Some Old Thoughts and Data on The Workplace

I’ve been collecting stuff forever, saving statistics and quotes and tidbits into computer files, so I have tons of stuff, old and new. And recently, I came across a paper document showing statistics from a Steelcase suevey done in 1991 and that got me looking at some old files and, well there you go and here we are…

It seemed that a trip through the archived data might be interesting, and if you like this, I can do similar things every now and again… These are just some factoids and some food for thought along the lines of how things change (and sometimes remain the same):

•  VW’s 243,256 employees – 57% who work in Germany –  get 6 weeks vacation a year – paid – and work 30 hour weeks.  The average earns $39 in salary and benefits compared to a US average of $25 and an average in Japan of $27.  Call this an infrastructure gap.  (From Forbes, April 7, 1997)

•  The number one issue of American office workers is that “Management provides me with the tools and resources to get my job done.”  Of U.S. office workers, 89% feel it’s “very important to them” and 51% feel it’s “very true on their present job.”  (Steelcase survey, 1991)

•  Most executives (88%) thought that employee participation was important to productivity yet only 30% say their companies do a good job of involving employees in decisions that affect them.  Only 38% of employees report that their companies do a good job of seeking opinions and suggestions of employees, which has dropped since 1989.  And even when opinions are sought, only 29% of employees say that the company does a good job of acting on those suggestions. (The Wyatt Company WorkUSA Survey, 1991)

• Towers Perrin surveyed 250,000 workers at 60 companies and found only 48% thought their bosses listened to their ideas or acted upon them.  That’s a 3 percent drop from 3 years ago.  And only 60% of employees think their bosses keep them well informed. (Charlotte Observer, 9/24/92)

•  The fourth most critical issue of office workers was that “Top management provides clear goals and direction for the organization.”  While 80 percent feel it’s “very important to them,” only 29 percent feel it’s “very true on their present job” — a 51 percent gap! (Steelcase survey, 1991)

•  A study of 4000 American managers produced the startling finding that only 46% give their best effort at work.  Only 36% feel challenged by their jobs; 52% have not attained their personal objectives; and more than 43% feel trapped in their jobs.” (Dale Carnegie & Associates, 1992)

• Chief executives from 150 organizations nationwide (US) say the skills they would most like to develop in members of their executive team are:

47%            Team Building
44%             Strategic Thinking
40%             Leadership
34%    The Ability to Motivate Others
(Source:  Manchester Partners International, Inc. Philadelphia — from Human Resources Executive, October 20, 1996  pg. 63)

• Thirty five percent of 1,885 executives polled nationwide are dissatisfied with their jobs and 78% have revised their resumes (compared to 68% in 1993);  69% have sent resumes to prospective employers (compared to 58%) and 64% had actually gone on interviews, compared to 53% in 1993. (from Human Resources Executive, October 20, 1996  pg. 63)

Update:
• The average tenure of CEOs has dropped to a new low level of 2-3 years with burnout tendency now at 85%,
• An average of 83% of employees are NOT engaged with their work and the problem isn’t getting better;
• 1/3- 1/2 are seeking employment elsewhere with the price-tag on these two issues alone reaching billions of dollars;
  (Above from John Keenan’s ILGE Flyer, 2011)

• In 1989, the Registration Accreditation Board was founded by ASQC to assure competency and reliability of ISO auditors and registrars in the US.  At the time, it was estimated that the pool of auditors would grow to about 300.  As of 1995, there were 3,397. Today, over a million international organizations are certified in ISO 9001 alone, and there are dozens of competing standards — no guess as to the numbers of auditors or the cost of compliance.

Many of the above stats have changed for the worst, from the kinds of things we can find in the literature. Ah, the good old days of things we could have done differently! If you like this, let me know and I can dredge out more of these kinds of factoids.

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