Employee experience in 2024: trends to watch
Employee experience (EX) has been a trending topic across workplaces for a few years now. Originating as what seemed like a corporate buzzword quickly became a large-scale strategy for major employers across the globe.
In 2023, we saw a different story. For employers, there were strikes. There were debates about a return to the office. The Great Reshuffle was replaced by the Great Gloom – an epidemic of unhappy workers.
And according to Forrester, the EX outlook for 2024 remains gloomy:
“Two key metrics dropped between 2022 and 2023 globally: Employee engagement fell from 41% to 37%, while culture energy fell from 63% to 59%[...]We predict that 2024 will see continued decline, with employee engagement dipping to 34%.”
These percentages are likely lower for frontline employees.
That’s because frontline workers often miss out on the employee engagement boosts available to their office-based counterparts. We’re talking connection and development opportunities, tech tools, and regular recognition.
The key issue now is what employers plan to do about it. Employee experience remains an important focus for any forward-thinking business. That’s because when employees are happy and engaged, your business benefits from:
- Better staff retention and talent acquisition
- Improved productivity and performance
- Higher rates of customer satisfaction
- Improved employee wellbeing and attendance
This all impacts a company’s bottom line. Organizations with the best employee experience can achieve nearly three times the financial returns on assets when compared to those with the worst.
So how are companies planning to engage and retain employees in 2024? And what EX patterns are already emerging? Here are the employee trends set to impact the future of employee experience over the coming year and beyond.
Top 5 EX trends to look out for in 2024
The growth of AI in the workplace
First on our list of employee experience trends is artificial intelligence (AI).
AI was a hot topic in 2023. As generative AI – like ChatGPT and Bard – marched onto the scene, lots of people got their first, hands-on experience with the technology.
Many businesses are already on board. 55% of respondents to a McKinsey survey said that their organizations were using AI in 2023. And more than two-thirds expect their organizations to increase AI investment over the next three years.
AI isn’t going anywhere. So in 2024, we predict that more companies will harness its potential for both business and employee experience transformation. Here’s how.
AI is helping to streamline workflows. Which is good news for organizations – and for frontline employees.
Tech takes care of repetitive and monotonous tasks. It reduces frontline friction, so employees can perform tasks more easily. Workers get to spend more time on customer care and on activities that demand a higher level of expertise.
For instance, in retail, AI is predicting increased footfall. This gives shop floor staff time to prepare the store and provide a better service.
In healthcare, AI can help to reduce waiting times, which means happier patients and frontline healthcare staff.
And in manufacturing, real-time AI insight into equipment status allows workers to make repairs before machines break down entirely, making their job easier.
In 2024, more businesses will use AI to improve processes and streamline the work of their frontline teams.
AI is also playing an important role in internal communications. Leaders are using AI to perform tasks like these:
- supporting DEI by highlighting bias in real-time, as employees type a message
- identifying employees who haven’t received recognition in a while
- helping employees find relevant resources on the company portal
Some organizations are also using AI chatbots to support the employee experience. Bots provide 24/7 assistance to employees, guiding them through company systems and helping them complete HR self-service tasks.
This spells satisfying experiences for employees where their queries are answered quickly – and a lighter workload for your People Team.
HR teams are using AI to hone recruiting, onboarding, and training processes. They’re making these EX touchstones more effective and streamlined.
AI is helping to:
- remove bias from the recruitment process
- predict the needs of new hires
- highlight training resources relevant to a chosen career pathway
This means People Teams get more time to focus on value-add employee experience activities. And employees feel more engaged with your organization, right from the very beginning of their journey.
But a word of warning. Getting the right AI balance will be key. Employees are happy to deal with AI for some HR functions. But AI in its current form lacks emotional intelligence. A real, human touch is still needed if you want to achieve the very best EX.
