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What’s Your EX Superpower? Our Experts Share Lessons from INSIGHTS ‘24

What’s Your EX Superpower? Our Experts Share Lessons from INSIGHTS ‘24

Perceptyx recently completed its first-ever global INSIGHTS tour, spanning five cities and two continents.

INSIGHTS 2024 showcased how global enterprises are leveraging employee feedback to drive business outcomes, with one-day events in London, New York, Atlanta, San Francisco, and Chicago. Each event included customer spotlights — featuring executives from Salesforce, Marriott, Kraft Heinz, Heineken, 3M, Comcast, and more — as well as sessions on the latest employee experience trends and AI-powered innovations in HR tech.

We asked Perceptyx’s team of Workforce Transformation consultants to compile their personal event highlights and help us recap the ideas and best practices shared by organizations during the tour, including the specific “superpowers” required to successfully design, analyze, and action listening insights that drive meaningful business results.

Insights from Nicole Boyko, Ph.D., Senior Workforce Transformation Consultant | NYC

Organizational “superpowers” shared by leaders: Ownership, Accountability, HR Business Partners

At the New York City leg of INSIGHTS 2024, I had the opportunity to hear organizational leaders share valuable insights on transforming employee experience strategies. One of the concepts they discussed was the shift from traditional “action planning” to fostering “continuous conversations.” Many organizations found that labeling initiatives as “action plans” reduced them to annual “check-the-box” activities. Changing the language to emphasize ongoing dialogue can encourage a more dynamic and responsive approach to employee engagement.

Something else that kept coming up concerned the role of HR Business Partners (HRBPs) as important allies in workforce transformation. HRBPs possess deep business context and understanding of results, making them ideal for driving productive conversations with busy leaders. Equipping HRBPs with the necessary tools and resources is essential to maximize their impact. Additionally, coaching senior leaders on effective communication is crucial. Ensuring leaders speak to their organizations in a way that resonates with employees, avoiding corporate jargon, and adopting a more empathetic tone can significantly enhance engagement and actionability.

When it comes to sharing results, tailoring the executive presentation to the audience is key. For executive leadership teams and boards, it's important to present data in a quantifiable manner, linking it to business outcomes where possible. Attendees at INSIGHTS also emphasized the importance of integrating both objective and subjective data. Leaders are accustomed to scorecards filled with objective metrics. By creating scorecards that include listening data, even if it doesn't change as frequently, leaders can become more comfortable interpreting and making decisions based on a holistic view of the organization. For instance, in the realm of DEI, displaying both advancement opportunities and actual promotion rates for key demographics can result in a more comprehensive understanding of progress and areas needing attention.

Insights from Megan Steckler, Director of Leader and Workforce Transformation | Atlanta and Chicago

Organizational “superpowers” shared by leaders: Accountability, Ownership, Relevance, Proof, Trust

During INSIGHTS stops in Atlanta and Chicago, I had the opportunity to hear leaders share some important aspects of employee experience transformation. One key area of focus for these leaders concerned accountability and ownership at all levels within an organization. Too often, we place the burden on managers to drive action, neglecting to engage individual team members in the process. Managers are often squeezed, and meaningful change requires behavioral adjustments down to the individual level.

Organizations frequently simplify processes for executive teams yet expect managers to figure things out on their own. There are several approaches to gaining individual accountability and buy-in, such as forming an Engagement Council. This council involves individual contributors within each department to help shape and champion listening and action initiatives, providing a development opportunity for high-potential employees. Another effective method is Intelligent Nudges of the sort delivered by Perceptyx’s People Insights Platform, which incorporates action steps into everyone’s individual goals. By pushing a company focus area to everyone with specific action plans for individuals, people leaders, and the company overall, organizations can drive more consistent and meaningful engagement.

