Press Release


STAMFORD, Conn., August 5, 2021

Gartner HR Research Identifies Six Gaps Between Leader and Employee Sentiment on the Future Employee Experience

Organizations That Fail to Address This Divide Will Lose Competitive Advantage Around the Future of Work

As employers implement their future of work strategies, including decisions around hybrid work and increased flexibility, a gap is emerging between executive and employee perceptions on the future of the employee experience, according to Gartner, Inc.

“We examined the key areas crucial to planning for the future employee experience and discovered significant dissonance between employee and executive sentiment across all,” said Alexia Cambon, director in the Gartner HR practice. “If left unaddressed, this division may lead to a critical failure to build trust and employee buy-in for future of work plans.”

The 2021 Gartner Hybrid Work Employee Survey of 4,000 employees in January 2021 reveals the six perception gaps that employers must resolve:

Executives Think They Have a Culture of Flexibility — Employees Don’t

The Gartner survey shows that 75% of executive leaders believe they are already operating within a culture of flexibility, yet only 57% of employees indicate that their organizational culture embraces flexible work. Further, nearly three-quarters of executives believe the business understands how flexible work patterns support employees, but only half of employees share this view.

“Employees do not feel that their need for flexibility is seen as a driver of performance,” said Cambon. “More concerning is the clear gap when it comes to autonomy over the decision to work flexibly — 72% of executives agree they can work out their own flexible work arrangement with their manager, whereas only half of employees feel they have that same privilege.”

Executives Are Better Equipped to Work Remotely Than Employees

Only 66% of employees agree they have the technology they need to effectively work remotely, compared to 80% of executives. In fact, only 59% of employees agree their organization has invested in providing them with resources that allow them to work the way they would onsite in a virtual environment — compared to 76% of executives. The gap between executives and employees in their ability to work from home is likely to further disadvantage employees if it makes them less likely to take advantage of flexibility.

 Employees Have Lower Levels of Trust Than Executive Leaders

Only 41% of employees agree that senior leadership acts in their best interest, compared to 69% of executives. Executives are also more likely to feel trusted when it comes to working from home, with 70% agreeing that their organization trusts employees not to abuse work flexibility, compared to 58% of  employees.

“Without trust, employees may feel wary of sharing their honest opinions about how, where and when they want to work,” said Cambon. “According to our most recent survey on hybrid work, only 56% of  employees agree they feel welcome to express their true feelings at work, compared to 74% of executives.”

Executives Think They Listen but Employees Disagree

Only 47% of employees believe leadership takes their perspective into consideration when making decisions, whereas 75% of senior leaders feel they do. This divide extends to whether employees believe their work environment is inclusive of a diverse set of employee needs and preferences; while 72% of executives believe this is the case, only 59% of employees feel the same.

Executives Hear One Thing and Employees Another

There is a clear disconnect between how executives and employees perceive the content and effectiveness of their organization’s communication. For example, 71% of executives agree leadership at their organization has expressed a preference for work conditions to return to their pre-pandemic model, whereas only 50% of employees have that same impression.

Executives Feel Greater Purpose Than Employees

Organizations are striving more than ever to create a shared purpose, yet Gartner research reveals that while 77% of executives agree they feel like they are a part of something important at their organization, only 59% of employees feel similarly. The increasing focus on diversity, equity and inclusion over the last 18 months has shone a light on how different employee segments feel about their organization’s diversity. Seventy percent of executives believe that managers at their organization are as diverse as the broader workforce at their organization, compared to only 52% of employees.

Additional information is available to Gartner clients in the report, “Redesigning Work for the Hybrid World.”


About the Gartner ReimagineHR Conference

The virtual Gartner ReimagineHR Conference 2021, EMEA, brings together a community of trailblazers, thought leaders and industry experts pushing the bounds of human resources. At the conference, taking place virtually on September 16-17, 2021, CHROs and HR leaders will learn from the latest research and Gartner experts covering talent acquisition, diversity, equity and inclusion, learning and development, total rewards, talent analytics, and HR technology. Follow news and updates from these events on Twitter and LinkedIn using #GartnerHR.

About the Gartner HR Practice

The Gartner HR practice brings together the best relevant content approaches across Gartner to offer individual decision makers strategic business advice on the mission-critical priorities that cut across the HR function. Additional information is available at Follow news and updates from the Gartner HR practice on Twitter and LinkedIn using #GartnerHR.


About Gartner

Gartner, Inc. (NYSE: IT) delivers actionable, objective insight to executives and their teams. Our expert guidance and tools enable faster, smarter decisions and stronger performance on an organization’s mission critical priorities. To learn more, visit