Survey: Bosses clueless that workers are miserable, looking to leave

A Microsoft survey of global workers found the majority feel they are struggling or just surviving in pandemic work conditions and a large percentage are considering leaving their employer this year. Meanwhile most business leaders polled said they are “thriving.”

A total of 46% of respondents said they are planning to move to a new location this year, a reflection of the greater flexibility to work from home. And 41% of those surveyed said they’re mulling leaving their jobs, according to Microsoft’s Work Trend Index released Monday, which polled 30,000 people from a variety of companies in 31 countries and used trillions of data points around labor and productivity from Microsoft’s 365 software and LinkedIn network.

The data found burnout is widespread—54% of workers said they are overworked and 39% said exhausted.

But the struggles of employees in the midst of the upheaval that has sent many out of their offices to work remotely are being overlooked by their managers and company leaders, who were the only group polled in which a majority said they are thriving. Gen Z workers, those 18 to 25 years old, are faring among the worst—the researchers theorize that their feelings of isolation are higher because they are more likely to be early in their careers and single. While the leaders who are doing well are mostly male, the survey found women, frontline workers and new employees also reported challenges.

“Leaders are out of touch,” said Microsoft Vice President Jared Spataro. “Sixty-one percent say they are thriving—that’s 23% higher than the average worker, so there is a disconnect there. They’re like ‘this is great!'”

While the study showed the use of Microsoft’s Teams chat and teleconference product is going up, it also flagged that this unstinting growth is draining for workers. Time spent in Teams meetings has more than doubled and keeps rising, meetings are 10 minutes longer on average and the typical Teams user is sending 45% more chats a week, with 42% more of them after typical work hours.

“There’s this feeling that all of a sudden the boundaries are gone—’my boss somehow thinks he can wake me up at seven and keep pinging me at 7 or 8 or 9 p.m.,'” Spataro said. “We think it’s important for people to recognize, ‘look humans perform better on a schedule.”

Companies seem inclined to allow flexibility about remote work even as the pandemic eases in some countries. Job postings on LinkedIn for remote work are up five times and Microsoft said diverse groups of workers are more likely to apply for those positions. But remote work has led to shrinking networks—Teams and Outlook email data show a decrease in messages sent to whole teams, larger groups or groups outside a worker’s main area, and a rise in focusing on a tighter circle of co-workers. The software maker worries this trend can hurt innovation.

Microsoft has said it will reopen its Redmond, Washington, campus later this month, bringing back employees who wish to return. Even then conference rooms will remain off limits for the time being, Spataro said. The company has told workers that even after offices completely reopen, they are free to work from home half of the time without special permission.

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7 thoughts on “Survey: Bosses clueless that workers are miserable, looking to leave

  1. Life is tough…especially for Gen Z workers who were courted from childhood to expect and receive a participation trophy, rather than be rewarded for accomplishing something worthwhile.

    1. Not Gen Z or Millennials. Gen Z is just the new generation to pick on and stereotype. They didn’t ask for participation trophys, they were given. By who? Probably your generation.

    2. Actually, my generation (baby-boomers) wasn’t too keen on participation trophies. It was the next generation that decided everybody should get a trophy just for showing up. Yours is a valid point, however.

  2. What’s not to trust from reporting by Bloomberg News? Like Rahm Emanuel, they “never let a good crisis go to waste.” Maybe this is just Microsoft employees that were surveyed. I sincerely hope we don’t get a really hard crisis … like WWII. Our culture has had things so easy for so long it takes very little to cause great “perceived hardship”. If Starbucks went away there would be people in counseling for the rest of their lives. Most everyone I know that is working feels very fortunate to have a job right now. Of course they are free to look for a better position/career, just as we always have been in this country. That’s the American way. I certainly feel bad for people that have lost loved ones. A job can be replaced with an improved outcome. Loved ones cannot. This is just another “garbage non-story” from a big data monopoly that has acheived great success by developing a product many believe they cannot live without. Shades of John D. Rockefeller. Where is Theodore Roosevelt and the Sherman Antitrust Act when you need them?

    1. It wasn’t just Microsoft employees, but they did use data from the Microsoft application Teams used on their software and used the company as an example of employees going back if they want to. Maybe people weren’t meant to be stuck at home all the time, working all the time which is funny because we weren’t made to stuck in cubicles 8 hours a day either. While having a job is better than not for our mental health we can also sympathize with the new challenges of working from home for a lot of people. I think a reduced work day is the solution but we can only dream.

    2. “Most everyone I know that is working feels very fortunate to have a job right now” <— and this is why people are miserable – because they believe they should be happy because someone has let them keep their job. They believe other companies are not hiring for their position and level of experience. And, even if they were, they are so busy trying to do "more with less" that they don't have time to really look for another job at the risk of losing their current position.

      Upper management not knowing what front line workers are doing is nothing new. There's an entire television series about it.

  3. “Most everyone I know that is working feels very fortunate to have a job right now” <— and this is why people are miserable – because they believe they should be happy because someone has let them keep their job. They believe other companies are not hiring for their position and level of experience. And, even if they were, they are so busy trying to do "more with less" that they don't have time to really look for another job at the risk of losing their current position.

    Upper management not knowing what front line workers are doing is nothing new. There's an entire television series about it.

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