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Top Four Employee Concerns By Robert McFarland

Do you know the top concerns of employees in your organization?

At one point in my formative years as an employee, I remember being told of the dangers of wearing ties. Some well-meaning and sincere soul told me that wearing a tie would prevent blood from flowing to my brain. Perhaps that is a reason to this day that I don’t like wearing ties. While ties have traditionally been seen as symbols of leadership among men, this view of the boss having his brain starved of oxygen seems to be a consistent narrative among employees today, based on the research I conducted for my book, Dear Boss: What Your Employees Wish You Knew.

To gather the data for this book, I commissioned WPA Opinion Research[i] to ask 589 people an open-ended question: What is the one thing you wish your boss knew that they might not already know? This research was conducted online among a nationwide sample of U.S. adults. The data was gathered September 8-12, 2016, in accordance with industry best practices and standards.

Based on these responses, four themes emerged that encapsulate the problems voiced by employees and faced by management all over the country. These themes involve perceptions of insufficient appreciation, inadequate morale, incompetent management, and improper communication.

Insufficient Appreciation

Employees do not feel appreciated by leadership. They don’t feel that leadership has any concern for them as human beings. Instead they feel that they are just machines to be told what to do. They don’t receive enough praise for what they do well, but instead they are told what they do wrong. They don’t feel cared about by team leaders personally or professionally. They don’t receive enough feedback about how they are doing, and they feel management won’t do what’s needed to change.

Inadequate Morale

Employees think that the workplace environment is demoralizing. They may or may not be overworked, but they sense that the conditions there are not conducive to having a strong and healthy team culture. Employees don’t see how what they do fits in with the big picture in the organization, they don’t believe their personal efforts make any difference in the company, and they don’t feel that others are doing what they should be doing.

Incompetent Management

Employees do not think that management knows how to lead. They do not think their leaders are capable of doing what is in the best interests of the company and their employees. They don’t feel that their leaders trust them to do a good job or equip them to produce good work. They don’t feel fairly treated by their bosses, and they don’t have confidence in their bosses’ leadership abilities to run the company.

Improper Communication

Effective communication does not take place, and employees feel left out and forgotten. They do not feel that leadership does a good job communicating important information with them, nor do they feel that leadership is interested in listening to their concerns. Associates feel that their leaders are being untruthful or that they’re holding information back from them. In addition, they don’t feel like they understand their bosses’ perspectives or that their bosses understand their perspectives.

As you read through the themes that surfaced in this research, it is my hope that you will hear a cry for help and not see a finger of accusation. I realize that you may be jaded by complaints from your subordinates. I suggest that you withhold judgment about what is being said and instead listen to the heart behind the concerns being raised.

If you assume a position of humility and are willing to be taught by these survey respondents, then hopefully you will see yourself and your employees in a new light. Do not be the stereotypical boss—who wears a tie, but whose brain is starved of oxygen.

Your position doesn’t have to be just management—or even leadership—but you can be an agent of transformation. You hold great power to positively influence those in your charge if you are willing to rise to the challenge. You have been given a sacred trust over the lives and livelihoods of people who have been made in the image of God, and that is a responsibility I hope you do not take lightly.

[i] Now rebranded as WPA Intelligence.


Robert McFarland is the author of the #1 international best seller, Dear Boss: What Your Employees Wish You Knew. Robert is also Blogger-in-Chief at, where he helps intentional Christians lead impactful lives, and he is President of Transformational Impact LLC, an executive leadership development consultancy helping leaders achieve the results they want in business and in life.

Robert McFarland will be sharing his wisdom with the senior leaders of human resource divisions at the Outcomes Conference 2018. To learn more about the Chief Human Resource Officer (CHRO) Forum follow this LINK.  Be sure to register as soon as possible as the seats are limited for this Forum.

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