Three-quarters of employees crave more freedom at work

13 Jan 2017 By Peter Crush

And half could quit if organisational culture doesn’t change soon

Ahead of Blue Monday next week – the so-called most depressing day of the year – a study by the ILM has found that more than half (53 per cent) of employees would consider leaving their job if the structure and culture of their organisation didn't change.

According to the research, lack of employee empowerment is the root cause of much dissatisfaction in the workplace.

Nearly three-quarters (74 per cent) of staff surveyed said they wanted more freedom in their roles, but a third (34 per cent) said their work was overly regulated, and that they were forced to work within overly controlled structures.

This leaves employees searching for how they ‘fit in’ to their organisation, said the ILM – 64 per cent of staff surveyed said they struggled to do so. And despite two-thirds (66 per cent) of employees wanting to have a greater say in their everyday working lives, just 24 per cent said they felt their line managers fostered collaboration.

John Yates, group director at ILM, said overly authoritarian workplaces should be “a thing of the past”, but that the findings clearly suggested it was not. “People today want to work for flexible, fun and friendly organisations,” he said. “Organisations need to be flexible, allowing employees to pursue career ambitions and manage conflicting home life pressures as much as possible, and encourage creativity – injecting passion and new ideas into the workplace.”

The two most popular aspects of culture change that employees said they craved was more freedom and flexibility (35 per cent), and allowing staff to be more innovative and creative (32 per cent).

The research was published alongside the ILM’s new manifesto to address what it calls ‘leadership lag’ in businesses today. It argues leadership should be taught in advance of leadership responsibilities being given to employees, and that leadership shouldn’t be left only to those at the very top of organisations.

Yates said: “Leadership is actually a set of skills that should be learned from an employee’s very first day at work, and honed until their last. When asked what changes employees would like to see in their organisation, the top answer given was to get leaders back on the ‘shop floor’ more often (31 per cent)."

Worryingly, just under a third (31 per cent) of HR professionals questioned for the research felt confident about their organisation’s supply of leadership talent in the next three-to-five years.

ILM’s research joins other studies in showing that bad leadership will cause many to consider quitting their jobs this year. Earlier this week, a study by Crunch Accounting found a third of staff plan to quit, with bad bosses cited by 46 per cent of staff at the top reason. The same study found that 31 January is the day most Britons plan to resign.

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