Leaders are doubling down on listening strategies even during troubled economic times, a study of 1,100 organizations by employee listening leader Perceptyx found. Nearly all organizations have a formal listening program in place today (95%), and seven out of 10 of those are planning to further accelerate listening programs over last year. More than half of the organizations said they would increase spending on employee listening over 2022. Organizations are also listening to employees more than ever before: 70% survey at least quarterly, compared to 60% in 2022.
More importantly, leaders agree that an economic downturn is the best – not the worst – time to invest in employee listening. More than 3 out of 5 leaders placed a higher value on listening during a recession than during more favorable economic times, and only about 10% thought it was less important.
“There’s a clear mindset shift evident in this year’s study: employers no longer see listening as a discretionary tool for employee retention, to be cut along with other benefits and initiatives, when times are tough. Employee listening is now seen as a direct path to better business performance – when done correctly,” said Perceptyx Director of Research & Insights Emily Killham. “The most successful companies are maturing their listening programs, shortening the time it takes to act on data, and getting buy-in and feedback from all parts of the organization, not just HR.”
The survey revealed that organizations with mature programs are 6X more likely to exceed financial targets and 7X more likely to retain talent, even during times of high attrition. The finding applies across the 600 HR decision-makers and 500 non-HR leaders Perceptyx surveyed at organizations with more than 1,000 employees.
In addition, the study found that organizations with the most robust listening programs are:
- 6x more likely to achieve high levels of customer satisfaction
- 8x more likely to adapt well to change
- 9x more likely to innovate effectively.
The report analyzed organizations based on four defining characteristics that helped place them on a maturity curve. The best listening companies scored highly on these metrics:
- Listening Channels – Are you matching the listening event to the business problem you’re trying to solve?
- Speed – How long does it take for your employees to feel the change once you act on data?
- Agility – How quickly does your listening strategy adapt to new business challenges?
- Integration – How do all the listening events that happen during the year cohere into a listening strategy?
Based on their performance on these items, organizations can identify whether they are doing mostly episodic listening (for example, one or two surveys a year) or have advanced toward continuous conversations at scale. Continuous conversation includes more frequent listening, then integrating data from methodologies like calendar analysis, email sentiment, and/or crowdsourcing to develop an action plan. Most importantly, continuous conversation organizations listen again after taking action to measure impact.
The study demonstrated that the best-performing organizations showed good alignment between HR executives and non-HR executives on the importance of employee listening. Listening is deemed so important that 2.5X as many leaders intend to slow hiring vs. listening programs, and the findings hold true even for organizations that saw budget cuts and layoffs in recent months.
“We measure four stages of listening maturity in our model, and as organizations mature, their performance follows,” said Killham. “That’s because they have set clear program goals, use KPIs to measure listening success, and have executive support at the highest levels. They’ve also significantly invested in advanced analytics to take advantage of frequent data from multiple channels, and most importantly, act on those results. It doesn’t have to happen all at once – leaders who know where their listening program is today can take steps tomorrow to reach full maturity.”
More data and details on how to move companies up the listening maturity model curve is available in the full report, The State of Employee Listening 2023. HR leaders can use the interactive Perceptyx Employee Listening Maturity Model assessment to determine where they sit on the maturity model curve.
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