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AI Tracks Employee Emotions, The Wage Gap Persists, and How to Build a Better Workplace

Published 3 months ago • 5 min read

News Spotlight

The gender gap persists. March 12 marks Equal Pay Day this year, and though the gender wage gap has narrowed, women are still earning just 84 cents for every dollar earned by their male colleagues (NPR).

AI is tracking emotions in the workplace. With more and more companies using emotional AI to track employees’ internal states, workers are concerned for their privacy and well-being (Fast Company).

Retirees want to work. With the rise of remote jobs, many want to continue working into retirement to pursue their passion and ensure financial security (MarketWatch).


Stat of the Week

A new analysis finds that, out of the 154 million Americans working in 2023, about 80% worked fully in-person while the rest worked either fully remote or in a hybrid arrangement.

Those most likely to work remotely or hybrid include college-educated employees, as well as white and Asian workers, underscoring that the post-pandemic return to work is shaped by broader inequality trends.


Deep Dive Article

6 Ways to Build a Better Workplace Experience

Only 1 in 3 employees felt engaged at work in 2023, according to Gallup’s annual survey of employee engagement. In other words, two-thirds of the American workforce is disconnected, detached, and disengaged at work today, representing more than 100 million workers and costing employers an estimated $1.9 trillion in lost productivity each year.

Workers expect more today than ever before. In the aftermath of the Great Resignation, a strong labor market bolstered worker power, creating space for employees to demand higher wages, better benefits, and workplaces that prioritize their well-being. And many companies began to step up, raising wages for the rank-and-file and promising greater flexibility and work-life balance in the post-pandemic workplace.

Still, these efforts continue to fall short of the rising expectations and needs of workers, who seek financial security and a more supportive workplace as the cost of living skyrockets, layoffs loom, and employee burnout grows. Another Gallup survey found that employees are considering taking action — about 50% are looking to change jobs, identifying well-being and work-life balance as the top reasons for doing so.

In recent months, the job market has been slowing, mass layoffs are taking their toll, and many Americans are returning to the office, putting employers squarely back in the driver’s seat. The question is just how far the pendulum will swing back in favor of employers and whether they will deliver on the growing expectations of the workforce.

A new survey from isolved finds that HR leaders believe that employee expectations are reasonable. When asked if they think workers’ expectations are getting “out of control,“ 76% of HR leaders said no. The main reasons for this view include:

  • Employees deserve a good experience at work.
  • Employees deserve fair compensation based on the market.
  • Employees who are engaged are more productive.

It’s promising that 95% of HR leaders say they’re already delivering experiences that matter to their workforces. But they also see room for improvement, particularly when it comes to improving employee engagement and experience. Importantly, HR leaders identified rising employee expectations as their top retention challenge today.

How can employers meet those rising expectations, delivering a better workplace experience and ensuring that they can retain top talent? HR leaders should focus on 6 key investments.

1. Offer competitive compensation.

Not only does competitive compensation help attract top talent to an organization, it sets the stage for a skilled and motivated workforce and signifies a commitment to recognizing and valuing employees’ contributions. By offering competitive pay that aligns with or exceeds industry standards, employees feel fairly rewarded, leading to increased satisfaction and reduced turnover rates.

Additionally, comprehensive compensation packages, including benefits such as healthcare and bonuses, cater to employees' diverse needs and priorities, further enriching their overall experience. Ultimately, by attracting and retaining top talent through competitive compensation, organizations cultivate a positive work environment where employees feel valued, motivated, and empowered to contribute their best, driving sustained business success.

2. Provide competitive benefits.

With good benefits, employers can demonstrate a commitment to supporting employees beyond just their salaries, addressing their diverse needs and priorities. Companies that offer competitive benefits are investing in the well-being and satisfaction of their employees, fostering a positive workplace culture.

Competitive benefits also contribute to higher job satisfaction and reduced turnover rates, as employees are more likely to remain with a company that invests in their well-being. Moreover, these benefits can enhance morale, motivation, and overall engagement, leading to increased productivity and a positive work culture that ultimately benefits the organization as a whole.

3. Prioritize DEI&B initiatives.

Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging (DEI&B) initiatives are essential for cultivating a positive and inclusive employee experience. Embracing diversity ensures that employees from different backgrounds, perspectives, and identities feel valued and respected within the workplace. By fostering an environment of equity, organizations ensure that all employees have equal access to opportunities for growth, advancement, and recognition.

Inclusion initiatives encourage collaboration and cooperation among team members, leading to increased innovation and creativity. Moreover, promoting a sense of belonging helps employees feel connected to their work and their colleagues, fostering greater job satisfaction and loyalty. Overall, prioritizing DEI&B not only enhances the employee experience but also contributes to a more vibrant and successful organizational culture.

4. Establish good leadership.

By providing clear direction, support, and inspiration to employees, strong leadership sets the tone for a healthy workplace. Effective leaders inspire trust, confidence, and respect among their teams, fostering a culture of open communication and collaboration. By providing clear direction, guidance, and support, they empower employees to perform their best and achieve their goals.

Good leaders also prioritize the well-being and professional development of their team members, creating an environment where individuals feel valued, motivated, and appreciated. Additionally, strong leadership sets the tone for a healthy work-life balance, promoting employee satisfaction and reducing stress and burnout. Ultimately, investing in good leadership not only enhances the employee experience but also contributes to the long-term success and sustainability of the organization.

5. Support professional development.

Opportunities for development empower employees to enhance their skills, grow their careers, and achieve their full potential. Offering professional development demonstrates an investment in employees' long-term success and satisfaction, allowing employees to acquire new skills, enhance their abilities, and advance in their careers.

Moreover, access to these opportunities fosters a culture of continuous improvement and innovation, where employees are encouraged to strive for excellence and contribute to the organization's success. Ultimately, by investing in professional development, organizations not only strengthen their workforce but also cultivate a dynamic and engaged workplace culture that drives overall employee satisfaction and retention.

6. Encourage team bonding initiatives.

Creating a sense of camaraderie and collaboration among coworkers is essential, and team bonding initiatives can strengthen relationships and enhance teamwork. By providing opportunities for employees to connect and engage outside of work tasks, these initiatives build trust and mutual support, leading to a more cohesive and resilient team.

Ultimately, fostering strong interpersonal connections through team bonding activities contributes to a positive work environment, where employees feel valued, motivated, and connected to their colleagues, thereby enhancing the overall employee experience.

The Path Forward

Expectations may be on the rise, but there’s a path forward that provides a win-win for employers and employees alike, delivering a more positive workplace experience and a more sustainable business model. In the coming years, these issues are likely only to grow in importance, with up-and-coming talent in particular signaling higher expectations. Gen Z, which is poised to make up 30% of the workforce by 2030, is less afraid to ask for what they need, so we’re likely to see expectations continue to rise.

Dig deeper into isolved’s report to learn more about how employers can meet these growing expectations, and to explore HR leaders’ views on the ways that AI, upskilling, and DEI initiatives can help improve employee engagement and experience.

Thanks for reading — be sure to join the conversation on LinkedIn and let me know your thoughts on this topic.


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