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Executives Overwhelmingly Say They’ve Built A ‘Culture Of Flexibility’—Workers Disagree

By News Creatives Authors , in Leadership , at August 5, 2021

As vaccination rates around the world tick up and some businesses re-acquaint themselves with in-person working, executives are priding themselves on building a “culture of flexibility”.

The only problem? Many workers are seeing no evidence that it actually exists.

According to the results of a survey of 4,000 employees, conducted by Gartner in January 2021 and published this week, several concerning “perception gaps” are emerging that could undermine a sense of trust that’s necessary for ensuring both productivity and wellbeing in the workplace.

Three-quarters of the executive leaders questioned by Gartner said that their businesses were already operating within a culture of flexibility, but only 57% of employees indicated that was the case. Almost three-quarters of executives, meanwhile, said that their company understands how flexible work patterns support employees, but only half of employees agreed. 

Alexia Cambon, director in the Gartner human resources practice, says that the research underscores a “significant dissonance between employee and executive sentiment” and that, if nothing is done to address it, this division could lead to “a critical failure to build trust and employee buy-in for future of work plans”.

“Employees do not feel that their need for flexibility is seen as a driver of performance,” she adds, and perhaps most concerning, Cambon highlights an obvious disconnect in terms of autonomy over the decision to work flexibly. More than 70% of executives agree they can work out their own flexible work arrangement with their manager, but only half of employees said that they had that privilege. 

The research provides evidence of other perception gaps too. Some 66% of employee respondents said that they have the technology they need to effectively work remotely, compared to 80% of executives. Only 41% of employees agreed that senior leadership acts in their best interest versus 69% of executives, and fewer than half of employees believe leadership considers their perspective when making decisions, compared to three-quarters of senior leaders who feel they do.

This gap is also present when it comes to diversity and inclusion initiatives: 72% of executives believe their work environment is inclusive of a diverse set of employee needs and preferences compared to only 59% of employees who can attest that that’s the case.


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