Growing gulf between staff and bosses is bad news for HR

A
growing split between employers and staff is threatening to alienate the
workforce and undermine the influence of HR.

Research
from Investors In People (IIP) has found that bosses and workers have
conflicting views on key aspects of the working relationship despite the
increasing emphasis on people management. And contrary to ‘people are our best
asset’ rhetoric, a third of both employees and managers believe staff are not
the key to making business profitable.

The
poll of 232 employers and 674 employees revealed that while 63 per cent of
firms felt management created an environment where staff could develop, only 41
per cent of staff agreed.

In
addition, 64 per cent of bosses said staff understood business targets compared
with just 49 per cent of workers, while 26 per cent of firms admitted that
senior managers even neglected their own development.

Despite
greater resources, larger companies are actually less likely to see staff
development as a priority, with just 10 per cent of firms with a turnover of more
than £20m naming skills as important compared with 58 per cent of small firms.

IIP
chief executive Ruth Spellman said HR had a critical role to play in bridging
the gulf in understanding and must involve staff more in business.

Victoria
Gill, a development adviser at the Chartered Institute of Personnel and
Development said the neglect of training was surprising especially with so many
skills shortages. However, she said many companies were not communicating their
commitment to development.

"It
does emphasise that although HR has a large role to play its work is far from
done. The differences between managers and staff are worrying and HR must work
hard to change this," she said.

Levi’s
HR director in the UK Bruce Robertson said that while this may appear to be a
major problem, all it really comes down to is a need to improve communications.

"Often
organisations have comprehensive training structures and provide information on
financial results. But [they] fail to consistently, and continually, communicate
how to access them or fail to communicate in a way that connects with the
target audience – their employees," he said.

"Spending
more time on improving and simplifying communication channels may help to
alleviate these concerns and create greater understanding of information and
opportunities available," he added.

By Ross Wigham

The
great divide: sector by sector


43 per cent of retail employers said that employees are not key to
profitability


Only 32 per cent of manufacturers believe motivating staff is a top performance
priority


A third of catering firms think staff are not essential to making the business
profitable


41 per cent of construction firms said staff not key to profits


59 per cent of transport bosses admit to poor communication with staff

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