On Guard!


Korn Ferry Survey Finds Professionals Are More Cautious About How They Communicate in the Workplace 

Editor’s Note: Survey Responses at End of News Release 

Los Angeles, June 17, 2019 – The way professionals behave in the workplace is changing, as a new Korn Ferry (NYSE:KFY) survey shows workers are becoming much more cautious in their interactions with others.

The survey found that nearly three-quarters (70 percent) of professionals say they generally feel more guarded at work than they did in the past, and 69 percent say they are more guarded during phone conversations with co-workers and/or clients today than they were 5 years ago.

More than half (58 percent) admit that they feel more guarded when giving/receiving performance reviews, and virtually all (98 percent) say they are more sensitive when sending emails, in terms of the tone they use and who may ultimately see the communication.

More than half of respondents (56 percent) say they don’t know as much about their co-workers’ lives outside of work as they did in the past - such as their family and interests - and 58 percent say they feel teamwork and comradery suffers because of co-workers being more guarded about what they say and do.

“Being more aware of how our interactions will impact others in the workplace is a positive move toward creating a more inclusive and accepting environment,” said Andrés Tapia, a global diversity and inclusion strategist and thought leader at Korn Ferry. “However, there also needs to be a balance in the way we communicate to create genuine, authentic and meaningful professional relationships.”

About the survey

There were 439 responses to the online executive survey, which took place in early June 2019. Please note that due to rounding responses may not equal 100 percent.

Survey responses

Given current attitudes about workplace interactions, do you generally feel more guarded at work today than you did in the past?

Yes - 70 percent
No - 30 percent

Are you more guarded during phone conversations with co-workers and/or clients today than you were 5 years ago?

Yes - 69 percent
No - 31 percent

Are you more sensitive and aware today when sending emails (tone, how you communicate, who may see the emails?)

Yes - 98 percent
No - 2 percent

Do you know as much about your co-workers’ lives outside of work as you did in the past? (their family, interests, etc.)

Yes - 44 percent
No - 56 percent

Do you feel teamwork/comradery suffers because of co-workers being more guarded about what they say / do?

Yes - 58 percent
No - 42 percent

Are you more guarded when giving/receiving performance reviews than you were in years past?

Yes - 58 percent
No - 42 percent

About Korn Ferry

Korn Ferry is a global organizational consulting firm. We help clients synchronize strategy and talent to drive superior performance. We work with organizations to design their structures, roles, and responsibilities. We help them hire the right people to bring their strategy to life. And we advise them on how to reward, develop, and motivate their people.


Tracy Kurschner

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