Understanding Global Work Norms: Bridging the Gap Between Employee Effort and Organizational Support

Global norms give us a window into how organizations as a group are doing as a whole; they provide insights into where most companies do well and where they might struggle.

Some norms stay consistent through the years while others reflect changing times. Given the upheaval in the world of work these past few years, we thought it worth looking at our norms with a goal of understanding how employees and organizations are faring these days.

First, the good news: There are consistently strong scores across areas that have been especially important lately.

91% of employees were favorable when asked if senior leaders responded quickly to the COVID-19 crisis. Overall, employees felt that their organizations handled the chaos around the pandemic well, responding quickly and appropriately to changing needs.

Despite media hype around so-called “quiet quitting,” two of the highest-scoring items are “I am willing to work harder than what is normally expected in order to help my company succeed,” and “Where I work, employees always do the extra things to improve the customer experience.”

We often advise our clients that in general employees want to do a good job; it’s up to the organization to create the conditions that enable them to do so.

Very few employees come into a new job planning on performing at the bare minimum, doing just well enough that they don’t get fired. In fact, the norms data show that the most positive people on a variety of topics in organizations are the ones you just hired. But the enthusiasm people start with tends to fade over a 3-to-5-year period. We’ve seen consistently through many years that the employees who are more likely to quit are those who experience frustrations in getting their job done due to bureaucracy, technology, staffing, or other process issues.

Unfortunately, we tend to see lower scores surrounding the creation of those conditions for success.

Just 45% of employees responded favorably to “We have the capacity (people, time, and resources) to act on promising new or innovative ideas,” while a mere 36% responded favorably to “When taking on projects, we give ourselves enough time and the proper staffing to complete the job.” Other items on things like the company’s overall effectiveness around problem-solving or executing work also remain dismally low.

So, what should an organization take from these norms?

First, compare your scores against the norms and see how you measure up. If you’re struggling with the same low items, it should be heartening to remember that employees want to be successful, and in the process, help their organizations be successful as well. Working on business processes may take some time and effort, but it’s doable. Companies may want to solicit some open-ended feedback around items related to business processes, employee training, and other resources. Then, make sure you have follow-up action targeting these areas, and consider a pulse survey six months post census survey to see if you’ve moved the dial.

Need help with these items, or any others? Contact us to learn more about OrgVitality’s employee survey and 180/360 assessment services.


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