Four key findings about why finance workers are unhappy.
It’s commonly assumed that people who work in finance are, generally speaking, happy. After all, why shouldn’t they be? High wages, strong job-security, challenging and engaging work – that certainly sounds like the making of a satisfied employee.
But a report recently released by my company shows that this assumption is false. In fact, far from being the happiest industry, the finance industry ranks at number eight. Industries which ranked above it? Construction, technology, healthcare, and hospitality, to name a few.
After seeing how poorly finance performed relative to other industries, we investigated further. We were shocked to see the depth of their discontent. This statistic says it all: only 22% of finance workers reported being truly happy at work.
How could an industry known for generous and secure salaries be so unhappy? It was troubling really. So we dug through survey responses from more than 3,000 employees at nearly 60 organisations in an effort to uncover more. Here’s what we found.
1. Transparency is not the culprit
Transparency is an incredibly strong driver of happiness at work. So when we began examining the responses from finance workers, this is the first place we turned. Transparency, however, was not to blame. In fact the finance industry practically swims in transparency. Asked whether their manager has clearly communicated their roles and responsibilities, an overwhelming 85% of employees responded, “Yes.”
In their comments, employees were quick to explain that their managers met with them frequently to discuss how they were performing relative to expectations:
– “[My manager] went over my job description with me. Anytime she has anything new for me to do, she takes the time to go through it and explain to me anything I may have questions on.”
– “I have regular catch ups with my manager and my objectives are regularly reviewed. We review my role within my area and I know how I fit in.”
Further illustrating this fact, 87% of respondents answered that their managers set clear company goals for them.
2. Workers are feeling unrecognised
Recognition is a vital component in maintaining employee morale. It’s deeply problematic then that recognition is thoroughly lacking in the finance industry. When asked to rate from 1 to 10, how well recognised they are for good work, a meagre 21% of workers responded with a 9 or 10.
Perhaps more damning is this: only 20% of finance workers feel strongly valued at work. Their responses explaining this are concerning:
– “No recognition or acknowledgement for hard work, commitment and achievement. Extremely disappointing.”
– “One or two people may say, ‘Good Job,’ but for the most part, I feel as if the perception of me is that I am a waste of cubicle space.”
3. Leaders are failing their employees
There’s a saying which is commonly thrown about these days: “You don’t quit your job, you quit your boss.” Within the finance industry, it appears that there’s a great deal of truth in this. When asked how they felt about their manager, less than 50% of respondents indicated that they were satisfied, the rest indicating either indifference or dissatisfaction.
This raises the following question: what are managers in finance failing at? The comments from those surveyed indicated three distinct shortcomings:
– Poor communication styles;
– Failing to allocate time to their employees and teams; and
– Not allocating time to their employees’ professional development.
These comments illustrate the problem quite well:
“[My manager] doesn’t help with personal development. [My manager] will talk to employees when setting up goals and personal development but doesn’t help follow up on goals or personal development throughout the year so it’s always a surprise come review time.”
“Discusses confidential matters with another team member. Doesn’t relay important information. The team needs to do their job. Doesn’t stand up for or support the team. Any communication is done by email.”
4. Colleagues are failing each other
This may be the most surprising result we found. When asked to rate their colleagues, a whopping 46% of respondents indicated they were indifferent or dissatisfied. This is particularly troublesome as we’ve found that one’s co-workers are the number one factor driving workers to go the extra mile.
Again, their comments indicated three distinct factors driving this discontent:
– Having poor attitudes (that is, complaining too much);
– Not being motivated or taking responsibility; and
– Not being qualified for their role.
Here are a few of the responses these employees gave:
– “[My colleagues] seem to need a lot of hand holding and they are not taking responsibility of their own [projects].”
– “The skill set is definitely NOT up to par for the changing technology and systems, the poor and negative attitude brings down the rest of the team, and that does not create a positive reflection of [our product] for our customers.”
What’s to be made of all this? I’ll discuss the implications next month in Part Two.
Zachary Sisco is a Communications Associate at Seattle-based employee engagement survey company TINYpulse, www.tinypulse.com.
This article appeared in the July 2015 issue of HR Future magazine.