Join us on this podcast episode as we reveal the major insights we are seeing in our recent data from our global employee survey benchmarks. David Long, DecisionWise COO and Charles Rogel, VP of consulting services discuss how the employee landscape is changing and which topics differ the most by industry and demographic categories.


[00:00:00] Charles Rogel: Hi and welcome to this DecisionWise webinar. My name is Charles Rogel and I’m the vice president of consulting services and your host today. The title of our presentation is Employee Engagement Benchmark Trends, and our co-presenter today is Dave Long. Hi Dave. 

[00:00:15] Dave Long: Hi everybody. 

[00:00:16] Charles: Dave is our chief operating officer here at DecisionWise.

[00:00:18] We have a lot to cover and if you have questions, please use the chat feature to post those. We’ll try to respond to them as we go, and we’ll have some time at the end also to address your question from our presentation. 

[00:00:30] So let’s jump right in. The first thing we want to cover is kind of what we’re seeing going on in the market right now. As we’ve been conducting employee engagement surveys with our clients over the past few years. So there’s definitely been a shift in terms of what’s been important or what people have been wanting to measure when looking at their regular employee engagement survey, and we saw this, you know, drastically change in 2020. In March things kind of shut down with the pandemic. Major concern was safety. So how, what are we doing to, you know, get our people working from home. And if we were allowed to have employees working at the office or on site or wherever, what were the safety protocols we’re going to implement.

[00:01:10] And so as we’re measuring and asking questions on these topics, people wanted to know, do people feel like we’ve been adequately responding to the pandemic? And so there’s a lot of surveying around that. And actually we saw good scores there. So there was a great response. People really appreciated the care and effort that went into, you know, mitigating that and you know, being concerned for people’s safety, so that was great to see. 

[00:01:32] Diversity, equity and inclusion became a really hot topic. We were measuring this with some of our clients previously, but as a social unrest erupted in June of about 2020, all of a sudden DEI questions and breakouts on the results were really important and we measure these now on basically all the surveys we’re conducting with clients. 

[00:01:54] And then the other concerns were, how are we doing our communication, productivity with people working from home? Collaboration with this new work environment? All these were hot topics that we saw in 2020 and surprisingly those last three actually did pretty well. We saw increases in results on questions that we asked around those things. Dave, anything else you wanted to add to that? 

[00:02:15] Dave: No, I think it’s interesting to know. We had questions around DEI for years, but only had maybe, I don’t know, maybe 20% of the organizations that ran surveys were asking questions about DEI prior to that, kind of those events in June and after and now it’s, like you said, it’s the norm rather than the exception that people are doing, asking those questions. 

[00:02:37] Charles: Yeah, and it did spur a lot of, you know, new committees, you know, employee resource groups around DEI, you know, hiring people that were DEI experts, programs training. So there’s been a lot of activity as a result. 

[00:02:50] Dave: Right. 

[00:02:50] Charles: Now the shift in 2021 was somewhat slight, but, you know, work from home was the big topic. So how do we tell if people are having a good experience working from homes? We added or asked several different questions about that, productivity, things like that.

[00:03:03] And for the most part, that was working well and people felt like they were well supported. There were some people who felt like, you know, they were missing out, you know, again, the culture aspect of the bottom came up, like the connection they were feeling with people. There was a little bit of fatigue working from home, especially if you had kids that were home from school and navigating that.

[00:03:22] And also in 2021, people were testing kind of the “back to the office” policies, you know, more of a hybrid work environment is the pandemic waned towards the end of the year. And that caused some consternation, I guess, with some folks that liked working from home and didn’t really wanna return to the office.

[00:03:39] Workload increased in many areas because of maybe there were some layoffs previously in 2020 and so we’re short staffed now in 2021. 

[00:03:48] Economy improves there shortages and for the supply chain, all these things are causing increases in workload for many people, especially managers. 

[00:03:58] And then retention became a big issue. As people kind of had time to pause and rethink their work experience and their job and if they wanted to stay with this organization or seek other opportunities. DEI was still a priority. 

[00:04:11] Charles: Culture came on the scene more as people wanting to understand, Hey, what happened to our culture? During this major disruption is it still good? What do people think about it? So these were the main topics that people were interested in. 

[00:04:24] Dave: Yeah, this is a pretty good summary and I would throw in with workload, that even, not related to workload, there were higher levels of stress shown in 2021. Although a lot of that does come from workload, but there was just kind of a, you know, I would call it almost a breaking point for a lot of people and a lot of organizations where they’ve been working from home for so long that it feels like they’re just living at work, that they feel like, you know, they never can really get away from the work that they’re doing. Whereas when you go into the office on a daily basis, you can kind of check that at the door when you walk out. 

[00:04:56] You know, so I would say workload and then resulting stress, but stress comes from many different places and I think we definitely saw stress in 2021 as well. 

[00:05:06] Charles: So now what we’re seeing and what we’re predicting a bit here is that flexibility is kind of the new buzzword. So everyone’s kind of looking to maintain some of this flexibility that they achieve during the pandemic, either through working from home or more flexibility and work schedules and so on, you know, accommodations but work life balance really became something that people, all of a sudden kind of looked at differently and experienced in greater quantity. And so they were really reluctant to kind of lose that work life balance that they’d achieved or enjoyed during the pandemic. 

[00:05:38] So now organizations are trying to figure out this hybrid kind of “work in the office, work from home model,” which is really having an impact on retention because people are saying, hey, why are you taking this kind of perk or benefit away from us? Don’t you trust us to work from home? Why do I need to come to the office? You know, so there’s been some pushback in terms of this return to the office emphasis, and retention’s still an issue. So people, again, it’s a combination of, Hey, I don’t wanna come back to the office or I’m looking for other work and it’s an employee’s market. So people are looking around, where they weren’t really considering that as much before. 

