Purchase, N.Y. — March 28
Senior-level executives are the most satisfied with their companies’ innovation in products and technology, while professional employees — such as engineers and programmers — are the least satisfied, according to a study by Sirota Survey Intelligence, specialists in attitude research.
Employees working for communications, utility and transportation companies are the most satisfied with their employers’ innovations in products and technology, while employees of high-tech companies are the least satisfied, according to the Sirota Survey Intelligence study of 81 companies.
Employees’ satisfaction with their employers’ innovation, according to their management levels, was:
- Senior-level executives: – 74 percent of these employees are satisfied with their company’s innovation in products and technology.
- Lower-level managers: 70 percent are satisfied.
- Nonprofessional, nonmanagement employees: 70 percent are satisfied.
- Midlevel managers: 69 percent are satisfied.
- Professional employees: 62 percent are satisfied.
“While the satisfaction of lower- and midlevel managers with the innovation of their companies falls somewhere in the middle, professional employees are clearly the least satisfied,” said Douglas Klein, Sirota Survey Intelligence president. “This may be a cause for concern, since professionals are the ones most responsible for the development of new ideas that lead to practical product and service innovations.
“The much-higher satisfaction of senior managers with their companies’ innovation than that expressed by professional employees may be signaling the need for a more in-depth dialogue between these two groups about what is truly in the innovation pipeline and what barriers professionals believe are standing in the way.”
Employees’ satisfaction with their employers’ innovation, according to their industries, was:
- Communication/transportation/utilities: 82 percent of employees are satisfied with their company’s innovation in products and technology.
- Financial services: 76 percent of employees are satisfied.
- Insurance: 75 percent of employees are satisfied.
- Retail: 73 percent of employees are satisfied.
- Services: 68 percent of employees are satisfied.
- Manufacturing: 64 percent of employees are satisfied.
- High technology: 52 percent of employees are satisfied.
“The fact that high-tech employees are the least satisfied of any industry group with their companies’ innovation may not be too surprising — or even a bad sign,” Klein said. “High-tech employees are probably the most focused on, most sensitive to, and therefore, the most critical about advances in innovation. The threshold for their satisfaction may be much higher.
“The manufacturing sector (especially the professional segment) is very much like high-technology — it’s tough to innovate in both high-tech and manufacturing partly because it calls for technological/engineering changes that require a lot of capital. Among nonmanagement, nonprofessional employees at manufacturing companies, innovation can be hard to do in their environments unless they are given freedom, as they are at a few companies like Mercedes. But unfortunately, these companies are the exception rather than the rule.”
What should companies that want to create a better climate for innovation do? In addition to having the full sponsorship and support of their senior management, they should focus more on:
- Clear and appropriate goals.
- Team selection and balance.
- Diverse teams.
- Greater familiarity with their markets.
- A flexible organizational structure.
- Flexible controls and measurements.
- Appropriate employee incentives.
- Realistic deadlines that are best suited to the challenge of true innovation.