What’s Work? An Insight into Role Clarity
How would you describe a regular day at work? Depending on the job, this could mean clocking in, doing your tasks, and clocking out. For some, it is juggling multiple tasks and making sure everything runs smoothly. But, for a few, there is no such thing as a routine day.
The idea of an optimal workday stems from, among other things, knowing exactly what needs to be done and who is going to do it– in short: role clarity. Being sure about what tasks fall on your plate is a deciding factor of a trouble-free day at work. Confusion on this end will not only lead to delays, but – more importantly – frustration and demotivation.
The Task at Hand and How Employees Perceive It
To begin with, the trend regarding work clarity seems to be favorable:
When asked about their work goals, 66.5 % of employees say that their objectives are very clear (on a scale from 1 not clear to 5 very clear). They also know exactly what falls in their area of responsibility and what is expected of them: around 75% rate these areas as highly explicit.
Paradoxically, 52.4 % still report that they receive contradictory tasks sometimes or even most of the time, almost a fifth say that they often have to do tasks in a way that should be done differently. A staggering 59.2 % even think some of their tasks seem unnecessary.
These conflicting numbers suggest an uncertainty within employees – while they know what their tasks are, they might not be sure about why they are being done. Role Clarity occurs within a context: When assignments and objectives are communicated in such a way that employees comprehend their purpose, they will also understand the meaning and relevance of their contribution. Thus, if the importance of their work is clearly conveyed, role clarity will follow.
Workers Want to Try Something New
So, who thinks that their task should be done differently? The data show that the ratings are dependent on age: The older an employee, the less they question the methods to complete their work tasks. 20.3 % of employees up the age of 29 very often think that things should be done in another way, while only 13.0 % of employees aged 60 and older think the same. This might reflect the propensity to innovate in younger employees, or, on the other hand, their lack of experience in the workplace.
Furthermore, these opinions also significantly vary within working models. Around 40.0 % of full-time workers report that this very rarely applies to them, while a little below 50.0 % of part-time workers say the same. This difference might hint at the fact that full-time employees have more information about their workplace and the context of their tasks, thus allowing them to understand the processes behind them more. A possible reason for that could be that they spend more time at work.
About Those Unnecessary Tasks ...
Some processes in the workplace have been established for many years, to the point that they are rarely questioned. Sometimes the actual purpose gets lost over time and may not even be applicable anymore. This could explain why younger workers tend to think some of their work tasks are unnecessary. 23.7 % of employees up to the age of 29 believe they very often have to do things that seem pointless to them, while only 11.8 % of employees older than 60 think so.
Full-time workers also have a stronger tendency to believe this when compared to part-time workers (23.0 % and 16.6 %, respectively). Again, full-time employees tend to have a better overarching view of work processes, and therefore might better spot and evaluate which tasks they consider necessary.
By and large, people understand what their work assignments and objectives are – but just because they do doesn’t mean they fully agree with it. If tasks are clear, employees get a better idea about their role at work. However, the data indicate that some methods are not attuned to the goals, and some tasks are wholly unnecessary.
Most of the time work is a collaborative effort and a team operates best when it is clear who should do what and why. That way every single member can focus their effort on the delegated task. Distributing work effectively and clearly raises productivity significantly. While doing so, employers should always ask for and consider the suggestions of their employees – as they might have a different view or approach to certain processes.
The wheel doesn’t need to be reinvented here, and an old saying still rings true: Teamwork makes the dream work!
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