What Your Employees Really Want [RESEARCH]

New data reveals a significant gap between what employees expect and what companies deliver when it comes to performance management and growth. At Reflektive, we call this the Growth Divide. I recently shared with HR Technologist the key steps to address the gap.

The Growth Divide is defined as the disconnect between what business leaders think is necessary to compete and grow the business and what employees believe is necessary to contribute, grow, and thrive in their immediate role and long-term career.

New research conducted by Wakefield Research and commissioned by Reflektive clarifies the cause of the Growth Divide: a result of broken, antiquated people management practices that have failed to evolve as the workforce’s needs have changed.

And, when employees have unmet needs and expectations, this translates into a negative employee experience, which can undermine business success.

  • 94 percent of executives feel employees are satisfied with performance review process
  • 61 percent of office professionals feel their company’s process is outdated
  • 74 percent feel they would be more effective with more frequent feedback

Here’s a visual of the problem and economic imperative.

If businesses can’t or won’t give employees a growth-oriented environment they desire, they’ll go elsewhere, taking with them incredible talent, creativity and energy, which can inhibit, or even destroy a company’s chance for success.

Here are five strategies for creating a culture to bridge the Growth Divide.

Enable Ongoing Development Opportunities

Nearly half of executives think employee growth and development is a challenge, and 40 percent of employees say they want leadership and professional development programs, such as coaching, seminars and workshops. Connected employees are hungry to grow and develop their skills in a disruptive marketplace, and they especially desire knowledge that’s relevant beyond their current position.

40 percent of employees say they want leadership and professional development programs, such as coaching, seminars and workshops.

They’re focused on creating value and looking ahead at career advancement, and companies should, too. In order to retain employees, you must train them for the skills they need today, and also for the next stage in their career path. As Gartner’s analysis concludes, investing in continuous renewal of workforce capacity through skills/competency development, career planning and succession planning can help thwart turnover and enhance organizational agility.

Update Performance Review Processes and Recognition

Despite the fact that 94 percent of executives are confident their employees are satisfied with current performance review processes, over 60 percent of employees actually feel it’s outdated, too generic, too infrequent and often incomplete. And, many say they wish their companies offered more in the way of reward and recognition opportunities. That’s a huge gap in perception versus reality and should be a jolting wake-up call for executives who must act now to address this shortcoming.

Over 60% of employees actually feel the annual review is outdated, too infrequent, and incomplete Click To Tweet

Connected employees are demanding a more modern approach to performance reviews and recognition for a job well done. Gartner proposes a Total Rewards strategy that encompasses compensation, benefits, career management, work-life balance and performance enablement/recognition. Delivering on these five elements, by leveraging technology that supports a more thorough, frequent and efficient review and rewards process, companies can more effectively attract, motivate, engage and retain talent.

SEE ALSO: How to Transition From Annual Reviews to Real-Time Feedback

Encourage Two-Way Dialogue

The infrequency of reviews and feedback means that business leaders are likely unaware of problems and unable to capitalize on opportunities to excel until it’s too late. Some 48 percent of employees don’t feel comfortable raising issues with their boss between formal reviews, and 74 percent say they would be more proactive in doing so if they received more frequent feedback and development opportunities.

74 percent say they would be more proactive in doing so if they received more frequent feedback and development opportunities.

This demonstrates a troubling disengagement among employees, and Gartner’s research over the last decade has consistently shown that organizations with low engagement scores underperform against their competition. Don’t leave your employees or your company in the dark. Encourage frequent, two-way dialogue between employees and their supervisors to check in on progress toward goals and ferret out inevitable obstacles to both individual and company success and growth.

Clarify Employees’ Roles in Team and Company Success

Finding meaning in their work beyond profitability is a major motivator for today’s workforce, yet some 35 percent of employees say they don’t know the impact of their role on the company’s overall success. The percentage is even higher among millennials at 41 percent—a generation for whom purpose-driven work is perhaps the most important factor in engagement.

35% of employees say they don’t know the impact of their role on the company’s overall success Click To Tweet

This is a major failure for businesses: lack of alignment between individual roles, teams and company goals will absolutely contribute to disengagement, unnecessary costs, and missed business opportunities.

Taking the time to formulate individual goals that track directly to company strategy, and to discuss progress and impact on a regular basis, is one way to maintain more clarity, a sense of purpose, and more predictable goal achievement.

Adopt a Real-Time Feedback Strategy

The study found that over 50 percent of employees want check-ins with their boss at least once a month, while 94 percent want their mistakes or opportunities for development addressed immediately, when they happen. And, 69 percent believe that having more frequent check-ins would improve their relationship with their supervisor. Clearly employees crave more frequent, timely and relevant feedback and, based on this data, too many companies are failing to meet those expectations.

SEE ALSO: The Ultimate Guide to Employee Check-Ins

Given the ample opportunities for employment, this void puts companies at risk for losing great talent, simply through lack of communication. Nurturing a real-time feedback culture will help employees and their managers stay more in-tune with performance and expectations and forge closer bonds that can foster better collaboration and investment in overall company success.

The results of The Growth Divide study confirm what we’ve long understood: Employees are dissatisfied with traditional performance management practices, especially the annual performance review. The data quantifies and helps to illustrate the gap between perception and reality, giving companies insight into how and why employees expectations have changed—and how to address them.

It’s never been a better time for HR and executive teams to drive transformation Click To Tweet

While the results may seem concerning, it’s also never been a better time for HR and executive teams to drive needed transformation.

Given the hard evidence that proves traditional performance management is broken and ineffective, the data helps to justify investment in a contemporary, digital-first approach that can give every company a strategic advantage. Watch the on-demand Growth Divide webinar to learn more.

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