What Is Stalling Employee Experience During the Pandemic


The COVID-19 pandemic  led many companies to realize that employee experience (EX) is the need of the hour. And this time around, digital transformation will be playing a key role in improving EX. However, neither IT, nor operations or marketing will be leading digital transformation  this year, but it will be HR who will be leading from the front.

While 92% of HR leaders said EX is their top priority in 2021, 53% of them has revealed that their budgets for tech have increased in 2021, according to the latest research from isolvedOpens a new window . Even industries like travel and leisure, education and legal gave 100% priority to EX as they recover in an ongoing pandemic era.

Why is EX Important?

The COVID-19 pandemic has also forced employees to change their priorities. Going beyond good compensation and growth prospects, they are also looking for flexibility and a favorable company culture.

HR Technology News: Are Workers Seeking To Trick AI Tracking Tech: Here’s What Gartner Says

The respondents of the survey also highlighted two reasons for EX being a core priority now – remote work (32%) and workforce retention rate (32%).

It was also observed that the size of the company mattered when it came to investing in EX. Companies with less than 150 workers are more likely to invest in it as their employees are more stressed, the research noted.

How Companies Perceive Their EX?

More than half of the companies surveyed rated their current EX as “good”, while 24%, mostly C-suite executives, believed it is “excellent”. However, experts believe egos come in the way of responding truthfully and so more efforts should go into improving EX than what is being reported currently.

Roadblocks in Improving EX

#Weak HCM Tech

A key hurdle that HR teams often face in transforming EX is an underperforming human capital management (HCM) solution. Most of the time it is the security or compliance issues that lead HR leaders to explore switching their HCM tech. More than half of the companies using it are planning to switch to a new platform in the next 12 months.


At least 20% of respondents reported that “manual time and attendance processes” comprised their core payroll challenge. So, the payroll problems  equal people problems.

#Digital Maturity Gap

It is quite a revelation that 31% of HR leaders said being digitally mature is not a priority in their organizations.

#Over-Reliance on Tech

Yes, tech is central for growth but it cannot fix an organization’s culture. Among the list of enablers to boost culture were employee engagement programs (19%), flexi-work environment (15%), internal communications (14%). Surprisingly, lack of workforce job security ranked lowest in terms of threats to a company culture (2%).

HR Technology News: New Drivers Powering Employee Experience in 2021— Qualtrics Study

Way Forward

Unfortunately, there is no one-size-fits-all solution for improving EX and thus companies have to be innovative in becoming more efficient, engaging, and empowering. Here are some tips that emerged from the study:


Sometimes HR teams might not have enough staff to achieve digital maturity. In such situations, companies can outsource some of their HR, payroll, and benefits administration to a professional employer organization (PEO). Almost half of the HR leaders surveyed said that they work with a PEO to establish business processes.

#Right Talent

Another common challenge faced by HR leaders is getting the right people on board. 26% of HR leaders surveyed said employee referral is their second most valuable recruiting tool. However, a December 2020 survey of full-time employees by isolved found 30% of respondents don’t refer candidates because they are unaware of the open positions.

#Right Investments

HR leaders are keen on investing in HCM platforms this year. However, smaller companies (less than 250 employees) are likely to invest in best-of-breed solutions like a standalone benefits enrollment system.

Investing in future of work is the need of the hour too. However, 21% of respondents, mostly from companies with less than 150 employees, said they do not have plans to go ahead with it.

The pandemic revealed various gaps in organization’s digital infrastructure as a means to respond effectively to employee needs and support HR teams. It’s a tall order to enable a seamless ‘hire to retire’ employee experience journey that is led by right investments in tech and stakeholder alignment.