Wednesday, May 15, 2013 by Ed Bradstreet
There are an abundance of recent articles and surveys suggesting U.S. Employers are unresponsive to employee needs. More than one-third of American workers experience chronic work stress, with low salaries, lack of opportunity for advancement and heavy workloads topping the list of contributing factors, according to a new national survey by the American Psychological Association’s Center for Organizational Excellence. On the heels of the recession, many employees appear to feel stuck, with only 39 percent citing sufficient opportunities for internal career advancement and just over half (51 percent) saying they feel valued at work.
Compounding the problem, less than half of working Americans reported that they receive adequate monetary compensation or non-monetary recognition for their contributions on the job (46 percent and 43 percent, respectively). Additionally, just 43 percent of employees said that recognition is based on fair and useful performance evaluations. In addition to feeling undervalued, employees also reported feeling unheard. Less than half (47 percent) said their employers regularly seek input from employees and even fewer (37 percent) said the organization makes changes based on that feedback. APA’s Work and Well-Being Survey was conducted online among 1,501 adults from Jan. 9-21, 2013 on behalf of the APA by Harris Interactive.
Despite growing awareness of the importance of a healthy workplace, few employees said their organizations provide sufficient resources to help them manage stress (36 percent) and meet their mental health needs (44 percent). In fact, only 59 percent reported having adequate employer-provided health insurance. Just 42 percent of employees said their organizations promote and support a healthy lifestyle and only 36 percent reported regularly participating in workplace health and wellness programs.
With almost two-thirds (65 percent) of U.S. adults citing work as a significant source of stress in APA’s most recent Stress in America survey and 35 percent of working Americans reporting that they typically feel stressed during the workday, employers need to provide resources to help their employees face work-related challenges.
“This isn’t just an HR or management issue,” said Norman B. Anderson, PhD, chief executive officer of the American Psychological Association. “The well-being of an organization’s workforce is a strategic business imperative that is linked to its performance and success.”
Each company should have an internal mechanism in place to measure the ‘Voice of Employee’. Collecting feedback is one step of the process. Employees expect action/change when providing feedback. Companies damage morale by not sharing the feedback results and more importantly, not assigning a Senior member of the team to be held accountable and act as a change agent for this initiative. Companies should build a task force with cross-functional exempt and non-exempt employees to ensure a valid representation of the employee base. The task force team should establish focus groups and interviews to gather more intelligence and help rank potential solutions. Further, the team needs to establish milestone dates so you are managing the expectations of the entire employee base. Delivering meaningful change does not happen overnight and can be costly to the business model, concentrate on low-hanging fruit that will demonstrate your commitment to this initiative. Lastly, you need to address the individual needs for employees in your talent pool; this should be a micro rather than macro approach.