Make 2021 Count: Your Guide to Creating the Best Employee Experience

The pace of change in business today is faster and more disruptive than ever. And those of us fortunate to have a job in this challenging economy can probably agree that the needs of the workforce are evolving just as quickly. However, what hasn’t changed is that people must be the highest priority.

As organizations depend on their people to be more agile, they should do more to support their employees’ emotional and mental health, especially when many feel so burdened by uncertainty. The employee experience is more important than ever. Caring holistically for people is not just the right  thing to do, it’s what employers must do.

Here’s a compelling business case for companies to put employee well-being and experience first: A strong sense of connection and belonging at work is tied to increases of up to 34 percent in engagement, 31 percent in retention likelihood, and 13 percent in performance, according to the Thrive XM Index. Created together with Thrive Global, SAP SuccessFactors, Qualtrics, and Fortune, the Thrive XM Index is a comprehensive study of more than 20,000 U.S. employees at more than 900 companies. Companies have more tools than ever to support employee well-being and now, for the first time, they can connect the dots to business results.

The Best of Next: A Guide

When was the last time you felt like your best self at work? We want to help companies create more of those moments. Recognizing the impact of companies doing more to support employee well-being, Thrive Global and SAP are working to help companies, no matter their size or industry, do just that. To help HR leaders and managers address two of the most important issues for all remote, on-site, and hybrid workforces, we created two guides: “Creating a Healthy and Positive Work Experience” and “Leading with Agility, Resilience, and a Growth Mindset.”

We want to help organizations keep employees safe and productive to ensure business continuity now and beyond. With practical tips, expert interviews, and how-to videos, these resources can help people and businesses lower stress and anxiety and build mental resilience during this unprecedented time.

Why Listening to Your Employees Makes You a Better Leader

In this inspirational article, Christine Andrukonis, the founder of Notion Consulting and an expert in helping leaders change behavior, explains that leaders need to gain insight into more aspects of their employees’ lives to understand them and help them be their best at work.

“I like to say that 50 percent of the work is about the work itself and 50 percent of the work is about what’s happening behind-the-scenes for the people involved in the work,” Andrukonis says. “And leaders have to have that mindset. Until they can appreciate that half of this success relies on human beings and what’s going on with them, it’s going to be really hard to optimize everything at one hundred percent.”

Why Trust and Empathy Are Key Ingredients of Leadership

Empathy – being able to identify with what other people are feeling or experiencing – may seem like an elementary concept, but it’s a key driver of job performance, according to a study by the research firm DDI. However, only 40 percent of business leaders display strong empathy skills.

We understand that being able to put yourself in another’s shoes is critical for social development, but what about in the professional world? Fortunately, empathy is a skill that can be developed, according to one Thrive Guide article that shares practical examples.

The first step is working on our relationships, and the bulk of that is done through communication, according to Terrence Seamon, an executive career transition consultant at The Ayers Group. “A leader has to be very real,” Seamon says. This requires leaders to share their own questions, concerns, and challenges with team members and demonstrate authenticity and vulnerability.

How Well Do You Know Your Employees’ Growth, Ambitions, and Motivations?

Does your boss understand your passions? Is your company asking what really drives people at work? Even experienced professionals need to do some soul searching to find answers, and employers can do their part to help. According to this article, for leaders to shift from focusing on the job to focusing on people, they need to start by concentrating on employees’ capabilities and then design work processes and systems around them – not the other way around.

This is one of the key findings of a recent SAP SuccessFactors white paper, “Building Future-Capable Workforces.” Leaders need to understand that people are dynamic, with capabilities and motivations that change over time.

How to Shape a Workplace Culture That Works for Everyone

There is so much potential for organizations that want to invest in a culture that champions people of different ethnicities, cultures, abilities, backgrounds, and genders. But companies that embrace diversity and inclusion can find that it’s hard to get real results, despite genuine intentions. Minal Bopaiah, founder of Brevity & Wit, a strategy and design firm focused on designing a more inclusive and equitable world, offers insights for leaders to move the needle on creating an inclusive culture.

Bopaiah shares how several white business leaders wanted to do something meaningful by offering to mentor Black people in their professional fields. Bopaiah told them they had it backward. “You want to diversify your field?” she asked them. “Then I want you to go find the people in your field who are Black, or indigenous, or people of color who are already thought leaders in this space, so they can be your mentor.”

Fully recognizing that the best diversity and inclusion interventions are voluntary, Bopaiah suggests creating an environment that allows tough, meaningful conversations. We have so much to learn from one another, and leaders can offer support so we can do so inclusively.

A New Way of Working

The COVID-19 global health crisis has created unprecedented disruption and long-term implications for companies and people. By listening to people and leading with agility and resilience, companies can look to the future with optimism. Putting people at the center through human experience management (HXM) is the beginning of this healing process. This has been a difficult past year for everyone, so instead of getting back to business as usual I invite leaders to approach this year as changed individuals and choose empathy and humility to create a more positive and healthy work experience for all. Will you join me?


April Crichlow is Global Vice President and Head of Marketing for SAP SuccessFactors.

This article first appeared on the SAP Global News Center.