New Study Indicates 80% of Leaders and Employees Saw Increased Productivity But Highlights Disconnect With Communication and Transparency
Our curiosity got the best of us and we decided to conduct a national survey amid a turning point in the pandemic, as organizations aim to regain their footing in this new era of work. The survey results show stark contrasts in employee and leader sentiment in regards to three key pillars of workplace efficacy and success: productivity, communication and transparency.
Productivity, Output and Onboarding All Improved in Remote Environments: Productivity, output and onboarding have been cited as reasons to return to a physical office by organizations large and small across the globe. However, leaders and employees felt that productivity was either positively impacted or not impacted at all by working remotely, indicating that efficiency, learning and productivity is not limited to the confines of a traditional office space. More specifically:
- Nearly half of employees (46%) said that their employer's response to the pandemic had a positive effect on the amount they contribute.
- Of those who indicated their employer's response to the pandemic had a negative impact on their work (18%), cited the main reason for this being that they didn't feel that their work was being valued.
- A large majority (80%) of both leaders and employees indicated that productivity and output remained the same or increased in a remote environment.
- 77% of leaders also felt that their level of contribution to their team and the organization as a whole had increased since working remotely.
- Leaders (45%) and employees alike (48%) agree that the remote onboarding experience was successful because communication was streamlined and there was a clear understanding of roles as it pertains to the organization's larger objectives.
"It's no surprise to us that this survey demonstrates that the heightened awareness and dismantling of the status quo cause more rigor and better results consistently," say Leslie Jones, SpiralMethod founder and master facilitator. "In our work, we encourage leaders and entrepreneurs to develop a culture of impact and innovation versus policies and procedures. The idea is to take the entrepreneurial mind-set and apply it to employees so you're no longer tracking time, you're tracking results. Employees tap into their own efficiency, production, innovation, and collaboration in new ways. They are no longer going through the motions rather they have elevated engagement. Isn't that what we want?"
Additionally, Jones attributes the transformational situation that COVID produced in our workplaces to the uptick in production and rigorous communication as reported in the SpiralMethod survey. The report; however, showed disparity in how leaders and employees experienced these dynamics.
Communication and Transparency Show Stark Disconnects: With dramatic changes in day-to-day communication due to the rapid move to remote work, also came a stark difference in sentiment around established feedback loops and transparency in the organization, including:
- Nearly all (93%) of the leaders surveyed indicated they have maintained a transparent feedback loop between themselves and their direct reports.
- Whereas nearly half (44%) of employee respondents indicated that their company does not have a feedback loop established.
- This glaring contradiction between leaders and employees is exemplified when employees were asked about the return to the office. While the majority of employee respondents (60%) indicated that they have observed leaders/managers within their organization asking employees for direct feedback on new workplace policies and schedules;
- The majority of employee respondents (63%) indicated that they would prefer to remain working remotely, yet, over half (56%) stated their organization is planning to return to the office - further indicating a disconnect in communication and the absence of an established feedback loop.
- Curiously, 67% of leaders answered that they connected more with their direct reports in a remote environment than they would if they were in an office, a fairly astounding finding given many organizations' emphasis on in-person interactions, sustained through a traditional office space.
- While feedback loops and communication clearly need work, both groups - 75% of employees and 72% of leaders - at least agree that more transparency within the organization would boost overall morale and success for the company.
- Plus, the majority of employee respondents (63%) noted that their employer gives them the freedom to speak openly about current societal and political issues.
- However, in direct contradiction to this, 63% of employees indicated that they would not be happier at the workplace if/when given the freedom to speak openly about topics that are typically taboo in the workplace.
Jones points to leadership "blindspots" as the reason for the disconnect.
"Employees see leadership ask directly about returning to the office, but their opinions are not being taken into consideration," Jones says. "In many cases, management is hearing what they want to hear. If you're not listening to the growing voice of your employees, you're missing an enormous opportunity to cement your company culture in trust —and they will know it. There's so much you can learn from your teams if you really listen with an authentic concern to hearing them."
While output hasn't been negatively affected by remote work and in many cases has improved, the findings indicate that communication has been both negatively and positively impacted. Streamlined communication appears to be a positive byproduct of remote work, as employees and leaders alike have adapted their day-to-day communication styles to better suit a remote environment. On the other end of the spectrum, communication in the form of feedback has appeared to deteriorate. Lastly, the findings indicate that while transparency and trust are incredibly desirable to both leaders and employees, the means to actually achieve this is more complex.
"Setting up a structure for feedback doesn't mean there is honest feedback," Jones says. "Leaders often know little about in-depth realities of their company's culture. If a leader is not aware of their own blindspots they can't be effective in creating innovations, especially around psychological safety. Trust takes time to build in our workplaces. That's an important part of our work…to help companies develop and deepen trust over time — one step at a time."
The nationwide surveys, conducted by Survey Monkey in June 2021, consisted of an online survey of 1,168 employees (Senior Management, Middle Management, Intermediate, Entry Level) and 125 Decision Makers (C-Suite, Owner, Executive), not specific to SpiralMethod customers. The margin of error was +/- 2.93 percent for employee survey, and +/- 13.868 percent for leader survey. For more details and additional results from the employee & leader workplace performance and expectations surveys, contact [email protected].