Do your employees have clarity on their job expectations? Role ambiguity is the lack of understanding expectations, consequences, and means of carrying out role behaviors. It happens when the organization provides “inadequate, unclear, or confusing information about expected role behaviors.” [1] And it leads to confusion and frustration for everyone.  

Most employees have at one time or another been uncertain about their role or received unclear direction. It can happen when starting a new job that’s very different from the job description, working in an environment with many company-specific acronyms, or shadowing tenured employees for on-the-job training but realizing everyone completes the tasks differently.   

When organizations create ambiguity by providing unclear expectations, consequences, and instructions, employees feel the strain over time, and it begins to impact their performance, risk of burning out and leaving the organization, emotional wellbeing, and work attitudes. These affect the organization financially and culturally.   

Related article: Why clarifying employee expectations will improve professional wellbeing  

In times of uncertainty and stress, it’s particularly important for employees to understand their priorities. Nearly a year into the COVID-19 pandemic, 19% of employees reported experiencing role ambiguity.[2] This low percentage is encouraging because, even amid shifts in physical work spaces and organizational priorities, most employees knew their job expectations. 

Simple changes can give employees the clarity they need to be productive and healthy at work. For a FREE, complete guide on how to reduce role ambiguity in your organization, click here.

[1] Quick, J. C., Quick, J. D., Nelson, D. L., & Hurrell Jr., J. J. (1997). Organizational demands and stressors. In J. C. Quick, J. D. Quick, D. L. Nelson, & J. J. Hurrell, Jr. (Eds.), Preventive stress management in organizations (pp. 21–39). American Psychological Association.
[2] InVista. (2021). [Unpublished raw data on wellbeing for data set 1].


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