Managing Employees

What's the No. 1 Thing Employees Would Change If They Were the Boss?

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Many managers face the same question every year: What changes should be made to improve our workplaces and our overall levels of employee engagement? One potential source of ideas comes from a recent report by TINYhr’s. Titled, The New Year Employee Report, this survey clearly spells out what employees would change -- if only they had the power.

Related: Biz Stone: Good Works Can Shape Your Company's Mission and Market

According to the survey, which asked participants what one thing they’d like to change about their managers, the top five answers are:

  • 15 percent would improve communication
  • 11 percent would want their boss to quit or retire
  • 10 percent would seek to improve empathy and people skills
  • 8 percent would increase wages
  • 7 percent would wish for better team leaders

Certainly, it shouldn’t be a surprise that communication concerns top the list. Further research by Clear Company HRM says that “86 percent of employees and executives cite lack of collaboration or ineffective communication for workplace failures.” When communication fails, extra work is required, whether because employees must rework projects that were initially completed incorrectly due to miscommunications or because multiple employees mistakenly work on the same tasks as the result of unclear instructions.

That said, the story gets even more interesting when TINYhr’s team turned the tables and asked employees what the first thing they’d change if they were the boss. The top five responses, in addition to the percentage of respondents prioritizing each response, are below:

  • 16 percent would fire, demote or make other changes to improve employee caliber
  • 11 percent would seek to establish standards for behaviors and company policies
  • 11 percent would want to improve communication
  • 10 percent would improve wages and benefits
  • 9 percent would modify working hours

What does it say about an organization when employees want to fire their colleagues?

"It goes back to an organization’s culture and the impact colleagues have on culture and workplace satisfaction," says David Niu, founder and CEO of TINYhr. "Our data has shown that peers are the biggest influence on colleagues going the extra mile, and this further supports that point.”

Is your organizational culture up to snuff? Or would your own employees report the concerns listed above? Even if you believe that your employees are satisfied with your workplace communication, consider the following tips to further enhance your company’s culture.

Related: 6 Steps to Strengthening Company Culture (Infographic)

Culture as a competitive advantage

When I was compiling research for my “It Really Pays to Have a Rich Company Culture” infographic, I was shocked by how important organizational culture can be to a business’s bottom line. Take, for example, the Columbia University study that found that job turnover at companies with a rich internal culture averages about 13.9 percent, while those that don’t focus on employee fit experience turnover rates as high as 48.4 percent.

When you consider how costly turnover can be, that’s a pretty major loss!  But that isn’t the only way company culture affects profitability. According to statistics provided by the New Century Financial Corporation, happy, actively-engaged employees produce better results than their unhappy peers. In an example cited in their research, banking account managers who were disengaged from their work produced 28 percent less revenue than their happier coworkers.

There’s a reason happier employees yield better business results. Employees that are satisfied with their work environment are more likely to complete their projects on time, to a higher degree of satisfaction, than those who don’t care about their work. They’re less likely to procrastinate and more likely to go out of their way to solve difficult problems -- traits that all managers want to see in their employees.

Make “fit” part of the hiring process

Clearly, there are legitimate business reasons to improve organizational culture. But while there are changes you can make to improve the relationships between your existing managers and employees, a far better approach is to take culture into consideration from the beginning. By making “fit” a part of the hiring process, you’ll minimize your chances of encountering profit-diminishing conflicts down the road.

And when it comes to considering job candidate fit, the easiest way to incorporate this technique is to get representatives from all levels of your staff involved in the hiring process. Once you’ve identified a few top choices for your open positions, invite candidates out for lunch with a team of your current employees or invite them all to some other social activity where guards will be let down.

You don’t need to make your decisions on your staff’s feedback exclusively, as job skills and other characteristics are just as important, but you should take their opinions into consideration. After all, they’re the ones that will be working closest with your new hires, and it’s their productivity that will suffer if candidates are a poor fit for your organizational culture.

Every organization has its issues, and fixing them isn’t going to happen overnight. If you’re a business owner or manager, think about different ways to strengthen your organization’s culture and then put your ideas into action. By creating guidelines and setting expectations from the hiring process on, you’ll cultivate the kind of atmosphere that attracts, retains and delights top-performing employees.

Related: Hiring for Your Startup: 3 Tips to Find the Right People