All employees are accountable for something, but very few fully understand exactly what they are accountable for, according to a new study.
The research conducted by Wayne Hochwarter, the Jim Moran Professor of Business Administration in Florida State University's College of Business, and research associate Allison Batterton, which assessed the opinions of more than 750 blue- and white-collar employees across multiple job environments, had a number of objectives.
First, the researchers wanted to better understand how many employees simply do not know what is expected of them at work each day.
Second, they wanted to get a better idea of what work life was like for those who understood their level of accountability versus those who did not.
Surprisingly, less than 20 percent of employees reported feeling certain they knew what was expected of them at work each day, while the vast majority of workers reported varying levels of accountability ranging from "some" to "complete" ambiguity.
As one respondent said, "I thought I was working on something important ... I guess the boss who fired me didn't think so."
Differences between those who knew what was expected versus those who didn't were considerable.
60 percent of the employees felt higher levels of mistrust with leadership as it relates to communication.
50 percent felt higher levels of overall work frustration.
While 45 percent felt less control regarding the best way to complete their work, 40 percent higher levels of work overload.
35 percent had fewer work accomplishments to the organization, and 33 percent felt less social and resource support from one's immediate supervisor.
33 percent were more likely to search for a new job within the next year, 25 percent more job neglect (slacking off, slowing down).
These findings cost American organizations hundreds of millions of dollars each year - in both direct and indirect costs, the researchers said.
"When employees aren't sure what's expected of them, the results simply just cannot be positive, especially when the complexity of work and the pace of change is taken into consideration," Batterton said.
In terms of reasons for the lack of understanding, most employees cite management's failure to be forthcoming and proactively develop communications until a lack of accountability triggers an organizational crisis.
Leaders are becoming more and more accountable as well, which often takes them further from their employees. (ANI)