EMPLOYEES FEEL LIKE
By Bruce L. Katcher, Ph.D. President, Discovery Surveys, Inc.
Half of all employees say
management doesn't really care about them.
Part 1 - THE PROBLEM:
Merriam Webster defines a slave as, "a person who has lost
control of himself and is dominated by something or someone else." No wonder
many employees, shackled to their jobs with little freedom to control their
day-to-day work or their career, feel like slaves.
Employees are "dominated" because what they do, when they do it,
and where they do it are controlled by their employer. They are like slaves
because their employer controls their time and their space.
Many employees live in a state of perpetual anxiety about losing
their jobs. Indeed, our research shows that more than half of all employees
feel insecure in their jobs and inhibited about expressing their views
Technically, of course, employees are voluntary workers and are
legally free to leave whenever they please. In practice, however, this is not
the case for most people. The job market today is extremely tight and the
prospect of finding a job elsewhere is daunting.
The slave analogy is also relevant because employees do not feel
management cares about their well being or gives them the authority to make
their own decisions. Our research shows:
Less than half of
employees believe that management shows a genuine interest in their well
Half don't trust the
information they receive from management;
Only 58 percent feel that
they have the decision-making authority they need; and
Only one-third feel that
they are involved in decisions that affect their day-to-day work.
Why Employees Feel the Anxiety of
Many employees live in a perpetual state of anxiety because they
lack what psychologists call "the perception of control." Psychological studies
have shown that the perceived control over one's destiny has more of an
influence over anxiety than does the actual control.
For example, David Gershaw of Arizona Western College reports that
post-traumatic anxiety in aircrews during World War II was found to be highest
among the bomber crews, less among bomber pilots, and least among fighter
pilots. Although fighter pilots had the highest casualty rate amount the three
groups, they had the most control of their environment. Thus it was the
"perceived" control and not the actual control, that determined their level of
Part 2 - WHAT MANAGEMENT CAN DO:
- Management Should Provide Freedom to
Employees want management
to be honest with them, respect their suggestions, and treat them as business
partners rather than slaves. By providing employees with flexibility in their
work scheduling, allowing them to work from home if possible, and providing
them with the decision-making authority they need to do their work well, they
will feel more in control and will be more productive.
- Employees Must Demand
To break the perceived
bonds of slavery, employees need to be proactive in managing their bosses and
their work environment. This can include demanding flexible work arrangements
and decision-making authority.
- Employees Must Also
Continually Seek Personal Independence
It is important that
employees do not allow themselves to become totally dependent on their current
employer. They need to be in constant control of their career. They should keep
an eye out for their next job by maintaining a current resume, joining
professional networking groups, maintaining relationships with former
coworkers, and keeping in touch with search firms.
- Employees Must Focus
on Amassing Accomplishments
Accomplishments demonstrate how one has brought
value to the organization by:
helping the company make money,
helping the company save money, or
developing something new or different for the
organization such as a new program or procedure.
These accomplishments are an employee's ticket to
It is in the self-interest of both employees and their employers
that the organization emancipate its employees.
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