Curious workers likely to earn above average wages: research

Thursday, 14 April, 2022

Curious workers likely to earn above average wages: research

Seven in 10 business leaders (72%) are likely to pay above average wages to employees with high levels of curiosity, according to new research from SAP.

Most business leaders agree a culture of curiosity will help them better tackle challenges, and adapt and grow post-COVID, and the research revealed nine in 10 (91%) say their organisation values qualities among their workforces that are associated with curiosity.

Asra Bhatti, Group Head Enterprise Systems at GenesisCare said, “Our team of doctors, oncologists, nurses and support staff think curiously every day to deliver the best outcomes for cancer patients, assessing every patient’s unique needs to develop individual care plans. No single cancer patient’s journey is the same — with the help of technology, combined with our dedicated team’s out-of-the-box thinking, ultimately, more cancer patients live long, healthy lives.”

“In our work with PreludeDx, our physicians working with women diagnosed with ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS), also known as Stage 0 breast cancer, have both the technology and human qualities at their disposal to make the best decision possible about what treatment is right for each patient,” Bhatti said.

‘Capitalising on Curiosity’, a survey of senior business leaders and employees across Australia, found that Australian leaders who strongly agree that their organisation has a curious culture, saw annual turnover growth of 20.52% on average over the last 12 months; more than three times the 6% average growth in turnover experienced by those who only somewhat agree.

Business leaders at large organisations that are very curious report turnover growth that is 10.67% points higher than those who are not very curious, which could deliver additional growth of 2.5 million dollars in annual turnover, based on ABS turnover data for businesses of this size. Medium-sized organisations that are very curious could see an extra 1.7 million dollars and small businesses an additional 550,000 dollars in annual turnover.

More than eight in 10 (82%) senior business leaders in Australia believe a culture of curiosity is important for their organisation to adapt and grow in a post-COVID world, but only four in 10 (44%) strongly agree their organisation has a curious culture. The most common challenges senior business leaders say they would be better equipped to handle with a more curious culture are: employee engagement (41%); being able to adapt to changing market needs (40%); and dealing with staff retention (36%).

Despite the positive link between curiosity and business growth, four out of five Australian employees (82%) say there are barriers to asking questions and being curious in their organisation. More than eight in 10 (85%) of senior business leaders across the country feel the same, admitting that talk about encouraging curiosity is not always supported by action.

Talent attraction and retention

In a market where the battle for talent has never been tougher, seven out of 10 Australian employees (72%) want to work for a curious organisation, and more than half (52%) would leave their current job for a similar role in a more curious organisation.

While employees are less inclined than leaders to categorise their organisation as having a curious culture, (67% versus 89%), the research found clear links between curious organisations and employee satisfaction.

Those employees who believe they work for an organisation with a curious culture are almost twice as likely to say they are satisfied in their current role (81% compared to 44%) and feel engaged at work (83% compared to 42%), than those who don’t.

Battling fatigue in a world and workplace that is changing rapidly is also a factor, particularly in larger organisations, with one in three (32%) employees from large enterprises saying employee burnout is a barrier to curiosity.

Data intelligence

The research found that employees in more curious companies are better equipped to answer, and more capable of answering questions, using data than those who say their organisation is not curious.

Employees who say their organisation is curious are twice as likely to say they are empowered and encouraged to use data to answer questions than those who say their organisation is not curious (82% compared to 40%). They are also twice as likely to say that their organisation provides the data and tools for them to do so (82% compared to 42%) and 1.5 times more likely to say they make good use of data and analysis tools (81% compared to 55%).

Business leaders who feel most strongly that their organisation has a curious culture are three times more likely to strongly believe their employees have the necessary skills to answer questions from organisational data (73% compared to 25%), than those who only somewhat believe they have a curious culture.

Damien Bueno, President and Managing Director, SAP Australia and New Zealand, said: “An organisation’s ability to truly realise the value of technology comes down to how well its people understand data and apply human curiosity. Asking the right questions at the right time, being confident to seek out data and draw conclusions, leads to better decision-making and, ultimately, enables organisations to be bolder in approaching business challenges and able to take action on an idea with an informed approach.”

Barriers to curiosity

Australian employees identified a lack of reward or encouragement as the biggest barrier to curiosity while business leaders pointed to too much pressure to deliver on short-term goals.

Almost half of employees (47%) believe they are not rewarded for their curiosity and two in five (43%) feel they are not given time to be curious at work. Meanwhile, over a third (39%) say that asking questions and challenging the status quo is not encouraged within their organisation and this jumps to almost half (44%) of employees working for large organisations in Australia.

Dr Amantha Imber said: “Being able to challenge and debate ideas and assumptions is critical for building a curious culture but being curious and asking questions instead of jumping straight to conclusions takes time. SAP’s research suggests many Australian businesses are not giving employees the time or the space to be curious.

“Business leaders who are serious about future-proofing their organisation against the current climate of uncertainty need to start role-modelling curiosity, giving staff time to explore and experiment, and rewarding curious and creative behaviour within their organisations.”

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