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Workplace environments

What's Happening in Workplaces

Our round-up of relevant issues, reports and statistics to keep you abreast of current and emerging trends in the workplace.

Latest Information

Managers still under fire

Although the signs of economic recovery are apparently with us, managers are still under fire as researchers observe the fall out in surveying staff.

For leaders and managers, it's a time for reflection on what is happening and then on the skills required to lead people into the future. Download the research papers too.

Need to re-engage staff

"The scope and number of actions employers have taken in response to the economic crisis have resulted in a drop in employee engagement (particularly among top-performing employees), and this could have a long-lasting and detrimental impact on productivity, quality and customer service."

  • Employee engagement has dropped 9% since 2008 and 25% amongst top performing employees
  • 41% of employees believe that changes have had an adverse impact on quality and customer service

Download the Report from Watson Wyatt >>>

Re-engagement starts with communication about organisation performance as well as pay and benefits, the things that affect employees most personally. Plus, while some senior management are starting to send the right messages, middle and frontline managers are not following through, despite evidence that the strategy does help to increase engagement and productivity.

Download the Watson Wyatt Communication ROI Study 2009-2010 >>>

Growing staff dissatisfaction

According to a new study of 16,237 employees by Leadership IQ, 47% of high performers are actively looking for other jobs (they’re posting and submitting resumes, and even going on interviews). Mark Murphy, CEO of Leadership IQ says "High performers keep companies in business, so every company is at risk if these people leave....The worst part of this is that we typically cause our high performers to quit by how we treat them."

Read more >>>

LeadershipIQ again: in a recent study, 76% of employees said that in the past 12 months, their manager has done something that made them want to quit. And 89% of employees said that their organization has done something that made them want to quit.

October 2009

A brief look at gender and leadership this month:

The world needs more female bosses: Ernst & Young

This article published in the Finacial Post, Victoria (Canada) May 11, highlights a new report by Ernst & Young, that argues the best way out of the financial crisis is investing in more female leaders.

"Investing in women to drive economic growth is not simply about morality or fairness. It's about honing a competitive edge," Ernst & Young chairman and CEO Lou Pagnutti said in a statement May 11. "Canada, and the world for that matter, needs business leaders who bring different skills, who think about familiar problems in new ways."

Source: Financial Post

The Groundbreakers report cites Goldman Sachs data which found hiring men and women equally could bump the U.S. GDP by as much as 9%, European GDP by 13%, and the Japanese GDP by 16%.

Download the full report from Ernst & Young >>>

Women and globalisation

Women and globalisation published February 11, in the blog of The Gstaad Project reports that women are becoming high-level managers in Europe, entrepreneurs in Asia and mechanics in Africa. The more globalization changes the world, the more it liberates women from traditional roles.

The Gstaad Project is an open, online-based community,an apolitical and non-religious organization that promotes social, economic, and cultural diversity with an emphasis on human rights, gender equality and development.

Read The Article >>>

Icelandic Women Lead in Iceland’s Recovery >>>
February 22nd, 2009 from the blog By The Fault.

Did ‘Macho Management’ ruin Iceland? >>>
October 15, 2008, from the blog International Political Economy Zone.


Employees being neglected

A survey by Robert Half, of accounting and finance professionals across 14 countries, including interviews with 394 people in Australia, has found that staff are being neglected during this economic downturn. Managers are so concerned about the business and their own jobs that they are forgetting to look after their staff.

The long-term danger is loss of staff loyalty and then loss of valued staff in the upturn. Gen Y in particular values mentoring relationships and if neglected will move jobs as soon as the economy improves. The survey and interviews reveal what is going wrong and what managers can do about it.

Read the media release >>>

Download the media release (PDF) >>>

Listen to the podcast >>>

Set low expectations of people and you’ll achieve low outcomes.

A recent study (released March 27, 2009) by Novations into Talent Development, has found that almost 50% of the managers surveyed believe some employees have more potential than others and so assign the better jobs to those they perceive to be the most talented. Only 34% felt all employees are capable of high potential. More concerning is the belief amongst many managers that a large proportion of their staff are performing only at an adequate level.

The danger in this kind of thinking? In difficult economic times, with reduced workforces, developing the capability of all staff is surely the only way to operate. Successful organizations are doing just that – setting high standards, making sure everyone is engaged and investing in staff development.

Australian Institute of Management - Survey Results Feb 2009

Business Performance and Priorities in the Downturn survey (528 business leaders - CEOs, business owners, board members and top level executives.) reveals business confidence in being able to withstand the economic downturn.

