As companies transition to new ways of work, the number of organisations in Asia Pacific (APAC) making employee experience a top priority has surged, said Willis Towers Watson recently when releasing results of a survey of 1,550 employers around the world.
Of that total, 440 respondents from 14 different markets in APAC participated in the 2021 Employee Experience Survey, WTW noted, adding that the survey was conducted in April 2021 and the APAC respondents employ more than 1.4 million workers.
- 88% of employers said enhancing the employee experience will be an important priority at their organisation over the next three years compared with just 52% indicating it as important prior to the pandemic — and with good reason.
- Most respondents believe a positive employee experience is a key driver of engagement (79%), employee wellbeing (79%), productivity (79%), and the ability to attract and retain talent (79%).
The lack of a defined approach to employee experience
Organisations took rapid actions during the pandemic including moving workers to a remote or hybrid work environment, making job cuts, restructuring or cutting pay or benefits.
While these actions were less prevalent in this region than reported globally, they still took a significant toll on people with many reporting anxiety and work distraction, creating a ‘stress test’ on the employee experience for many organisations — almost half (48%) reported a negative impact on the employee experience as a result of the pandemic.
“Whether it’s due to employer actions such as pay reductions and layoffs or because of virtual work and personal hardships for some, the pandemic exposed shortfalls in the employee experience at many organisations. Many employers are not equipped to deal with these challenges,” said Clare Muhiudeen, Head of Human Capital & Benefits, International, Willis Towers Watson.
The study revelas that just over a quarter of organisations (28%) have no defined approach to the employee experience, with a further 36% only having a basic approach in place, WTW pointed out.
A focus on three areas required
As the coronavirus continues to run its course in the region, the stress on employee experience will not go away anytime soon, said WTW.
Employers recognised that this elongated return will require a clear focus on three areas: a change in work model, prioritising wellbeing and aligning total rewards programmes to diverse employee needs, the firm added.
The survey results indicate the followings when it comes to employee experience:
- 81% recognise that the new realities of the labour markets will require a hybrid model for many roles.
- While many employers have begun the process of change, only 57% are flexible about where or when work gets done
- 59% are in the process of reimagining careers in response to changes in the way work is accomplished
- Almost half (47%) are segmenting Total Rewards to account for a different workforce profile – and there will be further challenges ahead.
“To succeed, they must start with a bold employee experience strategy that supports their business strategy and is based on a consistent model,” Muhiudeen advised. “Then, they can turn to execution – adapting programmes and policies reflective of flexible work, paying employees fairly, enhancing benefit delivery and wellbeing programs, supporting workers in a more agile and flexible workspace, and aligning Total Rewards programmes to meet the needs of a diverse workforce.”
Key findings from the survey also include the followings:
- Using digitalisation to transform the employee experience fundamentally over the next three years was highlighted as a major focus for a large proportion of organisations (63%).
- When asked to identify the areas needed to improve employee experience, employers in APAC are placing higher priority than seen globally to improve their offerings in learning and development (72%) and leadership competencies (71%).
- A significant proportion are also looking to address their employee experience needs with manager training (69%) and a focus on inclusion and diversity (60%).
- More than three-fifths of employers (62%) identified flexible work arrangement as a priority to boost the employee experience.