Surprised by the current attitudes of workers and the state of the American job market? You’re not alone. A recent report from SHRM (Society from Human Resource Management) has a lot of executives and HR experts scratching their heads. The report states that 59% of employees feel exhausted after work and 26% of employees don’t feel emotionally safe at work, with another 30% of employees dreading work or admitting that work makes them more irritable at home. The worrisome part? Many employees, especially those in the healthcare field, think these numbers are low. This week we sit down with Gil Cohen, founder of Employee Experience Design, to talk about the value and importance of employee experience in every workplace.

Why Employees are Swiping Left on Your Jobs

R-E-S-P-E-C-T, find out what it means to me! Employees may not be singing this classic hit to their employers, but they’re certainly telling them what they want and need in many other ways.  Forty percent of the American workforce is expected to quit their current jobs by the end of the year even without another offer in hand (McKinsey Q3 report).

  • 90% of workers would trade money for purpose in the work that they do (Betterup)
  • 51% want better work-life integration (McKinsey)
  • 59% leave work feeling exhausted (SHRM)
  • 30% dread going to work (SHRM)
  • 26% do not feel emotionally safe at work (SHRM)
  • 30% say their workplace culture makes them irritable at home (SHRM)

Simply put…employers are swinging but missing employee expectations and employees are #swipingleft.

The Sunday Scaries

Gil Cohen launched his newest business in early 2020 (perfect timing, right?) Cohen started to work with companies that didn’t understand why their turnover rates were high or why employees weren’t satisfied with the job. He found the answer. 

Many employees didn’t feel safe speaking their minds to their employers, which created a disconnect between what employers believed was happening and what employees actually felt. Trust is a big ingredient in the recipe for a positive employee experience. Many companies deny the gap because they think they’re capturing the real sentiment with a yearly survey. 

Unfortunately, a yearly survey doesn’t reveal many of the complicated problems that pop up in most workspaces, such as what Cohen call the “Sunday Scaries.” Whereas some employees experience the “Monday Happies” in a work environment that provides a fulfilling, productive, and emotionally safe environment, the majority feel that dread and pit in our gut, at least at some point in our lives, as the hours tick by on Sunday and Monday approaches.

Cohen compares this to the conversation about user experience. User experience isn’t just about technology, Cohen suggests. Sometimes it comes down to the chair people sit in while at work, in a meeting, or in a conference. But user experience definitely extends to the employee experience, which has been in a downhill spiral for longer than most people want to admit. It’s not just a post-pandemic event. As the number of vacant jobs grows and resignations mount, more employers are realizing that their onboarding process and employee experience is part of the driving force for the “Great Resignation.”

The “Take This Job and Shove It” Indicator

As recently as 2010, 40 percent of employee separations from jobs were due to quitting. This number rose to 60% as COVID-19 hit the United States, and recently that number shot up up to 70 percent. Cohen refers to this as the “take this job and shove it” indicator, which represents the percentage of total separations from employment as “quits” as opposed to other methods of separation. A majority of this indicator is coming from millennials and Gen Z job seekers, who recognize it’s a seller’s market and consequently refuse to put up with a poor job environment. While some employers deflect and blame young job seekers for poor work ethic, Cohen sees a silver cloud in the black labor market clouds. He is impressed with the new considerations, corrections, and changes workplaces are being forced to implement.

When asked how employers can begin creating a safe and desirable workspace, Cohen has a simple answer: listen. The divide between employers’ assumptions and employees’ expectations lies in a lack of listening and broken expectations. By listening to employees, companies can learn a lot about what needs to be done and how to create a safer mental and emotional space that will increase employees’ engagement with their work and their wellness outside of work.

The Lack of Employee Farms

Unfortunately for employers, employees don’t grow on trees and can’t be harvested from employee farms, which means employees must be recruited. As co-host Jason Cochran points out, the competition for talent has shifted for the first time from the need for customers to the need for employees, forcing many companies to confront the little effort previously implemented in employee experience. Cohen says that this can be fixed, provided employers do something with the information they gain by listening to employees. This requires more than a yearly survey, but rather collecting information and setting realistic expectations with employees about what can get done. Most employee concerns can be accomplished when managers encourage feedback and promote a psychologically safe and emotionaly healthy environment, allowing employees an opportunity to feel less stressed and more productive.

A recent survey estimates that, by 2050, eight generations will be working together in many work environments. However, in order for a multi-generational workplace to work, employers must start serving the human needs that their current employees want.


 “The informal measure of employee experience within an organization is what percent of people are feeling the ‘Sunday Scaries’ on Sunday.” (13:04)

Take this job and shove it” indicator, which represents the percentage of total separations from employment as “quits” as opposed to other methods of separation. (17:00)

“Every experience is filtered through expectations. That’s why you can have two people in the exact same role, and one is miserable and the other one’s delighted.” (20:12)

“The first thing you need to do is do something about it.” (33:39)

“Hiring does not stop at the job offer.” (40:56)

“Broken expectations is the top point of frustration for employees with employers.” (43:13)


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