Consistency and focus were also cited as critical. Some issues take a long time to change, and a single action plan over a single survey cycle won’t suffice to address complex challenges. Setting realistic expectations for the time needed to achieve significant changes and establishing small goals along the way is essential. Many organizations seek a new driver of engagement each year, hesitating to focus on the same topic as the previous year despite needing improvements in that area. It’s perfectly fine to continue leveraging existing actions and commitments, make necessary adjustments, and maintain focus on improvement. Consistency, focus, and sustained effort are key to lasting success.

Relevance, proof, and trust were the final “secret weapons” I heard leaders referencing. Engaging in stakeholder interviews to gain buy-in by understanding the insights leaders need to make decisions is crucial. Personalizing storytelling to meet leaders' needs and building relationships can prevent defensiveness when presenting unsolicited insights. Measurement is vital, too. Including questions in employee listening surveys to show the impact of actions (e.g., “I believe…”, “I have seen…”) and defining metrics to measure impact are essential steps. Additionally, a Survey in Action series that shares success stories can illustrate the tangible benefits of the initiatives undertaken.

Insights from Stephanie Schloemer, Ph.D., Senior Workforce Transformation Consultant |  NYC

Organizational “superpowers” shared by leaders: Accountability, Transparency, Simplicity

Organizational leaders shared their thoughts on enhancing accountability, transparency, simplicity, and strategic focus in employee experience transformation. One of the central themes was the importance of accountability. Both employees and leaders need to "own" their action plans to ensure they are not seen as burdens. Leaders need to understand why action planning matters — it drives productivity, which translates into improved business outcomes. Holding leaders accountable through skip-level meetings, where the next level leader assists with team actioning and accountability, can reinforce this ownership.

Transparency is also vital. Action planning meetings should dive into results and create a safe space for open discussion. Co-creating actions with the team and deciding how to track progress together fosters a sense of collective responsibility. Providing opportunities for employees to ask leadership questions about the action planning progress can further enhance transparency and engagement.

Simplicity is key when implementing action plans. It's important to consider both the effort required and the potential impact of the actions (using an impact-effort matrix can help here). Actions that are low effort but high impact should be prioritized and acted upon immediately. Using simple, clear messaging during action planning helps ensure that everyone understands the goals and steps involved.

Strategic integration of action planning matters a great deal. Action planning should not be confined to the listening activity but should be part of a broader strategic objective. Using business language instead of HR language can make the initiatives more relatable and compelling to leaders. Recognizing and addressing barriers to action planning success — such as time constraints, excuses, effort, and cost — are crucial. Changing the narrative from action plans as some check-the-box exercise that is being done to the leader to an important activity being done for the leader can help in gaining buy-in and support for the initiatives.

Insights from Lauren Beechly, Ph.D., Director of Leader and Workforce Transformation | NYC

Organizational “superpowers” shared by leaders: Repetition, Focus, Executive Support

One organization highlighted that their action-taking “superpower” was repetition. This leader described how their organization consistently follows a straightforward process after every listening event to instill a culture of action: “We listen to employees, communicate what we heard, and share the actions we took based on their feedback every time.” To encourage leaders to follow this process, the organization measures whether employees saw action taken since the last survey. This simple yet repeated pattern built trust and expectation within their organization — people came to expect genuine follow-through on their feedback because actions were consistently communicated, and leaders were held accountable, every time employee feedback was gathered.

For another organization, executive support was their “superpower” to drive action. “Our business strategy is our people strategy,” explained the leader. “Our CEO believes if we take care of our people, everything else falls into place.” With a CEO fully committed to listening and acting on employee feedback, leaders at all levels of the organization understand the importance of taking action. To inspire the organization to act, this CEO tells stories with the data and then this storytelling approach is replicated within individual functions and teams. By prioritizing and modeling actioning from the top and using storytelling to motivate action, an expectation is created for all other leaders to do the same.

Another key tip shared by an organization was to communicate clearly about their focus areas. This organization saw success when they not only highlighted what their priorities were for taking action but also clarified what they were not focusing on and why. This transparency helped employees understand that their feedback had been considered, even if certain areas were not prioritized at the moment. Clearly communicating what they were not going to take action on now (and why) became just as important as clarifying what actions were going to be prioritized.