[00:06:13] DEI has kind of merged a bit with culture because, DEI: diversity, equity inclusion, that inclusion piece, as well as belonging have kind of always been part of culture. And those are kind of intermixed in a way, or at least kind of taking you know, being both an emphasis. 

[00:06:30] Workload’s still there, and then mental health is kind of a newer one. And we’re seeing this a lot where, this idea of mental health, I think there is better, maybe better mental health with this flexibility work from home, but also the stress component is really taking a toll on people and different ways.

[00:06:48] Anything else you want to add to that? Dave, other things you’re seeing? 

[00:06:50] Dave: No, I do see a lot of, kind of as a trend for 2022, a lot of people talking about mental health and how do we care for the mental health of our employees? Really? It’s a, you know, kind of almost a wellness, mental wellness concern, the health and wellness, not just the physical health, but the mental health of employees as well.

[00:07:09] Whereas in 2020, we were heavy into the physical health, literally, the physical health of employees, safety. What meant caring for the physical health of employees now, there’s more of a shift to say, okay, how do we also care for the mental health of employees, especially those that we don’t see every day, that we don’t know how things are going with them.

[00:07:27] Charles: Okay. So let’s get into some of the trends that we saw on our data. So there’s various ways to look at this, and before I kind of jump into this, and I think I’m probably preaching to the choir a bit to emphasize the ROI of employee engagement. 

[00:07:39] Essentially you know, if we’re looking at well, why do we care about employee engagement? Well, here’s a bunch of different reasons and I’m not gonna go through all of these, but there’s been a bunch of research to confirm that engagement matters and especially now, as we’re so concerned about retention, you know, people wanna work in an organization that engages them in their job, not just, you know, earn a paycheck. So all these topics are so important now. And we’re seeing this ROI, especially tied to retention right now in most organizations. 

[00:08:06] So let’s set this up a bit. When we talk about employee engagement, we wanna split these concepts cuz sometimes I see these get conflated when we’re working with clients and conducting surveys. There’s this element of satisfaction. That’s really the foundation upon which engagement can grow, and the factors that we typically measure there are around pay, benefits, training, stress, you know, workload. You can see the items there and the parenthesis, and when these things are working, we don’t tend to notice them. When they’re not working, they can detract from our overall sense of engagement.

[00:08:35] And so we wanna make sure that these are on par with people’s expectations so that they then can engage in their work. As we factor these items out, what we found when looking at engagement and the employee survey results over the past 25 years at DecisionWise, these five elements or keys really distilled as the main drivers of employee engagement in most organizations.

[00:08:57] So meeting autonomy, growth, impact, and connection. The idea though, is that they do factor differently for organizations. So we’ll see some of these score higher or lower, depending upon the company and also for individuals. So some people will say, well, I’m all about impact. That’s the most important thing to me that drives my engagement.

[00:09:13] So we’re trying to play with these concepts and measure these different things. As we conduct surveys, we understand that engagement really drives performance, but satisfaction’s also important because it helps to improve retention. And so we’ll set this up and talk about some of these concepts and questions and tie back to this model a bit in the presentation.

[00:09:32] So talking about the engagement piece, the top part of that model, in our database, this is our database that is based on the past four years of data from 2018 to 2021, we look at a subset of questions, which we call engagement anchor questions on an employee survey. There’s five questions that we use to measure the overall level of passion and commitment to people’s jobs. 

[00:09:54] Now, generally, as we’re looking at those questions, if someone’s saying strongly agree to most of those statements, we’d say that they’re fully engaged in their work. And if they said generally agree to most of those five questions, it’d be a key contributor. If they’re a neutral, opportunity group, and if they disagree, we’d call them fully disengaged. Now in our database, we see that most people we would label as engaged either fully engaged or key contributor. So 77% is what we’re seeing in our four year database. And we’ll get into this a little bit more, but the four year benchmark is helpful because it kind of smooths out some of the spikes and differences that we’re seeing, but we also have some data to show what’s happening in 2020 and 2021.

[00:10:34] Dave: And this is something that you’ve probably heard in popular business literature. You know, a common thing that I’ve heard said is 70% of your employees are disengaged. 

[00:10:45] Charles: Yes. 

[00:10:46] Dave: Pretty common. Whereas we’re saying, well, only five of them are truly disengaged. And what we really mean by fully disengaged is that’s a group of people that we’re probably not ever gonna be able to get to engage. The opportunity group’s very neutral. So some parts of their experience are good and some parts of their experience are bad. And that kind of has them on the fence in terms of whether they’re going to engage, but to say someone who, so we, we would agree to say that 70% of your employees are not fully engaged but to say someone who’s a very, like 49% of your people are satisfied to say that they’re disengaged, is really probably not true. 

[00:11:21] Charles: Correct. 

[00:11:22] Dave: There are people that will sometimes engage and sometimes just kind of be satisfied and happy to come into work every day, even if they’re not fully engaged.

[00:11:31] Charles: Yeah. And that’s a good point because they are contributing at a higher, good level. And generally aren’t you know, burnt out or, you know, skeptical about their experience there. 

[00:11:42] Dave: And we’d even say that key contributor group, those top two green groups really, are contributing positively to the culture of the organization. And I feel like that tracks better with most of the organizations I work with. There aren’t usually 70 percent of people that are actively looking to destroy the culture. And I would say that the 5% of people that are fully disengaged, to say that they’re disengaged is really not true either because they are fully engaged. They’re fully engaged in hating their job. 

