Bitter workers feel ignored and overlooked

Jun 27 2008 by Nic Paton Print This Article

Stop tapping at that keyboard, get up and go and speak to the person down the corridor. Feels a bit weird, doesn't it? Yet email has become so ubiquitous in most workplaces, according to new research, that people are forgetting to talk to each other, leading to environments where workers and managers alike feel resentful at being ignored or treated with a lack of respect.

A study by the Workplace Intelligence Unit, a research unit run by office furniture maker Herman Miller and workplace consultancy Forward Thinking, has concluded that around half of us don't feel valued by our employer and believe our organisation is not acting in our best interests.

The poll of 360 workers, including senior management, found that turning up late for meetings was considered by many workers the height of disrespect, with four out of ten feeling colleagues that did so or cancelled at the last minutes were simply showing that they did not value their time.

A third admitted that colleagues failing to show respect for other people's views was a major problem within their workplace.

Nevertheless, the vast majority of workers were happy to work like Trojans when asked, and happy to help out others, the survey also found.

Nine out of ten admitted to staying late in the past six months to help a colleague meet a deadline, while eight out of ten said they had stayed late on more than two occasions.

Email, unsurprisingly, was now the most commonly used form of communication within and between teams, pulling ahead of face-to-face meetings or phone conversations.

This is despite the fact that it is well recognised that the quality of communication and interaction deteriorates the more remote from each other that we get.

Ann Brewin, director of Forward Thinking and co-founder of the Workplace Intelligence Unit, warned that limiting employees' face-to-face exposure to one another in this way could be detrimental.

"It's far more effective and cost efficient for people to learn from one another informally on a day-to-day basis than to implement formal training schemes," she said.

The report also found that four out of 10 workers complained that their teams did not celebrate birthdays or, perhaps more worrying, the hitting of targets.

A total of 44 per cent felt that people disturbing other people's concentration at work, for example by speaking loudly on the phone or holding a conversation right over someone's desk, was a big problem.

Nearly two thirds thought their offices did not have enough space for ad hoc or informal meetings, while 16 per cent thought there was collaboration between members of their team was not good.