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Why Your Employees Don’t Equate Success With High Performance and Productivity

June 15, 2015

By: Terri Williams

NOTE:  Not sure if going to use this article...Right Management may be a competitor. (Kerry)

If you think your employees define “success” as being productive, high-performing workers, you’re in for a rude awakening. According to a new global survey conducted by Right Management, only 10% of employees equate success with hard work and high productivity levels.

At this point, you might be tempted to think – or hope - that maybe this was one of those vague surveys in which the respondents didn’t really understand the question. And you’d be wrong. The Global Career Aspiration Survey was conducted to understand career motivations and how perceptions and motivations are shifting in the workplace. It includes results from 1,225 employees in the U.S., France, Germany, Switzerland, UK, Canada, Belgium, India, Singapore, and Australia. Two troubling statistics stand out:

  • Only 1 in 10 employees define workplace success as high-performance.
  • 75% of employees are unengaged at work, which means that employers need to rethink their methods of developing and motivating workers to meet performance goals.

The rest of the survey results are as follows:


Top 5 Career Aspirations
45% Achieve work life balance
17% Be the best at what I do
13% Earn a lot of money
11% Help other people
6% Help society


35% of workers in North America ranked work/life balance in first place, compared to 55% of European employees, and 37% of workers in Asia Pacific. Only 14% of Millennials aspire to be the “best” at what they do, compared to 22% of Baby Boomers and 17% of Gen X. Globally, only 3% of employees say their career aspiration is to achieve a position of status.



Top 5 Definitions of Success at Work
26% Happiness/enjoyment
19% Salary
18% Doing the best work
15% Respect and recognition
10% High performance

In North America, 12% of workers ranked high performance in first place. It ranked lowest in Europe (8%) and highest in Asia (14%). Across generations, the results were evenly spread out.



Top Expectations of Leaders
53% Respect for my knowledge and experience
51% Mutual respect
37% Transparency
32% Opportunities for learning and development
30% Relationship of equals regardless of job title


In North America, 29% of employees choose opportunities for learning and development. In Asia, the expectation for learning and development ranked highest (34%), while in Europe, mutual trust ranked the highest.


Top Expectations of Co-Workers
59% Mutual trust from my colleagues at work
48% Respect for my knowledge
46% Relationship of equals
41% Transparency
21% Friendship


However, in North America, respect for knowledge was the number one expectation of peers (54%). In Europe, 67% of workers chose mutual respect. Across generations, 65% of Baby Boomers worldwide expect mutual trust, compared to 61% of Gen X, and 51% of Millennials.



Top Motivators for Leaving
35% Work/life balance
35% Higher compensation
25% Better work culture
25% More challenges


In North America, 41% of employees would leave for a better work/life balance. However, the number of workers willing to leave for work/life balance was highest in Asia (54%).



If employers and workers view success so differently, how can the two meet in the middle? Right Management recommends the following 3 tips:

Segment and Target: Identify employees in the workplace who equate workplace success with high performance and then provide them with targeted development opportunities.

Motivate and Engage Differently: 2/3 of individual engagement motivators can be directly linked to discussions about career development. At the top of the organization, create an environment that focuses on careers, and then enable leaders to have career discussions with workers.

Focus on Learning and Development: Make learning a priority in your organization. Identify skill gaps and then provide access to tools and experiences to help employees to develop new skills.

It may appear that you and your employees are miles apart in expectations. However, Right Management states that employers who provide career development opportunities are six times more likely to engage their employees than organizations that do not. It’s worth it to put forth the effort required to bridge the gap.

Terri Williams

Terri Williams began writing professionally in 1997, working with a large nonprofit organization. Her business, education, and lifestyle articles have appeared in various online publications including Yahoo, USA Today, The Houston Chronicle, U.S. News & World Report University Directory, The San Francisco Chronicle, and the Center for Digital Ethics and Policy at Loyola University Chicago. Williams has a Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of Alabama at Birmingham.

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