It's a common pattern in dating: Both people profess to be happy and committed to the relationship, but one would jump in a second if someone better came along. The scenario can apply in the workplace environment, too. Employers think they're developing a loyal workforce, but employees are on the lookout for a more attractive job elsewhere.
That's the upshot of a detailed analysis by the ADP Research Institute® (ADP RI), which surveyed employees and their firms in 13 different countries. There are differences among the countries, to be sure, but several consistent findings emerged. The ADP RI report, Evolution of Work 2.0: The Me vs. We Mindset, is a follow-up from a report in 2016 identifying the trends that are driving global workforce transformation. It builds on the insights of that report and measures how employers and employees rate various talent management efforts.
3 Workplace Environment Elements to Consider
The report quantified the differences in each side's positions on an issue and organized them into three areas.
1. Openness and Transition
For example, under the heading of Openness and Transition, the report noted that while employers knew their employees would be open to other jobs, they didn't realize what percentage of them would entertain the prospect. While employers thought only 21 percent of employees would be open to a new position, they underestimated by half: 42 percent said they were.
2. Creating Meaning, Human Connections and Advancement
When it comes to meaningful work, again the two sides have different impressions of the work environment. While 82 percent of employees say they want to play an important role in their organization, how well the organizations are enabling that desire is a matter of disagreement. In Europe, for example, 68 percent of employers believe their workers feel their jobs have a purpose. The employees put that number at 56 percent.
3. Attraction, Retention and Attrition
Curiously enough, the workers in countries that expressed the most loyalty to their organizations were among those most willing to consider a new job. In India, 81 percent of the workers expressed loyalty, and just about as many — 80 percent — would be willing to leave for another organization.
Employers Look at the Long Term, Employees Eye the Short Term
So what is it that makes an employee leave? The disconnect between the two sides here revolves in part around a difference in time horizons. Employers think benefits and career development are strong reasons to remain at an organization, but employees are more concerned about the day-to-day aspects of the work environment such as hours, time off and their relationship with their direct manager. The big takeaway could be that employers need to deliver on their promises about the position. Of workers who had left a job, 60 percent say it was due to not living up to initial expectations.
Obviously, there's no easy answer for how to solve a complex matter such as the workplace environment and the gaps between employers and employees. But the report makes this general suggestion: Flip the old saying of "It's business, not personal" and make the business personal.
That can happen if finance leaders and HR leaders play an active role in making employees seen, heard and appreciated and drive up their job satisfaction. As the report concludes: "In an era of continued modernization and technological advancement, the human connection, it seems, is a powerful as ever."
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