According to a new study, the C-suite isn't sweating major shifts, but lower-level employees aren't so sure what changes in the economy, politics, or technology mean for their workplace. (Photo: Shutterstock)

While the C-suite may think corporate America is prepared to handle major shifts in politics, the economy, technology and culture, most staff level workers are wary — though millennials are more willing to change the status quo than older workers, according to Addison Group’s 2017 Annual Workplace Survey.

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The Chicago-based provider of professional staffing services surveyed 1,000 white-collar workers and found 43 percent of staff-level employees do not feel confident their industry is prepared for future changes coming to the workplace, compared to the 84 percent of C-suite leaders who do.

Moreover, 86 percent of C-suite leaders and 76 percent of senior management agree corporate America is headed in the right direction, compared to 54 percent of staff-level employees.

Specifically, staff-level employees are 36 percent less confident than C-suite leaders that they are adequately trained for the future; 36 percent less confident their company is hiring the right people; 32 percent less confident their company is retaining top talent; and 26 percent less confident in their company’s loyalty to customers.

As a result, staff-level employees are about half (46 percent) as likely to feel confident in their organization’s loyalty to employees compared to the C-suite. Similarly, staff-level employees are 38 percent less likely to have faith in their organizations’ ethical leadership compared to the leaders themselves.

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However, millennials are more willing to challenge the status quo (68 percent) than Gen X (59 percent) and boomer (48 percent) employees. But positions within the company do make a difference: When broken down by status, 89 percent of the C-suite and 87 percent of senior management are willing to disrupt the norm, compared to 69 percent of mid-level management and 46 percent of staff-level employees.

These results could reflect the quality of communication between superiors and their subordinates, according to the study. Only 44 percent of staff-level employees have had a conversation with their employer about the future of their company. This number grows higher with position, with 65 percent of mid-level managers, 79 percent of senior managers and 83 percent of C-suite leaders saying they have held these conversations with their employer.

When asked about how emerging technologies could be impacting the workplace:

  • 36 percent of C-suite and 37 percent of senior management are aware of artificial intelligence affecting their workplace, compared to 26 percent of mid-level managers and 14 percent of staff-level employees.

  • Only 4 percent of staff-level employees are aware of how chatbots will affect their workplace. The C-suite and senior management are more aware, but at a relatively low level (27 percent and 24 percent, respectively).

“Generally, only senior and C-suite leaders recognize the level of impact these technologies will have on their jobs, leaving staff level employees uninformed,” the authors write.

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“As these tools continue to gain traction in corporate environments, there is no doubt companies and HR professionals will need to thoroughly communicate their potential impact to all employees — particularly those unaware of these impending changes.”