Unsettling Trends in Workplace Leadership: Are Your Employees Proactively Engaged?

December 31, 20158:19 am533 views

Today’s employees understand they’re hot commodities. With 37 percent of workers noting their resume is up to date – there is a readiness to jump ship if the right opportunity arises. Millennials in particular are even more inclined to keep the door open to new opportunities, with 44 percent claiming to keep their resumes current at all times.

There is a clear desire to capitalize on this “candidates’ market,” making it increasingly imperative for employers to understand the evolving wants and needs of their employees – today and tomorrow.

A recent generational workforce survey commissioned by the Addison Group, a leading provider of professional staffing services closely examined employees’ workplace preferences, career goals and professional values. It further explores how these preferences differ across generations – Baby Boomers, Generation X and Millennials.

“Following the recession, we’ve seen a strong candidates’ market, where companies must increasingly cater to hard-to-find talent,” said Thomas Moran, CEO, Addison Group.

“Given the challenges surrounding both attracting and retaining talent, it’s crucial for management, recruitment and HR to have an intimate understanding of what employees today want from their employers and places of work.”

A Bleak Outlook for Managers

Addison Group’s survey uncovered an unsettling trend in workplace leadership. The findings paint an uninspiring picture of managers within organizations today, with only 33 percent of workers believing that being a manager has the potential to advance their career.

This sentiment is attributed to a rising trend in which workers are discovering opportunities to advance their careers, and as a result make more money, without having to take on the extra work associated with a management role.

On top of that, only 25 percent of workers note that learning how to be a better manager is a priority, and 17 percent of workers said they do not enjoy managing others. These results are influenced by the fact that a quarter of today’s workers prefer to work by themselves and rarely interact with their manager.

Therefore, it’s important that organizations highlight the value of leadership and collaboration not just for the advancement of the company, but as a key trait of personal and professional development, and one that will deepen workers’ career success.

See: 16 Predictions for Employee Engagement in 2016

Contrary to the broader workforce findings, Millennials have a more positive view of professional leadership roles, with nearly one-in-five claiming they would consider leaving a company that didn’t provide an opportunity to be a manager.

Millennials also recognize the value of a good manager with nearly 30 percent acknowledging that having a manager is important to his or her professional growth.

When it comes to management styles, the three generations value certain aspects of a manager over others. The survey uncovered that only 28 percent of Millennials find it important for a manager to make time for them compared with 36 percent of Gen X and 41 percent of Boomers.

Also, this year’s findings indicate only 45 percent of Millennials consider their ideal manager to be trusting, an 11 percent decrease from last year’s survey, and a drop from Boomers at 55 percent. Additionally, Boomers value honest feedback more heavily at 67 percent, compared to Gen X (54%) and Millennials (56%).

Which Work Perks Matter

While the management track does not appear to be a priority for today’s workers, Addison Group’s survey spotlights what really matters to employees when it comes to benefits and perks.

Silicon Valley may have proliferated the start-up culture of bottomless coffee, game rooms, napping pods and other extravagant benefits; however, the survey revealed that regardless of generation, healthcare benefits led the pack as the most important benefit at 70 percent, followed, unsurprisingly, by high salary (59%).

Vacation packages also ranked highly (46%) followed by equity packages (19%). Surprisingly, childcare support ranked lowest at only 11 percent overall.

That said, when it comes to which perks would sway respondents decision to work at a company over another that would pay a higher salary, for Millennials, it’s all about the free meals, beverages and snacks (40%) and tuition reimbursement (36%).

Interestingly, Millennials also ranked having a dog-friendly office (14%) higher than a napping room, concierge services and a play room complete with ping pong, billiards and video games. Unsurprisingly, Millennials value the social aspect of work, with nearly twice as many (15%) marking work-sponsored happy hours as important compared to Boomers (8%).

Also interesting, the least important factors in respondents’ ideal company are often ones that organizations highlight as a means of recruitment and retention:

  • Is socially responsible (29%)
  • Is a well-known company (26%)
  • Is transparent about revenue or HR decisions (25%)
  • Invests in passions or interests outside of work (15%)

It’s also important for an organization to consider the intangibles in creating a desirable place to work, with work-life balance (62%) and flexible work hours (54%) topping the list of leading factors of respondents’ ideal company.

Other key factors include having experienced leadership (45%), making employees feel they have control over their career growth (43%) and clear direction on what employees need to do to earn a promotion (39%).

Employees Less Satisfied with Work-Life Balance Year-Over-Year

In terms of employees’ satisfaction with their current workplace, companies are working hard to provide work-life balance and schedule flexibility.

Additionally, when identifying what respondents were most satisfied with at work right now, only 20 percent of respondents cite satisfaction their company’s overall performance, only 22 percent are satisfied with their company’s culture and values, and only 17 percent are satisfied with their path for growth within their company.

Though improving overall performance isn’t something that will happen overnight, working to foster a positive work environment with an emphasis on company culture and values will likely result in greater productivity. This in turn will make it easier for organizations to showcase growth opportunities for internal employees as well as potential hires.

Also read: Another 21 Years to Achieve Gender Parity in the Workplace? Millennials Think

Image credit: LinkedIn

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