Workers overwhelmingly say they want a way to prioritize work that matters, manage up when overloaded and reduce invisible tasks that involve keeping up with conversations, tracking down data and juggling logistical minutiae, according to a new survey. New research from Slingshot finds that workplace tools are not addressing the root cause of the problems, and employees want tools that help them work smarter, not harder.
Companies–sometimes thanklessly, sometimes unknowingly–are loading staff up with more work than they can handle. And employees don’t know how to keep up. Job dissatisfaction, sluggish productivity and burnout are on the rise in 2023, despite the abundance of digital workplace tools that have emerged. Plus, the huge numbers of layoffs threaten and displace employees physically, mentally and financially, further eroding trust and exacerbating mental health problems among the American workforce.
Employees Dissatisfied With Workplace Tools
The survey of 1,857 U.S. employees found that almost every employee (96%) said they are dissatisfied with the tools they have been equipped with to manage work and that the tools aren’t helping them keep up. Other key findings include:
- “App Switching” is sucking productivity, not creating it. Twenty-six percent (26%) of respondents say that one of their biggest challenges is switching from platform to platform across multiple platforms, with half of them adding that they would prefer one solution that could handle all of their different tasks.
- Employees are stunted by a lack of access to the data they need. A quarter of respondents (25%) cited their inability to access the data they need to effectively do their work and make decisions as one of the biggest things holding back their progress. Only 11% of employees said they’re able to adequately gain insight and make decisions with their current tools.
- Employees are working on everything, when they need to be working on the most important things. Twenty-one percent (21%) of employees say they need tools that don’t just focus on to-dos and deadlines but also define and prioritize the tasks that will drive the most impact for their companies.
The Root Of The Problem
According to another survey of over 1,000 workers by mmhmm, workers are overloaded and want AI to help, but they’re also scared. The survey found that 86% feel very or somewhat concerned that AI could spread lies across tech platforms such as Instagram, Facebook, TikTok, and Twitter. Despite this fear, 90% would like to see AI handle at least one of their work tasks, with a large share of delegation going to communication tasks such as writing emails (53%), answering questions from customers and clients (49%) and writing documents (48%).
According to Phil Libin, CEO and co-founder of mmhmm and All Turtles, the deeper issue at play with employee dissatisfaction is a trust gap. “The tech industry is very responsive to demand. Companies hire just as quickly as they fire depending on whether demand is growing or shrinking,” Libin says. “Bosses believe their employees aren’t really doing anything, and employees think that companies aren’t acting in their best interest. The real division is rooted in lack of trust, which needs to be figured out and reversed.”
The mmhmm survey revealed that layoffs and economic uncertainty are exacerbating trust problems:
- 74% of the respondents have felt distrusted by their employer, and only 37% completely trust their company to fairly conduct layoffs.
- 57% of employees feel the lack of trust when their employers micromanage them, and 67% want employers to show trust by giving them the power to make decisions.
- 77% of people have left or would leave a job if they didn’t feel trusted.
- 65% of people feel they’re being asked to do work outside of their job description or what they’re being paid for (also known as quiet hiring).
- 71% of hybrid workers say they’re doing work beyond their job responsibilities.
- 95% of workers want autonomy and flexibility and say it’s important to be trusted and autonomous in their jobs.
- 58% of respondents prefer choosing their own hours, compared to 32% who would rather work during the same hours as their colleagues, and 70% of employees say asynchronous work is important to their job satisfaction.
- 43% feel keeping meetings to a minimum would demonstrate trust.
- 53% say they want fewer meetings because meetings aren’t productive.
Rick Hammell, CEO and founder of Elements Global Services, remains upbeat about the erosion of trust issues in the workplace. He believes business leaders can build relationships with employees by trusting and allowing them to be accountable for missteps or miscues in the workplace. Hammell explains that employees are extremely concerned about being monitored or surveilled during their workday. As hybrid workplaces and use of new technology continues to grow, he acknowledges there are countless ways for an employer to track what you’re doing and how often you’re doing it. “For employers to identify solutions, bridge the gap and ease concerns of employees, employers first need to recognize the growing distrust created in today’s work environment. The key to alleviating distrust is investing in solutions and becoming more flexible, transparent and involved.”