The 5 employee experience trends redefining work in 2024
37,000 employees. 32 countries. 28 industries. And 5 workplace-defining trends. Say hello to the 2024 employee experience trends.
In 2024, the world of work is changing yet again — but rather than restructuring the work relationship, both employees and the organizations they work for are trying to find one thing: balance amongst competing priorities.
Here, we take a brief look at the key employee experience trends in 2024, summarizing the main findings.
But if you want to get into the details and strategies — make sure you download the full report!
The top employee experience trends in 2024
Trend 1: Employees would rather AI assist them than manage them
The speed at which artificial intelligence (AI) has evolved in the past few years is unprecedented.
From solutions like ChatGPT to deep sentiment analysis based on natural language processing, AI has already given us a taste of what’s possible. For employee experience (EX) leaders and managers, AI provides a glimpse into the thoughts, opinions, worries, and priorities of their employees. But the real challenge in 2024 is understanding how best and where to implement it without disrupting the workforce.
In our research, we found that when it comes to implementing AI, employee engagement might hold the answer.
We found that the more engaged someone is, the more comfortable they are with using or working alongside AI for work. In fact, 53% of engaged employees reported being comfortable with AI, compared to just 30% of disengaged employees.
But organizations also need to balance their desire for efficiency and business success with employee well-being. The reality is that while AI enables employees and many organizations to scale and thrive, the chief concern amongst the workforce is their roles being replaced, or their experience being controlled.
For example, we found that while people are comfortable using AI for menial tasks at work, such as writing (61%), personal assistance (51%), and internal workspace queries (46%), they would much rather rely on or engage with a human for more personal, subjective aspects, such as employee performance appraisals (37%) and job interviews (29%).
Generally, the more positive you feel about your organization – the more trust you have in it – and the more senior your role, the more likely you are to believe that your organization will use AI for your benefit. You also trust that AI will make you more productive and efficient at your job.
- Sarah Marrs, Director of EX Strategy & Execution at Qualtrics
What’s interesting is that we’re starting to see organizations implement things like HR artificial intelligence — essentially platforms or connected tools that empower employees to do significantly more with far less. It’s not so much about replacing talent but more about accelerating the entire organization.
Trend 2: Frontline employees are the most unhappy, poorly supported, and least trusting of leadership
If you haven’t checked in on the experience of your frontline teams, you might want to.
Of all the employee groups, especially when compared to non-frontline workers, frontline employees are the most unhappy, poorly supported, and least trusting of leadership according to our research.
Considering they’re the ones who are primarily responsible for business performance, customer satisfaction, brand loyalty and advocacy, organizations would be wise to do everything in their power to ensure they have a positive employee experience and receive fair compensation.
Recognition, career development, pay and benefits, work processes, adapting to change, feeling safe at work, trust — in every category, organizations are failing to meet the expectations of their frontline employees:
- Only 50% of frontline employees are happy with their pay and benefits, 14 points less compared to non-frontline employees
- Just 60% are satisfied with their career development, 9 points less compared to non-frontline employees
- Just 60% are satisfied with work processes
- And almost half — 40% — don’t trust their leadership
Trend 3: The new-job honeymoon phase has vanished
Remember how the first 12-18 months of a new job were filled with expectations, excitement, optimism, and possibility?
Well, for many employees today, those feelings last no longer than 6 months.
According to our research, the new-job honeymoon phase has, more or less, vanished: employees with less than six months tenure have the lowest intent to stay (three years or more) at their organization.
This underscores a very worrying issue: if organizations are struggling to retain staff longer than the initial honeymoon period, what does that say about the experiences they’re delivering?
In the past, and especially prior to COVID, organizations were hyper-focused on the candidate experience, pulling out all the stops to deliver what employees expect. After all, when employee satisfaction and engagement are at a high, business outcomes benefit, too. However, with the shift to hybrid and remote-working models, both the onboarding and employee experience have faltered, and leaders have struggled to evolve and meet new demands.
Today, the reality is that experiences aren’t aligning with expectations; organizations aren’t set up to onboard new employees in the right ways, managers lack the necessary skills to lead remote teams, and policies and structures haven’t been designed around how employees work. Furthermore, with disparate teams, employees are finding it difficult to make human connections and socialize — both key elements in ensuring positive employee experiences.
