Empowering Your People for a Better Employee Experience

Christene Oganov |

More than ever, your employees know what they want from their jobs, where they want to do the work, and what they’ll tolerate. Pandemics apparently do that.  

If there’s a big job-related lesson from recent years, it’s that remote work can work well and that employees like it. But the fact is, it doesn’t work nearly as well as it could. That’s a finding documented in Empowering your people, a new report from Oxford Economics and SAP Concur based on a global survey of finance and IT employees and executives.  

The survey shows many executives are well aware of their failings when managing flexible work and handling travel and expense processes and technology. So are their employees. And at times there are noticeable gaps between what employees believe and what employers perceive. 

Employee expectations. Six in 10 workers said most employees reevaluated what they value in a workplace, but fewer executives – 46% – think such a pandemic-related rethink took place. If you think it’s just about money and benefits, think again: Far more workers than executives thought their company had the right mix of both. 

Flexible work here for good. Half of executives and employees expect work to be fully or partially remote over the next two years. Nearly 7 in 10 employees say they perform better when they can set their job location and hours. But most don’t think they’re getting the tools: Just 38% say their organization’s technology and policies enable flexible work. 

Technology and process shortcomings. Only 42% of remote-working employees say they receive the seamless technology needed to do that work well. Among processes not optimized for flexible work: compliance policies, invoicing, T&E reports, report auditing, and providing COVID-19 guidance. Just 1 in 8 executives think they manage cybersecurity well – a sobering finding for risk management and remote work. 

Not paying attention. Just 4 in 10 employees say their organization uses formal surveys to gauge what employees think. And less than half of executives (46%) use employee feedback to update T&E policies. It’s hard to nail down exactly what employees want, but you certainly won’t if you don’t ask or disregard their input when you do. 

Willing to walk. Just 37% of employees are not actively seeking a new job. That’s a striking number if you look out at it this way: Fewer than 4 in 10 of your team members are so satisfied they plan to stick around. 

With retention and the employee experience in the spotlight amid what some call the Big Quit or the Great Resignation, a big question remains: Are you listening and ready to act?  


Best practices for satisfying, productive work 

Your employees are adept at plugging in numbers and making shoestring catches, but that type of work isn’t very gratifying as time rolls on. They’d rather be spending their time on engaging, bigger-picture duties instead of tedious tasks. You probably agree. 

Employees in other departments also want to focus on their real jobs instead of collecting receipts, correcting expense reports, and bouncing from one system to another. They don’t need the frustration, and they increasingly prioritize sustainability, as does the organization. With the role T&E plays in all those things – and with retention in mind – this isn’t just an HR challenge. It’s yours, too, especially as finance assumes a broader role than in the past. 

The Oxford Economics report and a new SAP Concur Ebook, Managing Travel and Spending to Support Everything From Productivity to Loyalty, address the challenge of a better employee experience as work and workplaces evolve. 

Optimize your processes. These days, processes must work as well remotely as they do in the office. Consider automating approval workflows and putting spending and travel information in one spot, so employees can make safe and smart choices before they travel and while on the road. Give employees technology that snaps a picture of a receipt and then gathers the numbers and puts them in the right categories on expense reports. An expense report that writes itself is the definition of a better employee experience. 

Use advanced technologies. Cloud-based solutions are vital for flexible work, but you can go further. Consider solutions that incorporate artificial intelligence and machine learning to analyze expense reports before payment goes out and afterward look for patterns human auditors can’t see. Integrate your T&E systems with your ERP and spend management ones, while allowing end users to smoothly move from one system to another. Overall, you gain insight and efficiency and end users have a better experience. 

Guide and train. Employees say – and leaders agree – they lack the training to keep up with changing policies and processes, a training deficit complicated by a dispersed workforce. In-app and in-system training and guidance can step employees through the process instead of grinding to a frustrating stop. They learn and adapt to changing policies and processes as they go, while you increase compliance and steer them to the right choices. 

Be sure to listen up. What your employees expect can vary widely and be a moving target. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try. Conduct regular surveys about your processes and technology and how employees feel about them. To help, you can embed intuitive feedback tools within your technology solutions to collect feedback, respond, and adjust.  

There are plenty of approaches when trying to make work and workplaces better for employees. But wait and see is probably not one of them. 


Learn more 

Get copies of Empowering your people and Managing Travel and Spending to Support Everything From Productivity to Loyalty to learn about changing employee expectations, best practices for meeting those expectations, and how SAP Concur solutions can simplify processes.