The working world of 2023 is almost unrecognizable when compared to the societal norms of our parents and grandparents. In fact, the way the average American navigates their workplace is likely to be dramatically different today than it was even a few short years ago prior to the global pandemic.
Data published in 2022 illustrates just how much the employee experience has evolved since the start of the decade, finding that 26% of the US workforce is now employed in an entirely remote role, 74% of US companies are planning to implement some degree of hybrid work model in the near future and 37% of businesses now employ some form of AI technology in order to support essential operations.
The evolution of the employee experience is an ongoing process that doesn’t seem to be slowing down any time soon, with a recent UK-based four-day workweek trial seeing such success that 91% of involved companies intend to continue the schedule indefinitely. But how did we get here? And what will the future of work look like? Let’s explore the evolution of employee experience in the workplace.
20th century work
The traditional relationship between employer and employee has always been based on utility. Businesses had work to complete, and workers were in need of money, outside of this arrangement little thought was ever directed towards the benefits and perks issued by today’s HR professionals.
The only resources available to staff were the tools necessary to get the job done, that means no wellness programs, flexitime, mandatory breaks or considerations towards employee feedback, just a basic agreement that if X amount of product was produced then X amount of money would be paid.
Of course, HR did exist back then, with the first recorded US human resources department being formed at the National Cash Register Co in the early 1900’s. Though the roles and duties performed by HR teams in this era of work were far less involved than those mandated for all workers today.
As industrialization began to shape modern society into a more profit-driven economy, employers turned their focus towards optimizing productivity and employee performance. In the modern era, teams can turn towards smart HR tools like time tracking software and PTO management systems to fine-tune productivity without causing staff burnout, though traditional methods were not so kind.
The employee experience was not yet considered an important aspect of a healthy workplace, and automating repeatable tasks using robots and AI wouldn’t be possible for decades, leaving workers to be driven to exhaustion by stopwatch-wielding managers determined to speed up essential processes by any means necessary. Often just to shave off a few seconds of time to further maximize productivity.
During this era, workers’ rights movements would gradually become more involved in trying to improve the employee experience by advocating for improvements towards equality, better working conditions and a larger focus on health and wellbeing, with HR being integral to these changes.
As workers’ rights movements began to enact meaningful change towards the end of the 20th century, employers began to understand the value of loyalty and engagement in the workforce. By appealing to the needs of workers and facilitating a positive work environment, staff are far more likely to remain loyal and engaged, with data suggesting that these efforts can lead to a 12% increase in productivity.
This shift towards a more needs-based employment model has formed the foundations of the modern employee experience, with HR tools such as recognition and reward programs existing to ensure that all high-performing employees feel respected and valued as an important member of the workforce.
Engagement is one of the most talked about aspects of the modern work environment, with efforts to retain valuable members of staff often dependent on which perks and initiatives HR teams are able to offer in order to improve the employee experience. Thankfully, in the modern era these processes can be streamlined and optimized through the use of integrated and intelligent HR management solutions.
The modern employee experience
Business owners and HR professionals across all sectors now understand the value of facilitating a happy, engaged and respected workforce, leading to the modern pursuit of creating a working environment in which employees want to be at work, to exceed expectations and to build careers.
HR teams and managers have several tools at their disposal to cultivate such an employee experience, with the three main pillars of this process being culture, technology and the use of physical space, though to truly succeed in appealing to the workforce, it’s essential that teams understand their employees.
Modern HR tools are designed to leverage analytics and combine data insights with personal testimonies to help employees and HR professionals find solutions that uplift entire organizations. By measuring everything from collaboration metrics to new and predicted workplace trends, advanced HR software is able to nurture a proactive and positive company culture equipped to provide benefits beyond productivity.
By optimizing recruitment and onboarding solutions to find the right staff who share the same workplace values, attitudes and standards, HR professionals can help to build high-performing and optimistic teams. By implementing intelligent performance management systems into daily operations, managers can help staff achieve critical goals and advance much further in their careers. In short, modern HR tools are very much the foundation on which the modern employee experience is built, delivered and maintained.
The future of the employee experience
Though the employee experience has drastically improved in recent years, advancements in technology and changing attitudes towards work look set to provide further benefits in the near future. Whether it’s the use of an AI-powered camera system to improve parking management or an elevator access control system to improve on-site security and convenience, technology is primed to aid all employees.
Technology also helps to facilitate remote and hybrid work models to help employees achieve a healthier work-life-balance, with collaborative software, virtual meeting programs and even remote onboarding solutions able to provide employees with more flexibility and respect within their roles.
By addressing the needs of employees through the use of technology, organizations can retain high-performing staff members and ensure that they feel satisfied and respected at work, which in and of itself can increase staff retention rates by as much as 110% and workplace engagement levels by 55%.
The evolution of employee experience in the workplace has a long and storied history, from traditional working environments solely focused on productivity to modern organizations centered around wellbeing and engagement, technology and analytics have helped to change the way we work for the better.
By utilizing intelligent HR tools and investing time into understanding the needs of employees, modern workplace cultures are positioned to produce positive and truly productive teams, though the pursuit of the ideal employee experience is ever changing and aided by further advancements in technology.
For organizations to stay ahead of changing attitudes, and position themselves to provide new and existing staff with the resources needed to succeed, decisions must be made with the informed insights and analytics produced by well-integrated, maintained and intelligent HR solutions. This way teams can ensure that the evolution of the employee experience continues to benefit staff and businesses alike.
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Meet Luca Beach, an expert in human resources with a focus on employee satisfaction and loyalty. Apart from working with Verified Movers, he has worked in the field of employee appreciation programs for many years and brings valuable knowledge and information to the table. He is passionate about creating inspired and productive workforces and can help businesses improve employee appreciation initiatives.