Center for Creative Leadership finds improvements in employee satisfaction and job commitment during a tough economy
Greensboro, NC – Recent research by the Center for Creative Leadership (CCL®) shows there may be an upside to the greatest economic downturn since the Great Depression. Employees today are more satisfied and committed to the job than they were during boom times.
The findings emerged from CCL’s 2008-2009 World Leadership Study, which sampled the opinions of 2,215 workers during the height of the economic meltdown. Researchers found that as the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell, employee engagement rose. There also were close links between job satisfaction and layoffs. The greater the number of layoffs throughout the workforce, the more engaged employees became in their work.
“One explanation may be that people feel more satisfied and committed to the job when they have fewer employment options,” says Jennifer Deal, Ph.D., senior research scientist at CCL®. “The challenge now is how to keep the level of engagement high and retain key personnel who might think about leaving as the job market improves.”
CCL’s study shows employers could face an uphill battle. In the fourth quarter of 2009, more than 40 percent of the workers surveyed were unsure about whether to remain in their current job.
What can employers do to promote retention? While compensation, benefits and development opportunities matter, the World Leadership Studyshows the employee-manager relationship has a far more significant impact. Among those who strongly agree that they work for a manager who cares about their well-being, CCL found that 94 percent intend to remain with their current employer – compared to only 43 percent of those who strongly disagree.
“Improving the quality of managers at all levels in an organization may be the single most critical factor in retaining key employees,” Deal said. “To keep engagement high, managers need to be able to coach, give effective feedback and enough direction without micromanaging and demonstrate their commitment to the members of their team.”
Further details are available in the report Employee Engagement: Has It Been a Bull Market?, which was sponsored by Booz Allen Hamilton and coauthored by three Ph.D. members of the CCL research team: Jennifer J. Deal, Sarah Stawiski and William A. (Bill) Gentry.