Ongoing feedback key to employee experience: expert

'During the pandemic, employees were communicated with consistently and felt prioritized; however, this started to go away'

Ongoing feedback key to employee experience: expert

Pivotal events like the COVID-19 pandemic have catalysed both continuity and transformation in employee expectations, creating new priorities such as flexibility and trust in leadership, which have reshaped the employee experience landscape.

That’s according to Benjamin Granger, chief workplace psychologist at Qualtrics.

The pandemic spurred changes in certain priorities, but Granger notes that certain “universal truths about what humans expect from the construct of work,” including the need for affiliation and self-efficacy and career progression, have remained consistently important.

“One notable example we saw was that during the pandemic, trust in leadership dramatically increased, but after that, it came tumbling back down to baseline, and the question becomes ‘why?’ During the pandemic, employees were being communicated with consistently and felt as though they were prioritized. However, this started to go away as leaders got burnout, and experiences like these are absolutely shaping and forming what employees are expecting now,” he said.

Granger underscores the heightened importance of flexibility as a key determinant of employee satisfaction, making it essential for organizations to adapt policies and practices to accommodate evolving employee needs.

"COVID was a pivotal moment; we like to mark that as that intervention everybody went through. Post COVID, we saw certain things jump up in importance that, based on the data we have, are largely driven by the experience people had when they suddenly had a lot more flexibility in their working environment,” Granger said at

Maintaining positive employee experience

With changing employee expectations, the way employers maintain positive employee experiences has also changed. Granger emphasizes the significance of timing and ongoing feedback mechanisms, while ensuring the alignment of the talent acquisition and onboarding processes to establish positive first impressions and foster long-term engagement.

Granger underscores the importance of aligning organizational actions with employee expectations to achieve meaningful improvements in employee experience. By prioritizing transparency, flexibility, and leadership development, organizations can adapt proactively to meet evolving employee needs and foster a positive workplace culture conducive to long-term success.

“I think two of the most critical sister experiences that employees go through universally are when they're going through the candidate pre-hire process and new hire onboarding, and what we know from cognitive psychology and neuroscience research is that it's better to make a mistake later than it is early. Because when you make a mistake earlier, there's some inconsistency or you violate an expectation early on, and that is now the lens through which the person interprets everything after, and it takes a lot of work to overcome that,” Granger said.

“So, those early experiences, and getting those right, pays off when it comes to maintaining positive employee experiences later on. Weaving a common thread across the candidate experience and onboarding process, alongside having the talent acquisition team and the new hire onboarding team synced up can help set up expectations and start employees off on the right foot.”

Alongside this, Granger emphasizes the need for investing in “meta skills” when it comes to leadership development, such as communication, influence and learning agility. He highlights the inadequacy of promoting individuals based solely on technical prowess without adequate leadership training, advocating for a shift towards a skills-based work economy.

“The role of a leader is one of the most pivotal points of scale; if you're going to scale anything in HR, leaders are the pivot point to that." Granger

Shaping employee expectations with AI

The role of technology, particularly AI, can augment work processes and shaping employee expectations. Granger advocates for a balanced approach to technology adoption, emphasizing the importance of transparent communication and user-centric design to build trust among employees.

"I predict that we’re going to see gradual increases in comfort with the use of AI. Once they see that passive listening is not dangerous, it's actually being used for their benefit, they'll get more comfortable," Granger said.  

When selecting AI-driven tools, Granger emphasizes the importance of configurability, transparency and ability to connect with other tools when it comes to technology, which are critical factors in fostering employee trust and acceptance of new technologies.

“I think that the more AI can be used consistently, and we can explain why it's being used that way, the more we can convince our employees that it’s being used effectively,” he said.

Latest stories