Petty rules undermine productivity & morale

Nov 18 2002 by Brian Amble Print This Article

Too many employers are still living in the dark ages and imposing 'draconian measures' on their staff that undermine morale and risk lowering productivity. So says a new survey released on November 18 by youatwork, the employee benefits division of Royal & SunAlliance.

Speaking following the release of a poll of employees, managing director of the Royal and Sun Alliance employee benefits division, Gerry Callaghan warns firms to change their attitudes towards their staff:

"The pressures of the modern working environment are clearly taking their toll. Employers need to be careful not to throw the baby out with the bathwater in their bid to increase productivity.

"Our study suggests that many are imposing draconian measures and risk undermining morale which could have a serious impact on productivity," he said.

Interviewing 800 employees, and carried out by the Survey Shop, the poll revealed that well over half (55 per cent) felt they were not entitled to even the most basic workplace courtesies even though they often worked over their contracted hours.

Almost half (46 per cent) of workers do not expect to be able to use the office telephone for private calls and just over half (51 per cent) said they were restricted from personal use of the internet and e-mail even in their own time whilst at work.

Callaghan warns employers that clamping down on staff in this manner is not the key to unlocking higher productivity. Those that loosen up the reigns will find enormous benefits, he argues:

"It's time that employers realised that simple benefits like using the office phone for personal calls or surfing the internet out of work hours are accepted practice for employees now.

"Employers who strike a balance will reap the rewards through loyalty and hard work if their employees feel valued and are trusted not to abuse these kinds of simple benefits.

Even modest investments in staff benefits can have a disproportionate improvement in staff morale and motivation, he argues. Of the other perks or benefits that employees would expect as a matter of course, staff discounts (47 per cent) and free refreshments (61 per cent) rated highly, as did a staff canteen (47 per cent) and air conditioning (55 per cent):

"Small investments can go a long way and pay off in increased morale, increased productivity and increased loyalty,' said Callaghan.