Workers' Perceptions Have Shifted Dramatically
Few believe their employers care about their wellbeing.
Quote of the Moment
When money talks, everybody else is condemned to listen.
| Christopher Lasch
Jim Harter of Gallup writes about the astonishing drop in workers’ perceptions about their employers:
Fewer than one in four U.S. employees feel strongly that their organization cares about their wellbeing -- the lowest percentage in nearly a decade.
This chart shows a precipitous fall in employees’ belief that their employers care about their well-being.
Looking back to the beforetimes, in 2014 25% strongly agreed their employer cared about their wellbeing. This grew linearly up to mid-2019 reaching 29% (which is still terrible but sets the pre-covid baseline). Then Covid arrived, and the figure soared to 49% (still short of a majority, but a good trajectory). Then, things started to crumble, as the mixed message from companies has led to something that looks like a drunk falling down a staircase.
The ambivalence of corporate policy — will we be going back into the office, when will the HQ reopen, what is the policy about the amount of time we need to spend in the office once it reopens, the date for reopening has shifted again, but wait I can’t get childcare lined up, why are you monitoring how much time I spend at my desk, what do you mean I will be paid less now that I’ve moved to another state? — has curdled the initial surge of positive regard built up in the early, hurly-burley days of the outbreak.
Harter makes clear how much this disconnect can cost, based on a February 2022 random sample of 15,001 full and part-time workers:
Employees who strongly agree that their employer cares about their overall wellbeing, in comparison to others, are:
- 69% less likely to actively search for a new job
- 71% less likely to report experiencing a lot of burnout
- five times more likely to strongly advocate for their company as a place to work and to strongly agree they trust the leadership of their organization
- three times more likely to be engaged at work
- 36% more likely to be thriving in their overall lives
Gallup's research has also found that teams who are most likely to feel the organization cares about their wellbeing achieve higher customer engagement, profitability, productivity, lower turnover, and have fewer safety incidents.
So, in a nutshell, a broad spectrum of employers have screwed up, royally, because only 24% think their company cares about them, and all those good things that Harter listed are reversed, so all the positives are negatives.
And Harter offers what I think of as the kicker:
Employee expectations of work may have fundamentally changed after the experiences of 2020 and 2021. Many learned new ways of working and may have an updated definition for what an employer caring about their overall wellbeing means. The work-life intersection has new meaning. Gallup finds those who prefer remote work now cite reduced commute times and better work-life balance as the key reasons. These may be new and more serious considerations for many employees,
Harter lays out a playbook for companies to follow the best practices of those companies that managed to hold onto the positive regard of their employees. In particular, two points:
Of employees who strongly agreed that their employer communicated a clear plan of action in response to the coronavirus, 73% strongly agreed their organization cares about their overall wellbeing. Of those who strongly agreed that their supervisor kept them informed about what was going on in the organization, 78% strongly agreed their organization cares about their overall wellbeing.
The bottom line?
Social Now is a conference with a very unique format that delivers actual learning, many actionable tips for organizations to implement, and long-lasting memories.
The topic for this edition is Enabling engaged, high-performing teams because organizations need to sustain engagement and create the right environment for teams to achieve their highest potential, no matter where they work.
In Blue people and long limbs: How one illustration style took over the corporate world, Liz Huang opens a window to a fascinating element of corporate branding: why companies adopt amazingly similar brand designs in their supposed quest to stand out from competitors. And that can lead to a broad-based and eerie sameness to all sorts of corporate exhaust, like ads, promotional material, web sites, and user experience of tools.
It’s hard to name a trend that’s become as all-consuming, and as polarizing, as the illustration style we’ve come to know as Corporate Memphis.
The rubber-limbed, brightly colored human figures who tumble across subway ads, Instagram sponsored posts, and big tech websites are instantly recognizable and have generated a lot of debate.
Their instant and overwhelming dominance of corporate design sparked humorous and derisive names like “Globohomo” (standing for globalized homogenization), “Big Tech Art Style,” “Late Silicon Valley,” “Humans of Flat," "Neoliberal Vector Minimalism, "Bougie Design Aesthetics,” and "Humanist Blandcore.” Despite the criticism, the long-limbed, blue people don’t appear to be going anywhere any time soon.
I particularly like ‘Humans of Flat’ and ‘Humanist Blandcore’.
Here’s an Airtable webpage:
Aragon is a DAO platform:
Her research is quite interesting, but she sums it up in this way:
Corporate Memphis doesn’t communicate to consumers what a brand actually does.
In The 9-To-5 Schedule Should Be the Next Pillar of Work to Fall, Emily Laber-Warren reports that 'supervisors who are early risers perceive employees who arrive later as less conscientious, regardless of job performance'. (Her illustrations are NOT Corporate Memphis, by the way… but close.)
This bias runs up against biology, since people have their own 'chronotype', and more than 50% of adults naturally stay up after midnight, and the 9-to-5 schedule just doesn't work for them. So a worker with an early-bird boss gets rated less highly despite good work than a worker who arrives earlier.
Laber-Warren makes a strong case for fighting this bias:
With time flexibility, workers could devote their most energetic hours — typically mornings for early risers and afternoons or evenings for night people — to their most intellectually demanding tasks. People could attend their children’s sporting events or prepare lunch for an infirm parent. Workers with a chronic illness could absent themselves for an hour or two to manage a mild flare-up without having to take a sick day.
We should work within our chronotype, another rationale for flextime.
Simon Terry asks, Is Collaboration Is Dead After All? Yes, Time to do Something Better. He sounds burned out on collaboration tools:
Too much of the adoption work became about what to do to employees to encourage use of the tool – what to take away, what to force into the platform, how to create incentives from cupcakes to competitions to regular video updates from the boss. This top-down focus on doing-to-others meant so many organisations missed the peer-based bottom up doing-with-others that represented the exponential potential of value. Community which is hard and long-term was swapped for the short fix of launches, gamification and measurement. Employees arrived on the new tool without any sense it was for them to get value and asked “do I have to use this too?”. Managers invested significantly to get all their employees on the platform and went “is that all there is?” No wonder the next platform launch always looked tempting.
A lot like Understanding the Failed Promise of ‘Social Collaboration’, that I wrote back in 2015.
As Offices Ease Covid Safety Measures, Workers Worry | Emma Goldberg and Lananh Nguyen summarize the wide range of policies different companies are adopting as workers return to the office and Covid declines. Enormous variation.
3 Practices That Set Resilient Teams Apart | Keith Ferrazzi and CeCe Morken
New research reveals that how we perform work as a team contributes more to resilience than external stressors. On resilient teams, individuals feel responsible for energizing each other. This is in stark contrast to teams who are challenged by frustrating ways of working and fractured relationships. As we move into the third year of pandemic uncertainty, adopting three simple practices will help managers build more resilient — and re-energized — teams.
The three things:
1) Resilient teams know that “collaboration” doesn’t equal “meetings.”
2) Resilient teams build caring, supportive relationships with each other.
3) Resilient teams feel a collective responsibility to lift each other’s energy and well-being.
Go read the whole thing (HBR firewall, alas.)