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leaders prioritize employee experience

Why Leaders Should Prioritize the Employee Experience

By now, everyone’s tired of hearing about the Great Resignation. The catchphrase that described the massive employee turnover at the end of the pandemic is losing its punch, and business publications are using it more sparingly. But semantics aside, the factors causing people to walk away from jobs still exist, and attrition isn’t a problem that organizations have overcome.

In fact, workers are less happy today than they were just a few years ago. The latest trending term about their increasing dissatisfaction is “employee-experience recession.” And some experts believe the employee experience (EX) will decline even further in 2024.

Their predictions are worrisome because many employers feel they’ve addressed staff members’ concerns and have moved on. Others are simply tired of trying to appease workers and have shifted their focus to other concerns. But business analysts warn leaders that discounting EX or reverting to the mentality that people are lucky to have a job will backfire.

The consensus from experts is that the employee experience is directly related to the customer experience and, ultimately, the bottom line. Leaders can’t afford not to make EX a priority this year.

What’s Causing Employee Discontent?

In an article for Inc., Bully Pulpit Interactive Partner Bradley Akubuiro writes that the top reason for companies’ ongoing attrition is that workers feel disconnected from their employers. His firm’s research underscores the depth of their discontent:

  • 54 percent of employees have recently considered switching jobs, up six points from 2022.
  • 63 percent of employees say finding a new job would not be difficult, up eight points from 2022.

His team reports that many people are even willing to take a significant pay cut to work for a company offering a better EX. According to Akubuiro, organizations’ poor communication with employees is the source of much of their dissatisfaction. He explains:

“Today, employee communication faces an increasingly steep set of challenges, including a changing world, evolving employee expectations, and competing forces all vying for your workforce's attention. And what's more, the channels we've traditionally relied upon for internal communications are broken.”

The Bully Pulpit survey revealed that employees are increasingly unimpressed and distrustful of communications from leadership because they feel they are hollow and off the mark. The study found that:

  • Only 22 percent of employees always open emails to the whole organization.
  • And 49 percent say official employee communications don't address what is really going on at their organization.

The Axios HQ 2023 State of Essential Workplace Communications offers more unsettling statistics:

  • 66 percent of leaders think they are aligned with employees. Only 44 percent of employees agree.
  • 77 percent of leaders think their communications share the context employees need to do their jobs well. Only 46 percent of employees agree.
  • 67 percent of leaders say their audience has an easy way to share feedback on the communications they receive. Only 43 percent of employees agree.
  • 70 percent of leaders believe staff can quickly find the goals and directives they need. Only 46 percent of employees say they can.

Akubuiro concludes that organizations need an “expanded model of employee communications that is frequent and authentic.” Specifically, leaders need to express their commitment to employees by connecting them to organizational goals and including them in their vision.

Steps to Improve Your Company’s EX

Author and former Gartner research fellow Tiffani Bova studied thousands of workers across many sectors to better understand the connection between EX and organizational success. She concluded that a company could increase revenue by up to 50 percent by improving the employee experience.

In a recent Harvard Business Review article, she identified five top factors linked to communication that create a better EX:

  1. Mutual Trust
  2. C-suite Accountability
  3. Aligning Values and Vision
  4. Recognizing Success
  5. Seamless Technology


Bova described organizational trust as a two-way proposition between employees and leadership. Workers put more stock in transparent bosses who keep them in the loop about company aspirations, challenges, and changes. They respect leaders who encourage and value their input and feedback and trust them to do their work without micromanaging them. And they feel secure in organizations that stress inclusivity and foster a sense of belonging.

She cites a McKinsey study that found employees for companies that develop mutual trust are 47 percent more likely to remain on board. Their level of commitment is higher, leaving few to succumb to quiet quitting. The resulting energy and commitment translate to more positive customer experiences and greater profitability.


Bova asserts that while many companies claim they listen to their employees, the statistics don’t reflect it.

“We found in our research that while 49 percent of C-suite executives believed their company excels at acting on employee feedback (honestly, a low number), only 31 percent of workers agreed. That gap can swallow growth, momentum, and talent.”

