to acting.