UK employees give their senior leadership low marks on key aspects of people management, such as developing future leaders, gaining trust and confidence, and demonstrating sincere interest in employee wellbeing.
That’s according to research from Willis Towers Watson, which also found that employees’ immediate line managers fared better, although research shows significant room for improvement.
Trust in leadership
The Global Workforce Study found that 49% of UK employees have trust and confidence in the job being done by their organisation’s top leaders.
US employees shared a similar level of confidence (49%), but their counterparts in Germany were significantly more positive about the ability of their leaders to meet changing business needs (65%).
Just 41% in the UK believe their leaders have a sincere interest in employee wellbeing, while only 35% think their organisation is doing a good job of developing future leaders.
Yves Duhaldeborde, director at Willis Towers Watson, said: “With today’s dynamic business environment and the changing nature of the new world of work, the need for strong, effective corporate leaders and managers working together is at an all-time high.
“The fact that a significant percentage of workers don’t believe their leaders are as effective as they can be is a concern, given that strong leadership is a key driver of employee engagement and improved performance.”
Employees globally view immediate managers more favourably. In the UK and Germany, more than seven in 10 say their managers treat them with respect, while this is true for over 80% of employees in the US.
The fact that a significant percentage of workers don’t believe their leaders are as effective as they can be is a concern, given that strong leadership is a key driver of employee engagement and improved performance” – Yves Duhaldeborde
More than 60% of employees in the UK and Germany say managers assign them tasks that are suited to their skills and abilities, compared to 81% of US workers.
The research, however, shows that immediate managers in the UK have much room for improvement. Less than half of employees (49%) believe their managers communicate goals and assignments clearly.
Even fewer say their managers make fair decisions about how performance is linked to pay (40%), while a similar number (44%) believe managers have enough time to handle the people aspects of the job.
According to Willis Towers Watson, one of the key leadership tasks requiring strong people skills is performance management. The research indicates poor scores in this area, with less than four in 10 (38%) UK employees saying their managers coach them to improve their performance.
“Given the increasingly important role that managers and supervisors are playing in defining the work to be done, motivating workers and ensuring a sufficient talent pipeline, many organisations are taking a keen interest in how manager behaviour affects engagement and how managers can build more engaged teams,” said Duhaldeborde.