Employee Perception – What We Don’t Know, Does Hurt Us.

Cultural Change

Covid, and its variants, coupled with government responses have challenged management like no other calamity in recent history. And just when we think the business environment is improving, another challenge raises its ugly head.

The combination of employee attrition, supply chain inconsistencies, production challenges, and unpredictable revenue resurfaces to influence our business stability and personal lives. Then consider how all these factors work to influence customer perception.

Employee Perception- Did You Know?

Perception is our observation about a subject. Perception can be positive or negative. Positive employee perception is an indicator of positive cultural health. The greater the cultural health, the more likely the business will retain employees.

We can measure employee perception through 360° Organizational Assessments. Assessments allow management to benchmark and improve areas of greatest concern.

Dissatisfied employees respond to vulnerable cultures by low productivity or quitting. I suggest while some percentage of employees may say they are leaving over wages, the vast majority are leaving because of a toxic or non-rewarding work environment.

Challenged companies give them an obvious reason to leave. They seek better employment opportunities.

The true source of negative employee perception is often management challenges in leadership, communication, and business practices. Excessive attrition makes these challenges transparent. Management teams should see these challenges as a great concern for the future.

The primary question becomes, what is the measured employee perception of your business?

Cultural Health

Cultural health is based on employee perception. Employee perception is first determined by organizational quality. Organizational quality is based on company leadership, strategy, and business practices. It is not wages.

The following are five significant reasons to consider why employee perception is challenged.

Failure to Value Employees

  • Quality workers are the value of the company. They are an asset, not a liability. Treat them fairly. Compensate and bonus them fairly. Distribute workloads evenly. Communicate often and professionally.

Office Environment

  • Return to an office environment whenever possible. Employees resent having their personal and work lives overlap. And many employees struggle with the self-discipline necessary for balancing the work from home environment.
  • The vast majority of employees welcome and need social interaction. Sure, there are some who embrace isolation. But there are many employees living on the edge of a mental health crisis by constantly zooming from home. Set time boundaries on all conference meetings to minimize fatigue.

Employee Workload

  •  The notion employees are achieving more at home than from the office is clever deception for most businesses. Those advocating this practice are naïve to the value of company culture. They simply do not understand the needs and wants of people. They lack understanding of employee expectations, productivity, training, and customer satisfaction.
  • Frankly, employees are resentful of working twelve or more hours a day, rather than the typical eight. Employees are mentally exhausted. Families are exhausted with the stress.
  • Managers piling more work on existing employee’s even on a temporary basis, set the stage for even greater resentment and attrition. Managers need to assess and prioritize employee workloads for value.

Failure to Communicate

  •  Managers with poor communication skills fail to establish or develop trust and loyalty with employees. Employee satisfaction is critical to employee retention. Poor communication leads to strategic blunders and inconsistent best practices.
  • Employee accountability is a form of communication. When productivity and objective achievements decline, strategies fail. Employees recognize this condition as a ship without a rudder, and no career future for them.

Absence of Leadership

  • Challenged leadership and management practices create a toxic work environment. Why would existing or new employees want to stay with or engage with an employer who is culturally clueless?
  • Managers with poor approaches and business practices are a liability to business culture. Review attrition rates by department.

The fact is management failing to listen and address employee expectations is out of touch with their employee culture. And often, management failing to listen to their employees is probably out of touch with their customers as well.

Culturally driven companies will succeed in the future. Culturally challenged companies will no longer be relevant.

Culture is Everything

Believe it, employee culture is everything. Just ask your employees why they are staying or leaving. Employee culture connects your business to its goals and customers beyond a paycheck. Healthy cultures retain their employees. Unhealthy cultures have high employee attrition.

Most people need a job. Most people need steady income and benefits. Most people want to be loyal to their employer. Most people find job change extremely stressful.

Employee perception during the last two years has changed many companies. There has been a migration of unhappy employees to other businesses. Again, there are three generally accepted conditions for employee attrition. Respectively, they self- terminate because of:

  1. Dissatisfaction with company business practices.
  2. Dissatisfaction because of wages.
  3. Some became entrepreneurs by starting their own business

In my view the greatest number of employees left because of dissatisfaction with their company, culture, and its business practices.

Final Thoughts

The Tacticware 360° Organizational Assessment identifies the cultural health of the business. The assessment is conducted on-line, and benchmarks employee perception. It assesses ten areas of greatest cultural concern.

Some challenges may be solved internally – with focus groups or by management actions. The other approach recommends bringing in an unbiased, outside source for leadership development, culture management, or strategy management. Both have their merits.

What We’ve Learned

Employee attrition is not merely based on wages. Leadership, culture management, and communication are the greatest contributors to retaining a quality workforce. Without quality leadership, culture stagnates, customer value erodes, and attrition invades.

Objectivity

Objectively speaking, it can be helpful to employ an unbiased observer to help your organization when considering cultural analysis and improvement. Oftentimes an outside, objective ally can assist in determining all sides and pieces of the puzzle, giving an honest view of culture with no play of politics.

Read a Helpful Business Book- “Anonymous Cultures, The Silent Majority”

Learn more about culture management, and leadership by reading “Anonymous Cultures, The Silent Majority,” by Paul R. Fournier. It’s available from Amazon in Kindle, paperback, hardback, and Audible. https://www.amazon.com/Cultures-Silent-Majority-Strategies-Management/dp/B08XZDTCQM

Article Author

Paul R. Fournier is President of Tacticware Resource Group. Tacticware is a management consultancy firm offering guidance in growing business enterprises. Our focus is on leadership, cultural management systems, and strategic planning.

Our expert resources include management development courses, executive coaching, and 360 Organizational Assessments. We provide guidance to clients globally. Learn more about transforming your business by contacting us.

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Quality people do not have a color, gender, or age. We are committed to diversity, inclusion, and equal opportunity. We do not discriminate against racial, ethnic, and/or religious groups, older workers, women, veterans, and people with disabilities. As a matter of policy, we remain apolitical, religion neutral, and respectful of local customs.

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