Qualtrics finds employee experience inequality between leaders and teams

Georgie McIntyre, Employee Experience Scientist at Qualtrics

There is a concerning disconnect in how senior and executive leaders in Australia and New Zealand rate their own employee experience compared to the teams they lead, which is impacting the ability to attract, retain, and enable talent according to research by Qualtrics.

Findings from the Qualtrics 2023 Employee Experience Trends Report – based on 2,400 responses from workers – show 55% of senior and executive leaders say their expectations are being met compared to a third (33%) of middle-managers and junior employees.

What were the findings of Qualtrics’ survey?

Meanwhile, middle-managers and junior employees report lower levels of well-being (67% vs 80%), engagement (66% vs 79%), inclusion (71% vs 78%), and intent to stay (54% vs 63%) than their leaders. Satisfaction with pay also varies between the two groups – and the gap is increasing year on year – with 61% of middle-managers and junior employees saying they’re paid fairly for the work that they do, compared to 79% of senior leaders and execs.

The issue is compounded by a reduction in the volume of middle-managers and junior employees who feel as though their career goals can be met with their current employer (62%, down from 68% in last year’s study), with growth and development a leading driver for engagement and intent to stay. More than three-quarters of senior and executive level respondents say their career goals can be met (76%) with their current employer.

In contrast, findings from the Qualtrics research reveal how closing the experience gap can help employers increase retention and productivity. Across all levels of the workforce, workers whose expectations are exceeded at work are 2.4 times more likely to stay with their employer for longer, and 4.3 times more likely to go above and beyond.

What are the EX Trends to prioritise in 2023?

In addition to closing the employee experience gap between leaders and their teams, the Qualtrics 2023 Employee Experience (EX) Trends Report pinpoints key trends employers need to focus on in 2023 to ensure expectations are met: 

Improving onboarding and enablement for new employees

In Australia, intent to stay is lowest among employees who have been with their employer for less than 12 months. This shows the challenges firms face onboarding employees in rapidly changing environments, and the need to adapt systems and processes accordingly.

Prioritising employee growth and development

One of the most pervasive drivers across all experience metrics in Australia is the belief career goals can be met at the employees’ current employer, highlighting the critical role growth and development needs to play in an organisation’s employee experience program.

Evolving workplace technologies, processes, and resources

Working with inefficient systems is a major driver of lower levels of well-being and burnout. Over the last 12 months the respondents said tech and work processes allow them to be productive have dropped (64% down from 75%, and 65% down from 77% respectively).

The percentage of workers saying they’ve access to resources allowing them to do their job effectively has also dropped (75%, down from 82%). This underlines the need for employers to continue evolving their approaches and tools for the new ways of working being adopted.

What do the findings mean for business leaders?

Commenting on the research findings, Dr. Crissa Sumner, Employee Experience Solution Strategist, ANZ, Qualtrics, said, “Against the backdrop of increasing rates of burnout, financial stresses caused by the rising cost of living, and evolving employee needs, the Qualtrics findings must serve as a wake up call for business and HR leaders across the countries.”

“There is a clear gap in the experience firms think they’re delivering to their teams and what’s being provided, and failure to address it can have implications – from struggling to retain top talent, cultivating employee well-being, and maintaining productivity and performance.”

“What we’ve seen through our survey is that in Australia and globally, employee expectations continue to evolve at a rapid rate,” said Georgie McIntyre, Lead Author for the Qualtrics 2023 Employee Experience Trends Report and Employee Experience Scientist, Qualtrics.

“As employers work to address the employee experience gaps that remain and emerge in their organisations, it is critical they are focused on understanding what obstacles and friction points their teams are running into so that they can be removed for the entire workforce. And as the Qualtrics findings show, for firms that do this well the rewards will be significant.”