Article · 5 minute read

Employee Experience (EX) Moments That Matter

Part 2: Top Tips for Maximizing EX with Better Development

By Isabella Heath 18th August 2022

In Part 1 of our EX Moments that Matter series, we looked at how organizations can futureproof their organization with some top tips for better hiring.

In Part 2, we turn our attention to our current employees and how to maximize talent development activity, driving an improved Employee Experience.

In terms of the current landscape, we can see that organizations have a clear focus on retaining employees, not only to keep them in their team but to retain them in the workforce entirely.

According to research from McKinsey, the most cited reason for leaving the workforce is a lack of career development and advancement of potential. This also links to some of our own research, which has indicated that having a sense of purpose and the ability to learn new skills are among the key reasons why 71% of employees wish to stay with their current organization.

At the moment, it is also important to highlight the importance of considering EX throughout the ongoing transition to hybrid working. For example, recent research by LHH has also shown that while most L&D professionals believe that line managers need specific training for how to manage hybrid teams and build connectivity within their teams, the majority of firms have not increased their budget for this since the start of the pandemic. This all highlights some of the real pressures that L&D teams are under to not just develop, but also retain talent.

We know that a good employee experience drives people engagement and wellbeing, but it’s not only the people agenda that this affects. Our research actually shows that high EX drives both business performance as well as culture and engagement. So, what is EX and what strengthens it? To help look at this, our colleagues in Employee Insights at wtw used research to create a High-Performance Employee Experience (HPEX) model.

For more information on the development of the HPEX model and retention drivers, please see our first article of this series here.

Ex Diagram

REFLECTION: Have we considered all EX moments that matter from a development perspective?

When we combine this model and the underlying research with our experience of supporting employers and employees with their development opportunities, it results in three key moments to focus on in terms of development and helping to build that high-performance employee experience.

REFLECTION: Are there any of these moments that matter more important to focus on as an organization?

I want to achieve my potential

Looking at this from a retention perspective, the key drivers have been identified as:

As we can see in the HPEX model, Growth is up in the ‘Excellence’ level and is therefore a factor that really sets high performing organizations apart. Growth is also one of the drivers of retention. It’s not only that people look to achieve their personal potential, what they really desire is that their performance is fairly evaluated and that the chances they get are objectively evaluated.

Common Pitfalls

Lack of objectivity in identifying individuals for development

While we see organizations may have very robust hiring processes where objectivity and selection is key, this often doesn’t translate into the methods used to identify individuals for development initiatives. By placing full trust in managers’ opinions to identify internal talent, organizations risk letting in a lot of bias, impacting on their Diversity, Equity & Inclusion agendas.

TIP: Use objective methods like psychometric assessments to identify talent for your high-potential and high-profile development opportunities.

Only top talent considered

We see lots of development initiatives which are exclusively focused at the top or senior manager populations. However, as we know, opportunities for development are one of the key drivers for retention. This therefore risks missing a whole part of your workforce who also want to be developed and invested in.

TIP: Make sure that your development initiatives are scalable; our business user reports allow an individual to reflect on their results without any senior guidance necessary.

Initiatives lacking focus

Initiatives which have a really broad focus and look to address all the hot HR topics make it difficult to measure the return on investment.

TIP: Ensure you start with a thorough job analysis. This can help to focus the process given the requirements of the population.

To see an example of how we helped a global technology business objectively identify high-potential future leadership talent using our new Wave-I dashboard, please see here.

I want to collaborate effectively with others & achieve great things

We can see that the ability for colleagues to help each other achieve is an ‘Essential’ level factor in the HPEX model. In order for employees to collaborate effectively, they need to respect each other’s differences and feel included, which we also see as one of those key drivers for retention.

Common pitfalls:

Narrow definition of teams

Team-focused development initiatives are often concentrated on very traditional definitions of teams and simply enhancing team effectiveness. However, it’s important to consider teams in the broader sense and think about implementing development initiatives in different situations – especially while clients are still adapting to hybrid working.

TIP: Consider broader relationship and situations for team development initiatives.

Focus on team development only in crisis situations

Often organizations come to us with a request to support team development where there is an issue with performance or tension between team members. However, it would be even more effective to do this at a much earlier stage, for example when the team are still forming. Also, it’s equally important to focus on team development in high-achieving teams that work really well together.

TIP: Implement team development initiatives early.

Considering team development from a single perspective

Often when organizations want to implement team development initiatives, they are only focused at that team level rather than considering personal contributions to the team’s strengths and challenge areas, which makes any actions a lot harder to implement.

TIP: Consider team development from different perspectives and share that the intervention helps individuals understand how they work by themselves, how they work with others, and how they work as part of a team.

An example of where we used our Work Roles report as part of a virtual development program to achieve a happier, more empowered, responsive and inclusive workforce, can be found here.

I want to navigate change successfully & thrive

Helping employees through change and transformation is a key moment in which we can support development and help build a high-performance employee experience. What we know is that the capability and the opportunity to learn something new is a key driver for EX and retention.

We’ve also seen that drive and the opportunity for employees to transform in an agile way and work in an organization that is ahead of the market is a key driver for EX. To achieve this, you need people with a change mindset who will capitalize on the opportunities that change brings.

Common pitfalls:

Overreliance on technology

A lot of organizations in situations of change put a key focus on the technology to enable it. For example, if you think back to equipping employees with the technology to work from home at the start of the pandemic. While this is essential, it doesn’t stop there. Support in times of change and transformation should also focus on the people and how leaders can support their teams from a more personal perspective. A recent Harvard Business Review article highlighted that the focus should not only be on boosting employee morale through focusing on the positive side of change, but actually that it’s important to create a culture in which it’s acceptable to talk about negative emotions that occur during change.

TIP: Consider the people within the change.

Considering change as an event

Another common pitfall is often that organizations implement initiatives to support individuals at the beginning of a change to deal and handle it in the moment, almost as if change is an event. However, change is a continuum.

TIP: Try to not only focus on helping individuals deal with a single change, but to consider the longer term.

Focus on building resilience

When it comes to change and transformation, the focus is often on reskilling employees to build the capabilities that are required at that moment. However, as jobs become increasingly dynamic, initiatives should not just focus on building a specific new skill required in that moment as individuals need to build the resilience to handle constant changes.

TIP: Initiatives should focus also on building resilience and enabling them to maintain agility over the longer term.

Finally, to find out more about how we used our Focus Styles questionnaire and Development Report to help a catering organization navigate rapid changes as a result of the pandemic, helping them to maintain drive and adapt to new ways of working – please see here.

FINAL REFLECTION: Are there any additional moments that matter specifically to us?

Find Out More

Our team will be happy to tell you more about how our assessmentment options can help futureproof your EX.