Like before the pandemic, employee experience is high on the workforce agenda, but what this looks like has changed, where the by-product could be more diverse and inclusive workplaces.

Topia, a global talent mobility platform, has released a report that compares new data about employee work preferences with statistics from 2020; it surveyed 1,250 employees across the US and UK in office-based companies with global operations and involved staff from HR departments and other functions.

The findings compared what ‘a great work experience’ meant to staff a decade ago, which was largely defined by a trendy office space to today, where remote working due to COVID-19 has seen the office decline in importance.

Employee experience demands – training and trust

According to the report, good employee experience is about career growth and development through training, job rotations, and international assignments (53%). For female employees, career growth and development were “particularly important” (57%).

Trust and job empowerment were also highly valued (50%). Interestingly, giving employees “responsibility” at work saw US health-tech firm DataLink awarded a “Great Place to Work-Certified™” accreditation for the second year in a row. It got a 92% employee satisfaction rate.

Compared to last year’s report, the number of respondents giving their organisation “a perfect ten” for employee experience has more than doubled (from 6% to 14%), suggesting that employers have managed the transition to remote working well and that this style of working and has made employees feel happier.

Furthermore, 91% of employees included in the report said, “they should be able to work from wherever they want as long as they get their work done.” Overall, a desire to work remotely has increased from 48% of employees in 2020 to 55% this year.

High pay and high values

When seeking a job, like last year, a majority of employees said high pay was the most important factor; however, second to that is work flexibility, which is ahead of professional development and company culture.

High pay (66%) has become even more of a motivator for staff this year compared to 2020 (60%), where the economic impact of COVID-19 on workers could be a factor, including possibly the significant numbers of women who were affected by the pandemic’s impact on the retail and hospitality.

The report added, “There’s also increased sentiment that companies should be doing good in the world and building diversity. Being a big-name company continues to be at the bottom of the list.”

Being values-driven and impact-led should be important to employers, especially if they want to attract Gen Z talent; A US survey from Deloitte said that Generation Z, which will soon account for the majority population, will be the most diverse generation yet and tend to value “salary less than every other generation” and are more likely to be attracted to organisations that present themselves as “good global citizens.”

94% of HR professionals involved in the Topia report said that remote work would “enable them to build more diverse teams.” In comparison, 82% of employees said that experience and skill-sets should define team building in organisations over the candidate’s location.

Remote but not necessarily home-based working

Remote operations and recruiting could aid a company’s diversity plans and enable them to recruit people from different locations and socio-economic backgrounds who may not afford the commute or move near the office and those with disabilities.

While belief in agile teams is up by 4% in this year’s survey (from 76% in 2020), the report found that “year over year, 59% agree that digital technology can’t replace having a team all together in the same location,” where “fewer people this year compared to last year felt that five years from now there would be no such thing as a 9-5 job in my industry,” which the report said could be due to homeworking burnout during COVID-19.

Again, working women have largely been impacted here. They were more likely to shoulder the burdens of housework, childcare and a job during the pandemic, which caused a significant number to leave the workforce.

The fact that “flexible work arrangements” were important “to 9/10 employees” involved in the survey suggests that more non-office-based working is desired, but not necessarily from home full-time.

The report found that in 2020, 68% would consider moving abroad for work compared to 79% now. In fact, out of those working remotely over the past year, “28% have worked outside their home location.”

Allowing this could also enable more organisations to start hiring talent from beyond their national borders, which could make their workforce truly diverse and give the team global perspectives.

While the report does reveal, there was a lack of transparency from some employees during remote working, “where only 33% of those employees working outside their home state/country have actually reported all those days to HR.” Additionally, 78% of HR professionals “are confident their employees self-report when working in another state or country,” which shows that automated over manual reporting could work better.

However, the report also found that 95% of staff were happy with employers knowing their country location. In comparison, 94% didn’t mind sharing their city location, which suggests that managing teams internationally could work if employers improve their reporting techniques to avoid any tax and compliance implications.

Key takeaways

  • Definitions of good/great employee experience have changed
  • The office is no longer the main factor
  • Career development, international assignments, and trust are valued
  • Career development is very important to women
  • There’s a correlation between remote work and improved employee experience
  • Work flexibility is important not “how” employees get work done or where
  • High pay is the premier factor for work and has grown in 2021
  • “Doing good” and “building diversity” is what employees want from firms
  • HR staff believe remote work could build more diverse teams
  • Employees want to see experience and skill-sets prioritised over candidate location
  • Gen Z candidates value social impact-driven organisations
  • More employees would consider moving abroad for work
  • Managing teams abroad could lead to more international and diverse recruitment