The majority of U.S. employees feel they can’t share an idea, opinion or concern at work due to a fear of disrupting their role at the company, according to a new survey by Fierce Conversations.
The research, which surveyed more than 1,000 full-time employees across the U.S., found nearly 63 per cent of respondents have chosen not to share a concern or negative feedback at work. The survey participants’ top reason was they don’t want to seem combative. This was followed by fear of being viewed as uncooperative and worry that others would view them negatively.
Further, the survey found 80 per cent of employees believe it’s important to be considered nice by those they work with, with just five per cent indicating that being viewed as nice is unimportant. The top three reasons were: they find work is more enjoyable when they get along with colleagues; it makes it easier to get things done; and they’ll get more interesting work/more opportunities if people like working with them.
“Many of the companies we work with have admitted to us that their organizations suffer from a culture of nice, where people are afraid to speak openly or confront the behaviour of others for fear they may rock the boat or be judged as challenging the status quo,” said Stacey Engle, president of Fierce Conversations, in a press release. “The results of our research confirm this — employees fear being seen as combative and thus keep their concerns and negative feedback to themselves.
“This can have a significant impact on an organization, not to mention employee mental health, and if not addressed can lead to problems that could be difficult to bounce back from — from significant turnover to direct loss of revenue.”
When asked in which situations they were least comfortable sharing concerns and negative feedback, respondents cited one-to-one meetings, with their boss, company leadership or colleagues. On the other hand, team meetings were the least likely situation respondents cited.
“In organizations where employees are empowered with strong conversations skills, concerns are not brushed under the rug and ideas and opinions flow freely,” said Engle. “The fact that employees are hesitant to speak up in the exact situations that are meant to bring out these ideas or thoughts should concern every employee in a leadership role, and then some.”