“What’s with all the headlines about disengaged workers lately?”
So asks collaboration software giant Atlassian in its latest State of Teams report, released this week.
With terms like ‘quiet-quitting’ and ‘great resignation’ plaguing headlines, Atlassian’s report has revealed a rosier outlook among its 1,700 survey participants from Australia and the United States.
The statistics revealed that 78 per cent of participants declared they were enthusiastic about their work, up 9 per cent on the prior corresponding survey from 2021, and in stark contrast to negative dialogue currently dominating the zeitgeist.
It also contends with research compiled by PwC in May showing that one in five workers said they were likely to switch to a new employer in the next 12 months.
But before we double down on the idea that team satisfaction may be improving, let’s unpack more findings from Atlassian’s State of Teams report.
Morale and transparency are up, but external stressors persist
Of the 78 per cent of respondents who declared enthusiasm for their work, their reasons varied as to why.
While Atlassian didn’t reveal any of these reasons, it did show that more respondents are seeing transparency in their workplaces when compared to 2021.
Around 63 per cent of survey participants reported that they have visibility into how decisions are being made.
In 2021, only 51 per cent of respondents said the same.
This year, 68 per cent of participants also agreed that there was a high level of trust in leadership where they worked.
“We can’t help but notice this [transparency] trend is tracking in line with increased trust in leadership, which rose 11 percentage points year over year,” says Atlassian.
“Coincidence? Maybe. But probably not.”
Though Atlassian says job satisfaction may be increasing for these reasons, there are other factors that continue to rattle workers.
Around 33 per cent of people reported that stresses in their personal lives are making it harder to do their work, representing a seven per cent increase from 2021.
“This is a good reminder that, although the logistical challenges we experienced at the height of the pandemic have dissipated, mental health and financial challenges persist,” says Atlassian.
Flexibility is king
There has been a complete shift since 2021 when the State of Teams report identified ‘office only’ as the most popular working arrangement, as opposed to remote or hybrid models.
Atlassian’s 2022 report instead identified that 43 per cent of workers are opting for a hybrid model of working between home and office, while 22 per cent worked exclusively from home and 35 per cent from the office.
The report also further confirms common post-COVID commentary that flexible working arrangements lead to superior staff outcomes but can be detrimental if not managed properly.
“Flexibility is linked to positive perceptions of the organisation’s culture, which in turn is strongly associated with higher employee retention rates,” says Atlassian.
“That said, the flexibility to work in a distributed fashion presents unique challenges.”
While the report shows that burnout symptoms and a general negative outlook more frequently appeared in companies with no flexibility, impostor syndrome was more frequent within innovative ones.
Innovation has its downsides
During the pandemic, millions of people who previously worked a rigid nine-to-five got a taste for flexibility, and many continued working in those arrangements after lockdowns had abated.
Businesses were forced to innovate and many embarked on full-scale transformations, both cultural and structural.
While innovation often leads to positive outcomes in business, Atlassian’s research has identified innovative workplaces are more likely to be breeding grounds for impostor syndrome.
A total 42 per cent of respondents acknowledged they exhibit at least one sign of impostor syndrome, a mental state which involves persistent feelings of self-doubt and incompetence despite one’s qualifications and experience.
“Interestingly, the rate was higher among people who identified their teams as innovative – possibly due to team cultures that emphasise brainstorming and critique,” the report states.
“Our research also found that people with greater location flexibility are more susceptible to imposter syndrome, perhaps because they’re less likely to get incidental positive feedback and cues from colleagues when they’re physically separated.”
Around 37 per cent of respondents who indicated tendencies towards impostor syndrome identified themselves as belonging to innovative teams, compared to the 24 per cent that exhibited similar signs on less innovative teams.
Atlassian also found “strong links between impostor syndrome and reduced engagement” of workers in any organisation.
Fortunately, countering these feelings can be as easy as saying thanks, according to Atlassian.
“It’s amazing what a simple ‘thank you’ can do,” it says.
“Members of teams with a habit of expressing appreciation and encouragement also reported higher levels of psychological safety which buffers against impostor syndrome.
“They also tended to have a more positive view of their organisation’s culture, which is associated with stronger intentions to stay at the company long-term.”
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