Research Points the Way for Improving Employee Experience in 2023

December 6, 2022 David Witt

Over 700 leadership, learning, and talent development professionals participated in The Ken Blanchard Companies® 2023 HR/L&D Trends Survey. As a part of the survey, respondents were asked to identify the top five areas they will focus on in 2023 to improve employee experience—a continuous area of concern as organizations struggle with hiring and retention issues.

When asked to share their key strategies for addressing employee experience, survey respondents indicated these top five focus areas:

  1. Building trust between managers and direct reports
  2. Addressing workload balance to avoid burnout
  3. Connecting work to purpose
  4. Setting clear performance expectations
  5. Promoting teamwork and collaboration

In preparing for a follow-up webinar on the topic, company president Scott Blanchard identified organizational leadership as the best place to start for any initiative that seeks to elevate employee experience. As Blanchard said in a recent interview for his company’s monthly Ignite newsletter, “Good leadership practices, especially strong day-to-day operational leadership practices, are the linchpin that holds together the overall employee experience.”

For leaders looking to use a research-based approach to improving in these five areas, Blanchard recommends several resources on his company’s website.

Leadership as a driver of the employee experience

Research on The Leadership-Profit Chain shares the results of a comprehensive study regarding the impact of leadership. The study concluded that creating a successful organization is an inside-out proposition. The quality of the organization’s culture and its management practices, and the alignment of these practices to key strategic initiatives, rest with leadership.

Leaders who hold their people accountable and ensure effective, productive behaviors can be the best influencers and drivers of organizational results. Equally important is the leader’s ability to affect the mood, attitude, and engagement of employees and the overall culture of the organization through a specific chain of events that are implicitly linked. The key to organizational vitality is creating an environment that allows employees to win and be passionate about what they do.

Trust is a key component in creating a healthy work environment

A study with 1,856 participants examined the multiple relationships between two forms of trust in one’s leader and five forms of employee work intentions. This study examined the relationship between trust, job satisfaction, organizational commitment and five key intentions that influence organizational vitality. The bottom line? The importance of HRD practitioners understanding which leader behaviors elicit follower trust. More specifically, how do leaders engender trustworthiness in their followers? Training programs and evaluation processes should be geared toward helping leaders demonstrate various trustworthy behaviors.

Meaningful work and workload balance are key factors of employee work passion

Employee work passion is an individual’s persistent, emotionally positive, meaning-based state of well-being stemming from continuous, recurring cognitive and affective appraisals of various job and organizational situations, which results in consistent, constructive work intentions and behaviors. In this study, Blanchard researchers identified twelve workplace conditions that account for a majority of the variance between high and low levels of employee work passion. Two of the key factors are meaningful work—which Blanchard researchers describe as “the extent to which people understand and resonate with the organization’s purpose and believe they are working on projects that matter and produce positive results”—and workload balance, which is described as “the extent to which individuals feel they have ample time to accomplish their work.”

Make sure goals are motivating and relevant

Blanchard likes to take a twist on the traditional SMART model of setting goals—specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-bound—by substituting motivating for measurable and relevant for realistic. This keeps the focus on the day-to-day management of progress toward goals and is a part of the company’s SLII® leadership development learning experience. Relevant ensures the goal is important to the organization. Motivating looks at whether work on the task will help to build an employee’s competence, relationships, and autonomy. Both are key drivers of a positive employee experience.

Teamwork and collaboration in a hybrid setting

One of the biggest challenges in the shift toward remote and hybrid work environments has been the loss of the small, daily interactions that occur in an office environment. Research conducted by The Ken Blanchard Companies together with Training magazine found that a lack of accountability, unclear decision-making, and poor leadership practices were the biggest obstacles to team performance.

Today you have to be more intentional, says Blanchard. “Team leaders need specific training to lead their teams to peak performance and a system to support them as they navigate through the changes in their team members’ competence and commitment. This includes building out specific strategies for creating cross-functional groups, providing opportunities for people to connect remotely, and making the most of every opportunity to get together in a face-to-face setting.”

Join Blanchard for a free webinar!

Ready to learn more about improving the employee experience in your organization? Scott Blanchard will be sharing additional strategies in a webinar coming up on December 14. The event is free, courtesy of The Ken Blanchard Companies. Use this link to learn more or register.

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