There's a fine line between sensing employee sentiment and spying on your workforce. The tools for measuring employee experience are becoming more sophisticated. […]
Fear is rampant on many executive floors because employees' loyalty to their employers is declining. We are talking about the "Great Resignation" or the "Big Quit", which is no longer just rampant in the USA. In Europe, too, employees are increasingly leaving off the peg. The reasons are different. In addition to Corona-related upheavals in the labor market, younger employees in particular often reconsider their life plans and pay close attention to a healthy work-life balance.
Qualtrics, a provider of solutions for experience management, wants to provide user companies with tools that can be used to monitor the mood of their own employees. For example, employees who were toying with the idea of resigning could be identified more quickly and countermeasures taken accordingly.
At least that's the theory of those responsible for Qualtrics. With Employee Experience ID, the SAP subsidiary has presented a tool that is intended to offer HR departments a uniform view of each individual employee. Companies could use it to see how their employees prefer to work, what their level of "engagement" is, and what feedback they have on working conditions.
Such analyzes can also be used by companies to identify trends in certain employee groups. For example, if organizations find that female middle managers are more likely to quit, managers can be vigilant, seek feedback, and initiate changes to create a better experience for that group.
Ultimately, this is about the employee journey, comparable to the customer journey in marketing and sales. Qualtrics helps companies track how employees are doing within their organization, said Jay Choi, Qualtrics EVP and chief product officer for EmployeeXM.
“Companies looking to recruit and retain top talent are under a lot of pressure. Every relationship is based on a series of experiences. Leaders who understand how an employee's working life is impacted during their tenure have a competitive advantage.”
IT managers in particular have a key role to play when it comes to employee experience: They have to take care of the integration of experience management systems and also ensure that employees experience their IT environment positively. Employees who say their technology supports them well in their jobs are more committed to their work and have a significantly closer bond with their employer, according to a Qualtrics study.
"The hiring manager and CIO are the personalities who reach every employee and have the greatest impact on their engagement and retention," states Brad Anderson, president of products and services at Qualtrics.
However, there is another facet to capturing and analyzing employee experiences. David Brodeur-Johnson, senior analyst at Forrester, raises concerns about privacy when, for example, an employee's survey responses and their correlation to workplace events can be examined. Here it is important to question the possibilities of the respective experience management platforms.
For example, in the past, Qualtrics managers have not allowed data to be broken down into groups of fewer than six or eight people to preserve individual anonymity, Brodeur-Johnson said.
"This type of data is very powerful," says the analyst. "If it gives managers the opportunity to make their employees transparent and maybe even used as punishment, we think that's dangerous." IT managers have a responsible control role to play here, says Brodeur-Johnson. It is important to observe governance and security policies and to ensure that the company does not take any unnecessary risks.
Forrester talks about finding the right balance. On the one hand, it is about gaining more insight into the sensitivities of the workforce and thus creating a better employee experience, on the other hand, sensitive personal information of the individual employees must be protected at all costs.
Qualtrics isn't the only vendor trying to understand how employees feel. In early April, Oracle announced an expansion of its Oracle Fusion Cloud Human Capital Management Suite. Oracle ME includes the Oracle Touchpoints feature, which captures and tracks employee sentiment and provides managers with recommendations for further action based on the feedback collected.
Workday also offers similar functions. In January 2021, the SaaS specialist took over Peakon. The provider offers a tool that collects data on employee sentiment in real time and uses analyzes to make suggestions to supervisors for further action.
Basically, it is all about collecting and evaluating as much employee data as possible at all possible touchpoints. Qualtrics also collects and consolidates far more than just data from employee surveys to find out what makes employees tick. To create its Employee Experience IDs, the SAP subsidiary also accesses HR systems to determine an employee's position in the hierarchy, recent performance reviews, and important life events such as returning from parental leave.
Expense management systems identify frequent travellers, Microsoft Viva allows insights into work patterns through the use of teams and with the help of IT service management tools it can be seen how many support tickets an employee submits or how quickly or with what quality they are processed. At Qualtrics, the latter works, for example, through an integration with ServiceNow. Thanks to the acquisition of Clarabridge in October 2021, Qualtrics can also analyze sentiment in employee comments. This not only applies to surveys or support tickets, but also to chat platforms such as Teams or Slack.
Management receives an overview of sentiment via employee journey analytics, either for the entire company or for specific groups of employees – consolidated in a central console via various dashboards.
Here you can graphically show how sentiment is developing around different interactions such as onboarding or IT support. Accordingly, action plans should be able to be developed in order to improve sentiment and thus also commitment.
Qualtrics executive Anderson tells of a multinational retail company that used the employee experience tools to find that new hires were happier and less stressed when their prospective manager texted or emailed them before their first day on the job sent.
By analyzing feedback from onboarding with engagement metrics, this company instructed their managers to greet new hires appropriately. A small but important measure that can significantly affect a team's performance, concludes Anderson.
*Peter Sayer is a correspondent for the IDG News Service.