British bosses 'don't listen enough'

Forget pay rises and fringe benefits; what employees really want is for bosses to lend them an ear.

Last Updated: 31 Aug 2010

Employees should be given more opportunities to share their woes with bosses, according to a new survey from Shine Feedback. Staff said their bosses did not engage with them on a regular basis, and didn’t spend enough time listening to and understanding their needs. Perhaps they have other things on their mind at the moment...

The survey invited staff in the UK to rank how important they felt specific behaviours were to a manager’s effectiveness and whether or not their boss demonstrated these traits. First, the good news: over two-thirds of employees said their managers's strengths were being best at delivering tasks and understanding business challenges. However, over half of the 11,000 workers canvassed for their opinions claimed their managers were ineffective at listening and understanding the needs of others.

Of course, this isn't the first time in recent months we’ve heard whispers of bosses’ lack of engagement with staff. The Government’s recent report, commissioned by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, highlighted the importance of connecting with staff on a regular basis. The author David MacLeod warned that engagement levels across UK organisations are seriously low, and that companies unwilling to address the problem could suffer financially.

Shine MD Andy Clare says it is more important than ever for those at management level to spend time with employees, as staff fret about job security. However, given the current economic conditions, some might argue that bosses should focus on leading the business, to make sure these staff actually have a job after the end of the recession, rather than playing agony aunt. It's a tricky balance to strike...

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