Watch Out for the EX Reckoning in 2022

Image credit: iStockphoto/ronniechua

Asian businesses finally recognize that employee experience (EX) empowers customer experience (CX).

But the significance of EX goes beyond CX in 2022. It also enables businesses to survive a management crisis that will occur next year, according to Forrester’s Prediction 2022: The Future of Work.

The report indicated that this management crisis would be a result of this year's talent crisis. To avoid it, employers need to manage four major shocks by prioritizing the future of work.

Systematic risk was the most prominent shock, which includes the current pandemic, climate change, political events, and other exogenous shocks that shook the entire business ecosystem at its core.

However, the other three shocks —the increasing maturity of robots and automation, the deluge of as-yet-unmanaged employee data, and the rise of employee power — are equally important and will shake up businesses in the new year.

Forrester noted that the ability to mitigate their impacts would make or break Asia Pacific companies in 2022 and the years to come. This conclusion also aligned with panelists' thoughts at the recent 2022 Tech Outlook Conference in Hong Kong.

Anywhere work failure

Forrester predicts that one-third of companies will fail to support anywhere work in 2022. It's worse in Asia. According to the consulting firm's Prediction 2022: Asia Pacific, only 40% of APAC enterprises would make anywhere work permanent, compared to the global average of 70%.

While the high number of extended families does push many Asia Pacific information workers to return to the office, Asia HR practitioners felt flexibility remains critical to attracting talents to the workplace.

According to Heather Li, director-digital workplace solutions at Vega Global, one way to stay flexible is to bring a new workspace perspective. She stressed that building a connected space is about connecting different physical locations and managing all these locations with an ecosystem perspective.

“This ecosystem includes the landlords, tenants, workers, and facility management firms,” Li said.

With more businesses reviewing the demand for physical space, Li added that landlords should also look at retaining tenants beyond simply rental reduction and help them to transform their workspaces.

No one-size-fits-all flexibility

Digital technologies remain the center of enabling flexibility.

It was one of the top five sweet spots to enable employee satisfaction, according to Sharon Chu, managing director, Greater China talent and organization practice lead from Accenture.  With an increasingly dispersed workforce, she added that APAC businesses should not adopt a one-size-fits-all approach. Instead, they need to be flexible.

“The use of virtual workspace has proven to change in 2021,” added Nathan Khan, head of partnership at LinkedIn Hong Kong and Taiwan. “Our study indicates 90% of workers are using new technologies in 2021, and the users of Microsoft Teams in Hong Kong has doubled since January 2021.”

But Khan also warned that employers need to bring mindfulness to hybrid working. For example, while technologies enable virtual teams, workers should also support members dialing in remotely. “It’s important to ensure that no one is ignored; when people feel disconnected, tensions will likely surface,” he said.

Compensation gripes

Forrester predicted that 100% of companies will fail to figure out compensation in 2022. With the rising talent crisis, more firms are paying more in the short term to win these talents. But monetary compensation is not a sustainable way to win the talent war when resignation rates rise, and more workers seek meaningful purpose at work.

“All of which combine to make it nearly impossible to get compensation right,” stated Forrester’s report.

To tackle this turmoil, Thomas Huang, co-founder and chief operating officer of Happyer, an HRTech firm based in Hong Kong, noted that investing in employer branding is critical. Demonstrating a unique and strong corporate culture emphasizing purposeful business, talent development, and work flexibility can turn employees into ambassadors.

“Employer branding is super important to showcase your company culture,” he said. “It demonstrates why the talents should join your company, not the others.”

Khan from LinkedIn also suggested enterprises adopt a startup culture when managing modern talents.

“Some enterprises started to build entrepreneur mindset, giving people true ownership, giving them a voice to make a difference,” he added.

Failing to embrace DEI and sustainability

Despite the rising attention of purposeful business, Forrester predicts Asia firms will continue to lag in embracing diversity, equality and inclusion (DEI), and sustainability compared to other global enterprises.

The firm noted among the Fortune Global 200, only 26% of the Asia Pacific firms have appointed a sustainability lead at the director, vice president, or executive level, compared with 81% in EMEA and 92% in North America.

With employers becoming aware of corporate responsibility and sustainability, Forrester suggested Asia firms should cater their DEI efforts as part of strategic planning and risk management instead of compliance-driven.

“Young talents are looking to work at businesses that align with their personal values and vision. Does the company focus on things that I care about?” added Huang from Happyer.

From a risk management perspective, he said embracing DEI also enables the company to provide psychological safety at the workplace.

Decisive 2022

In conclusion, Asia firms that continue to fail to provide work flexibility, recognize the proper compensation, and struggle to escape the compliance-heavy approach to DEI and sustainability will see workers take their skills elsewhere.

“2022 will be a decisive year as C-level execs finally admit that the future of work they had envisioned coming out of the pandemic will remain elusive unless they commit to EX,” stated Forrester.

Sheila Lam is the contributing editor of DigitalWorkforceTrends. Covering IT for 20 years as a journalist, she has witnessed the emergence, hype, and maturity of different technologies but is always excited about what's next. You can reach her at [email protected].

Image credit: iStockphoto/ronniechua