ITEXPO 2023: Employee Experience, Hybrid Work, and AI Dominate the Conversation

The takeaways so far at ITEXPO have been clear – the future of work is here. The workforce has become almost unrecognizable from how things were pre-pandemic, and it’s still evolving at a frenetic pace. Our vision of what a successful workplace looks like is much different today than it was three years ago, and business leaders must start focusing on how to create engagement for the new generations that are taking over. Over the next two years, 75 percent of the workforce will consist of millennials, and Gen Z and will soon be on their heels. The combined influence will transform the landscape, and it’s time to focus on employee experience, provide flexibility by adopting business communication tools that enable your business to offer hybrid work, and embrace AI.

Employee Experience

What gives people feelings of happiness? According to Logan Mallory, VP of Marketing at Motivosity and KeyNote speaker of the afternoon, it’s helping your team members progress as individuals. He says this will be the most important benefit an employer can offer their organization this year. 

The highly intriguing 45-minute conversation touched on the significance of employee experience, something we’ve heard a lot about recently. He asked the audience – “how do you elevate your team, and how do you get more out of them?” These are the questions that must be addressed by all of us. Employees aren’t convinced anymore to show up each day for a paycheck or because of the nice values on your door. They want to feel progress. They want to believe they’re contributing to something meaningful. They want to feel valued in their position. 

He then asked – “how do you create connection and community, especially if your team is scattered across the United States or abroad?” He answered “you must encourage everyone to contribute, but you can only have meaningful interactions and dialogue with team members if you provide them with adequate tools like unified communications.” The best ideas come from engaged teams, and business leaders must start valuing their employees by showing recognition for their accomplishments and supplying them with the right business tools. 

It’s no secret that employees yearn to feel supported by their managers, but according to a Motivosity study, that figure is higher than we thought. Three-quarters of respondents said their mental health would improve if they were appreciated at work more often. As a result, appreciated teams stay longer, are more productive, and will benefit your organization in the long run. Employee experience is the most important topic going into the new year, and your organization must respond by answering the questions that have been asked if you want a productive and satisfied workforce. 

Hybrid Work

Throughout the pandemic, employees adapted to working from home. As the world stabilized, employers called many of those employees back to the office, leading to a tug-of-war between employers and employees who demanded more flexibility from leaders who were unwilling to listen to their needs. Unfortunately, it led to many people leaving the workplace and searching for options that suited the way they wanted to work. Hybrid work has exploded, and the industry titans agree – it’s here to stay, but what makes hybrid work better than a fully remote approach?

Hybrid work is incredibly beneficial because a significant chunk of the population requires a sensory experience, so balancing part-time from home and part-time from the office provides us with that flexibility while also enabling us to learn more. When you get a sensory experience and watch people do something, your brain creates more information. For example, if you watch your boss complete a task while in the office in their presence, you’ll remember it better. These experiences matter. The more powerful the experience, the more you’ll remember and the fewer mistakes you’ll make, thus improving productivity and demonstrating value. 

How can you achieve this? Well, the answer remains the same – with collaborative technology like UCaaS. Digital engagement is the number one indicator of performance, and unified communications help teams achieve this. Hybrid work is the most effective means of creating employee engagement when implemented correctly and will adequately prepare your business for the modern workforce and future of work. 

Artificial Intelligence

A topic that was also widespread was AI. However, it wasn’t met with enthusiasm by some of the audience. One of the primary concerns they raised was about artificial intelligence and if the objective of this technology is designed to phase out knowledge workers. The response was clear across the panel of industry titans: “no. AI doesn’t do the thing – people do the thing,” said one expert. Although artificial intelligence is making a significant impact throughout technology, how is it being leveraged? How is it being implemented? How are businesses considering the AI component and the people component? 

Before the pandemic, we saw “the war for talent.” There was a need for human capital for what businesses needed to accomplish. However, now, we’re living in a very different world, and transformation has led the way for AI to have a substantial impact, according to Barbara Steel, PhD, Managing Director, from Ernst & Young. She argued that effective deployment of AI in the workplace plays to both human and robotic strengths. AI increases human productivity and assists teams in completing the day-in and day-out tasks in a matter of minutes and benefits people in the people space. It’s being implemented in a way that is meant to help employees and not replace them. 

At the end of the day, workforce happiness and employee experience must be at the forefront. People are the most important asset within an organization, and happiness falls right in line with engagement levels and productivity. If a tool can improve satisfaction levels at work and assist employees in focusing on more important tasks rather than monotonous, repetitive, time consuming ones, why not embrace it? 

AI will never take our jobs. It’ll only work beside us. Organizations are not looking to get rid of their employees – they want to enhance their productivity, which makes them happier, retains them longer, and attracts higher-quality talent. No technology will ever have the same insight as humans and will always require human interaction.

Wrap Up

A lot has been discussed in the past few days, from deep dives into employee experience, down to how AI will assist the knowledge worker to achieve new levels of success, and we look forward to seeing how it continues to unravel. Stay tuned for more…

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