How managers create fog-bound employees

New research shows that managers are badly stressing out employees by holding them accountable for very unclear responsibilities. In fact, it’s so bad that two-thirds of walking- through-the-fog employees say work problems are affecting their personal life.

 The research is based on my recent study of over 4,000 employees at a large North American corporation. A comparison was made of employees who rated their morale as very low and those who rated it very high. The very high morale group said problems at work rarely (6%) affected their home life compared to 68% of very low morale employees.

An analysis of the data showed one powerful force behind bummed out and stressed out employees–and that is just how aware of their workplace responsibilities employees were. Almost 100% of very high morale employees agreed that they were very clear about their responsibilities compared to just three-quarters of very low morale employees. A deeper dive into the data reveals another problem area. While 70% of low morale employees agreed it was important for their supervisor to assess their work against goals and objectives, only 20% agreed it actually happens. Compare that to the 76% of high morale employees who agreed it was important with 71% also agreeing the supervisor followed through.

It is highly unlikely that these results are unique judging from other research reports and ongoing workplace tales. What appears to be happening in an age of quick-zap communications, overwork, and rapidly changing job demands (not being followed through with updated job descriptions and training) is that employees are losing sight of the purpose of their work and especially their sense of being valued.

As buzzwords like “engagement” continue to sprinkle through the feel-good lexicon of modern management it might be useful to appreciate that many employees are wondering what it’s all about. What do you think? Is the fog of purpose getting thicker for employees?

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