New Gartner Survey Identifies Six Gaps Critical to Future Employee Experience

Disparities Crop Up Between What Executives Suppose and What Employees Believe

A new study from Gartner says that a troubling gap in perception is emerging between executives and employees on areas such as flexible work practices and trustworthiness—issues that could significantly affect employee work strategies in the future if the concerns are not dealt with.

Gartner said it examined key areas crucial to the employee experience while employers are in the process of implementing work strategies for the future. During the research, Gartner discovered “significant dissonance between employee and executive sentiment,” said Alexia Cambon, director in the Gartner HR practice. “If left unaddressed, this division may lead to a critical failure to build trust and employee buy-in for future-of-work plans.”

The findings are the result of the 2021 Gartner Hybrid Work Employee Survey, conducted among 4,000 employees in January 2021. The survey reveals six perception gaps that employers must resolve.

One gap has to do with the culture of flexibility. The survey revealed that 75% of executives believe they already operate in a culture of flexibility, but the figure among employees is much lower at 57%. And while three-quarters of executives believe their business understands how flexible work practices support employees, only half of employees share the view.

Executives are also better equipped to work remotely than employees, which the survey identifies as another gap. While 80% of executives believe they possess the proper technology to work remotely, only 66% of employees share that belief. The percentage of those who think their organization has invested in providing them with the same resources for working virtually versus at the office is also greater among executives than for employees.

A third gap relates to issues of trust. Only 41% of employees agree that senior leadership acts in their best interest, compared to 69% of executives. “Without trust, employees may feel wary of sharing their honest opinions about how, where, and when they want to work,” said Cambon.

There is also disagreement on whether executives take the perspective of employees into consideration when making decisions. While 75% of executives believe they listen to those they manage, only 47% of employees feel the same.

A fifth gap focuses on what the survey says is a “clear disconnect” between how executives hear one thing and employees hear another. For instance, 71% of executives agree with leadership in wishing for work conditions to return to pre-pandemic models, compared to just 50% of employees with the same impression. Finally, the sixth gap addresses the concept of shared purpose. The Gartner research reveals that while 77% of executives believe they are a part of something important at their organization, that feeling is true for only 59% of employees.

Author Information

Alex is responsible for writing about trends and changes that are impacting the customer experience market. He had served as Principal Editor at Village Intelligence, a Los Angeles-based consultancy on technology impacting healthcare and healthcare-related industries. Alex was also Associate Director for Content Management at Omdia and Informa Tech, where he produced white papers, executive summaries, market insights, blogs, and other key content assets. His areas of coverage spanned the sectors grouped under the technology vertical, including semiconductors, smart technologies, enterprise & IT, media, displays, mobile, power, healthcare, China research, industrial and IoT, automotive, and transformative technologies.

At IHS Markit, he was Managing Editor of the company’s flagship IHS Quarterly, covering aerospace & defense, economics & country risk, chemicals, oil & gas, and other IHS verticals. He was Principal Editor of analyst output at iSuppli Corp. and Managing Editor of Market Watch, a fortnightly newsletter highlighting significant analyst report findings for pitching to the media. He started his career in writing as an Editor-Reporter for The Associated Press.


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