Employees want 'family feeling' at work Featured

2:49pm EDT April 27, 2004
A growing number of employees and employers want to be part of a family at work, but levels of trust between the two groups continue to erode.

A national survey conducted for Randstad North America by RoperASW indicates that more employees say it's important to feel like they are part of a family, up from 67 percent in January 2002 to 73 percent in March of this year. Employers posted an even steeper rise in the number who believe a family feeling is important -- 84 percent agree this year compared to 74 percent last year.

Yet despite a desire by both employees and employers to feel connected to one another, neither group perceives the other as particularly loyal. Randstad North America's 2003 Employee Review also found that there's clear disagreement about employee morale. The findings are the result of 2,826 telephone interviews conducted by RoperASW, making it one of the nation's most extensive workplace attitude surveys.

With all the turmoil workers and managers have experienced over the last year, it's not surprising to see everyone wanting to feel a stronger connection to their places of employment. Yet perhaps exactly because of such turmoil, neither workers nor their bosses place complete trust in each other.

While 70 percent of employees say they're loyal to the boss, only 53 percent of employers think that's the case. And while 77 percent of bosses say they're loyal to their workers, only 41 percent of workers think the boss is loyal to them.

Employers and employees also differ when it comes to evaluating employee morale. In the most recent survey, 80 percent of managers said employee morale was good or excellent at their companies, but only 58 percent of workers gave morale such high rankings. And even though 68 percent of employers say they're taking action to improve employee morale, only 37 percent of employees say their bosses are doing anything in that regard.

Good managers learn early on the importance of making employees feel like important and valued members of the team. But this is another area in which employers seem to think they're doing a much better job than employees give them credit for.

A 20-point difference in responses is evident when comparing both groups' attitudes about whether managers at their companies make employees feel like an important and valued part of the company. Ninety-four percent of employers said they did that, but only 74 percent of employees agreed.

The 2003 Employee Review revealed ways to improve the levels of trust in the workplace. Responses from employees clearly show improved communications can improve employee morale. Eighty-three percent of employees who rank their boss as an excellent communicator say morale is excellent or good where they work. By comparison, a dismal 12 percent of workers who say the boss is a poor communicator evaluate morale at their company as good or excellent.

Solid communication makes workers feel like they're valued members of the team. An amazing 97 percent of employees who ranked their bosses as excellent communicators said they feel important and valued at work. By comparison, only 14 percent of workers under the supervision of a manager ranked as a poor communicator feel that way.

Encouraging news from the survey is the level of optimism felt by employers. A majority of managers (72 percent) say they are optimistic about the future of their company. However, only 51 percent of employees feel the same way.

Because there's a difference in levels of optimism, it tends to make you think that the boss has some good insights he or she could share with employees that would help improve workplace morale and move everyone closer to achieving that family feeling they all want. Communication is clearly important to employees.

If managers have something good to tell, they should do so.

As Randstad North America's Managing Director of Human Resources, Gail Auerbach is responsible for recruitment and retention of the company's more than 2,000 employees in more than 500 locations in the United States and Canada. Reach her at gail.auerbach@us.randstad.com