Employee Experience Key Trends

Employee Experience Key Trends

What are Employee Experience Key Trends? As the concept of Employee Experience becomes more widespread across many organisations, it’s interesting to understand how organisations implement this concept, and what the key trends are. Two reports have come out in the last weeks, specifically underlying the importance of these. Although they come from two slightly different angles, they both proclaim the centrality of Employee Experience as a critical enabler for the work of the HR of the future

Two Reports on Employee Experience Key Trends

The State of Employee Experience 2019 Research Report
Fig.1 The State of Employee Experience 2019 Research Report Cover

The first report in chronological order is TI-People State of Employee Experience 2019 Research Report. TI-People is a consulting company solely focused on Employee Experience, that has recently launched the concept of the EXI – Employee Experience index. The report was presented at the HR Congress in Nice

Three trends appear clear from the report:

  1. EX is on the CEO’s Agenda. 
    With so much focus on Customer Experience, many companies are quickly translating the concept of Employee Experience internally, analysing and focusing on the core of delivering new ways of working.
  2. EX is both a challenge and an opportunity for CHROs
    The survey points out that CEOs agree that HR should own the Employee Experience agenda. 55% of interviewed CHROs have made Employee Experience a clear priority in 2019, and more are going to do this in the next years. But only 12% have put a roadmap in place. The challenge bis how to fill in the gap. 
Employee Experience Key Trends 1
Fig.2: The Gaps in EX Execution. Source: TI-People
  1. Successful EX is simple, self-sustaining and local
    I think these are the true takeaways of the report from TI-People: Employee Experience does not need to be complicated. Of the 36 critical Touchpoint identified by TI-People methodology, only one is directly owned by HR. Managers play a crucial role in the delivery of Experience. What’s sophisticated si that For HR to fulfil its purpose of an EX facilitator and manager, it must find ways to involve and engage the line managers from the business as owners of the most critical pieces of EX. Not an easy task!

EX leaders Network Report

Employee Experience 2020 Report
Fig.3: Cover of the Employee Experience 2020 Report

The second is the Employee Experience Report 2020 by EX Leaders Network, a membership network sponsored by executive search firm Kennedy Fitch.

Also, here, three key trends are identified:

  1. Creating Organisational Empathy – Led by the drive to make a human connection, and supported by insights from People Analytics, organisations want to discover the Moments that Matter and turn them into “Wow Moments”. This is the most critical place where Culture intersects with EX and creates value.
  2. Building & Scaling New EX Capabilities – The good news is no matter how big, or small you are, you can adopt Agile ways of working and get broad, diverse skills and capabilities onto your EX team. EX teams are starting to resemble Marketing and Digital teams with roles and skills that are utterly new to HR.
  3. Agile Becomes the New Normal – Advanced EX companies use Agile frameworks and ways of working to rapidly prototype, test and implement new EX “products”, with entirely new ways of working that are more cross-functional, flatter and more business-driven.

In their report, what comes out strikingly clear is that 77% of respondents ranked Changing the Culture as the top challenge to build EX. Empathy thus becomes not just an entry point for applying Design Thinking, but a tool to trigger to build resilience and drive culture transformation.

Employee Experience Key Trends 2
Fig 4.: Some Examples of Moments that Matter. Source: Employee Experience Report 2020

Other relevant Trends

Gartner has identified Employee Experience as one of the key trends for 2020 in its annual research report. Their report shows that organizations are increasingly investing in tactics to improve satisfaction around the employee experience. 

Fig. 5: Employee Experience Satisfaction Curve. Source: 2019 Modern Employee Experience Workforce Survey.
Fig. 5: Employee Experience Satisfaction Curve. Source: 2019 Modern Employee Experience Workforce Survey.

New offerings and support run the gamut from employee-facing technology upgrades to onboarding updates and more flexible work hours to expanded parental leave. But employees still remain largely dissatisfied.

Fig. 6: Biggest Employee Experience Challenge 2020: Source: Gartner 2020 Future of HR Survey
Fig. 6: Biggest Employee Experience Challenge 2020: Source: Gartner 2020 Future of HR Survey

The question to ask becomes then what should we focus on to ensure employees are more satisfied with employee experience?

The research shows three suggestion points:

  • Calibrate Employee Expectations, creating a framework that allows employees to understand and determine their priorities.
  • Empower employees to tailor their day to day experience
  • Manage the memory of the experience, rather than chasing the last moment.

Especially this last points show a very interesting focus area to be achieved.

ITA Group has also shared some exciting trends for 2020 in terms of Employee Experience. The first is a focus on Sophisticated Approaches to Organisational Culture. As we have seen already, Culture plays a disproportionate role when viewed in the implementation of new ways of working. They also underline the importance of building emotional connections. Moreover, Technology Adoption becomes a key focus area in implementing EX design.

Tom Haak from the HR Trends Insitute has published his 12 HR trends for 2020, without mentioning specifically Employee Experience as a critical trend for the future. There are a few aspects that are, however, in line with the Employee Experience Key trends. 

  1. Tom Haak sees a much more Holistic View of HR, and this is visible through Employee Experience concepts being applied across the organisation.
  2. A second focus is Personalisation as a way to naturally evolve the Experience delivered (in line with Customer Experience trends).

Something is missing

I think that we are missing in most of these reports is the fact that there’s something more than just Employees. We need to look at a much wider group of individual stakeholders, as we include Gig Workers, Freelancers and other forms of collaborators in our pools of talent. Reflecting on People Experience rather than Employee Experience alone is something that we need to identify as a critical trend (think just about the candidates who will not become employees…)

The second element I want to focus on is that many companies realise the many projects linked to corporate Culture (Purpose Definition, EVP roll-outs etc.) get “stuck” in the limbo when not accompanied by consistency in the Experience offered. EX and Culture Change need to go hand in hand, with the same design principles. Top-down approaches will cease to work once we enable human-centric design. Something that needs to be consistently understood.


Employee Experience Key Trends underline that EX is there to stay as a strategic topic. The big gap identified by TI People report between importance and execution, highlights the work that is still needed. Everybody agrees that EX needs to be accompanied by a substantial culture change within HR and organisations. Not an easy task.

I also realise that the fragmentation of Employee Experience initiatives by consultants and companies is driving some confusion. To a certain extent, it reminds me of the season that I lived, more than 15 years ago, when Human Capital Measurement was a hot topic. What did not work is the fact that none of the suggested methodologies became a standard, too many alternatives were brought to the market as “products” and ended up being ousted as soon as the 2008 financial crisis hit. Everybody went back to business as usual.

I think it would be time to build som Generally Accepted HR Principles (conceptually similar to GAAPs), that for example allow measuring the impact of EX activities consistently across companies and industries. A concept such as the EXI is fascinating but will need to be backed by some independent body to get traction. 

A long journey ahead, especially as we tie the concept of Culture and EX together in designing for future organisation.

What do you think?

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