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2022, the year of growth from the inside out

I see 2022 as the year of growth from the inside out. 2022 will be the year of the Employee Experience (EX). To use consultant language, EX is a force multiplier. Put more simply, if we ensure our most valuable assets – our people – feel motivated, enabled and supported to flourish at work, they will deliver growth brilliantly.

We recently ran a poll with the IRG – a CMO community WPP has supported over the last three years – to help us understand what has the greatest potential to unlock growth in 2022 and how well-equipped marketers feel to take that on.

Much of what came back was as expected, and many have written eloquently on a combination of digital transformation, omnichannel sales, metaverse (sorry, yep, that word!) and a connected, smart customer experience (CX) as having the most potential to unlock growth for business. This comes as no surprise as we still have elements of lockdown, more time online, and more demands for a seamless experience across all that we do.

But what was surprising, was where EX came in our poll – second only to digital transformation and ahead of eight other potential growth drivers including: CX, data-driven marketing, new business models/routes to market, operational efficiency, and innovation. This was new. And what’s more, EX is the driver of growth that our poll indicated CMOs feel least well equipped to tackle – only 50% feeling equipped in any way.

It’s clear that the pandemic has brought EX sharply into the minds of every CEO, and in a democratised, at times activist world, it’s increasingly a challenge and an opportunity for marketers. I suspect though, that as we stand here today, wrestling with the great resignation, EX is a topic that is not yet talked about enough inside organisations, let alone, really focused on and invested in.

We know happier colleagues produce better work. They take more initiative and they’re better collaborators. And whilst the pandemic has been challenging for us all, there are some positives too. As we focus on a better EX in 2022 let’s not lose sight of them. Working from home, or working in a hybrid way, meant 62% of employees felt more connected and more productive, and 54% of employees have more influence over business strategy and company culture than a year ago. Employees feel more valued than ever because they feel more connected and have a voice.

Here are three simple ways EX works as a multiplier, positively impacting business growth:

  • EX as a driver of talent retention and acquisition – a good employee experience drives employer brand value. Take Salesforce for example it is often seen top of the various ‘best companies to work for’ lists, and at the same time able to unlock phenomenal growth (its share price has increased more than 200% in the last five years) by putting employee needs at the heart of every Salesforce innovation.
  • EX as a driver of cultural change – we’re increasingly seeing employee experience directly influence culture, and if done well, the change in culture changes the agenda. Several of our clients focus on employee empowerment. ‘Intrapreneurship’ is a word you’ll see often connected to companies like Google and Uber, where EX is designed to foster a culture of innovation and a growth mindset very successfully.
  • EX as a driver of customer and brand experience – happy employees enhance the customer experience and therefore make for happier customers. Not only that, but they can even enhance the equity of the brand by living its values. Take AirBnB for example – their culture of belonging is palpable, not only through their platform and comms, but through their employees and their community. At WPP we do a lot of work to understand our own client satisfaction and what drives it; and employee satisfaction is one of the top three factors affecting how clients feel about working with us. And it’s often the top reason why we win (or lose) pitches.

If, like me, you believe 2022 is the year to focus on growth from the inside out then please start talking about these things, planning within your change management and talent retention/acquisition strategies, and invest so EX can have a powerful multiplier effect on your business. And, again more simply put, lets focus on being happy in our work, ‘at’ our work, wherever that may be.

We are lucky to have Angela Ahrendts as a WPP board member and I love love love this quote: "Everyone talks about building a relationship with your customer. I think you build one with your employees first.”

Lindsay Pattison

Chief Client Officer, WPP

published on

14 January 2022



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