Sometimes it seems like supervisors and employees work in entirely different places. For years, researchers have known that bosses and line workers have widely varying views about things like priorities, performance ratings, morale, communication, compensation and benefits.
The result: Employees find it easy to jump ship because they’re not getting what they want from their organizations. Employers wind up offering benefits that employees don’t care about. Potentially valuable initiatives languish because managers aren’t tuned into what’s important to workers.
Here are eight areas for which recent studies have revealed major disconnects between what employees want and what their bosses think they want:
1. The value of the work. Employees believe they contribute more to the organization than their bosses say they do. A Novations Group survey showed that managers rated their direct reports significantly lower than the employees rated themselves.
Tip: With staffing lean, managers must set challenging, but realistic expectations that help employees maximize their contributions.
2. Job security. Workers may not feel as insecure about their jobs as their managers think they do. A survey by LinkedIn found that 63% of HR pros believe their workforce feels insecure, while just 34% of employees admitted to feeling that way.
3. Talking the talk. Managers say they are communicating better and more often with their employees now than they were a year ago, but just 37% of their employees agree, according to a poll by staffing service OfficeTeam.
4. Career development. consulting firm Taleo Corp. found that more than 40% of motivated employees who voluntarily quit their jobs cited a lack of growth potential as a deciding factor. The critical factors, according to those workers: training, promotions, mentoring, career planning and . Yet 57% of employees in the survey said they never had a , and 79% said they do not get career mentoring.
Tip: Even if you can’t afford much training, conduct regular performance reviews, talk to employees about their career goals and assign mentors to work with your organization’s rising stars.
5. Retention motivation. No surprise: Employees say good pay and benefits make them want to stay, according to the most recent study by recruiter Spherion. Actually, that was a surprise to supervisors, who said “management climate” and supervisor/staff relationships were the top retention drivers. Other disconnects: Employees ranked time and flexibility as No. 5 on the list of retention drivers, while managers listed it as No. 8.
6. Comp and benefits communication. A Hay Group study found that 80% of execs believe their benefits communications positively affect employee satisfaction, retention and engagement. But just 33% said they communicate their reward philosophy and strategy effectively to employees.
Advice: Make the minimal investment required to tell employees about your compensation and benefits strategy. In a down economy, it’s more important than ever to clearly communicate your commitment to employees.
7. Total rewards. A Deloitte survey asked benefits specialists to report their organizations’ “total rewards” priorities—and also their own personal priorities as employees. Almost 60% said they’re most concerned about being able to afford to retire, far ahead of their second most-pressing worry, the cost of health care benefits. When the same people identified their companies’ top challenges, just 1% identified retirement costs as the top priority.
8. The value of benefits. A Charlton Consulting Group survey showed that workers underestimate the cost of their benefits to be at least 13% less than their employers actually pay.
Solution: Tell employees exactly how much their benefits cost. They’ll be more understanding when it comes time to raise premiums or co-pays.
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