Top 4 takeaways from Firstup’s webinar with Josh Bersin

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In our latest webinar, Connect with employees like you truly know them, we met with Firstup advisor and leading authority on HR tech Josh Bersin and VP of HR consulting at Hilton (and longtime Firstup customer) Erica Cary to discuss the evolving landscape of work and its implications on employee experience. The conversation shed light on critical aspects of the modern workplace, including the importance of employee communication in reducing burnout, increasing retention and engagement, and driving productivity. Here are the key takeaways from this insightful discussion:

1. Businesses are balancing accelerated change and burnout.

With the introduction of AI into modern workplaces, the pace of change in almost every industry is faster than it was even before the pandemic. As a result, businesses are undergoing unprecedented and rapid transformation—so much so that roughly 40% of CEOs believe their company as it exists today won’t exist in 10 years.

40% of CEOs believe their company as it exists today won’t exist in 10 years.

Source: PwC

As organizations fast-track their evolution, a significant portion of the workforce is grappling with feelings of exhaustion and the perception of being undervalued. Economic factors, including inflation, play a role in this complex dynamic. And while employees remain engaged in general, they are paying a hefty price in terms of mental, physical, and emotional well-being. Which brings us to an increasingly prevalent topic for business leaders: the employee experience (EX).

2. Delivering a strong employee experience is a C-level priority.

In the face of disruption, it can be tempting to overlook the details that make a workplace successful. This sense of urgency is likely why 61% of CEOs are more focused on transformation than on execution. But Bersin argues that letting critical employee experience factors slip through the cracks can actually hurt your business’s bottom line. In fact, according to him:

“Companies that actually believe in their people and trust them and listen to them always outperform the ones that don’t.”

– Josh Bersin

Another recurring theme throughout the webinar was the direct correlation between EX and retention. As moderator Mike Vilimek put it, “If you’re not engaged with what’s happening in the company or not hearing from leadership, your likelihood of staying is way lower.”

The takeaway here is that companies that invest in their people tend to struggle less with challenges like high attrition and low engagement. While this paradigm shift may not always be seamless, HR and business leaders must work in tandem to drive conversations around building organizational cultures rooted in trust.

“If you’re not engaged with what’s happening in the company or not hearing from leadership, your likelihood of staying is way lower.”

– Mike Vilimek

3. Communication is the backbone of every employee journey.

Effective communication emerged as a linchpin in shaping a positive employee journey, but our speakers acknowledged the difficulty of finding the correct balance and methods for delivering key messages.

“Work is incredibly noisy today. So it’s not about being louder and trying to yell out over the noise; it’s about trying to reduce that noise and be more intelligent in how we connect with people.”

– Mike Vilimek

Unifying communication across various touchpoints in an employee’s journey—from onboarding to performance reviews—is essential for seamless information flow and engagement. And this flow of information goes both ways. Employees know better than anybody else what’s not working, so if you can develop a good communication channel from your employees, you’ll know what the problems are. However, Bersin points out that it takes more than the occasional survey or all-hands meeting to put this into practice. The best communication strategies are continuous, automated, and intelligent.

“This idea that you’re going to run a survey once a year or once a month—it’s just not that simple.”

– Josh Bersin

4. The right communication tool makes a huge impact.

Erica Cary, VP of HR consulting at Hilton, spearheads a global team dedicated to aligning Hilton’s people strategy with business performance. Cary highlights the pivotal impact that the right communication tool can have on an organization—particularly a globally distributed one like Hilton. 

According to her, before implementing Firstup at Hilton, “There wasn’t one consistent framework for how we kept our team members connected and informed and engaged. And that was a huge business case.” With a workforce of 450,000 employees, scalability was a critical concern for Cary’s team, which was in search of a tool that could help address Hilton’s top three challenges: connection, information dissemination, and engagement.

“We truly have democratized the tech stack and, as a result, we are more operationally efficient. Without that, I don’t think that we would be able to keep the engine running.”

– Erica Cary

Since implementing Firstup, Cary credits the platform as an instrumental tool for identifying trends, boosting engagement, and ultimately enhancing retention. Hilton employs Firstup strategically to give team members a voice and provide them with a transparent source of information. Cary’s team also relies on Firstup to track engagement and proactively reach out to employees who are at risk of attrition.

“Firstup is the constant as we think about how our team members migrate through the employee life cycle.”

– Erica Cary

Today, Firstup has become an integral part of Hilton’s communication and HR strategy. Under Cary’s guidance, the platform has not only increased retention and engagement but also unearthed new challenges previously unknown to Hilton’s business drivers.

Delivering an irresistible employee experience isn’t just an expectation in today’s increasingly competitive environment—it’s actually beneficial for advancing your organization. Companies that prioritize employee satisfaction and take a more personalized approach to connecting with employees will have a better shot at staying ahead and weathering any storm. 

Thankfully, the ongoing evolution of HR technology offers more opportunities than ever before for navigating the modern world of work. For people leaders who want to make sure they get it right, taking advantage of a platform like Firstup can provide an invaluable leg up on your engagement strategy. 

For more details on implementing an irresistible employee experience, check out Firstup’s full webinar with Josh Bersin and Erica Cary.

Already watched the webinar? Take the next step to a better EX with this guide from The Josh Bersin Company: The new world of intelligent employee communications.

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