Addison Group Survey Finds Nearly Half of Staff Level Employees Don’t Feel Confident Their Industry

June 2017

Results reveal upper management believes they are communicating with their company about the future; but staff level employees feel more out of the loop than ever

CHICAGO – June 5, 2017 – Addison Group (“Addison”), a leading provider of professional staffing services, today released the results of its fourth annual Workplace Survey. The survey aims to better understand employee satisfaction with jobs, career goals and professional values. This year’s survey focused on the alignment, or lack thereof, between leadership and staff level employees as well as the future of the workplace and the potential impact of emerging technologies.

Survey responses came from full and part time employees across all functions (e.g., C-suite, senior management, mid-level management, junior employees, and staff/administrative roles). The survey also provided data broken down by generation and gender. The full survey results and more information on Addison Group’s Workplace Survey can be viewed at http://www.addisongroup.com/insights/

“Each year, the Workplace Survey provides actionable insights into the minds of both job seekers and employees,” said Thomas Moran, CEO, Addison Group. “I’m particularly intrigued and excited by this year’s results, which help explain how communications directly impact staff perception of the direction of their company and the industry in which they work. This data provides recruiters, hiring managers and HR professionals with the context to understand how today’s employees of all levels view trust and loyalty in their company and Corporate America as a whole.”

Major shifts in politics, the economy, technology and culture all contribute to an uncertain future. The survey gauged how employees felt about the direction of Corporate America given these uncertainties. These numbers demonstrate a dichotomy in awareness of changes coming to the workplace, specifically, disruptive technology as well as varying levels of confidence in preparedness.

• 43 percent of staff level employees do not feel confident that their industry is prepared for future changes coming to the workplace, compared to the 84 percent of C-suite leaders who do.
• 86 percent of C-suite leaders and 76 percent of senior management agree that Corporate America is headed in the right direction, compared to 54 percent of staff level employees.
• Only 44 percent of staff level employees have had a conversation with their employer about the future of their company. This number grows higher with position, with 65 percent of mid-level managers, 79 percent of senior managers and 83 percent of C-suite leaders saying they have held these conversations with their employer.

Disconnects Between Leadership and Staff Occur at the “Human Level”

Company culture, communication and strategy ultimately starts with and trickles down from a company’s most senior leaders. Therefore, the survey examined the difference between the highest-ranking employees in a company and the staff level employees that execute the company’s day-to-day operations.

Across the board, staff level employees feel less confident things are heading in the right direction compared to their leadership teams. The divide is strongest when it comes to confidence in company sentiment toward stakeholders. For example, staff level employees are about half (46%) as likely to feel confident in their organization’s loyalty to employees compared to the C-suite. Similarly, staff employees are 38 percent less likely to have faith in their organizations’ ethical leadership compared to the leaders themselves.

These prominent disconnects between staff and the C-suite apply to the following:

• Staff level employees are 36 percent less confident that they are adequately trained for the future than C-suite leaders.
• Staff level employees are 36 percent less confident that their company is hiring the right people than C-suite leaders.
• Staff level employees are 32 percent less confident that their company is retaining top talent than C-suite leaders.
• Staff level employees are 26 percent less confident in their company’s loyalty to customers than C-suite leaders.
Employees Pushing for Change in the Workplace

The survey results suggest a sizable portion of employees question their company’s operations, which begs the question of what influence they have in effecting change. The survey found that 60 percent of employees are willing to challenge the status quo if they do not believe in or align with the decisions a company is making. At 55 percent, women are 10 percent less likely to challenge the status quo than their male counterparts. Perhaps unsurprisingly, Millennials are more willing to challenge the status quo (68%) than Gen-X (59%) and Boomer (48%) employees.

Additionally, an employee’s position in the company directly impacts that person’s willingness to challenge the status quo. 89 percent of the C-suite and 87 percent of senior management are willing to disrupt the norm, compared to 69 percent of mid-level management and 46 percent of staff level employees. The findings suggest a variance in how different employees perceive their own influence within a company and their willingness to rock the boat as a result.

Awareness Gap Over the Impact of Emerging Technologies

Similar to broader corporate changes, C-suite leaders and senior management are more aware of the impending impact of future facing technologies on the workplace, including virtual reality, the Internet of Things, artificial intelligence and others compared to staff level respondents.

Again, this links directly to communication: 81 percent of C-suite executives acknowledge receiving communications about impending changes in automation compared to only 16 percent of staff level employees.

Other notable differences in the awareness and preparedness about disruptive technologies include:

• 36 percent of C-suite and 37 percent of senior management are aware of artificial intelligence affecting their workplace, compared to 26 percent of mid-level managers and 14 percent of staff level employees.
• Only 4 percent of staff level employees are aware of how Chatbots will affect their workplace. The C-suite and senior management are more aware but at a relatively low level (27% and 24%, respectively).
• Related to the progression of a technology centric workplace, only 8 percent of staff level employees have received communication around incoming Generation-Z employees compared to 74 percent of C-suite.

Further, the numbers vary in terms of how employees believe their jobs will be impacted. Generally, only senior and C-suite leaders recognize the level of impact these technologies will have on their jobs, leaving staff level employees uninformed. As these tools continue to gain traction in corporate environments, there is no doubt companies and HR professionals will need to thoroughly communicate their potential impact to all employees – particularly those unaware of these impending changes.

Addison Group commissioned a 20-minute online survey among a nationally-representative sample of 1,000 full-time and part-time US employees in white collar positions. The margin of error for this sample is +/-3.01 at the 95% confidence level. Conducted by Edelman Intelligence, a full-service consumer research firm, he survey was fielded on April 18, 2017 and April 19, 2017. As a member of CASRO in good standing, Edelman Intelligence conducts all research in accordance with Market Research Standards and Guidelines.
About Addison Group

Addison Group is a leading provider of professional staffing and search services.  Bringing the best to the best, Addison combines a national network and localized service for broad reach with a personal touch.  Specialized practices deliver the right candidate at the right time in Information Technology, Finance & Accounting, Healthcare, Executive Search, HR & Administrative, and Engineering. Addison has received Inavero’s Best of Staffing award for the past seven years.  Learn more at www.addisongroup.com. 

Media Contact:
Martha Kelley Sams
Addison Group
312.424.0300
mk.sams@addisongroup.com