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Frustration At Work In 2022

Leadership IQ surveyed 2,553 employees and discovered that for about 60% of people, their work frustrations are so severe that they want to look for other jobs.

What are employees’ biggest frustrations in 2022? In this Leadership IQ study, we surveyed 2,553 employees to assess the biggest frustrations and roadblocks that were keeping them from being as productive as they could be.

STUDY OVERVIEW
Respondents answered 7 questions, with both open-ended and scaled questions. Respondents represented the following demographics. GENDER: Female (53%), Male (47%) -- COMPANY SIZE [EMPLOYEES]: 1-9 (4%), 10-50(9%), 51-100 (12%), 101-500 (21%), 501-2,000 (18%), 2,001-5,000 (14%), 5,001-10,000 (9%), 10,000+ (13%) -- POSITION: Administrative/Support personnel (11%), Professional (47%), Manager (20%), Director (13%), Top Level Executive & Vice President (9%)

VIDEO SYNOPSIS OF THE STUDY

ANALYZING FIXABLE EMPLOYEE FRUSTRATIONS

Ironically, many of the frustrations people face are eminently fixable. This study asked people, "What's one frustration you have at work that you believe your manager has the authority to fix immediately?" Look at some of the frustrations that employees shared:

  • Enforcing company policy to employees who are cutting corners, causing me extra work
  • Extending the work till midnight continuously without a break
  • Biggest frustration is my boss wants our department to fix all the broken processes instead of pushing back on the department that owns the process
  • Sloppy deliverables that must be fixed by others at the last minute
  • Setting and following through on priorities
  • Number of meetings I'm expected to attend
  • Micromanaging and bending rules to appease his favorites instead of following company and industry rules
  • Stop withholding information and controlling contacts
  • Too many unnecessary external meetings

THE SEVERITY OF EMPLOYEE FRUSTRATIONS

The frustrations that people face are so severe that around 60% say those frustrations make them want to look for other jobs. 

The frustrations that people face are also so severe that employee productivity is significantly impacted.

And employee engagement is seriously impacted by these frustrations.

ANALYZING EMPLOYEE FRUSTRATIONS

What follows is an analysis of the responses to the open-ended question, “What's the biggest frustration at work that stops you from being as effective or productive as you would like?” 

Using a combination of text analytics and hand-coding by our researchers, we distilled the open-ended responses into the following 5 categories (plus one category that encompasses all the other responses that didn’t fit into one of the Top 5).

Biggest Frustration #1: Workload (including competing priorities, too many priorities, increased responsibilities)

Overall, this category represented frustrations and roadblocks related to problems with workload and/or priorities. Specific comments from respondents included:

  • Our company is frantically changing priorities every week, and sometimes every day
  • When they add new priorities they never deprecate or deprioritize the old ‘top priorities’
  • I am balancing many responsibilities and want to do them all well. I enjoy the variety, but more is being added to the expectations weekly and nothing gets removed
  • Not being able to control my own time and plan my day for optimal productivity
  • I get rated on my long-term projects but I’m inundated with crisis work (that isn’t even really important) and so my real projects are all falling behind
  • We haven’t killed off any activities that are non-value-adding, so in addition to doing important work, we’re also doing activities that are useless and wastes of time (e.g., I have to write 3 reports every week that literally nobody ever reads)

Biggest Frustration #2: Staffing 

This category contains all the frustrations related to being short-staffed or understaffed. Specific comments from respondents included:

  • Currently, primarily due to Covid, being understaffed  
  • Our recruiting process is terrible (we take 5+ days to respond to candidates’ applications) so even though we are dangerously understaffed, we can’t manage to hire anybody
  • Due to short staffing, my role as the manager is to fill the gap which causes me to neglect my administrative and growth related goals
  • Lack of staff which requires me to perform their daily work leaving limited time to focus on my work
  • HR won’t let us make offers to candidates without going through them, so after we select somebody, it takes another few days to get signoff from HR to make an offer, and by then we’ve lost most candidates, which is why we still have 18 unfilled positions

Biggest Frustration #3: Toxic colleagues or work environment

This category contains all the frustrations related to having toxic colleagues or a toxic work environment. Specific comments from respondents included:

  • We got brought back to the office supposedly for collaboration but they closed all our conference rooms and we have to maintain social distancing so we don’t have face-to-face meetings anyways and now I’m back to having 2 hours wasted commuting every day
  • Our CEO saw another CEO make their employees wear company logo hats on every zoom, so now we all have to wear company logo t-shirts on every zoom so that we can all feel more connected (utter nonsense)
  • My coworker takes credit for my work and when I try to explain this to my boss, she tells me that tattling is for children
  • My boss never leaves his office and won’t resolve the rampant conflicts we have on our team
  • I’ve got 2 coworkers who get histrionic and finger-point about every little thing, so we literally spend half of every staff meeting dealing with their nonsense

Biggest Frustration #4: Unsupportive or poorly trained management

This category covers issues related to managers who aren’t performing their job well enough, whether that’s due to lack of training, poor training, poor leadership attitude, or general incompetence. Specific comments from respondents included:

  • My boss doesn’t know where to find answers but he still wants me to run all requests through him, which delays me for days rather than letting me go directly to the other departments
  • Micromanaging manager makes me check-in every hour which interrupts my flow and I’m not productive because I’m always stopping and starting
  • Junior staffers without any operational skills get promoted to manager positions based solely on their friendships with the VP, and then we have to spend hours every week trying to teach them how our department functions
  • I have a temperamental boss whose personality changes every day so I waste tremendous time just trying to manage their emotions
  • I bring complaints from our customers to the senior team but they ignore the complaints, so I have to spend my time trying to smooth over rightfully angry customers

Biggest Frustration #5: Lack of clearly defined vision/direction/expectations

Overall, this category represented frustrations and roadblocks related to unclear vision and strategic direction. Specific comments from respondents included:

  • Constant change, we are living the flavor-of-the-month syndrome
  • We don’t collaborate with each other because of the internal politics between divisions
  • The company wants to do anything and everything in 2022, but there’s too many goals and projects for the new year and nobody will tell us which ones are the most important and need to come first
  • We have 3 vice presidents that all have different strategic priorities and they’re constantly fighting with each other by retasking my department which means we’re caught between ever-changing orders
  • Our meetings waste so much time trying to figure what is the strategic plan, who is doing what to work towards the plan, how are departments working together, what is the next thing to be thinking about or working on
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