Happy employees are the key to success in business. Look at the real estate industry, which is undergoing a rapid evolution as startups disrupt the status quo. Many new discount real estate brokers, such as Ideal Agent and Upnest, have succeeded by attracting top agents with innovative commission structures. If smart managers know employee happiness is vital to a company’s health, why are so many employees still unhappy?
A new employee unhappiness survey from Real Estate Witch uncovers the source of employees’ frustrations, including workplace discrimination, micromanagement, and poor communication. The report reveals an urgent need for better managers that can align management practices with employees’ workplace priorities. Read on for insights into the reality of workplace culture in 2022 and how to improve it for employees.
1. Employees Are Unsatisfied With Their Managers
A staggering 75% of employees said they were frustrated with their managers, suggesting that poor or inconsistent leadership could be a factor in the ongoing Great Resignation. For companies, improving management practices could lead to a more positive workplace culture and employee retention.
2. The No. 1 Reason Employees Are Frustrated? Unclear Communication
No one likes a boss who’s vague, inconsistent, or elusive, and 31% of respondents cited “unclear communication” as their top gripe. It should be noted that the top source of frustration is unclear communication, not just poor or intermittent communication. Employees like to know where they stand, and ambiguity from above only cultivates insecurity and dissatisfaction.
3. The No. 2 Reason Employees Are Frustrated? Micromanagement
The second-most common frustration is micromanagement, cited by 27% of respondents. No one likes a boss who’s constantly looking over their shoulder, telling them how to do their job.
Interestingly, micromanagement is the opposite of the previous reason, unclear communication, which could be interpreted as not enough management. Taken together, this suggests that effective managers must walk a fine line.
4. The No. 3 Reason Employees Are Frustrated? Favoritism
Favoritism shown to other employees was cited by 27% of respondents. Abuse of power, especially when it’s obvious and ongoing, is a major source of employee dissatisfaction.
5. Nearly 1 in 5 Employees Experience Verbal Abuse From Their Managers
Nineteen percent of employees said they experienced personal attacks or unkind remarks from their managers. This kind of adversarial relationship can destroy morale, even among employees who aren’t direct targets of abuse.
6. Workers Experience Harassment on the Job
According to the study, nearly 1 in 7 employees (15%) experience bullying or harassment on the job.
7. Employees Dread Performance Reviews
Almost a quarter of employees (23%) feel anxiety, dread, or stress when they have a performance review. Some anxiety before a performance review is natural, but fear of a bad manager adds an unnecessary burden of additional stress.
8. Bad Managers Actively Hinder Employees
One in five employees said their managers tear down their confidence and self-esteem during performance reviews. Although constructive feedback is a necessary part of a performance review, it should be given with care — not in a way that destroys an employee’s confidence.
9. More Than One-Fourth of Employees Regularly Work Through Lunch
Twenty-eight percent of survey respondents said they skip their lunch break. Many of them may do so because they want to get more work done. However, several have been actively discouraged from taking breaks.
10. Managers Discourage Employees From Taking Breaks
Around 1 in 8 respondents (13%) said their managers explicitly discouraged them from taking breaks. Although this is illegal in some states, it’s allowed in many others.
11. Workers Feel Uncomfortable Taking Breaks
Nearly 1 in 5 employees (19%) don’t feel comfortable taking breaks because their managers may not approve. This type of unspoken, implicit communication ranks at the very top of employee complaints.
12. The Workday Never Really Ends for Many Employees
About two-thirds of employees are expected to reply to after-hours communication, meaning they can never really log off. More than one-third of workers (37%) have to respond to communication as soon as it’s received, even if it’s outside of normal work hours.
Even more disturbing, 19% of employees said they have to respond to work communication during approved time off, 19% have to respond on weekends, and 16% have to respond on holidays.
13. Less Than One-Third of Workers Can Really Log Off
Just 32% of employees said they’re required to respond to work communication during normal work hours only. Among those workers, 32% said they have no frustrations with their managers, a much higher percentage of contentment than overall respondents, of whom only 24% were totally satisfied with their managers.
14. Nearly Half of Employees Experience Workplace Discrimination
A disturbing 46% of employees said discrimination is a problem in their workplace. Black workers were 19% more likely than white employees to identify workplace discrimination as a problem.
15. Black Workers Are More Likely to Report Poor Salaries
Twenty-six percent of Black respondents said they made a poor salary, compared to 13% of white respondents. That aligns with national data that shows Black men earn 87 cents for every dollar a white man makes.
16. Black Workers Make Less Money for the Same Work
The study found that when white and Black men with similar education and qualifications perform the same work, Black employees still make 98 cents to every dollar a white man makes. Although that’s a relatively small disparity, it adds up over the course of a year and doesn’t change the fact that it’s the result of unacceptable discrimination.
