Senior execs out of touch with workers’ desire for meaningful work – study

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New research from StrawberryFrog and Dynata reveals a rampant number of US employees feel unfulfilled in their current jobs, and most don’t believe their senior leadership is aware the problem even exists.

StrawberryFrog, the renowned creative marketing consultancy that does purpose-driven transformation among employees, together with Dynata, the world’s largest first-party data company for insights, activation and measurement, surveyed a nationally representative sample of US workers.

Senior execs vs workers’ desires

The results in the new “WorkShift” study indicates three out of four workers are either unfulfilled, checked out or fed up.

This is bad news for employers, since even if an employee stays, they remain disengaged and contribute less to the organisation. It’s a situation that may be costing companies billions of dollars.

Worse yet, only 26% of frontline employees agree their senior leadership understands what motivates them to leave or stay, or what makes them engaged and productive.

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By contrast, the study found most senior leaders believe they do understand what motivates employees.

StrawberryFrog Head of Strategy, Chip Walker, said: “In our research we learned that many of these disaffected employees stay only to avoid the hassles of searching for another position.

“They’re essentially sleepwalking through their jobs. Meanwhile, top executives are operating within what we’re calling a ‘Thriving Bubble,’ where senior leadership feels fulfilled and believes their organisation offers clear purpose and direction—a sentiment at odds with their checked out and fed up workforce.”

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The study found that a sense of meaning and purpose was the strongest predictor of employee loyalty—more than quality of daily experience, benefits or even pay.

The research showed the pandemic was a primary driver in this fundamental reassessment of work, leading to a deep desire for more fulfilling daily routines among employees.

But unfortunately, workers view senior leadership as distracted at best and oblivious at worst in establishing real meaning and purpose in the workplace.

Study researchers contacted workers from a range of industries and positions, and from companies of all sizes, to provide insights into:

  1. The overall mood of US workers
  2. The 4 Workers Mindsets for 2023-24
  3. Emerging drivers of employee retention
  4. Why meaning matters most to workers
  5. Barriers to more meaningful work
  6. Implications for company leaders

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“What we ultimately discovered,” said StrawberryFrog Founder and CEO, Scott Goodson, “is that more meaningful motivators—things like purpose, belonging and personal growth—are what employees desire most in the post-pandemic era.

“It’s not that compensation or benefits aren’t important now, they certainly are. But today they aren’t what drive employees’ emotional commitment to stay.

“Moreover companies can solve issues such as retention, RTO, employee mental health, transparency and many issues with creativity and Movement Thinking.”

New York based StrawberryFrog is the pioneer of Movement Thinking, an innovative process using the concepts of social movements to galvanise your people, build trust and belief and help businesses thrive.

The link to access an on-demand webinar recording where StrawberryFrog and Dynata review the major findings of the study can be found here.