Great Resignation? It’s really about a Great Disconnect. Learn how to fix it.

Bestselling author and Salesforce Chief Growth Evangelist Tiffani Bova explains why focusing on the employee experience is the best way to future-proof your business

 

August 3, 2022

4 MINUTE READ

 
Tiffany Bova
Chief Growth Evangelist, Salesforce

During the first five months of 2022, 26 million people quit their jobs. That was up 14% from 2021 when a record number walked out the door. Whether you call it the “Great Resignation,” “Great Reflection,” or something else, the exodus sent a clear message. Employees are reassessing their relationship with work and demanding jobs that provide greater work-life balance. In short, people want to feel like they have the capacity to live whole lives outside of work.

As the economy slows and inflation spikes, employers need to figure out how to retain their most valuable asset — their people. High turnover is costly; studies show that replacing an employee can cost up to 200% of their salary. To avoid high turnover, employers need to start addressing what I call the Great Disconnect — the stunning gap in perception versus reality between the C-suite and employees. To be blunt, the C-suite is out of touch with employee reality. Recent Salesforce research shows leaders don’t understand what is going on in critical aspects of the business, like what employees need to serve customers on the front lines.

What’s worse is that top management doesn’t even realize that this disconnect exists.

 
 
 

What do 4,100 executives and employees have to say about employee and customer experience?

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This has real-world consequences: Nearly one in five employees said in a survey that they were planning on leaving their companies within the next year.

How did this gap in understanding develop? How do you bridge it?

Much earlier in my career, I was leading customer service, sales, and marketing at one of the fastest-growing internet companies in the world. I found that my phone reps were spending way too much time on each call. I spent months campaigning for company executives to streamline the process — to no avail. Finally, I convinced them to shadow agents at the customer support center for one hour. After that single hour, the C-suite immediately agreed to sweeping changes. They gave new urgency to fixing the deficits in the employee experience because they understood it firsthand. And they saw the effect those processes had on customer experiences.

Over the next 20 years of my career, I observed CEOs touting the priority of the customer experience (CX). And I kept wondering: What if CX isn’t foundational? What if we could quantify the employee experience (EX) and prove its importance? What if great EX is essential to future-proofing any business?

Salesforce is the first place that I was able to see my theory in action. At Salesforce, employee success was prioritized from the beginning, which facilitated amazing growth and innovation. My hunch: This value and its results wouldn’t be unique to Salesforce. It was time to authenticate this hunch with real data points.

We started by collecting public data: revenue growth, employee satisfaction as rated by Glassdoor, and customer satisfaction as represented by the American Customer Satisfaction Index. The results were shocking: Companies that had higher levels of positive employee and customer experiences were also experiencing 1.8 times faster growth rates than other companies. For a billion-dollar brand, that translates into $40 million in revenues. Some of the winners weren’t surprising: Apple, Amazon, and Southwest Airlines.

So great employee and customer experiences are a winning combination. Does one lead the other? Some executives seem to think so. Eighty-nine percent of revenue-growth leaders agreed — better EX leads directly to better CX. And 70% of all executives agreed that better EX leads to better CX.

Then we dug a little deeper to understand the power of EX just as the Great Resignation (or, as I prefer, the Great Reflection) was unfolding. Our global survey showed without a doubt that EX is foundational for CX. It’s what Salesforce calls the Experience Advantage. And anyone who doesn’t understand that relationship is leaving a growth opportunity of up to 50% revenue growth on the table.

In retrospect, it feels like these facts were hiding in plain sight.

Let’s come back around to where we started this conversation: Leaders don’t seem to have realistic insight into the realities for employees on the ground. Seventy-one percent of C-suite leaders said their employees are engaged with their work, when in reality only 51% of employees said they are. Another major miss: 70% of leaders reported their employees are happy, while only 44% of employees said they are.

The Great Reflection fast-tracked the discontent that had always existed in the workforce. In response, many companies began offering all kinds of perks to make employees happy: flexible work schedules, work from home, meeting-free Fridays. Those are all great, but they are short-term tactics, not a long-term strategy.

 

For a long-term strategy, our research revealed five key elements of success for EX and, ultimately, customer satisfaction: trust, C-suite accountability, alignment, recognition, and seamless technology. Here’s how these elements affect employees.
 
Employees who feel trusted and empowered are 1.5x more likely to say that they, personally, are top CX supporters within a company.
 
Employees at companies that provide great tech are 5.6x more likely to report that their company has experienced extreme revenue growth in the last 12 months.
 
More than half of the C-suite believes the technology at their firms is effective. Barely one-third of employees agree.
 
Nearly three-quarters of C-suite executives say that no one at their company truly owns the employee experience.

In the midst of so much uncertainty, bridging the Great Disconnect has never been more important. Your employees need a better experience. And your customers (and shareholders!) will love you for the changes too.

So put on your “Undercover Boss” hat, and spend an hour in the call center. Then do something with what you learned. Put an end to all the not-so-great trends in your employees’ experience. Only then will you be able to realize your company’s full potential.

About the Author
 
Tiffani Bova is the Global Growth Evangelist at Salesforce, a member of the 2021 Thinkers50 global ranking of management thinkers and the Wall Street Journal bestselling author of the book Growth IQ.
 

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