The workplace is not immune to today’s global environment of persistent social, economic and cultural change. The pace of business and society is amplifying pressures and creating high levels of worry among employees – pressures and concerns preventing them from their best work.
Zeno Group explored this topic, the “Barriers to Employee Engagement,” surveying 4,500 workers globally in the U.S., U.K., Canada and Singapore. The study revealed widespread concern among employees on topics like job loss due to automation, as well as generational differences on issues such as work life balance.
Most notably, the study found that a company’s mission and values, the clear starting point for corporate culture and decision-making, are now in question. As many as 44 percent of respondents globally said they are concerned about their company’s values, with a substantial 38 percent saying they “do not know what their company truly stands for.”
For some, their company’s values are no longer aligned with their personal beliefs, while others say that the values have become irrelevant in a changing world.
This alignment is critical, when balanced with the study’s finding that 70 percent of employees consider their work to be more than a job, but instead an important part of their identity. They are looking for a connection to workplace beyond the paycheck.
On the issues that concern them most, like the threat of losing their job to automation, the inability to achieve work-life balance, or the crush of constant information, they say nothing is changing. Their companies are stuck in place.
- 40 percent worry that automation could put them out of a job
- 57 percent grapple with work-life balance
- 44 percent are concerned about information overload
What do they want? The data suggests they are looking for three things. Employees are seeking a sense of confidence in their workplace and in their role, the belief that there is a vision for where the company is headed. Second, they want more control over their future, in which they have a voice and input. And, most of all, they are calling for clearer communications, especially about values and vision. In fact, two-thirds of respondents say they would perform better if their manager and the company communicated more clearly about these topics.
The study confirms that management must be more explicit and intentional on company values. They need to listen actively for their employees’ greatest concerns and show action to address them. Leaders need to shape a communications agenda that not only empowers employees, but also enlists them in the vision.