By | Jonathan Emmett | Asmus Komm | Stefan Moritz | Friederike Schultz | www.mckinsey.com
As anyone who has led an organization since 2020 knows, assumptions about the nature of work and how it is organized have gone out the window. Employees have shared this sense of disruption: McKinsey research shows that while most people have felt supported by their organizations throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, many have struggled. And while some companies are exploring hybrid working models, many are expecting a full return to the office, setting employee concerns and employer expectations further apart.
How do leaders satisfy all parties in trying to remake the mission? In our view, they have a unique opportunity to listen to their employees and engage them on what matters—now and into the future. Since the pandemic began, McKinsey has surveyed almost 1,000 individuals to assess their views on work and how it has changed. While each respondent’s experience is personal and specific to them, common threads have emerged about their career paths.
Workers are hungry for trust, social cohesion, and purpose. They want to feel that their contributions are recognized and that their team is truly collaborative. They desire clear responsibilities and opportunities to learn and grow. They expect their personal sense of purpose to align with that of their organization. And they want an appropriate physical and digital environment that gives them the flexibility to achieve that elusive work–life balance.
Companies are facing an exodus of employees who are exhausted and overwhelmed, questioning what work means, and thinking through their options. Organizations can offer an excellent employee experience (EX) by taking these needs and feelings seriously at such a crucial time.
Providing top-notch EX is not just lip service; it requires a profound reorientation away from a traditional top-down model to one based on the fundamentals of design thinking. This shift allows a company to put its workers first by exploring and responding to how they view their employee journeys, then delivering tailored interventions that focus on critical moments that matter to maximize satisfaction, performance, and productivity. In doing so, companies can become more inspiring, collaborative, and centered on creating an experience that is meaningful and enjoyable.