As a whole, organizations are more optimistic and curious about AI than they were five years ago. But there’s a disconnect between leaders and frontline employees. According to a BCG survey:
- Leaders are more optimistic than frontline employees about AI (62% vs 42%)
- Leaders are more likely than frontline workers to say they’ve received training to improve skills and stay relevant (44% vs 14%)
- Leaders use generative AI more regularly than frontline workers (80% vs 20%)
- Regular generative AI users are more optimistic than non-users about the technology (62% vs 36%)
Frontline workers are worried about AI eroding or stealing their jobs, so we anticipate AI education being an important part of the puzzle in 2024. Leaders will have to explain the value of this tech to employees and how they plan to use it going forward.
Top tip: Check out this research from the American Psychological Association. Employees are more likely to worry about AI when they don’t feel valued at work. So developing other areas of employee experience – like recognition – can help smooth your journey toward AI adoption.
Adopting EX technology
Every digital interaction a worker has at your company forms part of their digital employee experience (DEX). But workplace tech often falls short.
It fails to mirror the seamless digital experiences people get in their lives away from work. It’s also often inaccessible to any worker who doesn’t sit behind a desk.
However, in 2024, it feels like things are changing.
Employers are taking note. In response to employee tech frustrations, companies are upgrading from old company intranets to modern, mobile-first solutions.
They’re using employee apps, like Blink, that help organizations create connected company ecosystems that include every member of the workforce.
Available via a smartphone app, Blink doesn’t rely on email addresses or a complicated login process. It’s a secure, streamlined platform that puts company comms, tools, and resources in the same accessible place.
And because mobile-first apps like Blink are similar to the digital tools employees already use at home, they’re intuitive. Any team member can pick up an app and use it instantly.
We now know that too many tools hamper the employee experience. Rather than switching between different platforms, employees prefer to use the fewest number of programs to achieve their goals.
So this year, companies are battling tech bloat and looking for tools that perform multiple functions. They’re also implementing tools that meet the needs of various departments – like HR, IT, and comms teams – bringing all EX essentials under the same roof.
This streamlined approach will reduce the need for multiple employee logins. Instead, tools will be increasingly integrated and easy to use.
Personalizing the experience
Employees are getting personalized experiences away from work. Movie recommendations on Netflix. The annual listening roundup from Spotify. A shopping list from their supermarket app.
We know that a personalized approach drives customer loyalty. So could this be the year employers apply the same logic to their employee experience?
Personalized internal comms
Good internal communication is essential to EX. It fosters trust between employees and leadership. It also makes your workforce more engaged, connected, and aligned.
The best internal comms are reliable and consistent. They’re also personalized to each employee, based on their location, department, role, or tenure.
Comms leaders are increasingly using personalization as a way to get their message heard. They’re doing this with the help of tech that allows them to segment employees more effectively.
This means employees no longer receive irrelevant memos. They don’t get distracted or overwhelmed by internal communications that don’t apply to them.
Instead, they receive tailored messages that resonate – and that encourage sustained engagement with comms going forward.
As you’ve probably gathered, tech and AI are a common thread throughout these employee experience trends. They’re integral to the progress being made in the sector.
As well as using AI to segment your workforce and target internal communications more effectively, you can use tech to create personalized digital experiences.
For example, employees can reconfigure their company dashboard, prioritizing the features most relevant to their work. Some companies are using tools that go a step further, using AI to personalize portals automatically.
Personalized learning and career pathways
L&D and career advancement are still top priorities for frontline employees in 2024. But one size never fits all. So we expect more organizations to develop personalized learning and career pathways for their employees.
It’s about making learning accessible and engaging for each individual. Leaders will make micro-learning, mentorship, coaching, on-the-job learning, and online courses available to all employees.
It’s also about making learning relevant to each individual career path. Tech tools – once again – stand at the forefront of this shift. L&D leaders are using them to identify and benchmark skills related to each role. And then recommend relevant learning materials and assessments.
Employees want to be heard
Companies that only engage in top-down communication will stick out like a sore thumb in 2024. Listening and open communication are now cornerstones of good employee experience management.
Employees want to feel heard because it helps them to feel valued. And employers stand to benefit, too.
When you give employees a voice – and listen to what they have to say – you gain valuable insight into what your workforce wants. You then make better EX decisions. But this is only possible when you allow information to travel in all directions – top-down, bottom-up and peer-to-peer.
