Although most companies routinely administer superficial employee surveys, the vast majority of companies never ask employees about their expectations for their job experiences, and of the few companies that do ask, focus groups and interviews are, unfortunately, the research tools of choice.
Unfortunate because these qualitative research methods are most often limited to rational, publically-expressible responses as employees feel compelled to censor what may be their true feelings and present their most responsible, rational selves in front of others. Focus groups tend to be dominated by a few opinionated participants and in interviews employees are even more likely to put on their best, rational, intellectualized self. Because of this, less rational but important egocentric needs and critical emotional expectations are almost never revealed, e.g., maintaining pride in themselves and being recognized for their accomplishments, living without fear of job performance failures, etc.
Consequently, company leaders are left to guess what employees want or simply shape the job experience based on negative feedback from those ‘disgruntled’ employees that complain. In such settings, the majority of employees may be marginally unhappy and dissatisfied but bear up with their peers under the vestiges of the ‘cod liver oil’ approach. Unfortunately, in these less than ideal conditions, a company’s best, high performing employees may leave for greener pastures. Most often this loss of great talent is simply accepted by company leaders as they compare their company to mediocre competitors who are also dealing with similar rates of ‘high performer’ loss.