It’s cold, but we can’t let it be an ‘EX Winter’

Avoid EX Winter - person in wool sweater holding a coffee mug with a snowflake on it
As I work remotely in North Carolina with an eye out my window to the icy landscape, I'm reminded of a phrase I keep hearing this month: EX Winter. 

Forrester defines “EX Winter” as a period where employee experience (EX) investments are expected to freeze or significantly decrease. So, as the world grapples with economic uncertainty and market pressures, many organizations are cutting budgets, often at the expense of their employees’ experience (EX). And as an employee experience and comms professional, I’m worried.

Organizations that choose to push EX to the back burner are like those who fail to insulate their homes ahead of winter.

They will inevitably find themselves on the wrong side of history, especially considering the looming talent shortage. Companies risk their brand reputation and their ability to attract and retain talent. And if they can’t hire people, they can’t grow, profit, or increase impact.

And yes, being prudent is crucial — especially in uncertain times. But ignoring the human aspect of your organization is incredibly risky. Harvard and Gallup studies have made it clear: strong company cultures aren’t just nice-to-haves — they are directly linked to increased revenue, fourfold in some cases.

This isn’t happenstance — a nurturing culture translates to better work, longer tenure, and, consequently, higher revenues.

The American Psychological Association’s 2023 Work in America survey paints a worrisome picture: 77% of workers are burdened by job stress, over half feel its repercussions in various aspects of life, and 31% are left emotionally depleted.

Preserving and enhancing employee lives shouldn’t be discretionary. It’s about ensuring that the hearth of your organization burns bright, offering warmth and light to those who gather around it. It must be a strategic imperative, or organizations are introducing great risk.

There’s an urgent need for organizations to reconnect with their employee base. It’s time to recognize that the workplace isn’t just a physical space. It’s a community, a culture, a living ecosystem that requires nurturing and care. And yes, much of that can be done digitally.

As an employee experience and communications nerd, I think we do stand on the edge of a potential EX Winter. And to me, the choice is clear.

We can either brace for a prolonged period of coldness and disconnection, or we can choose to stoke the fires of a vibrant, warm and engaging experience for employees. The latter is not just the path of compassion and empathy. It’s a strategic choice that will define the future of work and the legacy of organizations in these turbulent times.

And I won’t let my fellow EX friends off the hook. The reason we’re getting budgets cut? Because we still aren’t taking credit for our function’s impact on revenue, retention and productivity.

Here’s a webinar I did recently, but it is just the tip of the iceberg. Together we can elevate our game and showcase our function’s undeniable strategic advantage.

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