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From Insight to Action: New Data on the State of Employee Listening

From Insight to Action: New Data on the State of Employee Listening

It’s no secret that “work” has become synonymous with “disruption.” Witness the roller coaster created over the past few years by a global pandemic, the transition to remote work, return to office hesitation, mass layoffs, and era-defining technology advancements like AI, then add a US Presidential election into the mix, and you can see why we came into 2024 saying that the right employee experience is more vital than ever.

After all, we’ve seen that layoffs have created a pervasive state of anxiety, a large number of workers who remain employed are lonely, and our always-on culture has created a tremendous risk of employee burnout. At the same time, organizations are engaged in a major push for efficiency and are laser-focused on ensuring their employees are set up to be successful and productive.

How have large employers adjusted their listening strategies in response to all of this disruption, and what are the most successful listening organizations doing differently to translate that employee feedback into meaningful change? That’s what we set out to uncover in the newest edition of our flagship report, The State of Employee Listening 2024.

Understanding what your workforce wants and needs, quickly identifying problems, and taking swift action to solve them depends on a strong employee listening strategy. Since 2022, The Perceptyx State of Employee Listening Study has explored employee listening and action practices at the most successful large enterprises, and how those practices lead to measurable business impact. This year, the numbers paint a convincing picture: organizations are taking employee listening more seriously than ever before

Key Findings

Our survey of more than 750 senior HR leaders from global organizations with at least 1,000 employees found that employee listening is increasing at a rapid pace. Nearly all (98%) organizations have surveyed their employees within the past year; 78% conduct some kind of listening event at least once a quarter, compared to 70% in 2023 and 60% in 2022. And 76% plan to invest more in listening in the next 12 months, which is up from 68% last year. Nearly 40% of organizations can share listening data with managers within two weeks, which is a few percentage points higher than in 2023 and roughly 10% higher than in 2022.

Organizations told us they are not comfortable simply maintaining the status quo — they want to better understand their employees, create an environment to empower them, and boost the entire business as a result. In fact, 40% of organizations we surveyed have a clear set of outcomes they are hoping to achieve through their listening program. Getting feedback is only the beginning, however, and 40% of organizations readily admit to struggling with action planning and follow-up actions. Successfully translating employee listening insights into action means connecting the feedback to specific people and business problems, creating strategies to solve them, and encouraging employees to take an active role in those solutions. Organizations don’t believe they currently have the proper support in place to do this, and they are actively looking inside and outside of the organization to get it.

This is where technology can be so valuable — and why so many of the organizations we surveyed are looking for a platform to help augment their listening capabilities, innovation, and action. As we’ve seen here at Perceptyx, AI and NLP models can consolidate comments, accelerate feedback findings, and develop personalized action plans, while analytics dashboards can provide laser-sharp focus on specific experience, needs, and suggestions.

What Can You Learn from the Most Mature Listening Organizations?

As we have done since 2022, The State of Employee Listening 2024 uses our proprietary four-stage maturity model to determine what percentage of organizations have the most advanced listening strategy compared to those with crucial strategic gaps. You can read much more about the model in our report, but the key point is that it not only describes the quality of an organization’s listening strategy, but also details the steps needed to evolve and advance that strategy.

Our new research shows the most mature organizations are 4x more likely to retain talent, even in times of high attrition. However, beyond retention, our report also uncovered tremendous impacts on the business as a whole: the organizations with the most mature employee listening strategy are 6x more likely to exceed their financial targets and 9x more likely to achieve high levels of customer satisfaction.

What do those advanced listening strategies look like? They are designed to enable employee experience transformation at speed and scale. This is Stage 4 on our maturity model, the most advanced level which we call “Continuous Conversations at Scale.” One of the key markers of this level is the emphasis on outcomes. We mentioned that 40% of the organizations we surveyed have a clear set of outcomes for their listening strategy, but when you narrow down the results to organizations that are currently in Stage 4, that number more than doubles to 84%.

As a clear sign of progress, more organizations reached Stage 4 over the past year than any other we’ve studied. In 2022, 26% of organizations surveyed had robust and flexible enough listening strategies to qualify for Stage 4, and in 2023, that number dropped to 23%. In 2024, though, 36% of the organizations we surveyed have reached this pinnacle of maturity. 

You would likely guess that smaller organizations find it inherently easier to achieve the agility and flexibility needed for Stage 4. That is true — 34% of organizations with 1,000-5,000 employees are in Stage 4 — but this doesn’t mean it’s impossible for large organizations to achieve the same success. In fact, a whopping 28% of organizations with over 20,000 employees are currently in Stage 4. That’s actually a higher percentage than the organizations with smaller headcounts.

How Do You Progress Along the Listening and Action Maturity Curve?

The answer can be found in our carefully detailed advice and insights in The State of Employee Listening 2024. In this year’s report, you’ll see which organizational traits and strategic gaps define Stages 1-3 so you can benchmark your current efforts, learn which foundations are crucial to your success, explore the most common challenges and ways to overcome them, and get a six-step action plan to help you advance. 

Overall, though, developing a more mature listening strategy depends on four things: using the right listening channel for the problem you’re trying to solve, ensuring that employees quickly experience change, being agile enough to adapt your strategy to new or unforeseen problems, and being able to show the quantitative and qualitative impacts of your employee feedback.

As you’re establishing your own benchmarks, take a look at the industry breakdown we’ve included in our report. For example, being in an industry with high turnover — like retail and hospitality — can make it more challenging to advance your maturity because the faces of your workforce may likely change before you have a chance to take significant action. Being in an industry where employees are widely dispersed or constantly working to serve customers can also add to the difficulty. There are some industries at a maturity advantage, though, like those where employees spend most of their time in front of the computer.

The Bottom Line

Regardless of industry or size, there is an urgent need for organizations to place a strong emphasis on employee listening and action. Not only can tangible benefits be felt across the organization, but the disruptive factors that are putting so much strain on employees aren’t going away anytime soon. Your people are a core differentiator; they make your organization competitive. Empowering them to have their voices heard and giving managers the tools they need to build stronger relationships is how you create an innovative, productive, flourishing business.

Begin working towards that positive change by digging deeper into this year’s findings and insights. Download your copy of The State of Employee Listening 2024 now.

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