New Research: The Heard and the Heard-Nots

Today’s post comes to us from Workforce Institute executive director Chris Mullen.

I'm excited to announce the release of our latest research report today, “The Heard and the Heard-Nots". This report looks at how, with organizations increasingly struggling to retain their current workforce and hire fast enough to keep up with consumer demand, there is a troublesome gap between employee voice and employer action that — if left unresolved — can disengage workers, fuel turnover, and hinder business performance.

We've partnered with our friend and board member Dan Schawbel's firm, Workplace Intelligence, to survey full-time and part-time employees across 11 countries to get a truly global picture of this issue.

Some key findings:

  • The vast majority (86%) of employees feel people at their organization are not heard fairly or equally — and nearly half (47%) say that underrepresented voices remain undervalued by employers. In particular, essential workers, younger workers, non-caregiving employees, and employees who identify with underserved races and ethnicities feel less heard than their workplace counterparts.
  • Two in three (63%) employees feel their voice has been ignored in some way by their manager or employer, which may have a devastating impact on retention: A third (34%) of employees would rather quit or switch teams than voice their true concerns with management.
  • Employees with very high senses of belonging (95%) and engagement (92%) are significantly more likely to feel heard than those with very low belonging (25%) or engagement (30%). This has a remarkable impact on the bottom line: Organizations are much more likely to perform well financially (88%) when their employees feel heard, engaged, and a sense of belonging.

Through this research, we have discovered three core truths about the voice of the employee:

  1. People leaders must ensure that all employee voices are heard equally and equitably.
  2. Employees count on their managers to not just listen to their feedback, but embrace and meaningfully act upon it.
  3. Investing in the voice of the employee isn’t just good for culture — it’s good for business.

We hope these findings provide an opportunity for organizations to have some difficult but necessary conversations about the importance of listening to employees across the board and, as importantly, understanding if employees feel listened to.

I believe that the leaders who succeed at listening to their employees are the ones who recognize that their employees are the differentiator needed to reach their goals. Instead of focusing squarely on the bottom line, they recognize that employees who are given a voice are more highly engaged and have a higher sense of belonging. By harnessing this energy, leaders can ensure their entire workforce is working in harmony to energize their company culture, serve their customers, and, ultimately, protect and grow the bottom line.

You can read the press release here and read the full report here.