Most employees are uncertain of their responsibilities as fewer than 20 percent say they feel confident in their expectations in the workplace, according to a new study conducted by Wayne Hochwarter, Jim Moran professor of business administration in Florida State University’s College of Business, and research associate Allison Batterton.
Respondents who are unaware of their responsibilities have degrees of uncertainty, ranging from some to complete ambiguity.
These respondents also have 60 percent higher levels of mistrust with leadership in regards to communication and 50 percent higher levels of overall work frustration. Additionally, respondents who lack awareness have 45 percent less control over the best methods for completing work and report 40 percent higher levels of work overload.
The survey also finds that uncertain respondents have 35 percent fewer work accomplishments and are 33 percent less social and less likely to seek support from their immediate supervisors. When it comes to finding new employment, uncertain respondents are 33 percent more likely to do so and 25 percent more likely to neglect their jobs.
“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 says.
Most respondents say they lack understanding because of management not proactively creating communications until the absence of accountability results in an organizational crisis.
“It seems the more that communication is needed, the less likely it is provided — no wonder so many employees feel completely lost at work these days,” Hochwarter says.
To deal with accountability failures, the researchers suggest establishing a formal communication system and ensure all employees are proficient on it. An organization can also include employee accountability as part of performance evaluation for both the supervisor and employee and develop informal accountability networks. Ultimately, accountability must be proactive not reactive.
“Most employees want to do a good job and contribute to their organization,” Hochwarter says. “Perhaps it’s overly simplistic, but this can only take place when employees know what’s expected. Sadly, many do not, and the situation appears to be getting worse rather than better.”