Employees in 2011: Take This Job and Shove It!

Right Management has found additional evidence that employees don’t trust their bosses or companies and have very little loyalty as a result:

Workers continue to feel trapped in their jobs and want to find new employment elsewhere, according to a new poll of more than 1,000 employees in North America by Right Management, the talent and career management expert within ManpowerGroup.

Eighty-four percent of the employees polled said they plan to look for a new position in 2012, reflecting the very same level of discontent in the workplace as the 84% reported ayear ago in Right Management’s survey. Like last year, only 5% said they intend to remain in their current position.

Do you plan to pursue new job opportunities in 2012?
Previous years surveyed:                                             2011     2010     2009
Yes, I intend to actively seek a new position.        84%    84%       60%
Maybe, so I’m networking.                                           9%      8%        21%
Not likely, but I’ve updated my resume.                     2%      3%          6%
No, I intend to stay in current position.                    5%      5%        13%

“The survey findings reflect a lot of employee dissatisfaction across North America,” said Right Management Executive Vice President Bram Lowsky. “Employees are restless and feel they are lacking in options. The prolonged period of economic uncertainty has meant much less job mobility than usual, and employees understandably believe they have fewer career opportunities, either internally or via a new position.”

According to Lowsky, the findings serve as a barometer of worker distrust in management as well as job commitment. “It’s a workplace equivalent to whether or not ‘the country is moving in the right direction.’ Sometimes called ‘flight cognition’ by behavioral psychologists, intent to leave is far from an unusual phenomenon but when it applies to four-out-of-five employees for two years running it has to be of top concern to senior management.”

There is plenty of peer-reviewed research over the past decade, including our own, that demonstrates that employees’ lack of trust in their management leads to lower commitment to the organization and greater voluntary turnover, i.e., quitting.  You would think that managers would recognize this, but I’m sure they will when the economy improves and it becomes easier for people to find another job.


Top Down Decision Making Inhibits Trust and Innovation

The September 24, 2011 edition of The Economist reports these survey results from LRN:

It found that 43% of those surveyed described their company’s culture as based on command-and-control, top-down management or leadership by coercion—what Mr Seidman calls “blind obedience”. The largest category, 54%, saw their employer’s culture as top-down, but with skilled leadership, lots of rules and a mix of carrots and sticks, which Mr Seidman calls “informed acquiescence”. Only 3% fell into the category of “self-governance”, in which everyone is guided by a “set of core principles and values that inspire everyone to align around a company’s mission”.

The study found evidence that such differences matter. Nearly half of those in blind-obedience companies said they had observed unethical behaviour in the previous year, compared with around a quarter in the other sorts of firm. Yet only a quarter of those in the blind-obedience firms said they were likely to blow the whistle, compared with over 90% in self-governing firms. Lack of trust may inhibit innovation, too. More than 90% of employees in self-governing firms, and two-thirds in the informed-acquiescence category, agreed that “good ideas are readily adopted by my company”. At blind-obedience firms, fewer than one in five did.

In our own research on organizational change, we’ve found similar results.  When organizations have tightly controlled decision making, employees evidence both distrust in top management and are less likely to engage in the behaviors that promote innovation.