How COVID has changed… employee experience

How COVID has changed...

May 3rd, 2021 By Jack Morton

With live events finally set to return in more parts of the world, we thought it would be interesting to see how the different areas of our work have been impacted in the last year.

In this “How Covid Has Changed” content series, we asked some of our top experts about their respective areas of focus and how brands will need to adapt moving forward. Here is what they had to say….

Question: What do you think is the single biggest consideration for brands to integrate into post-pandemic employee experiences once live returns?

how covid has changed employee experienceIndividual exploration. The single biggest thing to consider is that employees, and everyone for that matter, have had over a year exclusively on social platforms like Slack, Zoom, Teams, etc. We are no longer paying attention to who’s in the room with us, but rather who’s on the screen with us.

When you add behavioral conditioning to the phenomenon of social media, we’re clearly not in Kansas anymore. We’re now used to numerous conversations occurring at the same time. Attention spans are shorter than ever. Expectations are varied.  And as a result audiences will demand employee experiences with options, different speeds for different levels of attention, opportunities to self-explore. Experiences that mirror the recent cultural shifts.

During the year of lockdown, mind-numbing sameness of daily life led us to forget just how much people, especially employees, thrive in groups, depend on spontaneity, interacting, meeting new people and being inspired by not knowing what to expect next. But, when we get back to live experiences, we have to be mindful not to over prescribe them. Less will be more too because we’ve had nothing for months and months. We need to also allow people to explore at their own pace, and especially from their own place. Because not everyone is ready or interested in the same level of engagement.

Museum exhibit designers used to think about audiences this way: streaker, stroller, studier. Streakers race around looking at almost nothing, taking it all in at once. Strollers stop once or twice in a room, and then move on. Studiers read every card. What we have now is similar, but with technology laced in. We need to design for it.

There will be those who want to put technology down, and move through an experience – staying present, paying attention. Those who want to look at tech here and there – dipping in and out, sharing a bit, consuming a bit. And those with tech running all the time –  multi-tasking, being comfortable with constant interaction and engagement. Experience journeys must accommodate all three.

Employees are no different than any other audience. And in fact, they are more important than ever. Employees are a primary audience, the first line for a brand, and need to be understood, inspired, and appreciated, no matter where they choose to sit. Research consistently shows that CEOs who best understand this will outperform peers, and create loyalty in their ranks.

What will drive the employee experiences tomorrow isn’t all that far off from what drove it before the pandemic, and that’s people. Employees work for and with people. Brands will have to create experiences that bond, not simply inform. Experiences with options to organically create these connections built upon an emotional center, not just focused on business challenges, will succeed. This pandemic has called into question our purpose, in all aspects of our lives. We’re here for a reason. Celebrate it. We’re here for each other. Inspire it. We’re here to make a difference. Be it.

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