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Employees to bosses: ‘It’s not me, it’s you’: A third of employees have to guess their priorities at work

by | Dec 21, 2023 | Public Relations

The employee/employer dynamic has never been so enigmatic—leaders are struggling to understand and meet the expectations of an unprecedentedly unorthodox workplace, while employees struggle to engage with their businesses amid endless perceived leader shortfalls. This disconnect is affirmed in new research from data-driven work management platform Slingshot, which finds that while many employers rely on frequent check-ins to track employees’ progress and empower productivity, employees say their productivity would benefit more from having clear priorities (42 percent) and set deadlines (30 percent).

The firm’s inaugural 2023 Digital Work Trends report, based on research conducted by market research firm Dynata, explores the relationship between employees’ productivity and management, revealing a gaping rift between the standard of work leaders expect and what employees need to be productive and perform well. The research shines a light on how employees’ productivity and performance is impacted by many of the things they look to their leaders for, including priorities, deadlines, and the amount of work they’re responsible for, as well as a generational divide in the ways employees navigate work and manage as leaders.

Employees to bosses: ‘It’s not me, it’s you’: A third of employees have to guess their priorities at work

“Employees often feel overloaded, unsure of priorities and deadlines, and afraid to say no to additional work–even when they have too much on their plates already. And leaders are left scrambling when employees haven’t been focusing on the highest-value task or miss deadlines after taking on too much. This is all caused by a lack of visibility and alignment across teams,” said Dean Guida, founder of Slingshot, in a news release.

Among the findings:

Employees are overloaded and unguided—and they’re losing half of their day because of it

Employees say their productivity is most negatively impacted when they have too many projects/tasks on their plate (37 percent), don’t know what their priorities are (25 percent) and have no set deadlines (17 percent). A majority of employees (64 percent) say they lose at least 1-2 productive hours a day when they don’t have deadlines—with 22 percent of employees saying they lose 3-4 hours each day. Having to juggle too many projects follows closely, with 62 percent of employees losing at least 1-2 productive hours a day, and 20 percent saying they lose 3+ hours to it.

More meetings don’t mean more productivity

More than half of leaders feel the need to closely supervise employees when they are not delivering quality work (69 percent) or hitting deadlines (52 percent). But employees feel micromanaged when their boss checks in on them too often (45 percent) or they have unnecessary status meetings (43 percent). In fact, 25 percent of employees say work meetings are the most frustrating interruption throughout their day.

Generations and genders differ in their approach to determining priorities in the workplace

Nearly half (49 percent) of Millennial workers guess what’s most important when they are not given priorities, while 33 percent of Boomer workers and 35 percent of Gen X and Y workers choose what to do. A majority (55 percent) of Gen Z workers say they communicate with their colleagues to identify priorities. Males and females differ in their approach as well: 43 percent of females communicate with their colleagues to identify priorities, while 45 percent of males say they choose what they want to do.

Employees to bosses: ‘It’s not me, it’s you’: A third of employees have to guess their priorities at work

“Where employees spend their time is where their priorities lie–but this often doesn’t line up with their leaders and the larger goals of the company. Once teams are aligned on goals and objectives, employees are clear on their priorities and expected outcomes and leaders can have peace of mind that the right things are getting done in a timely manner. This is what will drive business results,” continued Guida.

Read the full report here.

The two-part 2023 Digital Work Trends Report is based on responses from 305 adult respondents working full-time as employees and leaders, across four age groups and all 50 states.

Richard Carufel
Richard Carufel is editor of Bulldog Reporter and the Daily ’Dog, one of the web’s leading sources of PR and marketing communications news and opinions. He has been reporting on the PR and communications industry for over 17 years, and has interviewed hundreds of journalists and PR industry leaders. Reach him at richard.carufel@bulldogreporter.com; @BulldogReporter

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