The Manager – Employee Perception Gap: Examining the Importance of office environment, technology tools and work/life balance
By: Beau Wilder, Director of Strategic Solutions, Plantronics
It’s no secret to anyone in business today that we’re all faced with communications challenges on a daily basis. The bigger challenge is how does a business remain productive while dealing with these issues. To really identify some of the issues employees and business leads face, Plantronics partnered with Oxford Economics, to do a global study on the impact our connected world has on the professional and personal lives of employees and managers. Oxford Economics interviewed 600 executives, and 600 employees, and came up with substantive results that provide insightful conclusions about the most effective work environments.
Several key themes have bubbled up from the results, and they pertain directly to what Plantronics calls “Smarter Working” — optimizing the workplace for high efficiency and employee satisfaction. The disconnect between manager perceptions and employee realities emerged as a top theme. I’ve captured some of my thoughts here and will cover additional themes in my blog series.
Increasing employee satisfaction and productivity
We found a substantial perception gap between executives and employees in vital areas such as office environment, technology tools, and work/life balance. For example, 63% of executives think their employees have the tools they need to filter out distractions at work. Against that, only 41% of the employees interviewed felt they have what they need. Another example of this disconnect is 35% of executives believe ambient office noise reduces employee satisfaction, when in fact 53% of the employees felt ambient noise reduces job satisfaction and productivity.
So, noise and distraction, having the right tools for the job, and after-hours work are bigger issues than most executives realize. And, these issues can have negative effects on employee productivity and satisfaction. Companies that have a better grasp of these issues take them seriously, and are more likely to have developed strategies to deal with them.
What to do?
There are several things companies can do to take strides to improve worker productivity and satisfaction, and bridge the gap between the execs and their teams. First, let’s deal with noise. Equipping teams with tools like headsets that block out noise and reduce distractions is key. If you’re able to wear a headset that can help filter out distractions, you’re one step closer to maintaining optimal productivity. If you’re productive, there’s less chance of taking work home with you at night.
Companies can also ensure that their employees have choices about where to work. Many workers need different spaces for collaboration, communication, concentration, and contemplation – at different times. If company executives can foster environments where employees have these different types of spaces that are free from extra distraction, then productivity and satisfaction will likely increase.
What it comes down to is this: employees and executives are not on the same page right now when it comes to noisy work environments, using preferred technology, and work/life integration. But, with the proper planning and the most effective tools, the manager-employee disconnect can be conquered.