Employee Experience

Balance Employee Experience and Business Growth in 2024

SAP Concur |

A recent survey found that employee happiness declined both sharply and consistently in 2023—at a 10 times faster rate than the prior three years—suggesting that employees are more discontented now than at the peak of the pandemic. 

Additional research supports these findings. For instance, McKinsey recently found that more than half of surveyed employees say they are relatively dissatisfied with their job. And Gallup research found that the most reported cause of dissatisfaction is “unfair treatment at work,” which can include anything from mistreatment and bias to compensation complaints. 

But this isn’t only a talent retention issue. McKinsey suggests that it could cost a median-size company $228 million-$355 million a year in productivity, adding up to a potential $8.8 trillion around the world according to Gallup.  

This is important to note as many organizations shift priorities in 2024 to emphasize growth and revenue goals. An SAP Concur survey of finance managers globally found that every single one of them say their company is investing for growth, either heavily (57%) or selectively (43%). Also, the cost impact of that growth is top of mind: More than half (52%) agreed that when companies grow, there is a risk that costs can rise quickly, and 41% agreed that cost control becomes more technically challenging. 

To summarize, employees are unhappy, unhappiness is costly, and controlling costs is critical. Although enhancing employee experience and enabling growth can seem like competing priorities, the data suggests that they are deeply interconnected. Here are a few considerations to help strike the right balance in 2024: 


Don’t sacrifice growth opportunities for short-term gains. 

The top reason for quitting during the Great Resignation was lack of career development and advancement. We said it before, and we’re saying it again: Leaders shouldn’t mortgage the company’s future for short-term cost gains. 

For instance, according to the 2023 SAP Concur Global Business Travel Survey, 92% of business travelers said the future of their career was dependent on successful business travel in the year ahead. From a career development standpoint, the short-term cost savings of not sending a high-potential employee on a business trip may not be worth the possible loss in productivity and talent. 


Don’t underestimate the value of purpose. 

The majority of finance managers (66%) say that a focus on environmental, social, and corporate governance (ESG) slows companies’ growth. However, 30% say that it can help companies grow—and there’s data to back this up. 

Albeit a bit on the older side, research during the pandemic found that although 70% of employees defined their sense of purpose through work, nearly half of frontline respondents said they weren’t living their purpose in their day to day, and 63% said they wanted their employer to offer more opportunities to do so. These less satisfied respondents reported lower engagement, satisfaction, and excitement about work. 

Considering that satisfied, happy employees are statistically more productive, company purpose can likely contribute to company growth as well. 


Do seek opportunities for efficiency through technology. 

When used within its capabilities, a study from Harvard Business School and Boston Consulting Group found that generative artificial intelligence (AI) can improve employee performance by as much as 40%. 

For those questioning whether AI is colleague or competition—an increasing number of finance managers do not consider it a threat to them nor their team (29% in 2024 vs. 2% in 2023). From the finance perspective, AI will offer substantial benefits to employees, from generating forecasts and better insights, to managing risk, to simply creating greater efficiencies in their everyday work.  

Additionally, 51% of surveyed finance managers claim that their company is already investing in the technology—so now is the perfect time to consider how it can facilitate a better working experience for employees. 


Employee dissatisfaction poses an expensive productivity threat to organizations. If the aim is to grow and drive revenue in 2024, the data suggests that companies should also strive to keep employees happy. Striking this balance is not only achievable but essential. 

Find out what else finance managers had to say about company growth strategies, artificial intelligence investment, and more in “CFO Insights Report: Repositioning for Growth.” 

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