Good company-wide communication relies on an open company culture. But it seems there’s disagreement over how well organizations are doing.
According to Leapsome’s Workforce Trends Report, 97% of HR leaders say that they have a good feedback culture. But only 13% of remote employees agree. What’s more, a third of all employees don’t feel they can talk to HR.
This is perhaps why organizations are putting greater focus on manager development. Managers help set the culture. But listening and open communication don’t always come naturally.
With training, managers can gain the active listening and empathy skills they need to encourage collaborative communication. They also learn to embrace rather than shy away from employee feedback.
Surveys & feedback
In a bid to make EX strategies more effective, we expect organizations to spend more time in 2024 gathering the opinions of employees.
They’ll be finding out what matters to their workers. And what workers think of EX as it currently stands.
Companies will develop a regular schedule of feedback requests and surveys. Annual surveys to track progress over time – and pulse surveys to get an up-to-the-minute snapshot of their organization.
Personalization comes into play here too. By personalizing surveys to different departments, teams, and employee journeys, organizations get better feedback engagement and more accurate results.
But simply filling out a survey isn’t enough to make employees feel heard. Currently, it’s a hollow exercise for a worrying proportion of organizations.
According to O.C. Tanner’s Global Culture Report, only 58% of organizations take action to improve after receiving employee feedback.
So to get the most employee satisfaction and retention benefits from your surveys, always incorporate the following actions:
- Acknowledging and thanking employees for feedback
- Sharing survey results
- Communicating how you plan to use employee feedback to improve EX
Giving everyone a voice
When it comes to being heard, some employees seem to have a louder voice than others. Usually, it’s those closer to the heart of operations – employees based at HQ who get regular contact with managers and leaders.
However, as organizations strive to improve EX for all employees, they’re looking to include everyone in the conversation. This means frontline as well as desk-based teams.
Leaders increasingly understand the importance of spending time with frontline workers – either digitally or in person. It’s a way to grasp the realities, successes, and challenges of their roles.
We predict more of this in 2024, as well as a push for more inclusive decision-making.
With the right communication tools, accessible to everyone, head office can pose questions and present problems to all employees. They can get input from all members of the workforce and craft better, more effective solutions.
As we’ve seen, companies are using tech solutions to supercharge their EX. In the process, they’re gathering a ton of valuable data that they can use to inform their future efforts.
Data-driven decision-making is the last of our employee experience trends. And it seems it’s becoming par for the course. Organizations are routinely asking their employees:
- Are you engaged with your team?
- Are you happy with management? Leadership?
- Are you satisfied with your experience at work?
Companies are using data from staff surveys to better identify employee experience issues. But they’re also getting a sense of the bigger picture by setting employee sentiment data alongside statistics on staff retention and productivity.
With the help of segmentation, they’re able to understand these figures at a granular level – by location, by department, by manager. This is allowing leaders to make more targeted and effective EX interventions.
But to harness the potential of data-driven decisions, you need the right tech tools. You need readily available, real-time data. You also need data that is well-presented and easy to digest so management can pivot EX strategies effectively.
Blink analytics lets you see positive and negative team relationships at a glance. It shows you the data associated with each individual post on the company newsfeed. And it has all of the features you need to filter and benchmark data with ease.
What’s your EX plan for 2024?
2023 was a tough year. But the future of employee experience remains bright and exciting.
In 2024, we expect to see a real internal comms culture shift. Organizations are finding ways to amplify unheard frontline voices. They’re also making real efforts to act upon what they hear – and to involve everyone in the conversation.
AI and tech are a powerful force that we can use to improve EX. They make work easier and more enjoyable for employees while helping leaders create personalized and engaging experiences at every point in the employee journey.
And finally, thanks to both employee listening initiatives and great AI and tech tools, employers are getting better access to perspective-changing data. This is allowing them to drive informed and effective EX transformation.
So what are your EX plans for 2024?
Incorporate these employee trends into your EX strategy and you’ll get ahead of the competition. You’ll develop an employee-centric approach that drives better retention, productivity, and profits.
Check out a preview of Blink here to see how our frontline employee super-app can help transform employee experience.