Employee Experience is a Top Priority for Midsize Companies
How middle market business leaders are investing in their workforces amid the widespread churn of employees
November 18, 2021 5 min read
Companies that have nimbly reacted to a series of unprecedented economic and health crises are facing another new threat: nearly half of their employees may have their eye on the door. The numbers are stark. According to the Microsoft 2021 Work Trend Index, 41% of the global workforce is considering leaving their current employer.
Management experts have long known that employees tend to leave their jobs after experiencing a turnover shock—a life event that prompts the reconsideration of priorities and goals. The COVID-19 pandemic has delivered a collective turnover shock for millions, and it’s resulted in a mass exodus from pre-pandemic positions in the workforce.
While COVID-19 was the main catalyst for this trend—which many are calling the Great Resignation or the Big Quit—it isn’t just about concerns over the virus. Many of the issues that have emerged—like employee wellness, engagement and the demands for hybrid working environments—are here to stay.
Capital One and Morning Consult recently surveyed 400 financial decision-makers from middle market companies to discover how they are prioritizing their people. The results show they are heavily investing in employee experience and wellness, which includes wage increases, increased access to mental health resources and increased access to childcare and elder-care.
Employee experience and wellness is a top priority for companies today
Employee experience and wellness were top priorities for investment prior to the pandemic and remain a top priority now. In the survey, 31% ranked employee experience and wellness as a top-5 priority investment for their companies prior to the pandemic; 30% ranked it as a top-5 priority investment for their business now, with only 4% saying they have no planned investments in employee experience and wellness over the next 1 to 3 years.
As companies identified skills gaps in management and leadership—as well as technical skills gaps in computer science, machine learning and cloud computing—more companies ranked upskilling their workforce as a top-5 business priority now than pre-pandemic.
Employee retention strategy is more important than ever
A robust retention strategy can be vital to a middle market company’s talent management process, business innovation and its bottom line. Establishing a retention strategy is a major investment, but it can deliver major returns in the form of lower hiring costs, improved productivity, and enhanced customer retention rates and brand reputation.
The most effective retention strategies start before an employee’s first day, ensuring that the candidate’s longer-term career objectives align with what the company can offer—and that their career goals are consistent with the company’s culture. It’s also critical that managers exemplify the company’s mission and culture and set the tone for a positive work environment. Companies can support employee retention by establishing reliable metrics for employee engagement and recognizing when employees meet regular milestones or make exceptional contributions.
Companies are investing in employee experience and development
Investments in upskilling employees and enhancing employee experience ranged from learning and development opportunities to making it easier for employees to work remotely.
- 91% agreed their companies are implementing technologies to allow employees to work more efficiently in a remote or hybrid environment. There’s potential for a sustained increase in remote or hybrid workers well beyond the expected reach of the pandemic. Putting smart policies and systems in place now can improve efficiency and job satisfaction down the road.
- 64% reported they are currently investing in continuous learning, development and upskilling training programs. In a job market where employers are reporting critical skill gaps, investing in upskilling or reskilling programs can have a positive impact.
- More than half (52%) reported they are currently investing in apprenticeships, internships, mentorships and other guided programs for current employees. Ongoing opportunities like these can help employees build networks and break down silos among departments. They can also help maintain workforce resilience and increase the sense of community across their organizations.
Leaders anticipate investments in employees will pay off
Financial decision-makers anticipate that investments in their current workforce will impact the business in the near- and long-term.
Nearly one-in-three (32%) respondents in our survey anticipated employee experience and wellness will be a top-5 driver of return on investment in the next 6 months, and 28% anticipated employee experience and wellness will be a top-5 driver of return on investment in the next 1 to 3 years.
Additionally, respondents anticipated upskilling their workforce will be among the top five drivers of ROI in the next 6 months (24%) and over the next 1 to 3 years (27%).
Upskilling doesn’t have to involve formal classroom training. Many middle market companies are offering microlearning opportunities using short web-based and interactive modules, as well as mentorship programs that empower employees to teach and learn from their colleagues.
Middle market companies are confronting unfamiliar challenges as they strive to compete and innovate in the wake of a global health crisis and a labor market characterized by low unemployment, stagnant workforce participation and high turnover. Employers are discovering that they will have to recenter the employee experience and invest more in development and retention.
The Capital One survey was conducted by Morning Consult among 400 U.S. middle market financial decision-makers representing companies with total annual revenues of $20 million to $500 million. The survey was conducted from an online panel from September 1 – September 9, 2021. The margin of error is +/-5%.
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