As heads of the company, CEOs like to believe they have their finger on the pulse of everything that’s going on — but a recent survey conducted discovered that’s not exactly true.
Workforce analytics company Visier asked employees and CEOs the same questions and found a large disconnect between the two groups on nearly every topic.
This is troubling on several fronts, and negatively impacts a company’s ability to attract and retain talent. Not to mention, when CEOs are unaware of issues affecting employees’ job satisfaction and engagement, this could result in increased errors, poor customer service and low productivity.
Areas of disagreement
So what are the specific areas CEOs and employees disagree on? Here’s what the survey found:
- 80% of CEOs think their companies do a good job supporting the mental and physical health of employees (only 46% of workers agree)
- 75% of CEOs favor working more frequently in the office (only 37% of workers agree)
- 72% of CEOs believe they’re being transparent about pandemic-related updates and policies (only 47% of employees agree)
- 74% of CEOs think their companies help employees develop new skills (only 38% of workers agree), and
- 90% of CEOs think they do enough to meet demands for pay transparency (only 68% of workers agree).
As you can see, the gap is quite large. How does this happen? Visier noted that, of course, execs don’t purposely set out to misunderstand their employees’ needs. The disconnect can be attributed to both confirmation bias and a lack of diversity within their ranks.
CEOs can’t know what they don’t know. And when execs aren’t listening to the right voices, they’re going to misunderstand employee issues. Having a diverse C-Suite is an important first step in hearing a variety of inputs.
5 things to do now
Another way to help close the disconnect is to address it head on by surveying your own workforce and seeing what specific areas employees and execs aren’t aligned on. Only once you have data can you act on the information and make improvements.
Before you do a deep dive with the data you collect, there are a few things you can do now to start improving the relationship between employees and execs, according to Forbes.com.
- Be transparent. Sometimes CEOs have to make unpopular decisions — but that doesn’t mean you should try to hide them from your staff. Even when the news isn’t great, employees want to feel like company leaders are being honest with them. Of course, not everything can be announced right away. But even quarterly all-hands meetings where you share news with your staff can set the stage for a cultural of continual transparency. These meetings will also help employees get to know execs as people instead of just company leaders.
- Use social media. This goes along with allowing employees to see CEOs as real people. Many execs aren’t active on social media, and if they are, they don’t show their personalities. But connecting and engaging on LinkedIn can spark good conversation and allow both employees and execs to learn more about each other.
- Implement an employee council. A great way to get employees more involved in the company and ensure execs and workers are on the same page is to form an employee council. It can be comprised of appointees or volunteers, but it’s important to make sure there are a diverse group of employee representatives. They can help make decisions about company planning and and goal-setting, offering valuable insights. Obviously, the CEO still has the most power, but the council allows more people to have a voice and helps the company set balanced goals.
- Get in the trenches. If employees are under the impression their CEO just sits in an office all day and doesn’t know what’s going on, they aren’t going to be as committed to the company’s mission. An aloof CEO isn’t going to be inspiring. But a company leader who understands the people and the ins and outs of the organization will make a great impact on morale and engagement.
- Don’t underestimate small gestures. Small acts of kindness can make a huge difference. Gift cards celebrating birthdays or achievements can show employees their leaders are invested in them and appreciate the work they do.