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8 Mar, 2012

Information Overload Proving Distractive, Affecting Productivity – Global Workmonitor Survey

Source: Randstad Workmonitor

Seven out of ten employees globally prefer face-to-face contact over phone and email at work, according to the latest Randstad Workmonitor results. Numbers run especially high in Turkey (80%), while Japan, Norway and Singapore are at the lower end with 57%. While Internet and mobile access continue to grow, personal contact seems to prevail when it comes to contact at work.

Information overload: Most employees have Internet access at work, and use a private smartphone or a device provided by their employer to check work-related email. In countries with high numbers in Internet access and smartphone usage, mainly in Asia, employees feel they receive more information on a daily basis than they can process and they are more likely to be distracted and less productive by the overload of information. Four out of ten employees globally feel they fall short if they don’t respond to email or phone immediately. In China and India these numbers are especially high at 72%.

Private life and work intertwined: On average around 40% of employees feel their employer expects them to be available 24/7. These numbers are higher in China (64%) and India (61%). Employees in these countries are also more likely to receive work-related calls and emails outside working hours and during holidays. In general four out of ten employees handle private matters during working hours. However, 50 to 60% say they handle work-related matters in their private time.

Dealing with calls and emails in meetings is not done: 75% of employees feel it is not done to answer a call or respond to email during a business meeting. 15-20% of the respondents admit they do this. The level of acceptance of this practice varies by country. In India and China 75% think it is not done to answer a call or email but almost half of the employees do it anyway. In Hungary a high percentage is bothered by it (89%) but it does not happen very often (9%).

Quarterly recurring items

Employee confidence increased: In several countries the number of people confident in finding another job within 6 months has increased. The most noticeable increases compared to three months ago are reported in Germany and Luxembourg (both +13%) and the US (+7%). Confidence is lowest in Japan (32%) and highest in India (87%). Surprisingly, China reported a substantial decline in confidence (-6%) but also a decline in fear of job loss (-6%).

Mobility Index climbs further to 107: Mobility rose again from last quarter, and is now at 107 from 105 in December 2011. More employees worldwide expect to be employed elsewhere in the coming 6 months than they did last quarter. The Mobility Index is at its highest level in years. Mobility has risen most in Italy (+10), Chile (+4) and Singapore (+6). In Italy, there is a 7% decline in employees not actively looking for a new job, and a 7% rise in those actively looking for a job. It seems that 7% decided to switch from just keeping an eye out to actively looking for a new job.

Job satisfaction, no big changes: In Europe no major shifts in satisfaction occurred. Norway has the highest number of (extremely) satisfied employees (81%). Outside Europe the same picture is visible compared to last quarter. Most countries rank high with the exception of Japan, Hong Kong and China.

Personal motivation also stable: The Nordics are least focused on promotion with higher numbers in Italy (84%), Luxembourg (69%) and Germany (77%). Outside Europe, Mexico and India rank highest at 90% and 86% respectively. Japan is at the low end with only 40%.

The Randstad Workmonitor was launched in the Netherlands in 2003, then in Germany, and now covers 32 countries around the world, encompassing Europe, Asia Pacific and the Americas. The Randstad Workmonitor is published four times a year, making both local and global trends in mobility regularly visible over time.

The Workmonitor Mobility Index, which tracks employee confidence and captures expectations surrounding the likelihood of changing employers within a six month time frame, provides a comprehensive understanding of job market sentiments and employee trends. In addition to measuring mobility, also employee satisfaction and personal motivation, as well as a rotating set of themed questions are part of the survey.

The quantitative study is conducted via an online questionnaire among a population aged 18-65, working a minimum of 24 hours a week in a paid job (not self-employed). The minimal sample size is 400 interviews per country, using Survey Sampling International. Research for the first wave in 2012 was conducted from 20 January to 14 February, 2012.