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Workplace Reality Survey Reveals CEOs are out of touch

The Message to CEOs is to Pay Attention

6 March 2002 - A national survey of 500 CEOs and 700 senior and middle management in Australia has found them to be at odds regarding their view of the current status of the workplace.

The conflicting Workplace Reality Survey results commissioned by publicly listed, leading Australian specialist recruitment firm Hamilton James & Bruce, has revealed that CEOs are clearly out of touch with management in understanding: work satisfaction levels; morale; the status of the workplace; employee retention; recognition and reward; workload and stress management; communication effectiveness and company benefits.

The survey results parallel the organisational theories: Maslow's "Hierarchy of Needs" and Frederick Herzberg's "Hygiene Theory", which says that people are motivated by certain factors intrinsic to the job which include achievement, recognition, job challenge, responsibility and opportunities for growth and advancement.

The Theory also concludes that 'hygiene' or maintenance factors such as salary and benefits, supervision, job security, working conditions, status, company policies, administration, fellow workers and personal life cannot be used effectively to motivate people, but their absence or inappropriateness nearly always proved to be demotivational.

"In aligning Herzberg's Theory to our current workplace, it seems that today's CEO is not committed to ensuring that both the maintenance and motivational factors are being managed successfully," says Allan Marks, Chief Executive Officer of Hamilton James & Bruce.

"CEOs are simply not paying attention and as a consequence, they will find that these unmotivated and uninspired executives will leave the company. I hope that these survey results are seen as a gift, or at least a 'wake-up' call for CEOs to get their motivational factors in order so that they can run a highly successful business."

The Hamilton James & Bruce survey found that CEOs cannot distinguish whether their management are satisfied or unsatisfied working for their company. 96% CEOs believe their management are happy working for their company but only 59% management said they actually were. A startling 38% of management said they weren't happy but according to the survey results, CEOs are completely unaware.

The survey reveals that CEOs have a much more positive view of morale and their workplace compared with reality. 20% CEOs rated morale and the workplace as 'excellent' compared with only 6% management. In contrast, 20% management rated morale and the workplace as poor but not one CEO would agree:

91% CEOs claim that employee retention is high on the list in their business strategy but more than half of management surveyed (55%) disagreed. The survey also revealed that CEOs do not understand why employees choose to stay with or leave their company. page 1 of 2

67% CEOs said that a personal situation was the most common reason for management to leave, however most management (48%) said that lack of recognition and reward was the main reason for leaving.

The survey also revealed that what CEOs perceive as employee recognition and reward benefits are not perceived the same by management. The latter includes mostly all non-financial-based rewards.

CEOs did appreciate that their management experience mostly high workloads and high stress. However, according to most management (32%), CEOs do nothing to help employees manage their workload and stress levels. 11% CEOs agreed with this statement, however many clarified that they leave this issue up to individual management initiatives. 39% CEOs said they provide stress and time management courses compared with only 12% management who agreed. Most management believe their company does nothing at all:

A startling 97% of CEOs claim that they communicate effectively with employees regarding important company information. However, only 44% management would agree. One CEO even added that he/she always communicates effectively, but a number of CEOs and management said that there is always room for improvement.

CEOs believe they offer a wide range of company benefits however management seem to disagree. One main reason for this is that a number of CEOs said they only offered some company benefits such as flexible working hours, job sharing, telecommuting, income protection and global opportunities to their top employees.

The survey was the brainchild of Hamilton James & Bruce's Chief Executive Officer, Allan Marks. "After September last year, the world experienced a difficult economic downturn and people were (and still are) filled with a sense of fear, job uncertainty, company uncertainty, safety and security. I wanted to understand what corporate Australia was doing to enhance or protect their employees' wellbeing during these difficult times.

"The aim of this survey was to provide CEOs with practical information, creative ideas and inspiration to boost morale, improve the workplace, increase retention and as a result, boost their bottom-line. I also hope that employees will gain information, which will improve their working and personal lives.

"Employee wellbeing isn't providing gym equipment and a lunch room. It's about hours and balance. It's about recognition, challenge and advancement. It's the complex 'soft' issues, the emotive issues which are not easily quantifiable that are the key to success in boosting morale," says Allan.

Established in 1979, Hamilton James & Bruce is Australia 's leading publicly listed, specialist recruitment firm, focused on providing the highest quality of service to its clients and employing specialists in a range of fields. Hamilton James & Bruce has offices in Sydney , Parramatta , Melbourne and Brisbane , providing a completely integrated service to clients, nationally.


The Hamilton James & Bruce Workplace Reality Survey Results are available on request. Allan Marks, CEO of Hamilton James & Bruce is available for comment.

To discuss your needs phone Barbara Anderson on + 61 2 9527 9396
email her at barbara@shirecoachingtraining.com.au

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