What Employees Really Want At Work

Ever since a Gallup study last year revealed the staggeringly poor state of employee engagement levels throughout the world, there have been no shortage of efforts to understand what it is that makes people tick, and how our workplaces are failing to provide these things.

See Also: Top 10 Things Employees Want Most from Their Employers

A recent survey by 15Five suggests that many of the things currently offered to employees, whether that’s free gourmet food or access to ping pong tables, aren’t really what we want.

The study of over 1,000 employees found that the key factor behind their happiness at work was a culture of open communication. A whopping 81 percent of respondents revealed this was their number one requirement, with just 15 percent saying that they believed their current employer did well in this regard at the moment.

This was emphasised by the finding that just 15 percent of employees thought that their manager valued any feedback they provided to them, with the vast majority thinking that any ideas for improvement tend to fall on deaf ears.

This was particularly common among younger employees, who complained of feeling unheard in their organisation. Nearly 30 percent of millennials reported that their boss was too busy to listen to their ideas, with a further 30 percent saying that their bosses generally weren’t asking them for any ideas.

How to Improve Things?

The survey revealed a number of things that could help matters, with technology high on the list. Some 70 percent of respondents revealed that they would more happily share ideas and information if their workplace provided a technology platform to enable such sharing. The general consensus was that such a platform would make it considerably easier to communicate with colleagues.

There was also an appreciation of the various generational differences in the workplace. For instance, Gen X employees were regarded as more cautious with sharing information, with millennials believed to be open, yet sometimes a little too opinionated.

These differences continued into the medium used for communication, with some older respondents revealing challenges they had in talking with younger peers who like talking via email rather than face to face.  The same was, of course, true in reverse, with millennials grumbling that older colleagues struggled to adapt to new technologies.

“Clearly, companies have a lot of work to do to foster open dialogue,” David Hassell, the CEO of 15Five said. “If teams aren’t communicating with honesty, clarity, and respect, then their companies won’t thrive; finding ways to bridge generational divides, encourage honest feedback, and improve transparency will go a long way to boosting productivity, morale, and profits.”

I sometimes wonder if the generational divide is quite as pronounced as some studies suggest, but there does appear to be some clear issues facing organisations in terms of information transparency and feedback.  This seems particularly strong when times are tough, and managers appear reluctant to face the turmult of new ideas or innovations, preferring to keep their head down and worry solely about what is directly in front of them.

Is your own workplace transparent and friendly towards feedback?  Let me know in the comments below.

15Five 2015 Employee Communication Survey