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Study finds Australian managers disconnected from employees’ realities

Study finds Australian managers disconnected from employees’ realities

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A new study from Achievers finds managers estimate employee engagement, recognition and job satisfaction levels are two to three times higher than they actually are and are unaware of the disconnect.

Australia’s managers consistently overrate both their own – and their organization’s – efficacy at engaging and recognizing the value of employees, according to a new study commissioned by Achievers.

The inaugural Engagement and Recognition @ Work study identified a sizable disconnect between what managers think is occurring in their workplaces in terms of how engaged employees feel in all aspects of work and whether they feel suitably recognized and rewarded for their efforts, and how employees actually feel.

Matt Seadon, Managing Director APAC at Achievers

In short, managers think employees are more highly engaged and recognized than they actually are.

Only 14% of employees surveyed ‘strongly agree’ they feel engaged in their overall work experience, whereas managers think the proportion is 26%. Similarly, only 12% of employees feel strongly that they are appropriately recognized at work, where managers think 22% of employees identify as such.

More than twice as many Australian employees (25%) as management (12%) say they are dissatisfied with their workplace as a result. This highlights a significant challenge facing managers that fail to act to close the gap between their own versus their employees’ perceptions and expectations.

“Managers are misreading engagement levels across organizations by some pretty significant multipliers,” said Matt Seadon, Managing Director APAC at Achievers. “As a manager, you may think you’re doing a good job, but our research is demonstrating that there’s a disconnect between what you think and what your employees are feeling.

“The disconnect validates the need to better measure engagement, improve the voice-of-employee and get real actionable insights about your team that you can recognize and appropriately reward.”

When employees are disengaged, it saps their motivation, productivity and job satisfaction. They aren’t as committed to the corporate culture and its goals. This is reflected in the quality of their work, and acts as a handbrake to business performance and growth.

Employees need a voice, and managers need to hear and act on it. Managers that lack the tools to do this lack appropriate insight and consequently over-estimate their grasp on the issues. Over time, that disconnect manifests in employee issues – absenteeism and turnover – and kills any prospect of creating an environment where employees can do the best work of their lives.

The Engagement and Recognition @ Work study proves a focus on engagement and recognition in key interactions between managers and employees – at onboarding, during team meetings and in regular check-in sessions – is effective at keeping the two sides ‘in sync’ and focused on a common goal.

Engagement and recognition are closely tied to job satisfaction and business success. Engagement is crucial to higher productivity and sales, reduced turnover, improved quality of work and health and lower absenteeism. Recognition is one of the easiest and most effective ways to improve engagement company-wide.

Engaged and well-recognized employees tend to be more satisfied with their jobs, are motivated to give more effort, are more productive and stay longer.

At onboarding

Managers rate their onboarding process for new employees considerably more favorably than the employees that undergo it.

Only 9% of employees surveyed feel ‘strongly’ engaged during the onboarding process, far less than the 24% of employees that managers think emerge from the process thinking that. In addition, 11% of employees ‘strongly agree’ they were suitably engaged in the onboarding process, compared to the 26% of employees that managers think would say that.

Management also overstates how well employees are recognized for their skills and value during the onboarding process. Only 10% of employees ‘strongly agree’ their skills were recognized at onboarding, whereas managers think 23% of employees would say that.

During team meetings

Team meetings are an important collaborative process in the workplace, one where employees want to feel engaged and that their contributions are appropriately valued.

One quarter of Australian employees say they do not feel engaged in team meetings. Managers think only 9% of employees would identify as such. In addition, half as many employees as managers think employees emerge from team meetings believing they were suitably engaged.

The disconnect is even wider when it comes to recognizing the skills and contributions of employees during team meetings. Only 9% of employees ‘strongly agree’ they are recognized appropriately during meetings, compared to 25% of employees that managers think ‘strongly agree’ on that front.

In regular check-ins

One-in-five (20%) of employees surveyed say they don’t feel properly engaged during managerial check-ins, a figure managers believe is only 9%. Only 13% of employees leave a check-in meeting ‘strongly’ satisfied; managers think twice as many employees do.

Only 14% of employees leave a check-in meeting ‘strongly’ satisfied with the recognition they received; managers think 24% of employees leave check-ins in that state of mind.

The work-from-home disconnect

Working from home can potentially lead to disengagement from the workplace and a lack of recognition.

Management is more likely to rate working from home as a positive for engagement and recognition. Managers also felt more engaged with employees when at home. Employees (37%) were considerably more likely than managers (21%) to experience engagement issues while working from home.

The Engagement and Recognition @Work study interviewed managers and employees from 755 Australian organizations.

About Achievers

Achievers’ employee voice and recognition solutions bring your organization’s values and strategy to life by activating employee participation and accelerating a culture of performance. Achievers leverages the science behind behavior change, so your people and your organization can experience sustainable, data-driven business results.

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