Results from the most recent nation-wide Employee Engagement and Retention survey (Kenexa, 2011) revealed some surprising discrepancies between employee and manager opinions regarding turnover, satisfaction, and engagement. Around 3,700 employees and managers from organizations across the US responded to the survey, representing all major industries. Most items were scored on a 5-point Likert scale (e.g., from 1 “Not Satisfied at All” to 5 “Extremely Satisfied”). Surveys of this magnitude provide insights about larger trends and themes that we do not often get to see in our own employee survey results. Gaps are highlighted below.
Gaps Between Employer-Employee Opinions
- Job Satisfaction: About 75% of bosses think their employees are satisfied. Only 50% of employees agreed, while the other 50% reported dissatisfaction with their jobs.
- Commitment: 32% of employees are actively seeking to leave their job, while only 12% are deeply committed to staying. Opinions from employers are almost exactly the opposite- 31% of bosses think their employees are deeply committed to staying, 13% think their employees are actively seeking to leave.
- Active Employee Job Searching: 41% of employees say that it is very likely that they will actually search for a new job within the next 3 months. Like before, employers hold opposite opinions- 42% think that it is very unlikely that their employees will search for different jobs in the near future, and only 13% agree that their employees are very likely to search for jobs.
- Desired Benefits: When asked what benefits they desire most, 45% (the top choice for employees) want professional development opportunities. Among employers, professional development was not even mentioned or thought of as a benefit. Also, 35% of employees want the ability to work from home, but only 5% of employers allow it.
The strongest theme was the stark difference between what employees say and what employers think. This disconnect is most present in job satisfaction, job commitment, job searching, and desired benefits. If you recognize a similar disconnect in your own organization, here are a couple of recommendations.
- Employee Surveys: Concerning surveys, three things are important: (a) ensure that leaders and influential people “champion” your survey process to get employee buy-in, (b) communicate survey results with all employees no matter what, and (c) take action on the results. The last is extremely important, because asking your employees for their opinions and not taking (and communicating) action is more damaging than not asking for their opinion in the first place.
- Employee Involvement: Employee involvement initiatives encourage employees to become active participants in organizational decision making. This is a bigger step than the employee survey process because it usually involves broader change in how managers interact with employees, how they make decisions, and how employees perform their work. However, an employee involvement initiative that is carried out well can have much greater impact on employee morale, retention, and performance.