17. Black Women Experience High Levels of Discrimination
Women make 80 cents for every dollar a man makes, but Black women earn just 63 cents for every dollar a white man makes.
18. Women Are More Likely to Identify Sexism as a Problem
Women were 17% more likely than men to say sexism is a serious problem in their workplace.
19. Workplace Equity Is a Long Way Off
Employees identified the top three problems in their workplace as pay gaps (35%), racism (33%), and sexism (30%). The remaining top 10 grievances include weight discrimination (25%), homophobia (24%), ageism (22%), religious discrimination (22%), transphobia (20%), nepotism (20%), and ableism (17%).
20. About Half of Employees Say Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Is Very Important
Nearly half of respondents (45%) said diversity, equity, and inclusion are very important in a workplace.
21. Personal Experience Strongly Influences Views on Diversity
Among employees who said discrimination wasn’t a problem in their workplace, 38% said it was because they’d never personally witnessed or experienced it. White workers were 74% more likely than Black workers to cite this as a reson for a lack of discrimination. The finding suggests that workplace education on discrimination, racism, and sexism could go a long way toward identifing and solving those problems.
22. Some Workers Say Discrimination Isn’t a Problem Because Their Workplace Isn’t Diverse
About 1 in 8 employees (13%) said discrimination isn’t a problem in their workplace because they have a homogeneous workforce. However, those workplaces are likely homogenous because the hiring process screens out diverse applicants. Therefore, a homogenous workplace isn’t free of discrimination — it’s actually proof it exists.
23. Employees Love Remote Work
Around 21% of Americans work from home full time, a big increase from the 6% of employees who worked remotely before the pandemic. Of those employees, 47% don’t ever want to go back into an office.
24. In-Office Employees Want to Work From Home
Approximately 70% of employees who’ve returned to in-office work said they’d prefer to work from home at least some of the time. That’s a huge increase from 2021, when 48% of office workers said they wanted to work from home.
25. Employers Have Poor Remote Work Options
Many employees who want to work remotely aren’t allowed. More than one-fourth of employees (28%) said their companies have poor remote work options or no remote work options at all.
26. Many Employees Receive Little or No Paid Time Off
Nearly half of respondents (49%) received less than the average number of 16 paid days off per year, with 9% receiving no PTO at all.
27. Employees Without PTO Blame Their Employer for Burnout
More than half of employees (56%) who receive no PTO reported that it negatively impacted their mental health, and 40% said it caused negative emotions toward their employer. One-third of employees said that a lack of PTO made them want to quit, and 25% said it contributed to burnout.
28. Many Employees With PTO Don’t Use It
Among 51% of respondents who accrue more than 15 days of PTO a year, 49% used 10 days or fewer. Of those who underutilized their PTO, nearly half (48%) said that taking vacation might hurt their careers. This is at odds with studies showing that vacation can actually boost productivity in the long run. It’s not enough to give employees paid time off. Employers must encourage them to use it.
29. Managers Stop Employees From Using PTO
The study found that 18% of employees said their managers actively discouraged them from taking PTO, while 15% said their managers refused to approve their PTO requests. Although there may be limited circumstances when PTO requests can’t be granted, forcing workers to skip vacation hurts morale and productivity.
30. Most Companies Have Poor Family Leave Policies
The United Nations recommends six months of family leave following a new baby, while American pediatricians recommend 12 weeks of paid, job-protected family leave. However, less than a quarter of U.S. employees (24%) receive at least the recommended 12 weeks. Nearly half of employees (46%) receive a month or less, and nearly 1 in 5 (19%) receive no family leave at all.
31. Workers Are Entitled to 12 Weeks of Leave — But There’s a Catch
The Family and Medical Leave Act guarantees 12 weeks of unpaid leave, but many workers can’t afford to take three unpaid months off work.
32. Money Can’t Buy Happiness at Work
Nearly two-thirds of employees (64%) said a good salary is very important, but a surprising 56% of employees said they’d take a pay cut if it would guarantee workplace satisfaction. In addition, almost 1 in 6 (16%) said they’d take a mammoth pay cut of $20,000 or more in exchange for some workplace happiness.
33. After Salary, Employees Value Leadership in the Workplace
After salary, 61% percent of respondents said good leadership was the second-most important aspect of a workplace. Other top priorities were good benefits (59%), good work-life balance (56%), opportunities for career growth (52%), and positive company culture (51%).
34. Black Employees Are Less Satisfied With Their Workplace
Black employees were 47% more likely than white workers to say that benchmarks for job satisfaction weren’t present in their workplace, and they were 58% more likely to say their workplace didn’t value diversity, equity, and inclusion.
They were also 31% more likely to say their workplace didn’t offer enough opportunities for career advancement — an assertion supported by studies that found Black workers are underrepresented in senior management.