The Journal Gazette
Sunday, July 18, 2021 1:00 am

Survey finds workers feel need to belong

LISA GREEN | The Journal Gazette

An Employee Trends report based on a survey of more than 11,800 people describes 2020 as the year that leaders began “rethinking and reshaping how to take care of their people.”

Key findings: People need to feel like they belong to remain engaged and they need work-life balance.

Qualtrics based the report released in late June on feedback from full-time employees from 20 countries. The company, which helps businesses improve customer, employee, product and brand experiences, said the survey was designed to gauge the employee experience. But a primary goal was also shedding light on what employers can do in 2021 to have the biggest impact on workers.

Employees are “more cognizant than ever of managing their own personal well-being,” Jay Choi, an executive vice president for Qualtrics, wrote in the report. “Companies that don't enable employees to recharge or set boundaries, or even enable fulfilling work will lose out on talent.” 

The good news: employee engagement is up. The bad news: employers seem to be listening more, but not necessarily acting on the feedback.

Qualtrics measures employee engagement by “discretionary effort” – the desire to go above and beyond, pride in work and the organization, advocacy for the organization, feelings of accomplishment from work and intention to stay.

Employee engagement jumped from 53% in November 2019 to 66% in November last year, the report said.

“When leadership is visible and regularly communicates in a trustworthy way, we see engagement rise. Plus, when managers support their employees and listen, as well as act, on their feedback, engagement is strong. Even in times of organizational disruption,” Vanessa Kowollik of Qualtrics said in the report. 

Manager effectiveness plays a significant role in whether employees feel they belong. 

Belonging is “highly correlated to engagement,” the report said. Twenty percent of employees who feel they don't belong are engaged compared with 91% of those who feel they do.

Qualtrics also uses several indicators for measuring employee well-being: feeling calm at work, feeling energized at work and rarely feeling overwhelmed by responsibilities at work. Other indicators are feeling positive about yourself at work and having trusting relationships at work.

Just 60% of individual contributors reported their well-being favorably, compared with 72% of managers/leaders of those contributors. For executives, 87% ranked their well-being favorably, the report said.

Differences in well-being were noticeable based on family situations as well. Among those single and with no dependent children, 58% reported favorable well-being while 66% of singles with dependent children did. Among those married/living with a partner, 68% reported favorable well-being while 72% of those married/living with a partner and having dependent children did.

The coronavirus pandemic prompted some changes in how employers appeared to value employee input. In November 2019, the percentage of people who said they were asked to provide feedback regularly was 46% and that jumped to 62% in May 2020. But in November last year, the percentage fell to 45%.

“Employees feel that acting on feedback matters more than ever,” the report said, but only 7% felt their employer “acted on feedback extremely well.”

Worth repeating

United Front, the cultural awareness training program announced last fall, is halfway through its first yearlong training session. The local initiative has attracted more than 8,000 participants from nearly every sector, from public to private, in the Fort Wayne area and beyond.

During a discussion forum last week, lead facilitator Pascal Losambe offered this jewel: “When it comes to the job of racial reconciliation, you are always employed.”

To share a thought, a favorite quote or other wisdom about leadership, email Lisa Green at Lead On also appears as a blog at

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