There is a “clear gap” between the experiences of senior executives and more junior employees within the same companies, according to new research which should serve as a “wake up call” for Australian businesses.

The Qualtrics 2023 Employee Experience Trends report included a survey of 2400 workers from Australia and New Zealand, who were asked about their experiences at work over the last year.

The survey found a stark gap between the experiences of people within the same organisations based on their level of seniority.

The report found that 55 percent of senior and executive leaders surveyed said their expectations are being met at work, while only 33 percent of manager and junior-level employees felt this way.

Lower-level employees also reported lower levels of wellbeing, with 67 percent compared with 80 percent of higher executives. They also reported having lower levels of inclusion and a lower intent to stay at their current company, with 54 percent compared with 63 percent.

And just over 60 percent of manager and junior-level employees said they believe they are paid fairly for their work, compared with nearly 80 percent of the executives.

Qualtrics Australia and New Zealand employee experience solution strategist Dr Criss Sumner said the results should trouble Australian companies.

“Against the backdrop of increasing rates of burnout, financial stresses caused by the rising cost of living, and evolving employee needs, the Qualtric findings must serve as a wake up call for business and HR leaders across the countries,” Sumner said.

“There is a clear gap in the experience organisations think they’re delivering to their teams and what’s actually being provided, and failure to address it can have serious implications - from struggling to retain top talent, cultivating employee wellbeing, and maintaining productivity and performance.”

This has been compounded by many respondents reporting that the technologies and work processes which help them to be more productive have dropped in the last 12 months. The percentage of workers with access to the resources which allow them to do their job more effectively fell from 82 percent last year to 75 percent in 2022.

“This underlines the critical need for employers to continue evolving and refreshing their approaches and tools for the new ways of working being adopted,” Sumner said.

The results also demonstrate how the expectations of employees have continued to develop since the onset of the pandemic, and companies must ensure they are on top of these trends, report lead author and Qualtrics employee experience scientist Georgia McIntyre said.

“What we’ve seen through our research is that in Australia and across the globe, employee expectations continue to evolve at a rapid rate,” McIntyre said.

“As employers work to address the employee experience gaps that remain and emerge in their organisations, it is critical they are focused on understanding what obstacles and friction points their teams are running into so that they can be removed for the entire workforce. And as the Qualtrics findings show, for organisations that do this well the rewards will be significant.”

The Qualtrics report also included a number of the employee experience trends which Australian companies should prioritise next year.

The intent to remain at their current company was lowest in Australia among people who have been at their employer for less than a year, and this means that onboarding and enablement needs to be a focus for all companies going forward.

Australian companies need to also prioritise employee growth and development, and evolving workplace technologies, processes and resources to improve employee wellbeing and productivity.

Other recent research has revealed that nearly two million Australians may leave their job in the next year. The Allianz Australia research found that the full impact of the pandemic on the Australian workforce is yet to be realised, with more than 40 percent of surveyed workers listing fatigue and burnout as a relative factor, and more than a third citing staff shortages.

This report also backed up the findings of the Qualtrics research, with more than half of the managers surveyed saying they believe their company has gone “above and beyond” to provide support to employees, despite a 19 percent increase in the number of days taken off from work due to mental health claims.