Feb 22, 2023
Apr 9, 2024

What keeps people at their jobs? Turns out, it’s the satisfaction of a job well done

Envoy survey reveals employees’ thoughts on workplace culture, productivity, and making the most of work friendships.
Envoy logoApril Marks
Director of PR
Marketing Specialist
What keeps people at their jobs? Turns out, it’s the satisfaction of a job well done

Quiet quitting. Career cushioning. Proximity bias. Productivity paranoia. Boomerang employees. Workplace culture is shifting faster than ever. It’s like we need a new dictionary to keep up. And these changes have left employees and workplaces adjusting to a lot in a short amount of time.For the latest Return to the Workplace survey, we wanted to know how employees feel about the cultural shifts that are happening in the office. Who do they trust? How can they be most productive? What value do they see in work friendships? Of the 1,000 office workers that we surveyed:

  • 70% have a mandatory in-office policy, while 30% come in voluntarily
  • 60% are hybrid and 40% work full-time in the workplace
  • 56% returned more than 6 months ago; 44% came back 6 months ago or less

Here’s what is motivating, inspiring, and worrying those who’ve returned to the workplace:

What keeps people at their jobs? Satisfaction in a job well done

It turns out, people really do care about their job. Pride in their accomplishments is the top reason why folks feel fulfilled at work. 63% say the act of doing good work makes their job worth it. That said, there are also the pragmatics. Just over half (51%) of employees also cite their paycheck as the most fulfilling part of their job.

Employees trust coworkers who show up to the office

We asked employees who they trusted more to get their work done, those in-office or those at home. 76% of employees trust coworkers to be productive when they’re in the office. While only 24% of employees trust their coworkers to get work done remotely.Productivity paranoia may be a factor. Leaders are worried about how much work is actually getting done outside the office. Employees might be starting to mirror their distrust.

Gen Z employees, more than any other generation, give remote coworkers the benefit of doubt. 31% trust their colleagues to do their work outside of the office. Only 23% of Millennials, 26% of Gen X, and 17%* of Boomers feel the same.Those that split their time between the workplace and home tend to put more faith in coworkers who work remotely. 34% of hybrid employees put more trust in colleagues to get work done remotely compared to only 10% of those who work full-time in the office.The irony: an astonishing 94% of workers believe their managers trust them to do their work from anywhere. The older the worker, the greater the confidence. Only 57% of Gen Z employees feel strongly that they have their manager’s trust, compared with 71% of Millennials and 77%* of Boomers.Though most employees surveyed believe their managers have faith in them, 44% have experienced an uptick in micromanaging since returning to the workplace. 38% claim the micromanagement is the same whether in-office or remote, and 18% say the controlling behavior has lessened since their return.

Teamwork matters more than individual performance

More than half of office workers (54%) say their managers value group productivity over individual performance. How well people collaborate with others and how much work they’re able to accomplish as a team is more important than individual performance.

Men (58%) and those in Gen Z (59%) are more apt to believe that managers prioritize group productivity over individual performance. Only 49% of their female counterparts and 53%* of Millennial peers think likewise.

Almost everyone surveyed (98%) believes that the physical office lends itself to certain types of work. Topping the list of activities that can be better achieved at the office compared to remotely are training and onboarding (54%), problem solving (53%), and collaboration or brainstorm sessions (50%). At the bottom of the list are conflict management (37%) and meetings with folks outside the organization (35%).We learn best by observing others – and shadowing those that are the best at what they do. That’s why in-person onboarding and training and specifically opportunities to learn on the job are essential. Especially when we talk about shepherding and inspiring Gen Z as they enter the workforce.

Employees agree that office visibility improves job security given recession fears

According to Envoy’s At Work report last fall, 96% of leaders notice employees' work contributions more when employees come into the office versus when they work from home.As economic pressures and layoffs continue, most workers see office visibility as a critical advantage. 92% say being visible at the office improves their job security, even if only slightly. Nearly 2 in 5 (38%) believe it significantly boosts job security.

69% of people make friends at work to build a network of support

The newest buzzword is “frolleagues.” Friends who are also colleagues. Without trustworthy friends to work with, the office can be lonely. 69% of those surveyed say that they make friends at work for support. 68% prioritize work relationships for better collaboration. And 60% say friendships give them a deeper sense of belonging. Overall, the return to the office has employees feeling better about themselves and their coworkers. 85% report a stronger sense of community since their return, which has boosted their mental wellbeing.

What does this mean for workplace leaders?

This is good news for leaders who are on the fence about bringing teams back together in-office. In today’s environment, companies need every advantage. And one of the biggest advantages is the benefits that come from people being together in an office. An organization’s most difficult problems can't be solved in isolation. That’s not to say that being physically present will resolve every challenge, but it can help create an environment that does.There is a lot we can do to help employees make the most of work life and embrace the value of the workplace.

  • First, take intentional steps to rebuild a strong office community so that employees can more easily connect and develop relationships.
  • Second, focus on the activities that are best done in the office. Prioritize training, collective problem-solving and collaboration.
  • And finally, be willing to have conversations (and a lot of them) with your employees about the why. Why are you asking folks to come in and what impact will it have on the company?

Envoy’s Return to the Workplace report is a data-driven workplace survey that features the latest employee perspectives on the workplace.

*Small base size: findings are directional.

Envoy partnered with Wakefield Research to survey 1,000 U.S. office workers working in a physical workplace at least one day per week. “Office workers” are defined as those employed full-time, excluding those with a seniority of director or greater. “Returned" is defined as those working from the office at least 1 day per week, and who have returned to the office sometime in the past 24 months, but not within the last 30 days. Survey responses were collected between December 12th and December 21st, 2022, using an email invitation and online survey.Data has been weighted to ensure an accurate representation of U.S. office workers who have returned to the workplace. The overall margin of error for the findings is ±3.1 percentage points at a 95% confidence level.

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April MarksEnvoy logo
April Marks

April is Envoy's Director of Public Relations and a story-teller at heart. She has spent her career building PR programs for everything from SaaS startups to Fortune 10 companies. When she's not crafting stories, you can find her reading the latest epic fantasy novel or doing the New York Times crossword puzzle (mini version only).

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