Koan Survey 2021: Positive communication and goal achievement lead to stronger employee engagement globally
2020 was a tough year for everyone. With the abrupt shift to being remote plus the stressful environment of living through a global pandemic, many workers understandably found themselves struggling on the job.
Managers’ leadership skills were put to the test while teammates also tried to support each other (and research proves how much these relationships matter.) Since we’re in the business of helping teams run better, we wanted to know how everyone fared -- mentally and emotionally. In this survey of 600 full-time knowledge workers, respondents from the US, UK, Australia and Canada shared how they felt about last year’s workplace and team relationships.
Let’s start with the good news.
Almost 80% of respondents rated their boss favorably! Out of a variety of positive leadership habits, what did managers do well?
Created psychological safety on their teams. (We also asked respondents to rank which attribute mattered most to them; ‘freely and respectfully sharing opinions’ ranked at the top, followed by ‘ability to share mistakes you or others made’, ‘understanding of each other’s priorities’, and ‘celebrating each other’s wins.’)
Created camaraderie and a sense of belonging - During a time when we were physically isolated more than ever, 84% of people felt a sense of belonging on their teams.
Created a bi-directional dialogue - 53% of respondents got feedback from their boss regularly and were able to also give feedback upwards. This has room to improve but it's a relatively new phenomenon of workplaces encouraging feedback loops between subordinates and bosses.
And which country fared the best during 2020 with specific positive habits?
Involving their teams on goal setting - Canada (79%)
Creating a sense of belonging - Australia (92%)
Regularly sharing feedback - UK (73%)
We were also curious how these habits impacted longer-term trends like goal achievement, employee engagement, and retention. What did we find?
Employees who are engaged with the company mission and have a sense of purpose related to their work are 5x more likely to make progress on goals.
When employees are satisfied with their direct manager, they are 6x more likely to make progress on team goals.
When employees knew their work mattered to the company, they were nearly 7x more likely to produce work they were proud of.
These are big benefits -- all generated by the summation of small habits. As Aristotle famously said, “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit.”
Our data (and other research) has revealed that investing in developing positive leadership skills and thoughtful team dynamics results in quantifiable progress. Furthermore, the universal experiences shared by our survey respondents across the different continents reveal such investments are increasingly the norm.
At Koan, we’ve long envisioned a world in which all knowledge work is aligned and purposeful. It’s gratifying to see the early stages of this coming true.
Survey methodology: 646 anonymous full-time office workers spread across the US, UK, Ireland, Australia, and Canada were surveyed on 5/5/21 via SurveyMonkey.
About Koan: Our mission is to help every organization achieve their purpose. Built on a foundational belief that strong teams are transparent, collaborative, and human-centered, we empower teams to align and focus with our easy to use OKR and status platform. Learn more at koan.co