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Survey: 34% of Workers Have to Guess Their Priorities at Work

Slingshot, the data-driven work management platform from software company Infragistics that connects everyone you work with to everything they need to get done, has released the second part of findings from its 2023 Digital Work Trends ReportThe report reveals a disconnect between the standard of work leaders expect and what employees need to be productive and perform well. While many employers rely on frequent check-ins to track employees’ progress and empower productivity, employees say their productivity would benefit more from having clear priorities (42%) and set deadlines (30%).

Slingshot’s Digital Work Trends Report explores the relationship between employees’ productivity and management. The report shines a light on how employees’ productivity and performance is impacted by many of the things they look to their leaders for, including priorities, deadlines, and the amount of work they’re responsible for. The report also reveals a generational divide in the ways employees navigate work and manage as leaders.

“Employees often feel overloaded, unsure of priorities and deadlines, and afraid to say no to additional work, even when they have too much on their plates already,” says Dean Guida, founder of Slingshot. “And leaders are left scrambling when employees haven’t been focusing on the highest-value task or miss deadlines after taking on too much. This is all caused by a lack of visibility and alignment across teams.”

The key findings are below.

  • Employees are overloaded and unguided, and they’re losing half of their day because of it. Employees say their productivity is most negatively impacted when they have too many projects and tasks on their plate (37%), don’t know what their priorities are (25%), and have no set deadlines (17%). A majority of employees (64%) say they lose at least one or two productive hours a day when they don’t have deadlines, with 22% of employees saying that they lose three to four hours each day. Having to juggle too many projects follows closely, with 62% of employees losing at least one or two productive hours a day and 20% saying they lose three or more hours to it.
  • More meetings don’t mean more productivity. More than half of leaders feel the need to closely supervise employees when they are not delivering quality work (69%) or hitting deadlines (52%). But employees feel micromanaged when their boss checks in on them too often (45%) or they have unnecessary status meetings (43%). In fact, 25% of employees say work meetings are the most frustrating interruption throughout their day.
  • Generations and genders differ in their approach to determining priorities in the workplace. Nearly half (49%) of millennial workers guess what’s most important when they are not given priorities, while 33% of baby boomers and 35% of Gen X workers choose what to do. A majority (55%) of Gen Z workers say they communicate with their colleagues to identify priorities. Males and females differ in their approach as well: 43% of females communicate with their colleagues to identify priorities while 45% of males say they choose what they want to do.

“Where employees spend their time is where their priorities lie, but this often doesn’t line up with their leaders and the larger goals of the company,” says Guida. “Once teams are aligned on goals and objectives, employees are clear on their priorities and expected outcomes and leaders can have peace of mind that the right things are getting done in a timely manner. This is what will drive business results.”

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