British managers motivated, hard-working and frustrated

Oct 11 2005 by Nic Paton Print This Article

British managers are highly motivated and keen to develop, yet feel deep frustration about their employers, according to research into employee motivation.

The study of 1,800 people by the Chartered Management Institute and Adecco found organisations needed to do more to capture the goodwill and "positive energy" of their managers if UK organisations were to challenge existing workplace stereotypes.

One in five of those polled worked 14 hours or more above their contracted hours, and just 11 per cent felt their social lives were affected by long hours.

Yet many yearned for compressed working weeks (31 per cent) or access to flexi-time (17 per cent), which would help to ease workplace pressure and allow them to take better control of their working lives.

Nearly a quarter – 23 per cent – felt the presence of "old boys networks" in their organisations and a further 38 per cent believed flat structures were the root cause of career development frustrations.

More than a quarter of organisations admitted they were struggling to recruit appropriately qualified permanent employees.

Nearly half were turning to temporary contracts to ease this problem and implementing greater flexible working practices to ease work-life pressures.

More than half of the managers polled – 55 per cent – said they could not wait to begin the week and only 18 per cent claimed to suffer from "Monday morning blues".

In organisations described as "growing" or "dynamic" some 61 per cent of managers reported high levels of motivation, compared with 38 per cent in "shrinking" businesses, confirming the relationship between motivation levels and business performance.

Richard Macmillan, Adecco UK and Ireland managing director, said: "Without the right environment, managing highly motivated, energised employees can present as many challenges as motivating people when levels are low.

"Corporate UK needs to capture and nurture motivated managers, not lock them in a pressure cooker of glass ceilings, bureaucracy and old school ties.

"Most employees are willing to make personal sacrifices to develop careers, but the milk soon turns sour if those efforts are not rewarded," he added.

The reality of the UK's long-hours culture still persisted, with an average of 8.2 hours extra worked each week by managers at all levels.

Despite this, up to 23 per cent suggested they had the capacity to do more work (up from 17 per cent in 2004) and just seven per cent felt long hours affected their morale.

Many reported having a sense of purpose in their work or achieving targets were key motivation factors, suggesting they want to be judged on how they contribute to their organisation, not by the hours they clock up, said the CMI.

The research also revealed nearly 40 per cent of managers joined their current organisation because of the development opportunities available.

But 41 per cent also reported that their employer had no specific training and development budget.

This sat uneasily alongside the finding that 74 per cent of managers thought their employer should take primary responsibility for funding their development needs.

Mary Chapman, chief executive of the CMI, said: "This report highlights a division between the high levels of commitment expressed by managers and the support they are receiving to reach their goals.

"Individuals will shop around when their existing post no longer offers satisfaction or career development and organisations which fail to live up to the promise of progress risk seeing their managers jump ship," she added.

The report also highlighted a worrying mismatch between what managers hold dear to their hearts compared to the values of their employer.

While 37 per cent craved an empowering environment with zero bureaucracy, they seemed to be getting the opposite.

When asked what values best described their organisation, 4 per cent said trust, 9 per cent innovation, just 6 per cent passion and 8 per cent staff commitment.