[00:12:10] Charles: Right? And might, maybe sabotaging things. Yeah. And the range that we see here is interesting, like the lowest scoring client you know, one of the, if you’re scoring really low here, we might see like 65% overall engagement and if you’re scoring really high, we’d see like 80 to 85 overall engagement. So that’s kind of the range that we also see on these results. 

[00:12:33] Dave: Right. 

[00:12:34] Charles: So some comparisons, if we’re looking at the breakout, just by 2020 and 2021, you’ll notice that in 2020, engagement went up by 3%. So if we look at the two green groups here, we saw engagement increase, and this was actually really surprising in our data because we figured with the pandemic, there would be a lot more stress and concern and things like that. But organizations did a really good job responding and people felt cared about and we saw, actually people kind of more thriving, a bit more during 2020 and having a better experience.

[00:13:07] Now it did dip a bit, but you’ll see, in 2021 you know, 78%. Still higher than what we saw from the two years previously. So this basically is saying in 2018/2019, we saw slightly lower scores. We saw some increases here, but even adding these two in, these groups didn’t quite bring up the numbers that we saw from the two previous years.

[00:13:26] The other caveat here is we did see lower participation. So the number of clients that actually ran surveys in 2020 was lower than what we saw in previous years, simply because of the pandemic and all the disruption that occurred. So smaller population groups in 2020, 2021, comparatively. So good news overall, I’ll take this, right? This is kind of good to see. 

[00:13:48] Now here’s some industry comparisons. Within each of these groups, we might say that there could be, oh, you know, kind of 10 on the low end to 50 to 60 organizations on the high end, and they might have conducted a survey two to four times over the past four years, then four iterations here.

[00:14:06] So, you know, there’s several administrations, several companies in each of these areas. What we’re seeing as a general outcome here is that those that are more involved in let’s say professional services, or, you know, maybe a office environment are seeing higher scores. Those that are more in, you know, manufacturing or you know, government services, public administration, retail trade, you know, frontline employees, lower overall engagement index or scores.

[00:14:35] The two anomalies really are utilities, which we saw score relatively high. That was somewhat surprising. And then finance and insurance scored slightly lower than our global benchmark. So, you know, being more in. professional services. So this was kind of tracked with what we typically see with our clients, with those two kinds of anomalies.

[00:14:55] Dave, any other anecdotal experiences you’ve had with these groups? 

[00:14:58] Dave: Yeah. I mean, I probably have an anecdotal experience for every one of these industries. At this point. I always think it’s interesting because public administration, you know, most of those are office jobs. They mirror in many ways.

[00:15:11] You know, the jobs that you see in, you know, professional services in many ways now, they’ll often have a parks department or something, if it’s a local government or something like that. But what we have seen is it’s really interesting to see that high, fully disengaged number.

[00:15:27] That’s not different now than it’s been in the past. It’s always been high for that public administration group, a high number of people that, kind of, and we call that the quit and stay population a lot, but that really happens a lot in government organizations is that you have a large population that they’re like, well, okay. You know, I don’t wanna move . And so in order to do this work in this town, I have to work in this organization. Therefore I stay here and that, and I have a pension coming if I hang on for another 10 or 15 years. And so it’s interesting to see that because there are some very engaged people in public administration or public organizations, government bodies, but they do struggle with the highest level of disengaged of all the industries that we work with.

[00:16:10] Charles: Yeah. And it’s almost due to the benefits and/or what you call the satisfaction elements that are working for people. Like, I don’t want to give up my retirement, so, I’m gonna stay and stick it out, even though I’m not happy. So that’s, it kind of creates this dynamic in a way.

[00:16:25] Dave: The golden handcuffs as they’re called, right?

[00:16:28] Charles: Exactly. 

[00:16:28] Dave: Can’t walk away from this retirement benefit I’m getting in 10 or 15 years and therefore, even though I hate my job, I’ll stay well past the time that I’ve disengaged. 

[00:16:37] Charles: Yeah. And we would say public administration does include most, if not all the government agencies that we’re working with, both federal, state, and local.

[00:16:46] Dave: Yeah I think one of the things that has helped engagement over the last 20 to 30 years has been the advent of the portable retirement plan, the 401k that I can quit one job and move on to the next. You know, back in the day where you had a pension and you had to stay with that company to get the pension, and you had to vest and everything like that, you know, it can be harmful to someone who just really hates that job, but really needs to hang on for that pension to be there. But now you can kind of take your pension with you. You’ve got your 401k. You can take it, you can roll it over into a new 401k and so it becomes much more portable. It also hurts employee retention. 

[00:17:20] Charles: Right. 

[00:17:21] Dave: But it is something that helps, I think helps overall with engagement. 

[00:17:25] Charles: Agreed. So a couple breakouts. Here we’re, you know, again, we’re looking at 2018, 2021 overall. Now we’ve got a few industries where we’re looking at just the past two years. So, what was interesting with these three, specifically, is that we saw with finance a dip overall in engagement, as well as with healthcare.

[00:17:47] And an improvement in professional services. You know, they were already high and went up a little higher if we’re saying our benchmark is 77% globally. So again, you know, finance took somewhat of a hit you know, larger hit kind of a six point drop overall in engagement here, as we’re looking at these two differences. 

[00:18:04] Healthcare, we expected almost a greater decrease overall, just because of the pandemic. So it was interesting to see it was so high in 2020, but, you know, fatigue really setting in, the healthcare environment in 2021 and then professional services went up a bit. So these were some kind of curious data points, and you know, there’s not really, I don’t have an overall perspective here other than when I worked with a few clients in each of these industries, there were different reasons why this occurred. Like some did go up, or most did go up, some did go down. But these were some interesting takeaways from this industry.

[00:18:36] Dave: And Charles I’d say the one exception to that is I do think healthcare, in general, had to dip over the last couple of years. And I think it’s a lot of burnout and stress. 