To overcome the disconnect, she advises leaders to create an organizational culture where EX is a collective responsibility, beginning with the C-suite making it a priority. For example, she applauds Hilton’s creation of cross-functional teams that ensure leadership is tuned into employee experience.

Unsurprisingly, Hilton consistently makes the “Best Companies to Work For” list. And as Hilton EVP Chris Silcock notes, “How you treat your team members guides how they treat your customers.”

Bova’s suggestions for leaders include creating:

  • An EX advisory board to eliminate barriers and promote new ideas
  • A center of excellence to deliver best practices regarding knowledge or skill gaps
  • An employee resource groups for counseling, mentoring, and career development
  • Surveys to measure employee needs, wants, and expectations

Leaders who demonstrate their awareness and appreciation for the employee experience and act to improve it will see a ripple effect in customer relations.


More than ever, employees want meaningful work at organizations with values that align with their own. To attract and retain loyal workers, leaders must go beyond merely stating company values; they need to make them authentic and create a culture that actively reflects these principles. This effort requires continuous coaching and reinforcement of the behaviors that bring company values to life.

In addition, leaders must create tangible connections between their company’s values and mission. Bova writes:

“Clear goals with well-defined milestones and success metrics connect employees to their company’s mission and help them understand their role in advancing it.”

Bova’s research shows that helping employees feel tethered to company values and vision drives revenue. She notes that leaders should make their commitment to the culture that reflects their company’s values and vision part of their recruiting and onboarding processes. This effort will help ensure team alignment and satisfaction.


According to employee engagement firm Quantum Workplace, employees recognized for their achievements are 2.7 more likely to be highly engaged than their peers. And as Korn Ferry Client Director Dewi Tobing reminds leaders, employee recognition is one of the most cost-effective benefits companies can offer their staff, whether they’re communicating praise privately or publicly, toward an individual or a group.

According to McKinsey’s Great Attrition Survey, more than 50 percent of employees who left their jobs did not feel valued by their organization. However, leaders who systematically practice meaningful acknowledgment bolster employee well-being and cultivate loyalty, retention, and productivity.

Tiffani Bova notes that since employee growth organically generates praise, leaders should identify workers’ potential and support their development. Bova uses Unilever as an example of a company that builds employee skills, setting them up for success. They run leadership development workshops designed to help people in areas they want to improve that segue with company goals. Over 90 percent of employees who attended these sessions reported that their jobs inspired them to do their best.

Today’s workers prioritize opportunities to build skills and expertise. Accordingly, companies that facilitate employee development have favorable retention rates. According to a LinkedIn Workforce Learning Report, 94 percent of workers say they would stay with a company longer if it invested in helping them grow professionally.

Putting it in terms of the bottom line, WNS Global Services head of learning Rajnish Borah points out:

“Career development is fundamental to our employee value proposition, and learning is a key business metric.”


Technology is supposed to simplify communication and speed up our ability to perform tasks. Yet many employees report being overwhelmed by the depth of IT strata related to their work. The 2023 Connectivity Benchmark Report by MuleSoft, written in collaboration with Deloitte, reveals that a typical organization uses more than 1,000 IT applications. And to make things more complicated, only 29 percent of them are in sync with one another.

Tiffani Bova explains that problems arise because many companies continue to add technology to fix company performance and cut costs without considering the side effects on their personnel.

“Technology is not an end in itself but a tool for increasing productivity and reducing effort. And yet our research shows that technology is one of the most poorly rated dimensions of employee experience: Fewer than one in three employees said their company’s technology works effectively, and fewer than one in four said they’re equipped with seamless technology.”

Bova notes that while most companies try to make customers’ experience with technology pleasant, they don’t see the EX correlation. Leaders need to ensure that IT initiatives are designed to elevate employees’ capabilities and make performing their jobs easier and more satisfying. And they should include their staff in analysis and feedback sessions to monitor and adjust IT initiatives as needed to benefit the employee experience.