Gallup Reveals 84% of US Workforce is Matrixed

| By TMA World

Matrixed Teams: Some Findings from Gallup’s State of the American Workplace, 2017

The 2017 State of the American Workplace report uses data collected from more than 195,000 US employees via the Gallup Panel and Gallup Daily tracking in in 2015 and 2016, and more than 31 million respondents through Gallup’s Q12 Client Database.

Matrixed teams are commonplace in all types of jobs and industries which is no surprise given that organizations face more demands for increased responsiveness to customers/markets.

While there has been a decline in skilled labor jobs, knowledge-intensive roles have increased requiring greater collaboration and interaction among employees.  Teams that cut across functions, products, geographies, and reporting lines are increasingly the norm.

Matrix organizations do receive a lot of criticism, but survey results suggest a more complex picture.

According to the report 84% of employees are matrixed to some extent.  Gallup divides this population into three categories:

1 Slightly Matrixed: Employees who sometimes work on multiple teams with people who may or may not report to the same manager 49%
2 Manager-Matrixed: Employees who work on multiple teams every day with different people but most team members report to the same manager 18%
3 Highly Matrixed: Employees who work on multiple teams every day with different people who report to different managers 17%


Key Findings


  • The more matrixed employees are, the more likely they are to ‘strongly agree’ that being on different teams is beneficial for collaboration, creativity, decision-making, performance, productivity, and customer relationships. 34% of highly matrixed employees vs. 15% of slightly matrixed employees strongly agree that being on different teams helps them collaborate more effectively with coworkers.
  • More matrixed employees, however, are less likely to say they take time to organize and prioritize their work.  Eighty seven percent of non-matrixed employees say they spend most of their day doing their work; that figure drops to 70% for highly matrixed employees.  Highly matrixed employees find they spend more time attending meetings and responding to coworker requests.  This is understandable given that matrixed employees must meet regularly to align project expectations, discuss progress, and resolve inconsistencies.
  • A challenge for matrixed employees – compared with traditional teams – is a lack of clarity about what is expected.  Highly matrixed employees are 14% less likely to strongly agree they know what is expected. They are also much less likely to say they have a clear job description and, when they do, that their work aligns with that job description.
  • Matrixed employees tend to be more distrustful.  Less than 4 in 10 believe that coworkers understand their roles and responsibilities, and do not trust them to get work done in a timely way.
  • Slightly matrixed employees work in what Gallup calls the ‘muddled middle’ where employees experience greater inconsistency and confusion.


  • Highly matrixed employees experience a 22% lift in engagement over non-matrixed employees, a 16% increase over slightly matrixed employees, and an 8% increase over manager-matrixed employees.
  • Engagement gains for highly matrixed employees relate to feeling more support in the workplace. They are:
    • 58% more likely to strongly agree that their opinions count
    • 40% more likely to strongly agree that their coworkers are committed to quality
    • 39% more likely to strongly agree that someone at work encourages their development
    • 29% more likely to strongly agree that someone at work cares about them
  • Data shows that engaged employees spend 4.5 hours of their day so absorbed in their work that time passes quickly for them.  Actively disengaged employees spend only 2.7 hours of their day absorbed in their work.
  • Of all matrixed employees, those who are slightly matrixed are the least engaged at 29%.
  • Slightly matrixed employees have the lowest level of agreement that they get to do what they do best, feel as though their coworkers are committed to quality work, or have talked with someone in the last six months about their progress.  They are also least likely of all employees to say they know how to prioritize their responsibilities.  Each one of these factors negatively impacts engagement.


Leaders: Need to establish common ground – it is not enough to eliminate structural lines.  Matrixed employees need a shared infrastructure, organizational strategies, cultures, and processes that support matrixed teams.  Leaders must prioritize training for managers on how to assess and coach matrix performance.

Managers: Need to maximize productivity by matching employees to projects that are a good fit for their talents/skills/strengths.  Managers should also consider how their employees want or need to work – some may need to be online or work outside normal business hours to connect with coworkers in different offices or time zones.  Employees should be able to structure their days and workweek in ways that meet their needs.

Managers and project leaders: Need to increase their communications to establish clear expectations and reduce role ambiguity.  Managers should review role expectations with each matrixed employee.  Project leaders must communicate who is responsible for each piece of a project.  Managers and project leaders must also communicate with each other about the roles and responsibilities for employees they both lead.

Project leaders: Need to make meetings meaningful and productive, and create consensus.  Expectations for meetings should always be established beforehand.  When meetings aren’t necessary, project leaders should eliminate them and use collaboration technology for connecting team members.

Employees: Need to prioritize requests.  Matrixed workers need to take a triage approach when identifying and responding to requests.  When requests aren’t urgent, matrixed employees must still acknowledge the request was received, and follow up when time is available.  Employees must be responsible for communicating with their managers and project leaders when expectations become blurred.

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