Study: The Risks Of Ignoring Employee Feedback

Many companies don’t want to hear candid and truthful feedback from their employees. And it’s having a chilling effect on employees’ engagement.

From January-June, 2017, Leadership IQ surveyed 27,048 executives, managers and employees and discovered… 

  • Only 15% of employees believe that their organization Always openly shares the challenges facing it. And if an employee does believe that their company Always openly shares the challenges facing it, they’re about 10 times more likely to recommend it as a great employer.
  • Only 24% of people say that their leader Always encourages and recognizes suggestions for improvement. And if someone does think their leader Always encourages and recognizes suggestions for improvement, they’re about 12 times more likely to recommend it as a great employer.
  • Only 6% of people say that at their organization, good suggestions or valid complaints from employees Always lead to important changes.  And if someone says good suggestions or valid complaints from employees do Always lead to important changes, they’re about 18 times more likely to recommend the company as a great employer.
  • Only 23% of people say that when they share their work problems with their leader, he/she Always responds constructively. And if someone says their leader Always responds constructively when they share their work problems, they’re about 12 times more likely to recommend the company as a great employer. 

Finding #1: Companies Aren’t Being Truthful About The Challenges They’re Facing

One of the hallmarks of a truthful company is the extent to which it openly shares its challenges.  But currently, only 15% of employees believe that their organization Always openly shares the challenges facing it, while 21% say their organization Never openly shares its challenges. 

Even if we combine those who say their organization Always (15%) or Frequently (20%) openly shares the challenges facing it, that still leaves nearly two-thirds (65%) of employees who feel their organization is not doing a good job openly sharing its challenges.

Whether an organization openly shares its challenges also has a large impact on employees’ work experience.  We asked employees whether they would recommend their company as a great organization to work for and discovered the following…

  • 63% of employees who think their organization Always openly shares the challenges facing it will strongly recommend it as a great organization to work for.
  • By contrast, only 6% of employees who think their organization Never openly shares the challenges facing it will strongly recommend it as a great organization to work for. 

In essence, if an employee believes their company openly shares the challenges facing it, they’re about 10 times more likely to recommend it as a great employer.

As we might expect, executives are much more likely than individual contributors to believe their organization Always or Frequently openly shares the challenges facing it (49% vs. 31%). 

Similarly, younger people are much less likely to believe that their organization Always or Frequently openly shares the challenges facing it.  For example, only 30% of people ages 18-30 think their organization always/frequently shares its challenges, contrasted with 40% of ages 51-60 and 47% of ages 61+.

Those who work for small companies think there’s more open sharing of challenges (39%) than those at either medium (32%) or large (34%) companies.

Meanwhile, on this issue, women and men were fairly similar (36% vs. 34%).

Finding #2: Too Few Leaders Are Open To Hearing Suggestions For Improvement

The most truthful cultures are those that are open to hearing ways that they can do better.  Unfortunately, only 24% of people say that their leader Always encourages and recognizes suggestions for improvement, while 16% say their leader Never does so.

Even if we combine those who say their leader Always (24%) or Frequently (23%) encourages and recognizes suggestions for improvement, that still leaves more than half (53%) of employees who feel their leader is not doing a good job on encouraging and recognizing suggestions for improvement.

 

This issue looms large for keeping people engaged at work. When we asked employees whether they would recommend their company as a great organization to work for, we found…

  • 62% of employees who say their leader Always encourages and recognizes suggestions for improvement will strongly recommend it as a great organization to work for.
  • By contrast, only 5% of employees who say their leader Never encourages and recognizes suggestions for improvement will strongly recommend it as a great organization to work for.

In essence, if someone thinks their leader Always encourages and recognizes suggestions for improvement, they’re about 12 times more likely to recommend it as a great employer.

Middle managers are more likely to feel that their leader Always or Frequently encourages and recognizes suggestions for improvement (51%) than either individual contributors (42%) or executives (49%).

People ages 41-50 and 61+ feel better about this issue (52% and 53%) than those aged 18-30 (43%), 31-40 (43%) or 51-60 (46%).

Those in medium size companies say their leaders are more likely to Always or Frequently encourage and recognize suggestions for improvement (52%) than those in small (46%) or large (45%) companies.

And women are much more likely than men to feel that their leader Always or Frequently encourages and recognizes suggestions for improvement (51% vs. 41%).

Finding #3: Companies Aren’t Acting On Suggestions Or Complaints From Employees

It’s one thing to encourage and recognize suggestions for improvement, but it’s quite another to actually act on those suggestions.  And right now, only 6% of people say that at their organization, good suggestions or valid complaints from employees Always lead to important changes.  By contrast, 25% say that good suggestions or valid complaints from employees Never lead to important changes.

Even if we combine those who say that good suggestions or valid complaints from employees Always (6%) or Frequently (19%) lead to important changes, that still leaves three-quarters of employees who feel that their organization is not doing well on this issue.

The implications for employee engagement and retention are significant.  When asked whether they would recommend their company as a great organization to work for, we found... 

