A Silenced Workforce: Four in Five Employees Feel Colleagues Aren’t Heard Equally, Says Research from The Workforce Institute at UKG
Embrace feedback, avoid attrition: One in three employees worldwide would rather quit than voice their concerns
As organizations increasingly struggle to retain their current workforce as well as hire fast enough to keep up with consumer demand, global research1 across 11 countries from The Workforce Institute at UKG exposes a troublesome gap between employee voice and employer action that — if left unresolved — can disengage workers, fuel turnover, and hinder business performance.
Not All Employee Voices Heard
The vast majority (86%) of employees feel people at their organization are not heard fairly or equally — and nearly half (47%) say that underrepresented voices remain undervalued by employers. In particular, essential workers, younger workers, non-caregiving employees, and employees who identify with underserved races and ethnicities feel less heard than their workplace counterparts.
“There is troubling inequity in the feedback loop at organizations across the globe. Despite many employees feeling personally heard by their employer, the majority see significant disparities in which employees are — and not — heard,” said Chris Mullen, Ph.D., SPHR, SHRM-SCP, executive director of The Workforce Institute at UKG. “At a time when organizations are desperately vying to attract and retain top talent, people leaders must first listen and then act upon the voice of the employee in order to sustain long-term business stability and success.”
People Leaders Must Listen to Employees — or Risk Losing Them
Two in three (63%) employees feel their voice has been ignored in some way by their manager or employer, which may have a devastating impact on retention: A third (34%) of employees would rather quit or switch teams than voice their true concerns with management.
“When employees don’t feel heard or feel their needs aren’t met, they are less likely to maximize their talents and experience at their workplace — and more likely to seek those opportunities elsewhere,” said Dan Schawbel, managing partner at Workplace Intelligence, which surveyed 4,000 employees and people leaders worldwide for the report. “Feeling heard drives a sense of purpose and belonging. By implementing employee feedback, people leaders can create an organizational culture of psychological safety and trust that thrives when its people thrive.”
Feedback Isn’t Just Good for Culture — It’s Good for Business
Employees with very high senses of belonging (95%) and engagement (92%) are significantly more likely to feel heard than those with very low belonging (25%) or engagement (30%). This has a remarkable impact on the bottom line: Organizations are much more likely to perform well financially (88%) when their employees feel heard, engaged, and a sense of belonging.
To dive deeper into the data and learn why investing in the voices of employees should be a strategic business imperative, read The Heard and the Heard-Nots executive report.
- Note to editors: Please refer to this as “The Heard and the Heard-Nots report by The Workforce Institute at UKG and Workplace Intelligence.”
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About The Workforce Institute at UKG
The Workforce Institute at UKG provides research and education on critical workplace issues facing organizations worldwide. By bringing together a global consortium of HR and workforce management thought leaders, the think tank is uniquely positioned to empower organizations with practical ideas for optimizing today’s workplace while also providing an important voice for employees, including frontline and hourly workers. Founded in 2007, a hallmark of The Workforce Institute’s research and education — including books, podcasts, surveys, blogs, and its annual list of workplace predictions — is balancing the needs and desires of diverse employee populations with the interests of organizations to manage absenteeism, fight burnout, develop equitable work schedules, and build strong leaders to drive inspired performance. For additional information, visit workforceinstitute.org and join the conversation at @WF_Institute.
At UKG (Ultimate Kronos Group), our purpose is people. Built from a merger that created one of the largest cloud companies in the world, UKG believes organizations succeed when they focus on their people. As a leading global provider of HCM, payroll, HR service delivery, and workforce management solutions, UKG delivers award-winning Pro, Dimensions, and Ready solutions to help tens of thousands of organizations across geographies and in every industry drive better business outcomes, improve HR effectiveness, streamline the payroll process, and help make work a better, more connected experience for everyone. UKG has 13,000 employees around the globe and is known for an inclusive workplace culture. The company has earned numerous awards for culture, products, and services, including consecutive years on Fortune’s 100 Best Companies to Work For list. To learn more, visit ukg.com.
Footnote 1: Survey Methodology
Research findings are based on a survey conducted by Savanta, Inc. across the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, Mexico, India, Australia, New Zealand, France, Germany, the Netherlands, and Switzerland May 7–11, 2021. For this survey, 4,049 full-time and part-time employees were asked general questions around how employees communicate their views to their managers and/or employer in an effort to influence matters, both large and small, that affect them at work. The study targeted full-time and part-time working employees who are 16+ years of age. Respondents were recruited through a number of different mechanisms, via different sources, to join the panels and participate in market research surveys. All panelists have passed a double opt-in process and complete on average 300 profiling data points prior to taking part in surveys. Respondents are invited to take part via email and are provided with a small monetary incentive for doing so. Results of any sample are subject to sampling variation. The magnitude of the variation is measurable and is affected by the number of interviews and the level of the percentages expressing the results. In this particular study, the chances are 95 in 100 that a survey result does not vary +/- by more than 1.5 percentage points from the result that would be obtained if interviews had been conducted with all persons in the universe represented by the sample.
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