[00:18:44] Charles: Yeah. 

[00:18:45] Dave: Care fatigue and compassion fatigue and all the things that go along with kind of busy times in the healthcare industry. I would say that, yeah. I agree with you that a lot of these case by case basis, but the healthcare industry overall, I think, has hurt a little bit by that. 

[00:18:59] There was a question about, we don’t have a healthcare category in our benchmark. We do. And I guess that was probably from the previous slide so the question is answered.

[00:19:09] Charles: Right. And I think there’s another question about nonprofit organizations, where do they fall? So nonprofit or, that benchmark includes many of the charitable organizations we work with, but others that are just, you know, classified as nonprofit.

[00:19:21] Dave: And someone also asks what does the public administration, is that inclusive of all government agencies? And it is any government and there’s, you know, parts of state government, a lot of local municipalities, city governments, all those things will be included in that and even federal government agencies.

[00:19:39] Charles: Yeah. Okay. So let’s dive into a few different questions or topics, you know, items that are more specific. And before I jump into these topics, just to give you an idea of the types of survey items that we measure here, what you would normally are asking about 50 questions on a survey, and there are… it takes about 10 minutes to complete and within each of those or within those 50 questions, there’s different categories. So we talked about satisfaction before, and these are elements like tools and resources, training to do my job, amount of work I’m expected to do is reasonable. You can see some of these here. You know, stress. Normally we don’t ask about payer benefits unless you want to, because they typically score lower and we’d say, Hey, just measure what’s going on in the industry and pay accordingly. 

[00:20:23] We have several items that measure the MAGIC components. So meaning, autonomy, growth, impact, and connection. We’re trying to understand the perceptions on those topics. The engagement anchor questions that measure engagement directly, and also what we call kind of an attrition index or intent to stay, questions that indicate how likely people are to leave or stay with the organization. And then normally two open-end questions at the end, what’s working, what’s not working, where we can do some comment analysis.

[00:20:51] So the dimensions are pretty straightforward, too. So we have these buckets of questions that we typically ask and we’ll kind of show a few items in each of these areas, but we’re trying to understand people’s perception around their job, their supervisor, team, and the organization. Overall, here’s some sample questions that we typically ask in each of those categories.

[00:21:09] So it gives us a good perspective, very comprehensive set of data when we’re talking about an annual survey. Now we would definitely cut this down for pulse surveys or onboarding surveys, other types of surveys, but if you’re doing an annual survey, we’re looking to get a real comprehensive set of data so we can do some real breakouts and analysis overall.

[00:21:27] And so looking at kind of the 50 most used questions in our database, normally if we work with an organization, we say, well, here’s our standard survey and let’s kind of customize from there. Most clients are using our standard set plus some others or, you know, a few different ones. And you can see the rank order here. Again, it’s similar to what we saw with engagement, but a few changes. You know, hospitalities down here where we had retail trade lower for engagement overall before. Finance and insurance actually have pretty high scores when it comes to the questions, but lower scores when we looked at engagement. So that was kind of an anomal that kind of stuck out there too. 

[00:22:04] I didn’t expect to see, like, transportation warehousing score higher on those questions and utilities. Those are kind of surprising here. Again, we expect to see more maybe professional services, office environment scoring higher overall, and then manufacturing, kind of consistent. Public administration as well.

[00:22:24] Dave: And remember the model we talked about at the very beginning, the difference between satisfaction and engagement, you see that represented here. Whereas finance and insurance organizations do a pretty good job of providing satisfaction elements, it’s a little tougher in that industry to connect people at a deeper level and get them to engage.

[00:22:41] So, whereas their overall score, which includes all the satisfaction element will be at 80%. The engagement score still is, it falls below the average organization or the average industry in our benchmark. 

[00:22:55] Charles: And again, you can see another interesting thing is just the breadth of scores. There’s like a nine point difference between industries. And it is interesting, as we work with an organization the first time when they’ve done an employee engagement survey, the typical pattern is they’ll score below the global benchmark. So they might come in at like 70% favorable. The next year, they, you know, they’ve done some action planning around the results. They’ve kind of strive and improved some things and we’ll see them on par with the benchmark. And then in the third year, they’ll typically exceed the benchmark. So that’s a common, kind of journey we see most clients go through in terms of improving their results on the survey. But you can see by industry, you know, you kinda start off at maybe a lower starting point comparatively with others.

[00:23:37] Right. So then some demographic comparisons. So if we’re looking at the differences in our benchmark between some of these areas, you can see as we’re looking at male and female responses, 79% overall favorability on these standard items compared to females at 77%. So a two point difference. This is pretty typical. We normally see males score slightly higher than females overall. 

[00:23:59] And then when we break this out, there’s some nuance in the data. So, here are the differences where females are scoring lower than males on different questions on the survey. So females, 75% said “agree” or “strongly agree” to this question that I can share my ideas and opinions without negative consequences. 80% of males agree with that statement. That’s a pretty high score. Five point difference overall. 

[00:24:23] So workload, stress scored slightly lower for females. Empowerment, professional growth opportunities, and then here’s some more communication questions around top down and voice employee, voice questions, scoring lower for females compared to males.

[00:24:38] So that’s interesting. And that’s a pattern I see play out pretty frequently where these questions around employee voice and communication score slightly lower for females and also workload and stress in this case. 

[00:24:51] Dave: Yeah. Workload and stress is kind of a, an interesting one. It’s not part of our DEI measurement. But employee voice certainly is because it’s often it’s very frequent that we see that a group, not just among females, but among you know, minorities , you know, working in an organization that sometimes they don’t feel like they can speak up as much as the majority population. And so, employee voice is such a huge issue here. 

