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Perceptyx's end-of-year consultant roundtable event

Consultant Roundtable: Trends in Employee Listening & Talent Retention

As organizations grapple with Quiet Quitting, layoffs, inflation, and other challenges presented by uncertain times, members of Perceptyx’s research and People@Work teams put their heads together to offer perspectives on these and other top trends. In the first installment of our Consultant Roundtable series, we asked members of our team to help put these headlines in context, and share their views on what’s new in employee listening heading into 2023.

Despite the Headline Hype, Context Is King

Megan Steckler, Director of Client Consulting: “There was plenty of headline hype over the past year. You might remember as we all adjusted to the long-term remote work idea or started to sort out some return-to-office strategies in early 2022. Everyone was reading about what the “New Normal” was going to look like. Then we started to see headlines about the “Great Resignation,” and we had some panic about attrition that started to set in.

Pretty soon, those who stayed with their organization were informed that they could be paying the “Loyalty Tax” by staying. And most recently, I pulled this headline from the Wall Street Journal saying, if your “Quiet Quitting” is going well, then you might be getting “Quiet Fired.” These buzzwords were certainly catchy. They inspired urgency and reaction from a lot of leaders, but they didn't always tell the whole story or reflect what was going on in every organization.

There's a bit of truth, and in most cases, some reasonable data behind each of these major 2022 headlines. I wouldn't dismiss them. They do, of course, provide good external context and insight into the macroeconomic and labor market trends, but I would challenge us to avoid making assumptions or acting based on those headlines alone. The right approach in response to any of these trends will always depend on context.

One, it's going to depend on the internal context. What are the strategic priorities of your specific organization? What's going on in the business and what are the big goals? What is your unique culture like? Secondly, it's going to depend on your employees and what they're telling us about their needs and their experiences. Employee input and feedback should always be used to help inform the right approach. And that data, the insight that we get from employees, most often comes from the listening program.

There's no one size that fits all to addressing the headline hype. There's nothing that's going to work for everybody. These issues are complex, the organizations that we work with are complex, and we need to put those headlines into context to make more informed decisions about how we deal with any of those potential issues as they emerge.”

Listening More Frequently in 2023

David Weisser, Principal Consultant: “One major trend is that people are listening more frequently. Leaders are certainly tapped into what employees are thinking and saying. Technology has played a role in that, the rise of the hybrid workforce, of course, as well. I think it goes without saying the past couple of years have been very confusing, so leaders have expressed a desire for more information.”

“The best way to get that data is to ask, so in the absence of clear information, the leaders have simply put their ear to the ground to ask. This leads me to the second level of that evolution in listening, which is, ‘what should we ask? What are we listening for?’ Events have driven a lot of that: the Great Resignation, the pandemic, return-to-office, and the current economic slowdown. There's been a refocus on matters related to DEIB. National events and world events have increasingly affected employees' perceptions as we become more interconnected.”

“Listening more frequently has become a strategy of necessity rather than choice. Taken together, there's been an increase in listening to targeted topics in targeted populations. One of my favorite survey events from 2022 was done by a large beverage manufacturer and distributor regarding parents in the workplace and looking at how their perceptions changed, influenced by recent events. Analyzing their perceptions through those lenses was very valuable and provided a lot of needed insight.”

Expanding the Ways We Listen

Emily Killham, Director of Research and Insights: “One of the things that I've heard customers say is, ‘How many more times can we go to people and ask them questions without them getting tired of that, or annoyed by that, or fatigued by that?’ As organizations listen more, it's not just doing the same listening over and over again, but broadening the ways we listen and understanding the why behind how we listen.”

“Regarding targeted surveys and targeted asking, is listening always happening via survey? What we have seen is organizations are listening in many different ways. We're also analyzing behaviors via passive listening: are we as managers playing favorites among our team members? Are we asking certain people for their opinions too little or too often? And there are ways to influence those behaviors, such as Perceptyx’s Cultivate Intelligent Coaching product.”

“Technology is also allowing us to crowdsource information that used to take months and months to get, where previously we'd have expensive and time-consuming in-person focus groups. Now we can ask a single question and solicit a response that happens instantaneously, then turn the insights from that data into action.”

“The other thing that organizations have really spent some time focusing on as they've needed to listen more is the instantaneous connection to other things that matter. One of the nice things for employee listening that came out of the pandemic was that employees were able to see how their feedback became connected with other things the organization was doing in a different way. You would do a return-to-office survey or answer a question about the technology or equipment you’re missing in your home office. Organizations would be able to act on that information very quickly, because doing so was a business necessity. As we go into 2023, I hope this trend in employee listening continues. Even if we don't have to listen, we actually do have to listen."

Perceptyx Can Help You Maximize the Value of Employee Listening

As emphasized in our Consultant Roundtable — which you can watch here in full — listening to employees and giving them a voice during times of uncertainty isn’t a “nice to have.” It’s the most important thing you can do as you head into 2023 and set priorities for your organization and your people. To learn more about how Perceptyx can bring clarity to this process, schedule a meeting with a member of our team.

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