Employees Want to do Better

Oliver1983, Wikimedia Commons, GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.3

A quick review of the top work-related resolutions in the U.S. from Glassdoor’s Q4, 2013 Employee Confidence Survey reveals that respondents (who are not planning a job change in 2014!) are keen to improve their leadership skills and take other work-related training to enhance their job performance.

Young people around the world are loudly exclaiming “We want to work and make a meaningful contribution to society.”

In Canada, the Bank of Montreal released a survey asking Canadian employees to list their work related New Year’s resolutions[1]. Of the 1,000 employed adults interviewed, about one-quarter shared their resolution to be more productive. The survey revealed that employees want to do better at work in a number of areas. Here are the top three work-related New Year’s Resolutions made by Canadian employees

  • Improve productivity and organize workload 24%
  • Learn new workplace skill 23%
  • Network/collaborate 22%

The same survey revealed the following top three New Year’s Resolution recommendations from employees for their bosses:

  • Listen to employees more closely 23%
  • Communicate performance expectations/ instructions more clearly 10%
  • Upgrade office equipment/technology/software 8%

Workers and Bosses Share Common Objectives

How many managers and bosses think about these three recommendations when considering their work-related goals at the beginning of the planning year? While growth, improved team productivity and better overall results are common objectives, they are seldom expressed in terms of listening more closely to employees or communicating expectations more clearly.

Interestingly enough, operation theory lists three ways that a business can improve employee productivity[2]:

  1. Raise the skill level of employees through training (or improved recruitment and selection.)

  2. Invest in equipment and new technology to enable output per worker to increase

  3. Improve employee motivation through increased engagement and loyalty of staff

If we relate this back to the employees’ resolutions and recommendations above, there is an uncanny overlap between what respondents want, plan and recommend to their bosses and the three ways a business can improve productivity. Many employees want to contribute and be more productive. They plan to learn new skills. They recommend upgrading technology and software to help them do a better job. And they seek connection through collaboration, a stronger voice and better communication with their managers, all of which foster engagement.

Perhaps more leaders should have “listening to employees more closely” at the top of their list of resolutions for 2014, because it might just be the key to that elusive pot of productivity gold we call engagement.


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[1] New Year’s Resolutions: Canadian Workers to Focus On Their ‘Productivity’, Want Bosses to Listen More-BMO. newsroom.bmo.com

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