  • 74% of employees who say that good suggestions or valid complaints from employees Always lead to important changes will strongly recommend it as a great organization to work for.
  • By contrast, only 4% of employees who say that good suggestions or valid complaints from employees Never lead to important changes will strongly recommend it as a great organization to work for.

If someone says good suggestions or valid complaints from employees Always lead to important changes at their organization, they’re about 18 times more likely to recommend it as a great employer.

As might be expected, executives are much more likely than individual contributors to believe that good suggestions or valid complaints from employees Always or Frequently lead to important changes at (41% vs. 21%).  

Younger people are much less likely to believe that good suggestions or valid complaints from employees Always or Frequently lead to important changes.  People ages 51-60 and 61+ feel better about this issue (30% and 30%) than those aged 18-30 (22%) and 31-40 (22%).

Those who work for small companies are likely to believe that good suggestions or valid complaints from employees Always or Frequently lead to important changes (31%) than those at either medium (23%) or large (22%) companies.

On this issue, women and men were somewhat similar (27% vs. 24%).

Finding #4: Too Few Leaders Respond Constructively To Employee Problems

A key to having a truthful culture is having leaders that can respond to difficult issues constructively.  But as the data shows, only 23% of people say that when they share their work problems with their leader, he/she Always responds constructively, while 17% say their leader Never responds constructively.

Even if we combine those who say that their leader Always (23%) or Frequently (22%) responds constructively, that still leaves more than half of employees who feel that their leader doesn’t consistently respond constructively when they share their work problems.

Once again, there are significant implications for employee engagement and retention.  When asked whether they would recommend their company as a great organization to work for, we found… 

  • 60% of employees who say that their leader Always responds constructively when they share their work problems will strongly recommend their company as a great organization to work for.
  • By contrast, only 5% of employees who say that their leader Never responds constructively when they share their work problems will strongly recommend their company as a great organization to work for.

If someone says their leader Always responds constructively when they share their work problems, they’re about 12 times more likely to recommend the company as a great employer.

Middle managers (48%) and executives (49%) are more likely to feel that their leader Always or Frequently responds constructively when they share their work problems than individual contributors (41%). 

People ages 41-50 feel better about this issue (51%) than those aged 18-30 (38%), 31-40 (41%) or 61+ (43%).

Those in medium size companies are more likely to feel that their leader Always or Frequently responds constructively when they share their work problems (51%) than those in small (44%) or large (43%) companies.

And women are much more likely than men to feel that their leader Always or Frequently responds constructively when they share their work problems (48% vs. 41%).

Study Methodology

From January-June, 2017, Leadership IQ surveyed 27,048 American & Canadian executives, managers and employees about dozens of aspects of leadership and organizational life.  Respondents were invited to complete an online assessment comprised of 68 questions, and respondents were drawn from a wide range of industries, ages, and organizational levels. 

The average survey participant took 13 minutes to complete the assessment.

For purposes of this study, we selected for analysis only those questions relevant to discovering the levels of truthfulness in organization. 

Among the specific survey questions we selected for analysis were the following:

  • This organization openly shares the challenges facing it.
  • My leader encourages and recognizes suggestions for improvement.
  • At this organization, good suggestions or valid complaints from employees lead to important changes.
  • When I share my work problems with my leader, he/she responds constructively.
  • I recommend our company as a great organization to work for.

 The following chart shows the various demographic breakdowns of the 27,048 participants in the study.  Please note that approximately 12% of participants did not provide demographic information, so the percentages below have been scaled accordingly to total 100%.

Contact Leadership IQ

Leadership IQ is a leadership research and training firm.  Founded by New York Times bestselling author Mark Murphy, Leadership IQ leads one of the world’s largest leadership training and employee engagement studies. 

Among our many well-known research studies are “Job Performance Not a Predictor of Employee Engagement,” “Are SMART Goals Dumb?,” “Why CEO's Get Fired,” “Why New Hires Fail” and “Don’t Expect Layoff Survivors to Be Grateful.” 

Leadership IQ’s work has appeared in such publications as the Wall Street Journal, Fortune, Forbes, Bloomberg BusinessWeek, U.S. News & World Report and the Washington Post.  And Mark Murphy has been a featured guest on programs including CBS News Sunday Morning, ABC’s 20/20, Fox Business News, CNN International and NPR.

Leadership IQ’s clients include the United Nations, Harvard Business School, Aflac, Charles Schwab, Microsoft, IBM, MasterCard, Merck, Ocean Spray, Stanford University, Transamerica, Microchip, and more.

Mark Murphy’s newest book is Truth at Work: The Science of Delivering Tough Messages (McGraw-Hill, May 2017)

For media inquiries, please contact:

Jill Sutherland

Leadership IQ

800-814-7859

jill@leadershipiq.com

 

 

Posted by Mark Murphy on 16 September, 2017 Constructive Criticism, Emotional Intelligence, Employee Engagement, Research | 0 comments
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