[00:25:15] So it’s not surprising to see this in our benchmark. In fact, part of the reason why it’s included in our DEI index is because it often shows up as a difference between, you know, different groups in our benchmark.

[00:25:26] Charles: Yeah. That’s a good point. At the bottom, there are a couple items where females scored higher than males around vision and goals of the organization. So we thought that was interesting. That kind of drives us into meaning as well. So they’ve scored slightly above males in those categories, both higher scores there, or agreement, I should say.

[00:25:43] Dave: Some of these are pretty high scores in our benchmark. Some of them are pretty low scores. Really what the standard that we’re looking for is that it’s equal, that the experience for one group is equal to another group. And so whether they’re high or low, ideally we would see these things equal in your organization.

[00:25:59] Charles: Yeah. And at an organization level, we’d say like a five point difference would be significant. In our global database, you know, it’s more significant cuz there’s so many responses in here, but at a local. That’s what we’re looking for. 

[00:26:10] So managers and non-managers, so typically we see a five point difference between managers scoring higher than non-managers overall on the survey results. Now, here’s a breakout of where we’re seeing the greatest differences and you can see there’s a much bigger swing overall on these questions compared to what we saw in males versus females. 

[00:26:28] So manager results are higher. 90% of managers agree with the statement about being empowered, not surprising. You know, if you’re a manager, you have more autonomy and empowerment. Compared to non-managers, that’s a 13 point difference overall. 

[00:26:41] So, empowerment, growth, meaning and purpose, my work being valued, kind of the sense of impact, here’s growth again, and then being responsive to suggestions. This is kind of an employee voice question.

[00:26:53] Now there are several more. I just showed, kind of the top six on this list. But you can see there’s a much larger discrepancy between a manager and non-manager. 

[00:27:02] Dave: Yeah. It’s interesting to see so many of the MAGIC engagement elements among these things where managers score quite a bit higher than non-managers and I think it contributes to the fact that managers on average are more engaged than non-managers, which is important to note, because when you have an engaged manager, you’re far more likely to have people that report to them as being engaged. So important to see some of these elements that we know cause engagement among managers. But again, as much as we’d like to see the high scores for managers, we would love for those managers to be able to translate some of the meaning and purpose that they feel to their teams or to translate the fact that they feel challenged and stretch to also challenge and stretch the people that report to them as well. So, as much as we love to see managers having a good experience, we would like for them to translate that to the teams that report to them as well.

[00:27:51] Charles: Yeah. And maybe it’s because they’re experiencing too much workload and stress?

[00:27:54] Dave: Could be. 

[00:27:54] Charles: So, the negative differences really stand out. We’ve seen this during the pandemic, as well as managers have been kind of a buffer to help their employees get work done. And they’ve been kind of burdened a little bit more with changes and navigating all the difficulties.

[00:28:10] They’re also a little bit more sensitive to this idea of collaboration across departments and functions being more at the crossroads for a lot of those decisions or problem. 

[00:28:19] Dave: Intuitively, you might not think that would be true, that managers would be able to see that they can work more effectively across departments and functions by virtue of their positional power.

[00:28:29] Charles: Yeah. You think they can fix that? 

[00:28:30] Dave: I think it’s because you know, managers see firsthand kind of the fighting over resources, over limited resources, you know, Hey, I wanna hire somebody in my team and if you hire somebody, your team, I can’t hire somebody in my team. So they see some of that firsthand and they’re in that business all the time. And I, I think that’s why it results in lower scores on cross-functional collaboration. 

[00:28:50] Charles: Yeah. Agreed. And union status. So not surprising. You know, if you’re a member of a union and an organization, your perceptions are lower than those that are in non-union. So what we’re kind of calling out here is we’re looking at just a smaller percent or a group of organizations that have a union population and a non-union population. So these are just those, we’re not looking at every other worker in our database that’s not part of a union. But you know, looking within those types of organizations, we see this difference play out, and it’s a pretty significant one of seven percentage points based on the percent of agree and strongly agree responses.

[00:29:25] Where does that play out? Well, it’s interesting, you know, as we, look at these results, there is generally lower trust between unions and non-union participants. And that’s pretty typical because again, unions are saying, Hey, you know, who’s looking out for us or manager. Our enemy or not. So here we’re seeing like supervisor scores show up where the perception of their supervisor, that experiences is lower compared to non-union representatives.

[00:29:52] Listening components, listening questions also are part of this. And trust here with the organization. So anyway, I’m not too surprised. What are your thoughts, David? 

[00:30:02] Dave: Yeah. Organizations, you know, this is within one organization, the union versus the non-union population. It’s not unionized organizations versus non-unionized right? Yeah. I think you pointed that out. It’s important to note though, because if you look at the previous slide, what we saw was that the overall score, when you add it all together is gonna be lower, right? So let’s probably be 69, 68%, something like that, is gonna be lower significantly than our benchmark number of 75, 76% that we saw on a previous slide. Right? So overall perceptions in organizations with unions are lower than in organizations without unions. 

[00:30:39] Now it’s kind of the chicken and the egg. Is it the union that’s making it lower or does the organization have a union to begin with because it was struggling to provide a tenable work environment for employees? And I think it’s more of the latter, right? Somebody once told me that most organizations that have unions deserve them because of something they did along the way. And I think that’s a little harsh to say, but what I would say is you know, there’s a reason why employees unionize and when people are faced with an untenable working environment and a need to work and a need to be there then they’ll tend to unionize. And that untenable work environment is helped along by having a union, but it doesn’t change the underlying reasons why the union is there to begin with or why it made sense to unionize to begin with.

