Jewish World Review Feb. 21, 2003 / 19 Adar I, 5763

Drs. Michael A. Glueck & Robert J. Cihak

The Medicine Men
JWR's Pundits
World Editorial
Cartoon Showcase

Mallard Fillmore

Michael Barone
Mona Charen
Linda Chavez
Ann Coulter
Greg Crosby
Larry Elder
Don Feder
Suzanne Fields
James Glassman
Paul Greenberg
Bob Greene
Betsy Hart
Nat Hentoff
David Horowitz
Marianne Jennings
Michael Kelly
Mort Kondracke
Ch. Krauthammer
Lawrence Kudlow
Dr. Laura
John Leo
Michelle Malkin
Jackie Mason
Chris Matthews
Michael Medved
MUGGER
Kathleen Parker
Wes Pruden
Sam Schulman
Amity Shlaes
Roger Simon
Tony Snow
Thomas Sowell
Cal Thomas
Jonathan S. Tobin
Ben Wattenberg
George Will
Bruce Williams
Walter Williams
Mort Zuckerman

Consumer Reports


Workforce temperature rising; employer TLC in demand


http://www.NewsAndOpinion.com | In the wake of ongoing business and accounting scandals and the economic downturn, we would naturally expect that employees' feelings of trust in their employers would have taken a nosedive, and that employees' concern over corporate ethics would have skyrocketed.

In the fall of 2002, Towers Perrin - a leading global human resource consulting firm - launched an innovative study to understand the issue in greater depth. The HR consultancy wanted to better understand not just the mood of the workforce during a time of severe cost-cutting and risk-shifting, but also how and the extent to which employees' views affect business performance and productivity.

The hypothesis for the study was initially focused around employee trust, but the open-ended nature of the survey led to a surprising set of results about the emotional state of employees and how it ultimately impacts organizational performance.

So, what specifically is so surprising about the study results?

First, it is quite striking, in the wake of so many scandals over the past year, that trust in the sense of corporate ethics is not top of mind for employees at all.

Rather, feelings of confidence and competence on the job, or lack thereof, are currently weighing on the hearts and minds of employees. Employees are not thinking about work above and beyond their personal experience and direct line of sight.

Perhaps in this day and age, when people are moving from job to job or even career to career quite cavalierly, it shouldn't be surprising to learn that employees are more loyal patrons to "Self Inc." than they are to the ethics and practices at the most senior levels of their organizations.

Still, it is disconcerting to realize that most employees are not thinking more broadly about the welfare of their organizations.

The study shows the following "laundry list" to be top-of-mind concerns for employees:

  • Self-doubt and distractions

  • Lots of stress, no fun

  • Boredom and repetition

  • Big concerns about management competence: lack of confidence in its ability to manage (rather than its ethics)

  • Monumental concerns about workload: fewer employees forced to do more with less

  • Minimal anticipation, some dread

  • Insufficient recognition and rewards

  • Insufficient sense of contribution

  • Fear about risky economy, layoffs and retirement security

  • Lack of mobility

In addition to collecting 1,000 employee responses from medium- and large-size companies, the study also collected the employer perspective of the workforce from 300 senior HR executives.

As it turns out, employers overestimate the influence management and the future have on employees, and underestimate how important it is for employees to feel self-confidence in and from their work. They also underestimate the importance of development opportunities, challenge, rewards and recognition.

Forty-three percent of employees in the sample felt intensely negative emotions and no strong positive emotions about their jobs. Looking more closely at this group, 28 percent are definitely planning to leave; 48 percent would not actively seek a new job but would be open to a good offer.

Even more worrisome, 25 percent of this group are planning to stay in jobs they don't like and clock their time.

Perhaps the "silver lining" of the study is that 70 percent of senior executives and regional heads in the study felt positive about their current work experience; this is in contrast to the group of mid and lower level employees, in which only 45 percent felt positive.

The difference for executives is they get more of the things that create a positive work experience. Senior executives are more positive about their abilities and the level of challenge. They feel they have more opportunities to make a contribution, see the results of what they do, and be recognized and rewarded for it. They receive more fulfillment from the people they work with and the energy they get from their work.

These findings raise a whole new set of questions for the workplace.

Do senior level employees rise to their roles more because of their strong sense of competence and confidence, or do those roles engender those feelings?

Can organizations take on and effectively address employees' feelings of competence and confidence on the job?

Are there ways employers can replicate that sense of control and challenge for mid and lower level employees?

Even if the workload cannot be lessened at the present time, can employers find other ways to satisfy their workers through recognition and reward programs?

So the North American workforce, on the whole, is not happy with the challenge and circumstances of their current jobs, but corporations are going to say "so what?" if it doesn't impact the bottom line.

To this end, Towers Perrin analyzed the relationship between individual respondents' levels of intense positive emotion and their specific employers' financial performances, as measured by five-year total shareholder returns. The resulting positive linear correlation is statistically significant with 99 percent confidence.

Whether business performance precedes engagement or engagement precedes business performance, the important take-away is that it's a cycle that leads to both happier employees and happier shareholders again and again.

As the study demonstrates, there is great potential for organizations to harness employees' emotional energies to affect the bottom line. In fact, the pool of emotion collected for the study was double the amount seen in any market research study with this same research approach. Unfortunately, currently these feelings are largely negative.

