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Forrester’s employee listening solutions landscape 2023 – Top three takeaways

For decades, HR teams have relied on active listening, like surveys to gauge the wants and needs of their workforce. Now, the technology exists to listen to every source - known as passive listening - giving organizations actionable insights to help shape a better employee experience.

In recently published research from leading analysis firm, Forrester, Qualtrics was recognized as one of 25 notable vendors in the 2023 Employee Listening Solutions Landscape.

The report was authored by Forrester analyst David Brodeur-Johnson, a tenured industry analyst who is credited with aiding employee experience leaders in their selection process of employee listening technologies. Previously, David named Qualtrics a Leader in The Forrester New Wave™: EX Management Platforms for Large Enterprises, Q1 2020.

In this latest research, David highlights the landscape of vendors in the Employee Listening market — a market that has evolved considerably over the past few years — and highlights current and future opportunities for both technology vendors and people leaders.

Before jumping into our key takeaways from the research, here’s how Forrester defines an employee listening solution:

“A platform that offers capabilities for gathering meaningful experience insights from employees through various channels, such as surveys, discussion groups, and analysis of employee communication streams, all while protecting their identity.”

Top Three Takeaways

#1. Forrester’s Market Trend: Organizations are expanding and deepening their employee listening capabilities.

Our take: Qualtrics’ holistic employee listening capabilities, combined with the power of our single XM Platform®, have allowed organizations to expand and deepen their EX programs far beyond traditional employee engagement surveys. Through our market-leading People Engage solutions, EX leaders can understand what employees need and drive action at every level in order to build engaged and high-performing teams, improve manager and individual effectiveness, and make informed and timely business decisions.

Next, our People Lifecycle solutions help organizations connect the dots across the entire employee journey, from candidate to onboarding to exit (and every key moment in between), in order to continuously optimize experiences across the full lifecycle to drive employee engagement and business outcomes.

Finally, in partnership with our most innovative customers, we are pioneering new People Analytics solutions to bring together every signal, from every channel, and apply powerful AI-based analytics that surface and share recommendations to the right people, including how EX drivers impact CX outcomes, so the best decisions are made for your workforce. The power of being able to leverage multiple data sources across the business on a single platform allows organizations to quantify the ROI of EX in terms of customer success and business impact.

Employee experiences trends to know heading into 2024:

The new job honeymoon phase is over. Thirty-nine percent of employees who have been with a company for less than six months plan to leave within the next 12 months, a 6-point increase from last year.

What you can do:

  • Align your employee experience programs to ensure they meet the expectations of incoming talent. Help new employees acclimatize and ramp up effectively, make connections, and learn how to navigate new cultural norms – especially if employees work remotely or a hybrid schedule.
  • Connect employees (especially new hires) with existing growth and development programs and opportunities. Work to understand and accommodate the development needs of all employees with employee listening tools.

#2. Forrester’s Market Challenge: It’s difficult to merge and interpret multiple streams of EX data to generate useful insights while protecting identities.

Our take: As Qualtrics has shown time and again, we are one of the only vendors tackling this employee listening challenge from both sides of the coin.

Our investments in continuous listening capabilities and powerful AI-based sentiment analysis allow for multiple streams of EX data to generate useful insights in real-time — and at a scale never possible before with periodic surveys. With continuous, passive listening from nearly any digital channel like Slack, MS Teams, Glassdoor, and even IT tickets, organizations can get aggregate insights from anywhere employees share feedback. Layering on to this, we’ve invested in the merging of key data sources that also impact employee experience such as behavioral data (e.g. from work productivity apps) and operational data (e.g. from HCMs, talent acquisition and talent development apps) to augment the precision of insights.

We are also deeply committed to ensuring our customers maintain employee trust and can assure confidentiality — table stakes for any listening program, but especially critical when the listening channels are expanded beyond surveys. Security and data privacy is built into everything we do, so as we offer new ways to collect and understand employee feedback, we do so with caution. For example, over the past few years, Qualtrics has released highly scalable governance controls, pseudonymization, and anonymity tools for EX program administrators. These capabilities remain core to our expanded listening solutions and help organizations mitigate risk around sensitive data in order to maintain the utmost trust and transparency with employees.

Employee experiences trends to know heading into 2024:

Employees are comfortable sharing work emails and chats for an improved employee experience, but more ambivalent about social media posts being used. In fact, 70% of workers are comfortable with their organization using email data to better understand and improve their experience at work. They are less comfortable (41%) with companies using social media posts, whether anonymous or not.

What you can do:

  • Ready your organization for the next era of EX. Develop the vision for the future state of EX where new types of listening tools and AI complement one another. Then, craft a roadmap to bring this vision to life. Keep in mind that you’ll be most effective when your organization is engaged and there's a culture of trust.
  • Nurture cross-functional collaborations, especially with CX and IT teams. Demonstrate how customer outcomes at your organization connect to employee experience. Bring together data – and people – from all experiences to find connections between your programs. Seek out stakeholders across the organization to own and implement changes.

#3: Forrester’s Market Opportunity: Leading vendors will support analyzing unstructured data and intelligently mining it for useful insights.

Our take: The collection and analysis of unstructured employee experience, behavioral, and operational data through continuous listening is one of our largest investment areas, and enhancing these capabilities with generative AI models specific to EX scenarios is the next critical step we’re taking to advance employee listening well beyond what the market has traditionally offered.

Qualtrics customers will continue to see us make fast progress in this area of our product, unlocking the ability to gain a predictive understanding of EX.

For example, predictive AI capabilities can analyze behavioral data to identify teams with high risk of attrition over the next six months and surface the most likely reasons employees might leave, so managers and HR leaders can step in and proactively improve intent-to-stay.

Furthermore, new generative AI capabilities can support managers by automatically summarizing employee feedback and behavioral data — such as how many hours their team is working, how full calendars are, and whether team members are answering work messages after hours — and then correlate that data to employee well-being. This gives managers a continuous signal for how their team is feeling, and when combined with AI-powered coaching, a personalized way on how best to support them.

Employee experiences trends to know heading into 2024:

Employees would rather AI assist them than evaluate them. Workers are more comfortable with AI in the workplace when they have a sense of control over it, such as for writing tasks (61% of employees would use AI for this) or as a personal assistant (51% of employees), than in higher-stakes situations like performance evaluations (37%) or hiring decisions (29%).

What you can do:

  • Engage employees in conversations about AI. And keep the dialogue open as new developments emerge. You won’t have all the answers – and that’s okay. Start by simply asking people what their concerns are, and talk about potential ways AI can make their jobs easier.
  • Recognize and address employees’ fears. Dedicate time to trialing new AI technology in a safe environment. Be open and transparent about how it's used. Include employees in the journey. And demonstrate how the organization will use AI to empower teams, add value, and enable the workforce to focus on more strategic or important initiatives.

The way forward for business and HR leaders

Organizations that want to make a meaningful impact on employee experience should look to invest in an employee listening tool that helps them empathize with employees and create personalized experiences. Instead of bombarding your people with surveys, it’s critical you take advantage of the abundant data points readily available to understand employee experiences and behaviors better, all while respecting privacy.

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