Curious about what's important to your employees? Try asking them. It turns out that employers underestimate what matters to their people. In one recent survey, for example, 77% of all office workers said freedom to decide how to do their work is very important to them, but only 37% of their bosses guessed it was.

Even more depressing is how little employers thought of their employees. According to the study -- conducted by Louis Harris & Associates Inc. for Steelcase Inc., a Michigan-based maker of office furniture -- only half of all bosses thought their employees could "contribute significantly to the company.'

And then employers wonder why productivity isn't higher.

-- Paul B. Brown