91% of Executives Say They Care About Their Employees. Only 38% of Workers Believe Them

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Employers are not always sure what their employees want or need.

Key points

  • A new Global Workplace Report by NTT Ltd. highlights a disconnect between what employees want and what employers believe they want.
  • Approximately 57% of employees will choose an employer based on work-life balance, and workers are more and more willing to leave their jobs when they aren't satisfied.

NTT Ltd. is a global technology company that provides businesses with solutions to ordinary (and not so ordinary) problems, primarily through intelligent technology. NTT recently released its 2021 edition of the Global Workplace Report. The report is fascinating for several reasons, not the least of which is the disconnect between what employees around the globe want and what their employers believe they want.

How NTT gathered information

Alex Bennett is NTT Ltd. Global Senior Vice President, GTM Solutions. We checked in with him for help breaking down some of the particulars of the report (which is the second of its kind). According to Bennett, NTT conducted 1,146 interviews across 23 countries, focusing on post-pandemic work arrangements. To help businesses navigate where and how their employees will work in the future, NTT took a deep dive into what employees want vs. what their employers believe they want. They focused this year's report on technology, evolving workplace environments, employee experience, and other issues that directly impact how businesses can change and grow with the times.

What they found was a bit surprising

It's interesting to consider how different a workplace can appear depending on an employee's point of view. For example, someone answering phone calls in customer service views the work environment quite differently than an executive high in the C-suite. Neither is necessarily wrong, but their perspectives do not typically mesh.

Many of the differences of opinion in the report had to do with employee experience (EX). Companies have long focused on the customer experience, since that's how they keep customers coming back. More recently, organizations have figured out that they need to equally invest in EX -- how employees view their jobs and the businesses for which they work. For example:

  • Among the organizational leaders surveyed, 79% said they believe employees prefer to work in the company office. In reality, only 39% of employees surveyed said they prefer to work in an office. In fact, 30% said they want to work from home, while another 30% said they prefer a hybrid setup that allows them to spend time working in the office and at home.
  • CEOs are 41% more likely to be satisfied with their organization's EX situation than rank-and-file employees.
  • Nearly 91% of corporate leaders claim to recognize EX's value and importance to organizational strategy. In other words, they recognize that happy employees are productive employees. Yet only 38% of employees believe their employer values their health and well-being, and only 23% say they are very happy working for their employer.

Asked if anything about the report surprised him, Bennett answered, "The gap between employers, especially the executive team, and employees was a surprise. While I understand there will always be a difference, the extent of the variance implies two groups traveling in different directions."

Bennett went on to point out how dramatic these differences are:

  • Just 41.7% of CEOs and 49.2% of chief human resource officers (CHROs) say rethinking the organization's strategy and better understanding how people work is a key priority.
  • Of the CEOs surveyed, 64.4% are very satisfied with their current EX capability. Just 23.3% in operations say the same.
  • Among employees, 61% say their employer struggles with having employees at home.

If nothing else, the discrepancies between how top executives view their companies and how everyday employees view those companies may help explain the "Great Resignation" of 2021. For a growing number of people, earning money to put in the bank is no longer a strong enough reason to offer an employer a good portion of their lives. They also want to be heard and valued. And they want to work for an organization they can be proud of.

Employee well-being

The good news in the NTT study may be that 63% of human resource officers say that employee well-being has deteriorated throughout the pandemic. Nearly 2 out of 3 human resource execs recognize that there is a problem.

"Currently, the narrative is all about remote working -- but the reality of employees' needs is much more complicated, and any failure to accurately assess and respond to that fact presents a serious risk to organizations," Bennett said.

"These are not mild preferences: we found that work-life balance and commute times are now the two biggest factors people look at when deciding where to work, and so performing well on workforce and workplace strategy will be a real competitive advantage."

NTT does more than report its findings. According to Bennett, they share the Global Workplace Report with clients, but have also created an intuitive portal that clients can use to compare their own data against the report to develop a benchmark and a goal to work toward.

There's one more statistic underscoring how important it is for companies to change their paradigms by prioritizing the employee experience. According to the report, 57% of employees said they will now select an employer based on work-life balance. With millions quitting their jobs each month, it behooves companies to renew their focus on the employee experience.

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