What Are the Pillars of A Grounded Employee Experience?

What Are the Pillars of A Grounded Employee Experience?
Summary: The relationship between workers and employers is different from what it used to be before the rise of the digital age. The world has changed significantly, creating new expectations, norms, and demands. That also impacted the workplace and the importance of creating a positive experience for all employees. Yet, according to Gartner, only 29 percent believe that HR understands what they want and need.

Fun Fact: Learning Has A Role In The Four Pillars

Today, companies are more responsible for managing the day-to-day interactions of their employees and making a good environment that affects their communication and happiness. Thanks to that, employers can nurture engagement and help people be successful and productive. However, the COVID-19 crisis has transformed things even further. As a result, employee experience is the zeitgeist of the post-pandemic world to a certain extent.

It has become essential to cultivate an immersive and positive work environment, ensuring employees' motivation, productivity, and satisfaction. Since most recruiters struggle to win the talent war [1], companies can't afford to lose top talents or fail to attract new ones. Because of that, they must implement efficient retention strategies and develop a workplace where people like to work and spend their time. According to the 2022 whitepaper, Old Dogs Can't Learn New Tricks [2], the key to that objective is to establish a grounded employee experience.

What is a Grounded Employee Experience?

Grounded employee experience represents the quality of time workers spend in their job roles daily, including completing their assignments, communicating with colleagues, clients, and stakeholders, and moving through the work setting. But grounded employee experience doesn't fall into the somewhat abstract concepts of organizational culture, mission statements, and values.

Instead, this represents a more realistic, personal, and practical experience for every worker. Each worker has a different impression and goes through unique situations and interactions in the workplace. Because of that, one could describe it as the boots-on-the-ground experience. Hence, every employee has their perspective on how it is to fill and walk those boots.

Aaron Delgaty identified four pillars of grounded experience: resilience, hope, meaning, and reciprocity. These are crucial for employee satisfaction, happiness, and stellar performance. However, companies are often unfamiliar with this concept and underestimate the importance of focusing on activities and strategies that ensure a sense of meaning and belonging in the work environment. Employees must know that they can grow in their workplace and that transformations are possible.

The status quo can kill everyone's motivation and make them wonder whether their tasks and effort have a higher goal and impact. Companies should ensure their workers understand how their work contributes to a greater mission and lead to lasting change. Besides, employees require resources, skills, and knowledge that allow them to perform their jobs efficiently, achieve excellent results, and play their part in driving positive transformations. That is why learning and development are integral to a grounded employee experience.

Let's explore what lies at the core of a grounded experience and how L&D helps establish and sustain it.

What Are The Four Pillars Of A Grounded Employee Experience?

1. Resilience

Resilience represents one's confidence in the sustainability of their relationship with work and connections that sustain that relationship (including one with themselves). For instance, employees should be sure that their feelings about their job and workplace won't change when crises or disruptions arise. They should be confident that they can rely on their work, manager, and coworkers if things go wrong. People will rarely see the connection with their employer as viable and lasting if they don't perceive their company as resilient or if their employer doesn't promote personal and interpersonal resilience.

Because of that, workers' perception of workplace resilience should start at the top. A company's leaders must set the right example and create an efficient model based on agility. Employers should stay focused on their goals and business success while inspiring their teams and employees to achieve excellence and feel at ease in the workplace. Therefore, they should, walk, breathe, and display resilience. That will resonate with the workers, inspiring them to embrace that aura, adopt the desirable behaviors, and become just as resilient. However, that poses a question: who will be the resilience model for the leaders?

Companies aiming to establish and reinforce resilience should start by prioritizing skills that increase a company's agility, adaptability, and flexibility. Even though many business leaders think technical abilities should come first, they should value kindness, storytelling, generosity, humanity, empathy, gratitude, and inclusion just as much. That means employers and managers should appreciate skills that acknowledge employees as humans, not only people who get work done and lead to profitable outcomes. These abilities and values should be the first thing new leaders adopt after joining a company or settling into their positions.

Companies can best teach these skills to their leaders and employees through professional learning and development. They can achieve it by introducing efficient modules, coaching, and platforms based on an empathetic approach. But companies should remember to keep compassion at the center of their learning strategies. After all, learners are not numbers and statistics. Instead, they're humans and have unique learning needs, experiences, and approaches. They deserve equitable opportunities and access to L&D programs.