The new hire experience is a critical journey within the broader employee journey – one that sets the path of success for employees. Organizations must take stock of the important moments in the onboarding journey, finding ways to measure and improve them. It’s no longer just about ticking the boxes on an onboarding checklist. The social aspects need to be operationalized, too.
- Dr. Cecelia Herbert, PsyD, XMP, XM Institute/Principal Catalyst
Trend 4: Employees don’t mind if you monitor their work messages and emails. They want to be heard!
One of the most interesting findings from our study is that contrary to popular belief, employees are willing — in fact, very willing — to share their private work communications data (e.g. Slack messages, emails, comments on social media) if that information empowers leaders to improve employee experiences.
Every HR leader knows that pulses and quarterly surveys (active listening) only paint part of the employee experience picture. It’s the moments between these outreach programs and the feedback on external and/or private channels that add much-needed context.
By incorporating data from email, social media and other private channels (work or otherwise), organizations can achieve a holistic view of the employee experience, and understand where to act to improve outcomes for all.
Of course, it pays to ensure employees are engaged before partaking in passive listening:
- 80% of engaged respondents said they are comfortable with their organization listening to their emails, compared to 62% of disengaged employees
- 72% of engaged employees said they are comfortable with their organization listening to direct messages, compared to 49% of disengaged employees
- 64% of engaged employees said they are comfortable with their organization listening to their group messages in digital workspaces, compared to 40% of disengaged employees
However, when it comes to social media, employees are a little more cautious:
- 53% of engaged employees said they are comfortable with their organization listening to their anonymous social media posts, compared to 32% of disengaged employees
Employees are clearly saying “this is our boundary” — for now. What organizations have to do is establish a clear process and strategy for capturing and utilizing these insights to benefit their people. Once they’ve done that — and can demonstrate the results — employees will gradually embrace it as part of the organization’s feedback process.
Using data from things like instant messaging to help understand how employees feel at any given moment could be the difference between staying ahead of issues before they become problems and employee churn.
Trend 5: Some time in the office is better than none — just not 5 days
For remote employees, the main benefits of operating away from the office are: a healthy work-life balance, the ability to focus on things outside of work, and improved mental health. But at the same time, remote work has its shortcomings: a lack of human connection, difficulty collaborating, and for new employees; a poor and sometimes siloed onboarding experience.
That said, being in the office full-time doesn’t lead to the best experiences either; sometimes it’s incredibly draining, or difficult to concentrate. Finding balance between the two and providing flexible benefits is something organizations across the globe have grappled with over the past few years.
But now, we may have an answer that keeps employees and leaders happy.
According to our research, a hybrid work structure is the best possible solution for the overall employee experience. One to three days in the office or at home lead to the highest employee experience scores overall across every metric: engagement, well-being, inclusion, and intent to stay.
Five days in the office, however, leads to the worst employee experience outcomes across every metric.
The bottom line is there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to work anymore. Employers need to be more nuanced and flexible – in all senses of the word – to how employees work best.
- Dr. Antonio Pangallo, PhD, Principal XM Scientist
In the future, most companies will need to evaluate their capacity for a remote workforce (especially how it affects company culture and the recruitment of potential employees). HR leaders should also consider how remote work affects the customer experience and employee experience, and if they have the digital tools to enable their workforce at every level.
What does this all mean for you?
For HR professionals and people analytics teams, these findings provide a clear window into the top priorities for employee experience in the year ahead and how to keep your employees happy.
And now, it’s time to take action.
In our 2024 Employee Experience Trends report, you can explore the above trends in significantly more detail.
Featuring expert analysis and commentary (from workplace psychologists and experience management professionals alike) advice broken down by job function, work forecasts, and powerful data comparisons — download your copy of the report, and chart a path forward today.
Free eBook: 2024 Employee Experience Trends
Our findings are based on responses from 36,872 full and part-time employees across 32 countries, and 28 industries. We sampled employees from organizations employing between 100-50,000 employees. The sample consisted of 50% males, 49% females, and 1% non-binary/transgender/third gender.
For a more comprehensive breakdown of our methodology, please refer to the report.
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