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Big Companies Don’t Have to Be Soulless Places to Work

Source | Harvard Business Review : By Ron Carucci

Studies have shown that 70% of the workplace is disengaged. That’s on top of the fact that in the near future 40% of the workforce will be freelancing. What this tells us is that most employees are either quitting and leaving their jobs or — worse — quitting and staying in the organizations in which they work. The small number of companies that top best-employer listings such as Fortune’s 100 Best Companies to Work For and Glassdoor’s Best Places to Work seem to be in elite leagues of their own.

Big corporations seem to have it especially hard: according to an Accenture survey, only 15% of college students who graduated in 2015 said they would prefer to work for a large company. These larger companies, once considered pinnacles of career opportunity, have become employers of last resort. Unless the companies make radical changes, the best talent will go elsewhere. And many Fortune 500 companies will just go away.

What is to be done? Big companies have to take the most chronic complaints about them and flip them on their heads, making radical changes that will dramatically improve how they are experienced by their employees.

Instead of hiding the truth, welcome and promote it.

It’s astounding how routine deceit is in organizations. When people know they are part of a collusive environment where the truth is unwelcome, they hide parts of themselves. Worse, when information is fabricated to create the illusion of safety and anonymity, performance and retention plummet.  

In the 2016 Edelman Global Trust Barometer survey, of more than 33,000 people around the world, only 27% of leaders were seen as behaving in open and transparent ways. In the 2013 report of the same population, 82% of workers around the world did not trust their bosses to tell the truth. Another study found 85% of employees admitted to withholding important concerns about critical issues from their bosses.

Over the last 20 years, we’ve conducted more than 5,000 diagnostic interviews assessing performance in large organizations. More than half of the vital perspectives we heard expressing dire concerns about company practices, leadership behavior, confusion over strategy, resentment over unfairness, or fear about the future hadnever been voiced to leaders who had the power to act upon them.


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