Companies should design courses and educational workshops with their learners in mind, showing care for their preferred learning techniques and methods. That includes storytelling, retention tools, engaging language, and case studies that make the content more relatable.

2. Reciprocity

Employees should feel that their employers don't perceive relationships as merely transactional. Moreover, they should know that companies will respond to one's effort and hard work with adequate care, typically expressed through acknowledgment, recognition, and appreciation. For instance, companies should understand and respond to their employees' needs and reward their accomplishments. That is the best representation of reciprocity.

Employees experience it when their connections are grounded in equal care and mutual consideration. Companies that fail to provide more than solely transactional relations risk undermining a sense of belonging among workers, their safety, and a feeling of connectedness to their workplace. Learning and development can help employers establish reciprocity by investing in their workers beyond remuneration. But that will only work if both parties perceive learning and growth as valuable.

To achieve that, companies must ensure practical and meaningful professional development that makes a difference in employees' lives. They shouldn't focus only on in-house training and traditional methodologies but also on various soft and hard skills that will help employees succeed, regardless of where they go. Employers set the example by expressing their commitment to well-rounded professional development based on employer-employee connection based on care. They can intertwine reciprocity with learning when it's accessible, lifelong, relevant, and meaningful on every step of employees' career journey.

That means that learning shouldn't only occur during onboarding or be available only to those with a history of high performance. Instead, it should be for everyone, as everyone deserves an equal chance to succeed.

3. Meaning

Meaning is likely among the most significant workplace concepts, as it ensures workers receive interpersonal and personal validation that their work has a purpose and impacts their community and company. Even though various factors influence whether an employee considers their work meaningful, they will likely quit if the answer is no.

But L&D can establish meaning when it's grounded in context and resonates with the workers. Employees should understand what makes what they're learning important, how that knowledge will benefit them, and how it helps the organization. Therefore, people should understand their role in the bigger picture and how they drive business success. However, employers have the responsibility of demonstrating what makes learning meaningful.

They can achieve that by supporting workers in seeing themselves in the context of that L&D. Besides, companies should create diverse programs welcoming all learners and understanding that some of them likely had negative experiences with learning. They should also be deliberate and careful about inviting people to participate in L&D programs and explain their role in the overall process. Companies can clarify how professional development will help learners improve their position in the organization or access a broader range of opportunities.

4. Hope

Employees should always know that where they are now is not where they will always be because a change is possible. They need to have a sense of adventure and possibility to keep their drive going. Otherwise, workers could feel stuck, stagnant, and deprived of career advancement. Hence, they must have hope.

Despite the economic, social, and geopolitical challenges, people should never feel that things will never change. When employees have an impression that they will never achieve more than they already did, that can let feelings of despair and self-worthlessness settle in. For instance, many companies perceive Quiet Quitting as rebelliousness or laziness, but this expresses workers' hopelessness. Some employers may wonder how they can justify their L&D initiatives if their workforce is dissatisfied and ready to quit.

Indeed, this might be an unprecedented and uncertain period, but it's also the best time to invest in employees' learning and development. If a worker is halfway through the door, something is still keeping them in. That is more than enough opportunity to regain their trust and win them back. Investing in employees' development reminds them they can still grow and achieve remarkable things in a company.

Finally, even if a worker quits eventually, they will leave with a positive impression, which could turn into effective referrals. That makes L&D an investment in hope – it provides people with skills that can help them become more well-rounded professionals and achieve their objectives.


Companies should ensure that their learning and development (L&D) programs include skills and activities that give employees a sense of reality. That is just as significant as establishing a positive company culture because people must feel that the employer-employee relationship is based on reciprocity, resilience, meaning, and hope.


[In Summary] Gartner-Employee Experience

[1] The War For Talent In The 'New Normal'

[2] Old Dogs Can't Learn New Tricks

Additional Resources

The Unsuckification Of Learning: Corporate Training Is No Longer Something We Merely Endure

eBook Release: WeLearn Learning Services
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Originally published at www.linkedin.com.