BLR Survey Reveals U.S. Workers Only Get About 80 Percent of What They Want from Their Workplaces

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A recent survey of the attitudes of nearly 20,000 workers nationally shows shortfalls in workplace communication, teamwork, commitment to quality and chances for advancement. The survey was conducted by top HR publisher BLR among over 1,000 companies, with each participating organization receiving a free custom-written report of its results, and how they compare to national averages. The survey, called the "National Employee Attitude Survey," is ongoing and companies can join at any time. Updated national results will be released quarterly.

American workers are only getting about 80 percent of what's important to them in the workplace. The biggest gap is in the area of workplace communication. But smaller shortfalls show up in teamwork, quality and commitment and employment advancement opportunities.

Those were among the results of a new national study of employee attitudes, sponsored by human resources publisher Business & Legal Reports (BLR) and its free email daily newsletter, HR Daily Advisor. ( The project was titled the National Employee Attitude Survey(NEAS).

According to the sponsors, more than 1,000 companies of all kinds took part, as did nearly 20,000 workers nationwide. The results announced today were from the first 12,154 questionnaires tallied. The survey was conducted during April and May of this year, with each participating organization receiving a confidential report of its individual results, and how they compare to national averages, at no cost to the participant.

Survey Probed 4 Major Areas of Workplace Concern
The survey probed four major areas of workplace concern: communication, teamwork, quality and commitment and personal/ career development opportunities. All are considered important contributors to worker morale, which is generally considered a key component of business success.

Attitudes were examined through a series of statements, such as "My department has a high level of teamwork" or "My manager is fair and even handed in the treatment of employees," to which respondents were asked to indicate their level of agreement, using a 0-10 point scale. A second scale measured how important the issue was to them. Higher scores meant stronger feelings of agreement or importance.

"We asked about importance because management often perceives issues differently than the workforce," explained BLR CEO Robert L. Brady. "They focus on things that ultimately are not that important to the workers and then wonder why no one cheers the results."

Each result also included an Agreement/Importance Index (A/I Index) number, created by dividing the agreement by the importance scores. "The resulting decimal signifies how wide a gap separates what companies are doing and what workers want them to do," Brady said. "It helps you figure out whether you are really doing the right things."

"An A/I Index of 1.0 shows a perfect match," he added. "Anything lower means company performance does not meet worker expectations. The survey had an overall A/I Index of .80, indicating that workers are only getting about four-fifths of what is important to them."

Looking at the four key areas in more detail, (including the A/I Index for each issue examined):

Communication: This was where the gap was widest. Workers say they know what's expected of them (.88) and how their jobs fit the big picture (.91). But communication breaks down once it goes beyond the individual department. Respondents gave poor grades to how well change is communicated between departments (.58) and companywide (.64).

Teamwork: Employees assessed themselves as good team players (.98) but felt their organizations don't function well as a team (.68). Individual departments do better working as teams (.82).

Quality and Commitment. Employees are lukewarm in their assessment of their organizations' work practices (.75) and of the fairness of their managers (.80). They do feel their managers care about them, however (.87). Respondents offered only grudging approval of co-workers' efforts at doing quality work (.81) but beamed over their own commitment to quality (.98), which they feel is not sufficiently recognized (.76).

Personal/Career Development: Many believe that someone at work supports their growth (.80) and that they've had a chance to improve their skills (.80). However, they're not as satisfied with what employers do officially to help advance their careers (.75).

In commenting on the results, Brady noted that, the question that probably summed up the survey was this one: "How likely would you be to recommend your workplace to friends and family?"

"The result was positive (.86)," he said. "So, in spite of some grumbling, there's good news about worker attitudes. But there's also definitely room for improvement."

Organizations May Still Join Survey at No Cost
Survey participant relations manager Karen Callahan said that, though results to date had been released, the project will be ongoing. "Organizations may join at any time, and receive a custom-written report," she said. "There is no charge for participation, as BLR is doing this as part of its overall HR editorial research effort." Updated national results, she added, would be published quarterly.

Potential participants can go to to sign up or to get more information. Please also contact JSchleifer @ for information.

Reaction to the survey from participating organizations has been universally positive, added Callahan. "I have a note," she said, "from one Illinois HR manager saying, 'My CEO has been requesting this information from me almost daily since mid-May.'"

The full question list, all actual national results, and the report format, may be examined in a sample report at Note that a "Sample Company" is included to show how the results are reported to participating organizations.

About BLR and HR Daily Advisor:
Since 1977, BLR has been one of America's top publishers of books, newsletters and web products, serving professionals in human resources, compensation, safety and environmental management. For more information or to request a catalog, go to HR Daily Advisor is a free newsletter of HR tips, news and advice, emailed to some 100,000 HR professionals daily. Sign up at


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