[00:31:25] And I have seen and worked with organizations that have a union where we see high scores from union populations too. So it’s not all bad. If you have a union, you’re not guaranteed to have lower scores. But there’s been a lot of work to kind of build trust, build a good work environment and that really makes a difference. Trust is kind of the underlying kind of component here, I think, that plays out. 

[00:31:44] One of the biggest things we hear from union employees when we talk to them is that they don’t understand in a lot of ways, and you can see it right here, like I understand the vision and goals of this organization, you know, seeing that, having that connection beyond just, hey , you know, we’re a union together, you know, the organization, I think in many cases, doesn’t know how to treat union employees and so they’ll default to just, you know, trying to interact with them less. And I think that hurts the relationship more than anything. They should be trying to build trust as much as possible, trying to build buy in into the organizational vision and goals as much as possible so that these gaps don’t exist between union and non-union employees. 

[00:32:24] Charles: Agreed. Ethnicity, so this showed some interesting results. So in a way, what’s good is we’re not seeing as many differences here. So the one thing I’ll point out is like the Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander population is much smaller comparatively, same with American Indian or Alaskan native. So in some organizations we might see five or 10 people out of this population with, you know, a total of maybe 500 people entire company. So it is smaller. The perceptions generally do score higher like we’re seeing here. But then if we’re looking at the range of scores between the Asian population at 80% favorable and two or more races at 76%, you know, it is a four point difference overall. 

[00:33:07] There is some nuance here and we’ll revisit some of these ethnicity comparisons a bit. I’ll show you the breakouts here. 

[00:33:14] This is a busy slide. It might be a little bit harder to kind of show some of these differences more significantly. But here the best way to kind of show some of the lower scores for all the groups was to sort it by the largest population of white employees where 62%, you know, is their lowest score. 62% agreement with this statement about listening. And so as we’re looking at what typically scores low, well it’s listening, communication, advancement, growth, stress. And how does that compare? Well, we’re seeing, you know, relative consistent results across groups. Some things that stand out is the black or African American population where you know, stretch and challenge that results in growth, feeling valued by the organization is scoring slightly lower comparatively. We’re highlighting kind of the 60% and lower scores here compared to 70% and higher.

[00:34:05] And we do have a couple other questions. We’ll break out around ethnicity here later in the presentation. 

[00:34:09] I see this as well, fluctuate by organizations. So I, there, it’s hard to identify a pattern, like this pattern we’re seeing here doesn’t necessarily play out in other groups. We’ll see some differences by organization more frequently.

[00:34:25] Dave: And of course we want, as much as possible, I think we want, you know, parity among these boards, equal opportunity, equal experience. We want people to experience the organization the same way without regard to, you know, race, ethnicity, gender, any of those things. We would love to have parity. We want everybody experiencing the organization the same way.

[00:34:46] Charles: Great. Okay, so a few insights and topics that we’re gonna pull out just from the past two years. You know, so retention, we talked about earlier. Here’s some of the questions that we use to measure intent to stay, and you can see it deals with kind of confidence in the success of the future. Recommending, is a great place to work, otherwise known as kind of our employee net promoter score question, and then choosing to remain even if a similar job with benefits were real elsewhere. 

[00:35:13] Surprisingly confidence improved in organizations. So I think there might have been some instability in 2020 as we started the pandemic, but then the economy was pretty strong in 2021, people had kind of a more positive outlook on where the company was going. 

[00:35:28] The recommended as a great place to work increased slightly and then this question here, I thought the choosing to remain question would decrease at somewhat, but it remained flat. Now it could be the caveat where if a similar job with pain benefits were available elsewhere. Yeah. Maybe they’re getting great offers and so that’s the reason. 

[00:35:47] Dave: They definitely are and that’s a part of the great resignation that we’ve experienced since really the end of 2020 until now. It’s still happening. That people have other opportunities and they would, you know, 75% of people say that on balance I would just stay in this job. That means they’re satisfied. They’re happy to be there, but, well, look, if somebody’s gonna pay me a lot more to go somewhere else, then I’ll definitely take advantage of that. 

[00:36:11] Charles: Right. 

[00:36:12] Dave: I think that what is happening right now is that organizations are throwing around a lot of money to bring in talented people into their organization and so you have to be aware of that. And especially during inflationary times, when, you know, if you gave somebody less than a seven or 8% raise, you’ve probably given them an effective pay cut. And they’ll notice that and they can go out and rectify that in the open market. 

[00:36:35] Charles: And one thing we’d add here, we gain a lot of other good insights when we look at these results. So if, for example, six months from now, or after you do an annual survey, you could load in the population of employees that have left the organization and look at their results as a group and it’s for everyone that left voluntarily in the past six months, what were their responses to the survey before they left? And you will see differences in scores. We see it every time. The results are lower and they could be around workload, they could be around growth opportunities. You’ll get some good insights if you kind of back load some of that data to revisit that in your survey results. 

[00:37:11] Work life balance. So this is again, several questions here that we’ve been measuring you know, basically promoting an effective or a reasonable work life balance. It dipped slightly. And I think this was again, a response to people coming back to the office. Maintaining a healthy balance actually improved and so that was interesting to see in 2021. Maybe people figured this out a little bit better compared to the initial pandemic. Workload decrease and stress decrease. So that is interesting to see that work life balance improve, but workload and stress. Now we have not asked this question, maintaining a healthy work life balance or as frequently. So not all of our clients are using this right now, but we are asking this workload and stress question with virtually all of our clients. 

[00:37:59] Dave: And the workload and stress question is, as you’ve said on other items, this has varied on some of the clients that I’ve worked with. There are some that have kind of stayed flat with workload and stress. It hasn’t been changed. And there are some that have had really big shifts in workload and stress, which I think also is contributing in some ways to the resignation that we’re seeing. 

