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Many Employees Seen Trying to "Pass the Buck"

Contact:Jennifer Jones
[email protected]

New York 6/27/2013

Many workers today appear risk-averse and seek to pass the buck, according to a survey by AMA Enterprise, a division of American Management Association. On average, one-quarter of workers seem to avoid responsibility on the job. 

AMA Enterprise, which provides organizations with assessment, measurement, and tailored learning solutions, surveyed executives, managers, and employees from more than 500 U.S. companies to probe the issue of employee accountability. 

What proportion of your employees seeks to avoid responsibility?

Fewer than 10%:17%
10–20%: 24%
20–30%: 22%
30–50%: 21%

More than 50%:11%
Don’t know: 5%

“Our survey clearly struck a chord among respondents,” said Jennifer Jones, Director at AMA Enterprise. “Five percent either don’t know or have no opinion, but the rest offer high estimates of how many employees who try to pass the buck. It appears a large proportion of the workforce is risk-averse and would like to duck any blame for a failure.”

"Is passing the buck a trend?" asked Jones. “Evading responsibility or playing it safe may be part of human nature, but there are indications that the U.S. workforce is more hunkered down than in the past. There’s less job mobility and probably less risk taking overall. And this is not good news for U.S. industry as it hinders innovation and creativity.”

Ironically, most employees know what their responsibilities are, even if they seek to avoid them, the survey found.

What proportion of your employees fully understands the extent of their responsibilities and how they contribute to the organization’s success?

Fewer than 10%: 4%
10–20%: 7%
30–50%: 20%

More than 50%: 49%
Don’t know: 4%

“The findings indicate that employees know their responsibilities and they know how their own role figures in the overall picture,” observed Jones. “So we know that ducking responsibility isn’t due to ignorance. So not wanting to be held accountable probably has more to do with holding onto one’s job. It’s the opposite of seeking success and achievement.”

The survey was conducted in the Spring 2013 and consisted of 562 senior-level business, human resources, management professionals and employee contacts drawn from the AMA database of contacts.

With more than 90 years’ experience and headquartered in New York, American Management Association is a global leader of comprehensive talent development. AMA Enterprise, a specialized division of AMA dedicated to building corporate and government training solutions, transforms enterprisewide talent to fuel a culture of innovation, high performance and optimal business results.

Media Contact:  Phil Ryan, 845-339-7858 or at [email protected]

AMA is one of the most widely recognized leaders in business training, having provided corporate training solutions for over 95 years. From leadership, communication and managerial training to sales, customer service and analytical skills, AMA has developed a vast array of content and training solutions to help individuals and organizations achieve business results . Each year, AMA delivers thousands of seminars and courses across the United States. With courses offered in a  classroom near you or live online, AMA is a flexible, convenient resource for all of your organization's talent development needs. AMA also offers customized solutions based on your specific talent development requirements.