Gallup’s annual State of the American Workplace report is one of the largest treasure troves of employee satisfaction data in the world. I like going hunting, so I broke down some of the essential findings for you.
Gallup asked nearly 200,000 US employees their opinions on a variety of topics current transforming our workforces, including flextime, agile performance management, and matrixed teaming. Exactly how critical are these developments to weave into our cultures and establish concrete policies around today? The statistics speak for themselves.
Gallup defined differentiating benefits and perks as those that a segment of organizations offer, those that most employees say they would change jobs to get, and those that correlate most highly with employee engagement and well-being. The survey respondents cited flextime, which allows employees to have some choice in the time of day they work, as the sole differentiating benefit. Fifty-one percent of employees say they would change jobs for this benefit, while 44 percent say their company offers it.
In conjunction with flextime, remote working is on the rise. In 2012, Gallup data showed that 39 percent of employees worked remotely in some capacity. In 2016, that number grew four percentage points to 43 percent.
Employees whose organization allows them to change their hours, schedules, and location of work as needed have higher levels of engagement and well-being than other employees. They are more likely to strongly agree that a manager who lets them set their own schedule cares about them as a person.
Agile Performance Management
According to the survey, the majority of US employees show up at their job every day without the guidance, incentives and support needed to perform at their best. Only a mere 21 percent strongly agrees that their performance is managed in a way that motivates them to do outstanding work.
Much of the criticism aimed at performance management focuses on the frequency and quality of performance feedback. Gallup found that only 20 percent of employees strongly agree they have had a conversation with their manager in the last six months about the steps they can take to reach their goals. Only 23 percent of employees strongly agree their manager provides meaningful feedback to them, and 26 percent of employees strongly agree the feedback they receive helps them do better work. Furthermore, only 21 percent of employees strongly agree they have performance metrics that are within their control.
Obviously, upping feedback frequency is an important component of making performance management more effective. But as these results indicate, employees also want to be fairly measured and evaluated and to have a say in their future.
Organizations are increasingly moving away from traditional hierarchical models and toward “matrixed” environments in which employees work across multiple teams and with team members who may report to different managers. Gallup found that 84 percent of employees are matrixed to some extent. Highly matrixed employees work on multiple teams every day with different people who report to different managers, while slightly matrixed employees sometimes work on multiple teams with people who may or may not report to the same manager.
Per the survey, highly matrixed employees are more than twice as likely as slightly matrixed employees to strongly agree that being on different teams helps them collaborate more effectively with coworkers (34 percent vs. 15 percent respectively) and that being on different teams helps them do their best work (23 percent vs. 10 percent respectively). Compared with non-matrixed employees, matrixed employees are 58 percent more likely to strongly agree that their opinions at work count and 39 percent more likely to strongly agree that someone at work encourages their development.
However, Gallup claimed that there are tradeoffs for these benefits. Eighty-seven percent of non-matrixed employees say they spend most of their day doing their work, compared with the steady decline to 82 percent of slightly matrixed employees and 70 percent of highly matrixed employees. What do we take from this? Collaboration is wonderful, but too much of it can be detrimental to productivity and may even stress employees out. Calibrating the perfect workplace requires delicate balance indeed!