[00:38:21] Charles: And it’s also localized to certain departments or job titles too. 

[00:38:25] Dave: That’s true. 

[00:38:26] Charles: So it’s, it could be varied. So here’s some more information around diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging. So these are kind of the three main questions we’ve been asking since 2020, 2021. The first one being this idea of kind of diversity in the workplace. It went down slightly by 2%. Being treated equally increased by 2%, generally scores, pretty high. Most people agree with this statement creating an inclusive environment. We didn’t have enough benchmark data in 2020, but in 2021, 78% agreement there. And then I feel like I belong here, which is one of our standard questions we’ve been asking for years and a strong indicator of engagement and also diversity equity inclusion, slight dip overall. 

[00:39:08] Another breakout here. So we looked at this question around being treated equally. And if we’re looking at that specifically, what we saw is a a notable lower score between the black and African American population and others in 2021. So that really stood out in our data as they are not seeing themselves being treated as equally as others in the organization and that’s a pretty significant difference in our total database, but we have seen, you know, larger differences in some organizations.

[00:39:39] Culture. So again, everyone’s concerned. What about our culture? What’s happening? We’re working from home. How are we doing? Well, this is doing pretty well. So we’re seeing this question that we ask real frequently about being comfortable in the culture increased by three percentage points. Most people agree with that statement. 

[00:39:54] We started asking this question more frequently in 2021, being myself at work, and that’s a strong score and then feeling cared about is even. Now I’ve seen this care question fluctuate a bit in some organizations and really, it depends on how well we responded to the pandemic. Healthcare it’s not doing so well because they were at the front lines of this and feeling cared about really was a struggle when you are at risk working. You know, putting your life on the line essentially in healthcare. So there’s been some differences and I’m surprised it kind of stayed even.

[00:40:24] Dave: I’ll point out the reason why we don’t have 2020 data and I can be myself at work is we’ve actually added this to our standard set of questions furthering kind of our understanding of what causes somebody to feel like they belong in an organization and this ability to express one’s authentic self is becoming a big issue, even, you know, even in the workplace to be able to be authentic and to be, I can be myself at work is a big issue for people. And you can see the organizations that have adopted that question are doing quite well with it at 82% favorable. But t’s becoming a more and more key indicator of whether or not somebody’s gonna feel like they belong somewhere, is if they feel like they can express themselves authentically at work, then they are gonna feel more like they belong.

[00:41:08] Charles: Yep. Good point. Collaboration, you know, we were stressed about collaboration. Now, generally this question we ask about, we work effectively across departments and functions does not score well. Everyone says within my team, you know, these next two questions at the team level, we collaborate and help each other. But outside, if I could work with other departments, it’s more difficult. Only 60% agreement in 2020, but it increased to 63% in 2021. And that was really surprising to see that improve as much as it did. And again, that’s still with a lot of remote employees. We thought if everyone went remote, we’re gonna lose collaboration.

[00:41:41] And that was, you know, the big reason to come back to the office so we could kind of recapture that. But perceptions generally improved over those two years.

[00:41:49] Dave: And Charles prior to 2020, that was in the mid fifties. 

[00:41:52] Charles: Yeah, exactly. Yeah. So that was an increase in 2020 as well. Yeah. So we’re figuring this out 

[00:41:58] Yeah. Oddly, when we’re not all in the same place, that’s when it became easier for us to collaborate. 

[00:42:04] Weird. Yeah. Maybe there’s too much collaboration. right. Communication, dramatic improvement here. This was really surprising too. So supervisor communication always had done pretty well. So at the local level, people generally say, yeah, my manager communicates important information. Across the organization or top down, you know, from, you know, like senior leadership down or across, this generally even scored lower in 2019 compared to 2020. So it’s been a significant improvement as the pandemic set in. I think we saw flurry of activity where senior leadership were doing, you know, team video calls and things like that to kind of communicate their plans and mitigation around pandemic and it’s continued and people have appreciated that and that’s also led to some higher overall scores. 

[00:42:47] Dave: This is boosted in some ways, by some organizations that work with us, you know, obviously all of the organizations that were measuring here work with us, but some of the organizations that have had double digit improvements from pre pandemic to post pandemic, double digit improvements on the organization communicating well with employees. And it’s another one that prior to 2020, I believe also was in the mid fifties, like 56, 57%. 

[00:43:12] Charles: Yeah. so everyone keep up the great work. Like don’t let your foot off the pedal because this is working and it influences several other areas. 

[00:43:21] Dave: Yeah. If you’d found a formula that works for communication, hold onto that and do not let it slip because, you know, if you go back to where you were, you know, prior to sort of the deliberate efforts around communication that we’ve seen over the last few years, then you’ve failed to learn something from the pandemic that I think can be very valuable.

[00:43:42] Charles: So here’s the voice question. This was also surprising and so, again, typically this is kind of a full circle. If there’s good top down communication, better collaboration, better listening, we’ll see, kind of all of these areas improve and we’re seeing that here as well. 

[00:43:55] So, the first question’s kind of more at the local level. Can I speak up individually? And the second one’s about the organization’s perceptions. And generally we say, you know, if you’re trying to increase employee voice, just get credit for what you’re doing. Like tie it back to what you’ve heard from employees as you’re announcing changes or improvements so they know that you’re trying to be responsive overall. But these are significant improvements. 