Insights from Bradley Wilson, Ph.D., Principal Workforce Transformation Consultant | San Francisco

Organizational “superpowers” shared by leaders: Alignment, Simplification, Strong Partnerships

In San Francisco, I had the opportunity to discuss key strategies for driving action within organizations. One of the “superpowers” or “secret weapons” shared by attending leaders was “alignment.” Ensuring clear alignment between the employee listening program and organizational priorities helps leaders take action. When insights are directly linked to what the business already cares about, it’s easier for leaders to see the value and take meaningful steps, rather than perceiving it as an HR-driven initiative.

Another “secret weapon” that leaders repeatedly referenced is simplification. We need to take a hard look at processes and action planning, focusing on simplifying the steps for leaders. The current climate has left people exhausted from constantly hearing about “doing more with less.” A better approach is to make the next steps straightforward and easy, eliminating tasks that don’t add value. When it comes to listening, the process itself should be streamlined to incorporate feedback efficiently, minimizing wasted energy and effort.

Partnerships also play a significant role. During the conference, we had five customers and one prospect at the table. The customers shared how Perceptyx consultants add immense value by providing best practices and engaging with executives from a position of expertise and authority. They emphasized the credibility our partnership brings, which helps inspire action within their organizations.

Insights from Brittany Head, Ph.D., Principal Workforce Transformation Consultant | Atlanta, Chicago, and San Francisco

Organizational “superpowers” shared by leaders: “Don’t frame it as more to do, frame it as better doing.”

Leaders shared some field-tested strategies for driving effective action within organizations. One of the most powerful “secret weapons” was simple to understand but hard to execute: Don’t frame it as more to do — frame it as better doing.

With more continuous listening, there's less time between feedback events, but that doesn't mean organizations need to get everything "done" or "solved" immediately. Life and work are ongoing, and topics like well-being and safety evolve. When leaders at all levels view responses to survey feedback as part of an iterative process serving larger goals, the task becomes more manageable and integrated into everyday work.

Here are some tips shared by attending leaders that will make this “better doing” approach successful:

  • Be Iterative: Don’t feel pressured to have everything “done” before the next survey. It’s not about that — it’s about taking action, involving teams, and empowering them to shape their work environment. This sense of agency drives engagement and motivation.

  • Communicate Effectively: Keep everyone informed at each step of the process. Invite participation and feedback along the way. This transparency shows progress, demonstrates that feedback is taken seriously, and helps build a positive perception of the process. When it’s time for the next evaluation, employees will recall multiple instances where action was taken, likely boosting participation and engagement.

  • Listen in Multiple Ways: The survey and action process alone are not enough. Many participants found immense value in focus groups, town halls, site visits, and other forms of engagement. Crowdsourcing could be a valuable addition, as it is less labor-intensive, provides better documentation, and can be administered asynchronously.

  • Address Issues Honestly: Even if you can’t immediately or directly change something, it’s essential to acknowledge feedback. For instance, if employees request higher pay or more career opportunities and the organization can’t provide these right now, being honest and transparent is more effective than ignoring the issue. Saying “we heard you” and explaining what can or cannot be done shows respect and builds trust.

  • Understand Your People: With the improvements in comment analytics, we can better understand our employees’ concerns and needs. As we navigate an increasingly diverse workforce and a rapidly changing world, it’s worthwhile to create a space where everyone feels safe and valued. Understanding their viewpoints and concerns helps us embrace diversity and ensure psychological safety.

An Experienced Listening Partner Can Help Unlock Your Organization’s Superpowers

Looking for more data-driven insights to transform your employee experience? Schedule a meeting with a member of the Perceptyx team today. Let our experienced consultants and purpose-built People Insights Platform help you unlock the potential of your workforce and drive meaningful change.

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