Employee performance and effort are now at the lowest levels seen since 2010, according to CEB, now Gartner. In Q4 2017, 19.7 percent of U.S. employees said that they have a high willingness to go above and beyond their job expectations, significantly down from the 24 percent of employees who indicated that level of job effort in Q3 2017.
Employee surveys conducted to develop the recent Global Talent Monitor report signified that this drop in workforce discretionary effort is based on a combination of factors, including U.S. employees’ impressions that there are few opportunities to grow within their current positions, a widening wage gap between company executives and the average worker, absence of notable raises and bonuses, and the lack of rewards or outcomes from the work employees have already invested into the organization.
Business Confidence High, Job Movement Remains Low
Although U.S. employee motivation is very low, workforce confidence in the business environment has hit the highest levels seen in more than seven years. This is primarily due to the slow and steady increase in the U.S. economy, which has created robust business conditions and a low unemployment rate. Regardless of the low motivation for U.S. employees to exert high levels of effort at work, Q4 2017 data reflected that 45 percent of them hold a high intent to stay in their current jobs, a number that has not significantly changed over the past year.
"As U.S. companies scale and evolve, recruiters at these organizations are experiencing major challenges in attracting new talent. Workers are remaining passive in their job searches, which makes it harder to pull people away from their existing companies," said Brian Kropp, HR practice leader at Gartner. "Employees are not willing to go through the pain of changing positions unless there’s a key reason to do so, such as a meaningful compensation increase. This lack of active job searching means that U.S. companies need to be willing to invest even more in new and existing talent if they want to continue their growth and avoid major skills gaps within their organizations."
Employees Value Work-Life Balance More Than Ever
While compensation remains the top driver of attraction for U.S. employees, work-life balance, now in the number two spot, is valued more than health benefits. Jumping almost four percentage points from the previous quarter, U.S. employees expressed the significance of having the space and time to live their lives while not abandoning their willingness to do their jobs.
"We’ve seen an upward multi-year movement in the importance of work-life balance; even just a few years ago, it would have ranked much lower on the list as other job qualities ranked higher in value," said Kropp. "U.S. employees are not seeing many rewards associated with their workplace efforts, including sluggish wage growth and fewer career advancement opportunities, so to make themselves happier, they are placing more emphasis and attention on fulfilling personal needs and desires outside of work."
Growing a Stronger, More Vibrant Workforce
Given the historically low unemployment rate and decreasing employee motivation to work harder in their current positions, U.S. employers need to dedicate time to creating an employment value proposition (EVP) that encompasses key workplace principles valued by U.S. employees that best positions their companies as preferred employers of choice.
"Wage increases beyond current legal mandates are probably the best place for organizations to start when crafting their EVP, because until employees see notable changes in their paychecks, it’s going to be even harder to attract new talent and increase current employee effort," Kropp stated. "A company’s EVP reflects its core attributes to the labor market and its employees. Organizations need to show that there are returns associated from all of the efforts given by their workforce, whether it’s career development and progression, benefits to be gained, or camaraderie across the company at all levels.
Data from Gartner reflects that when job candidates see a company’s EVP as attractive, the organization can reduce the compensation premium needed to hire these employees by 50 percent. By developing and offering a strong EVP, companies can attract the best possible talent while nurturing their existing workforce and raising employee engagement levels.
Global Talent Monitor data is drawn from the larger Gartner Global Labor Market Survey which is made up of more than 22,000 employees in 40 countries. The survey is conducted quarterly and is reflective of market conditions during the quarter preceding publication. Visit www.cebglobal.com/talentmonitor to learn more and compare talent data from around the world.
Additional analysis on HR and talent trends will be presented during Gartner ReimagineHR, taking place October 28-30 in Orlando. During the event Gartner analysts and senior HR executives will share key insights and actionable strategies for how HR can support organizational performance when tomorrow is uncertain. Follow news and updates from the event on social media using #GartnerHR.
About CEB, Now Gartner
Leading organizations worldwide rely on CEB services to harness their untapped potential and grow. Now offered by Gartner, CEB best practices and technology solutions equip clients with the intelligence to effectively manage talent, customers, and operations. More information is available at gartner.com/ceb.