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Despite fears of a recession, the United States remains in the midst of the Great Resignation with job dissatisfaction at an all-time high.
The US Department of Labor released data in July confirming that the job market continues to be characterized by ample employment opportunities and high levels of voluntary quits, revealing that even after two years since the start of the pandemic, millions of workers continue to quit their jobs every month. These departures are made possible by increased mobility during a period of extreme labor shortages and continue to be driven by stagnant wages amid rising costs of living and the desire for more. flexibility and job satisfaction.
Gallup, in its recently released State of the Global Workplace: 2022 report, found that alongside dissatisfaction, workers are experiencing staggering rates of disengagement and dissatisfaction. Sixty percent of people said they were emotionally detached at work and 19% as miserable. Only 33% said they felt engaged – and that’s even less than in 2020.
In the United States in particular, 50% of workers reported feeling stressed at work on a daily basis, 41% worried, 22% sad and 18% angry.
Clearly, even as Covid-era employers have focused on the idea of ”work-life balance”, including greater flexibility of working from home, increased leave policies and work-weeks working hours, worker disengagement and discontent have persisted – and even increased.
Indeed, as Gallup finds, it’s not just hours, work-life balance, or the workplace that leave workers unsatisfied. In fact, worker disengagement increases with remote work and 4-day-a-week workers, and stress levels increase for in-person workers and 5-day-a-week workers. So while the nature of their work schedule and workplace is important to a worker’s happiness, that’s not the whole story – workers are unhappy at home, in the office, working 30 hour work weeks and 60 hour work weeks.
What really matters is how they experience this work, that is, how they are managed, supervised and treated.
The number one reported cause of dissatisfaction with the work experience is characterized by “unfair treatment at work” – the absence of a culture that emphasizes respect, community and recognition of the contribution. Unfair treatment includes many types of workplace issues, Gallup’s report says, from mistreatment by co-workers, inconsistent pay and company policies to bias and favouritism.
Beyond unfair treatment at work, job dissatisfaction and burnout are strongly correlated with unmanageable workloads, unclear communication from managers, lack of manager support and pressure. unreasonable time.
The link between managers and worker satisfaction
These five experiences are entirely or significantly influenced by the same factor: managers.
Gallup found that the manager or team leader alone accounts for 70% of the variance in team engagement. So a critical part of the solution for the concerning number of workers who are expressing job dissatisfaction, disengagement, and burnout is better workplace leaders.
“The manager’s role is really important in well-being,” Jim Harter, chief scientist of workplace management and well-being at Gallup, told CNBC. “Their first job is to make sure things related to work are correct – people know what their role is, they are recognized when they do a good job, they feel appreciated at work and have a chance to develop going forward, they can see where they are headed in the organization. If you can do this stuff well, you start to build trust. And when you have trust, you can open the door to broader discussions. on well-being.
Beyond the work-focused elements, managers should seek consistent and meaningful conversations with the employees they manage, Harter said, “They need to know their goals, discuss their goals, and participate in setting their goals. . They must know something. about each other’s strengths to shorten the distance between them, and they need to know something about what’s going on in that work-life mix.”
And once managers have meaningful relationships with their employees, they’re in a better position to facilitate relationships with their colleagues — something Harter says has grown in importance since the pandemic began.
“Things that tend to drive employee engagement and well-being tend to be a bit situational, and managers are in the best position to understand each person’s situation and frame them in the right way,” said Harter said. “I think that’s really why organizations need to focus a lot more on moving to a coaching manager model, not just a delegating manager, but a coaching manager who is in touch with their people.”
According to Harter, for organizations that want to focus on better management, the first step is simple: “We need to teach managers to have at least one meaningful conversation every week with every person they manage.”
Beyond that, employers should redefine the roles and expectations of managers, emphasizing their essential role in promoting work experience. They must also provide the training, tools, resources and development that managers will need to meet these expectations. Additionally, employers need to create assessment mechanisms that will measure managers’ ability to meet these expectations, and indicate where they need more coaching, as well as provide managers with their own support structures, to that burnout does not easily reverberate throughout an entire organization.
The net impact of a disengaged workforce
Ultimately, the importance of focusing on engagement and job satisfaction is not just for employee well-being, but also for the bottom line. It pays to have prosperous workers – Gallup found that business units with engaged workers have 23% higher earnings than business units with miserable workers. Employees who are unengaged or actively disengaged cost the world $7.8 trillion in lost productivity, or 11% of global GDP.
Additionally, teams with happy employees see significantly less turnover and absenteeism, with higher rates of employee and customer retention. While disengaged workers are the most likely to change employers, it takes more than 20% pay raise to lure most employees away from a quality manager who leaves them engaged and satisfied in the workplace. Thus, well-being at work is of paramount importance for both employees and employers.
The bottom line is that the workers are not happy or engaged. Remote work options and schedule flexibility, while important and valuable to many workers, are not enough to keep employees engaged and satisfied. As the Great Resignation rages on, it is up to employers to find ways not only to attract new talent, but also to retain the employees they already have, working towards a culture of job satisfaction – and that starts with better management.
“It’s not really a pipe dream either,” Harter said. “It’s not just wishful thinking, it’s actually very life changing.”