[00:44:19] Okay, so transitioning a bit and kind of wrapping this up or concluding, you know, revisiting what we’re seeing in terms of these concerns. We’ve touched on these items in 2022 that are really important and your list, you know, we rank these one to five here. Your list might be different. You might be focused on other areas, maybe it’s process improvements. Maybe it’s just trying to keep up with workload and supply chain, things like that. But these are kind of in the mix and these are on people’s minds and work life balance is definitely a high priority for people right now. DEI and culture as well. And the funny thing is like, as we’ve asked these DEI questions on surveys, we’ve gotten a little bit of pushback too, cuz some people are saying, well, geez, that’s all we’re hearing about, or we’re doing this, we’re doing a lot of activity here, but is it needed? And we’d say, yes. You know, so there’s still a gap that we’re trying to cross or close around DEI and culture and so don’t, you know, give up on those initiatives overall. 

[00:45:15] Dave: And the flexibility issue is interesting because it’s a common conversation that we have with executive teams who are wanting to balance showing that they trust their employees, showing that they want them to have some flexibility and the ability to work from home, but also being mindful of the culture that can be built by people co-locating in the same place. Yeah. And so I think there is some concern over what does work from home all the time look like in terms of culture. People that have experienced to work from home all the time, you know, many of them invite some form of hybrid work environment going forward and I think that’s probably where we’re gonna land for most organizations is in some sort of hybrid arrangement for most employees.

[00:46:04] Many of the employees that were hired during the pandemic, some of the things that they’re concerned about is they just don’t feel like they have they’re good friends at work. Some of the things that make work you know, tolerable and yeah, exciting and what gets you up in the morning is those relationships you have at the office that you’re able to see, but if you don’t see those people on a daily basis, hard to form those relationships and it’s also hard to benefit from those relationships as well. So there’s this kind of movement to say, well, we know that we can trust our people to work from home. That’s worked really well, but also how do we make it so that we can balance that trust that we have with our employee with also the pressing need that we have to build a culture here where people, you know, enjoy coming to work and enjoy working with the people around them?

[00:46:49] Charles: Exactly. Yeah, and if you’re motivated by just kind of seeing maybe, you know, the lights on, or the cubicles filled or whatever, that doesn’t necessarily resonate with employees. Right. So there has to be some purpose to coming to the office. 

[00:47:03] And again, to your point, not everyone wants to work from home full time. People do want some days to work from home, but generally they like to come into the office, as well. So it’s that finding that mix. 

[00:47:14] So where to focus again, you know, figuring out work from home is important. There’s a lot of sensitivity around wages right now caused by inflation and other factors and so I’m sure most of you in HR are really trying to figure this out and how to stay competitive while maintaining a budget. Number three here is interesting because it’s, you know, people just don’t put up with the stuff anymore. So with the employer employees market out, if they sense that they’re working with a toxic manager or if there’s policies that just don’t make sense or are not fair, or if the culture itself is just, you know, toxic or not working for them, people don’t have as much patience as they did before. So you have to fix these things because there’s not as much tolerance around that. 

[00:47:57] Dave: We would call those self-inflicted wounds a little bit, right? Avoid all self-inflicted wounds, like if you’re losing for somebody, like we can understand, if you say, well, we don’t have the budget to increase everybody’s wages to be competitive with others. I can understand that. But to lose somebody just because of a toxic manager, a toxic relationship, that is a self-inflicted wound that didn’t need to happen. 

[00:48:20] Charles: Yep. You know, connection and belonging are still important and people are still seeking that and want that. But again, you know, if there’s a hybrid work policy that you have to be in a certain number of days and you come into the office and nobody else is here because they’re not taking that as their day in the office day, then they’re like, well, what’s the point? You know? So we have to have some meaningful interaction and maybe some scheduling that allows us to create some meaningful connecting experiences working in the office or working from home or even those that are working in the field or in the facility, how do we, you know, create that type of environment? 

[00:48:55] And the last one is, you know, your employee value proposition. So this is kind of from a recruiting standpoint, what do people value about working here? And it does differ based on populations or job roles. So maybe people are all about pay. Others might be about flexibility, but there’s a mix and it does vary by population in your organization. If you can figure that out, especially for, what do you call ’em, your most vulnerable or most important worker populations and you know, how to kind of then sell that for recruiting that will help you win the war on talent if you have a clear understanding what those benefits are. 

[00:49:28] So let me conclude here. Oh, we got bonus questions. So what we wanted to say is we’re kind of summarizing looking at all this data. What additional questions should you be asking as we’re seeing these shifts? Well, it’s one about work life balance. So here’s a question that we encourage you to use and we also want to use with our clients, but this organization offers enough flexibility for employees to balance work and personal life. This is kind of a broader statement, not just work from home, but even employees that do shift work on site or whatever, how do we, you know, recreate the experience for employees? So there is some flexibility because I guarantee you, other organizations are trying to offer more flexibility and they’ll compete for your employees with that advantage. 

[00:50:11] Mental health is also becoming a big priority. And so understanding are we supporting people’s mental health? You know, is it a priority for the organization? That sort of thing. So, you know, some of this is, is it okay to even talk about mental health in our organization? Does a manager, you know, talk to me about my wellbeing and how I’m doing, or is it all performance based? So there’s a good conversation to have here in terms of promoting these two. Dave, anything you wanna add on those questions? 

[00:50:38] Dave: Yeah. And if I were to add anything else to this, I would say if you’re not asking questions about belonging, inclusion, if you’re not asking those already on your annual survey, those are things to include. That question I mentioned before I can be myself at work has been hugely helpful to us in understanding the level to which somebody feels like they can belong in an organization as well. So I might add to this list, a very good list of two, maybe a third one that would be, if you’re not asking about belonging and the factors that lead to belonging, you should probably be doing that. 

[00:51:09] Charles: Agreed. Yeah. Great. So, here, we’re at the end of our time already. We do a lot of talking I guess, but wanna thank everyone for joining. Thanks, Dave, for all your input and color commentary today, and we hope you’ll join us on a future presentation.

[00:51:23] Dave: Thanks everybody. Bye.

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