It’s clear that organizations have work to do if they want to create and sustain cultures that attract and retain good workers.
The battle for talent continues, but many employers still are disconnected from their workers, according to the 2021 Pulse Survey. There also continues to be equity and inclusion issues, and working parents are still struggling with efforts to balance job and family responsibilities.
Among the survey’s findings, the gaps between employers and employees and how they feel about work continues:
- Over half (66%) of executives say they’re developing post-pandemic workforce policies with little or no direct worker input. The same percentage believes they’re being “very transparent” about these policies, but only 42% of workers agree.
- Just under half (44%) of execs want to work from the office daily, opposed to 17% of employees who want to work onsite every day. Three-quarters (75%) of executives report wanting to work from the office 3-5 days weekly, compared to only 34% of employees.
- Overall, executive job satisfaction is 62% higher than workers, and those at the top report significantly greater flexibility, sense of belonging, and work-life balance.
- There also are gaps according to worker ethnicity and gender. White men are up to 12% more likely than Black men and white or Black women to agree with the statements “My manager is supportive when I need help” and “I am treated fairly at work.” White men also are 19% more likely to agree that they feel empowered to share their perspective when they disagree with decisions made by the company’s leaders.
- While all working parents are struggling with various challenges, working dads report a much better work-life balance. They also are much more likely to say they feel good about work-related stress and anxiety than working mothers.
Moving forward, flexibility is key. Employees across the board want flexibility in where they work:
- Asians: 87%
- Blacks: 81%
- Hispanics: 78%
- Whites: 75%
- Women: 85%
- Men: 79%
As the survey authors observe, flexibility makes a tremendous difference in how workers feel about their employers. Specifically, workers who have schedule flexibility feel 3.2 times better about their work-life balance and 6.6 times better about their work-related stress. Those who have some choice regarding where they work are 2 times more likely to have positive feelings about their work-life balance and 2.4 times more likely to report less stress/anxiety.
“These results point to the need for executives to move to a digital-first workplace and build the infrastructure required to support place and time flexibility. Accommodating different locations and schedules has proven more productive than leaders could have imagined. Plus, it’s what employees want. Leaders must sustain and build flexible norms in order to recruit and retain diverse talent,” the survey authors said. They also suggested some other steps employers can take to strengthen their workforce:
- Reimagine the role of the manager as an “inclusive coach,” focusing on measuring outcomes over inputs.
- Building connections through transparent communication.
In the end, the authors said, “If leaders proceed without listening to their employees and establish policies colored by their overly rosy view of in-office work from the executive lens, then they run the risk of their number-one concern coming true – and inciting turnover within their organizations.”