Only one in 10 employees define success at work as high performance, survey reveals

Right Management’s Global Career Aspiration survey found that 45 per cent of respondents rank work-life balance as their number one career aspiration and the top definition of workplace success is enjoyment/happiness

A new global career survey of employees released today by career experts Right Management has found that only 10 per cent of employees define career success as high performance and productivity.

As employers struggle to find skilled and motivated individuals to meet performance goals, these findings indicate an ongoing disconnect between employee aspirations and the performance demands of employers worldwide.

Right Management’s Global Career Aspiration survey also found that 45 per cent of respondents rank work-life balance as their number one career aspiration and the top definition of workplace success is enjoyment/happiness.

“High performers have a disproportionate impact on business results,” said Mara Swan, global leader of Right Management and executive vice president of ManpowerGroup.

“Talent shortages for in-demand skills persist and have caused HR departments worldwide to rethink how they develop and motivate individuals to meet performance goals. To attract and retain top talent, organisations must make development a priority and enable their leaders to mentor employees to expand their skills, capabilities and experience.”

Additional findings from Right Management’s Global Career Aspiration research include:

Employees rank work-life balance higher than performance:  45 per cent of employees aspire to achieve work-life balance, which is more than double the number of employees that rank being the best at what they do (17 per cent) as their top career aspiration. In Europe, 55 per cent of employees aspire for work-life balance, followed by Asia Pacific (37 per cent) and North America (35 per cent). Interestingly, millennials (14 per cent) are least likely to aspire to be the best at what they do compared to Baby Boomers (22 per cent) and Gen X (17 per cent). Only three percent of employees globally aspire to achieve a prominent position.

When it comes to success, enjoyment/happiness at work trumps performance and salary: 26 per cent of employees define success in the workplace as enjoyment/happiness, followed by salary (19 per cent), doing the best work (18 per cent), respect and recognition (15 per cent) and high performance (10 per cent). Broken out by geography, high performance ranks lowest in Europe (8 per cent) and highest in Asia (14 per cent) and with 12 per cent in North America. Across generations, defining workplace success as high performance is reported evenly by Millenials (10 per cent), Gen X (11 per cent) and Baby Boomers (8 per cent).

Leaders need to show respect: 53 per cent of employees say respect for their knowledge and experience is their top expectation of leadership. Others include mutual trust (51 per cent), transparency (37 per cent), learning and development (32 per cent) and a relationship of equals regardless of job title (30 per cent). In Europe, mutual trust is the top expectation of leadership. The expectation for learning and development opportunities ranks highest in Asia (34 per cent), followed by Europe (32 per cent) and North America (29 per cent).

Mutual trust is expected of colleagues: 59 per cent of employees want mutual trust from their colleagues at work, followed by respect for their knowledge (48 per cent), a relationship of equals (46 per cent) and transparency (41 per cent). In North America, respect for my knowledge ranks as the number one expectation of peers in the workplace (54 per cent). In Europe, 67 per cent of employees expect mutual trust from colleagues, which represents the highest response percentage in the survey. Baby Boomers worldwide expect mutual trust (65 per cent) from their colleagues, compared with Gen X (61 per cent) and millennials (51 per cent).

Employees will leave for work-life balance and higher pay: the top motivations for changing jobs are the desire for work/life balance and higher compensation (both 35 per cent), followed by seeking a different work culture and wanting more challenging assignments (both 25 per cent). In Asia, 54 per cent of employees are motivated to change jobs for better work/life balance, followed by 41 per cent in North America and 24 per cent in Europe.

“People are happy and engaged at work when they are inspired,” said Swan. “Understanding employee career motivations and aspirations is key to creating a high performance culture that motivates individuals to do their best work. When individuals experience effective career development through ongoing career conversations with their managers, they are more likely to be engaged, motivated and ready to take on new challenges.”

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