North American employees have intense emotions about their work - and right now, a lot of that emotion is negative, according to a unique new study by global human resource consultant Towers Perrin and its research partner Gang & Gang. The study also identifies the elements of an ideal work experience, one that can transform current negative emotion into positive emotion, and shows why this is so important for employers.
The report, Working Today: Exploring Employees' Connections to Their Jobs,* is the first study to quantify the emotional elements of the work experience, using an emotionbased methodology developed by Gang & Gang. The research was conducted via the Internet in September 2002 among a randomly selected group of 1,100 employees working for mid-size to large companies in the United States and Canada. The respondents described how they felt about their current work experience and their desired experience. A companion survey involved roughly 300 senior human resource executives from similarly sized companies, who described how they thought employees at theft company felt about their current work experience.
According to the study, negative emotion about work is not only associated with higher turnover rates it contributes to the kind of workplace malaise that can materially diminish productivity and performance. Conversely, strong positive emotion correlates with better financial results for an organization, as measured by five- year total shareholder return. The study also reveals that while employers are aware of the widespread discontent in their workplaces, they misjudge some of the root causes and risk taking inappropriate actions as a result. "Right now, there is an enormous gap between employees' current and ideal work experience. People know what they want and need to feel intensely positive about their work, but unfortunately many are not getting it," said Mark Mactas, chairman and CEO of Towers Perrin.
Fears and pressures
In measuring the nature and intensity of employees' emotions about work,-the study shows that, on average, more than half of people's current emotion is negative and a third is intensely negative. Five elements account for most of this negative emotion:
* An excessive workload.
* Concerns about management's ability to lead the company forward successfully. Anxiety about the future, particularly longer-term j ob, income and retirement security.
* Lack of challenge in their work, with boredom intensifying existing frustration about workload.