Employer Branding

Why Rigid Workplace Culture Holds Back Employees

More than half of UK workers feel that both the structure and culture of their workplaces are holding them back from doing their job more effectively (55% and 53% respectively), with 53% warning they will consider moving jobs unless their organisation changes.

That’s according to recent research from ILM which identified a clear mismatch between employees’ desire for independence and flexibility, and the reality of their current working environments. Almost three quarters (74%) of UK employees say they would like more freedom at work, with more than a third (34%) saying they work in a regulated and controlled structure. When asked how they’d like to change their company culture, the top answer was more freedom and flexibility (35%) followed by more innovation and creativity (32%).

John Yates, Group Director at ILM:

Rigid structures, siloed working and overly complex hierarchies are things of the workplace past. People today want to work at flexible, fun and friendly organisations – and those who can deliver on that always have an edge in recruitment. 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.

As well as wanting more autonomy, today’s workers are looking for more input in the business. Two thirds (66%) of UK employees want to have a greater say in the business and 64% are seeking a better understanding of where they fit in. Just a quarter (24%) say that their managers definitely foster collaboration.

Michael Moran, CEO at 10Eighty:

There is a new paradigm at work here. Previously we designed the job and then applied the employee to it. Today knowledge workers are looking for the job to design around their needs. It is increasingly important for employers to understand what is important, what motivates and what it is the employee likes doing and then design the job around those three things.  The end product is a highly engaged, loyal and productive employee.

Diarmuid Russell, Head of International at Glassdoor:

Employee engagement is crucial to attract and retain the best people. Increasingly, employers are expected to engage with employees in a public forum and in an authentic manner. People today expect their opinions to be heard to be able to make a difference.

Listening and engaging really makes a difference. Nearly two-thirds of Glassdoor users say their perception of a company improves when employers respond to reviews. Plus, three-quarters of Glassdoor users are more likely to apply to a job if the employer actively manages its employer brand by responding to reviews, and sharing updates on the culture and work environment.

Media agency OMD UK is one business putting this into practice, with schemes including The Minerva House Employee Council – a group of employees from all levels and disciplines that provides feedback to the Board on how to make the business bigger and better. The OMD Board Academy even helps the junior team to deliver training and development.

Kate Herbert: Head of People at OMD UK:

People are at the heart of our business, so it’s important for us to develop their skills and careers at every level. We make sure that people across the organisation are working in a culture where their voice is heard, empowering them to be leaders in their own right. It’s a two-way relationship and we want to create the kind of company that people want to work with.

Previous data released from this research identified a ‘leadership lag’, calling on businesses to shift the focus of leadership from the top of their organisation to instead develop leaders at all levels and ensure the UK remains economically competitive.

By Jörgen Sundberg

Founder of Undercover Recruiter & CEO of Link Humans, home of The Employer Brand Index.