Responses include:

  • 81% said investing in employee retention and development will benefit organisational performance in the ‘medium term future’
  • 71% said the downturn is a good opportunity to build market share whilst their competitors are in retreat
  • 59% said Australia’s ageing workforce means there will be a long term shortage of skilled, well trained employees

Copies of the full survey report are available from the AIM


Do these responses sound like you? - RainmakerThinking reported the latest update of its ongoing qualitative survey of 2,017 leaders, managers, and supervisors in answer to the question, "What is the hardest thing for you about managing people?"

The top 4 unique responses:

  1. Not enough time; too many people to manage in available time; balancing managerial responsibilities with non-managerial tasks.
  2. Too much red tape, bureaucracy, rules, regulations, and paperwork.
  3. Not enough support from "my boss" or administration; not enough resources, authority, or training in supervisory basics.
  4. Conflicts caused by personalities and personal issues.
Source: Bruce Tulgan Leadership Survey 2008

Build a positive work environment - this is the key to retaining and attracting staff, according to the latest LMA Leadership, Employment and Direction (L.E.A.D.) Survey 2008 report.

Despite a slow down in the market, it is still difficult to find and retain staff:

  • 1:4 employees are actively searching
  • 1:8 have applied for another job
  • 1:10 expects to stay less than one year
  • 1:4 expects to be in another job within 2 years

While four factors are identified as being essential to attracting and keeping staff – salary, opportunities for career advancement, training and development and flexible hours – the underlying key factor is to provide a positive work environment.

Communication builds commitment, creating relationships that inspire employees; understanding staff needs and listening to them are a vital part of building those relationships.

  • 1:3 employees say the most important factor in a positive relationship with a manager was clear communication of where we are going
  • 1:3 senior managers said they don’t understand employee needs
  • 1:3 claim they seldom listen to staff or take an interest in their views or actively support staff to resolve issues
  • 1:3 senior managers have a less than desirable relationship with their employees.
Source: www.lma.biz

The Top Management Challenges, identified by the 2008 Australian Institute of Management, [AIM] Management Today Readership Survey, are:

  1. Leadership
  2. Managing Organisational Culture and (equal second) Motivating Staff
  3. Personal development
  4. Work/Life balance
  5. Achieving key objectives/outcomes

How do they reflect the need for building relationships between leaders, managers and their staff? What do they each mean for successful workplaces?

Leadership: the ability to inspire people to commit, combined with sound management skills to get things done

Managing organisational culture: hiring the right people; ensuring everyone understands where the organisation is going and why; listening to people.

Motivating staff: recognising that everyone is different; coaching staff, inspiring people to work, resolving conflict constructively; finding out what drives each person.

Personal development: Become aware of your own strengths and weaknesses, make commitment to on-going learning.

Work/Life balance: Australians interpret this as flexibility – of working hours, location or management. Whether its taken or not, the expectation is real. So management-staff relationships are important in negotiating the flexibility.

Achieving outcomes: setting specific goals and clearly defining strategies can demand the best from people who work to make things happen.

Source: Management Today September 2008

Staff Turnover Costs $100bn a year. This headline in The Age (August 21) led to an article highlighting the findings from two Sydney-based companies, Exit Info and Skilled Up, that specialise in staff management strategies.

According to Exit Info, only 14% leave for better pay. The top 5 most common reasons for staff turnover are lack of opportunity for career advancement, lack of interest in the work itself, not enough challenge in the role and a poor direct manager. Read more >>>

Skilled Up highlights the communication disconnect between Gen Y and managers using outdated management styles and practices. They challenge managers to engage GenY – at their level. Read more >>>

Chartered Management Institute (UK) reports

Management Futures - The World in 2018 (March 2008)

This study looks ahead to 2018 and predicts what the world of work and management will look like and examines how organisations can prepare for it.

Download from Managers.org.uk

Dr Eddie Blass (2007) Talent Management: maximising talent for business performance.

The key challenges inherent in uncovering and managing talent within organisations are identified by research conducted in partnership with Ashridge Consulting.

Changing demographic patterns mean that more people are approaching retirement than entering the workforce, while younger generations have different needs and are renegotiating the psychological contracts with their employer. Retaining and developing key people in the organisation will be a critical success factor in the next five years. Senior managers report talent management as a strategic priority, yet over half of line managers are resistant to talent management processes.

This report provides a strategic framework for delivering talent management programmes and outlines 18 dimensions affecting successful implementation. Based on the views of 1,550 individuals and in-depth case-studies of 20 organisations, it also provides an insight into the reality of talent management in the UK today.

Download from Managers.org.uk

Charlesworth, Karen (2002) Great Expectations.

A survey of values, attitudes and motivation among 25 to 35 year old managers.

Download from Managers.org.uk