North Americans want to feel good about going to work each day, and don't want to just clock their time. "Work is not just work" for North Americans, particularly as we are spending more and more of our days at our computers and increasingly identifying with how we make our living.

Organizations need to recognize that periodic attending to employees' "temperature" is just as important as - and closely related to - attending to "quarterly numbers."

Why not sign-up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.




Michael Arnold Glueck, M.D., is a multiple award winning writer who comments on medical- legal issues. Robert J. Cihak, M.D., is past president of the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons. Both JWR contributors are Harvard trained diagnostic radiologists. Comment by clicking here.

Up

02/14/03: Malpractice Insurance: They Reap What They Sue
02/12/03: Hawk, Dove or Groundhog: Diagnosis Critical List; Prognosis Uncertain
02/07/03: How about tax cuts for the "rich" and "poor"?
01/31/03: AIDS Bug Chasers
01/24/03: Libertarian moment or movement?
01/17/03: It's not just 'sue the docs' anymore
01/03/03: A pox on the critics; diagnosis sour grapes
01/03/03: If protesting is good for your health; then at least let's root for the home team
12/20/02: Obesidemic (obesity epidemic) or not?
12/20/02: Time for voluntary informed smallpox vaccinations
12/13/02: The real reason the state opposes homeschooling?
12/06/02: Conscience of a former conservative: Portrait of a political metamorphosis
11/27/02: Thanksgiving dinner hazard?
11/22/02: Time to think outside the box and inside the nucleus
11/15/02: The military should be protected from abusive environmental laws in times of war
11/11/02: Does Kyoto Treaty pose more harm than global warming?
10/31/02: Deep thoughts on Baseball, the World Series and Life: How about them Anaheim Angels?
10/23/02: "Pediatric rule" guinea pigs
10/23/02: Once the World Series ends, we need to create a Donnie Moore Day of Remembrance: Sports and mental health
10/18/02: Congress to senior patients: Do as we say not as we do for ourselves
10/11/02: Using pollution "scare labeling" to political advantage
10/04/02: The Great Asbestos Heist: Did Litigation and Junk Medical Science Helped Bring Down the World Trade Center?
09/27/02: The imminent rise of civic feminism: A far healthier national alternative in war and peace
09/20/02: A Ray A Day" to replace the daily apple?
09/13/02: Beware of celebrities hawking drugs
09/06/02: Avoid 9/11 overdose: Give blood to begin "September of Service," SOS
08/28/02: From Doubleday to strikeday: Baseball's collective anxiety attack
08/23/02: Should she or shouldn't she?: An alternative view on treating menopause with HRT
08/16/02: Cooking up defenses against germ warfare
08/02/02: Medicine, crime and canines
07/26/02: Lies, pathologic lies and the Palestinians
07/19/02: Medicare Drug Follies as in "now you see it, now you don't"
07/12/02: Anti-Profiling: A New Medically False Belief System
07/08/02: Don't procrastinate, vaccinate!
06/28/02: The scientific advances on the safe and effective deployment of DDT are being ignored, or denied. Why?
06/21/02: Sex and the system: In seeking healthcare men are different from women
06/14/02: The FDA, drug companies and life-saving drugs: Who's the fox and who's the hen now?
06/07/02: Medical Privacy Lost: A hippo on the healthcare back!
05/24/02: To clean up America's game: A (soggy) ground rule
05/10/02: Free speech is good medicine
05/03/02: Medicine's Vietnam
04/26/02: Attack on alternative medicine could lead to alternative lawsuits
04/12/02: Insure the 'crazies'?
04/09/02: No Time for Litmus Tests: In War We Need a Surgeon General and NIH, CDC, and FDA Directors
04/02/02: The scoop on soot: A dirty rotten shame?
03/22/02: Too many beautiful minds to waste: The first annual Caduceus Movie
03/15/02: Terror and transformation: Defense essential for health & state of mind
03/08/02: Diagnosis: Delusional
03/06/02: The great matzah famine
03/01/02: Is new Hippocratic Oath hypocritical?
02/15/02: Why the recent moaning about cloning?
02/08/02: Searching for Dr. Strangelove
01/15/02: Score one for the value of human life
01/04/02: Medical-legal-financial wake-up call
12/28/01: Who's afraid of a 'dirty bomb'?
12/21/01: End of medicine?
12/14/01: More heroes: Docs deserve a little credit after 9/11
11/16/01: Do we need 'Super Smallpox Saturdays'?
11/09/01: Why the post-9-11 health care debate will never be the same
11/01/01: Common sense good for our mental health
10/26/01: Your right to medical privacy --- even in terror time
10/12/01: Failed immigration policy ultimately bad for nation's mental health: Enemy within leads to epidemic of jumpy nerves
09/28/01: Can legal leopards change their spots: A treat instead of a trick
09/21/01: Civil defense again a civic duty
08/30/01: Shut down this government CAFE
08/23/01: School Bells or Jail Cells?
08/15/01: Time to take coaches to the woodshed
08/10/01: Blood, Guts & Glory: The Stem of the Stem Cell controversy

© 2002