Unaccountable Employees Hurt Productivity

Emily Holbrook


March 28, 2013

All employees know they are accountable for something, but how many know exactly what for? According to a study conducted by Wayne Hochwarter, a business professor at Florida State University’s College of Business, only 20% of workers feel certain they know what is expected from them at work each day.

As one would imagine, this ambiguity can have negative consequences. The study found that workers who don’t understand their job responsibilities reported 60% higher levels of mistrust with leadership as it relates to communication, 50% higher levels of overall work frustration and 35% fewer work accomplishments to the organization.

“Most employees want to do a good job and contribute to their organization,” said Hochwarter. “Perhaps it’s overly simplistic, but this can only take place when employees know what’s expected. Sadly, many do not, and the situation appears to be getting worse rather than better.”

The researchers suggest setting up a formal communication system, making employee accountability part of both the supervisor’s and employee’s performance evaluation, and developing “accountability networks,” which allow employees access to information on tasks considered most important for that day.
Emily Holbrook is the founder of Red Label Writing, LLC, a writing, editing and content strategy firm catering to insurance and risk management businesses and publications, and a former editor of Risk Management.