One in three UK workers stifled by rigid workplace culture

Today’s workers are looking for more autonomy and flexibility in their job roles. New research reveals that two in three employees want to have a greater say in the business and are seeking a better understanding of where they fit in. How can management address this?

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, most warning they will consider moving jobs unless their organisation changes.

This according to recent research from ILM, suggests a clear mismatch between employees’ desire for independence and flexibility, and the reality of their current working environments. Three in four of UK employees want more freedom at work, with more than a third 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,  followed by more innovation and creativity.

“Rigid structures, siloed working and overly complex hierarchies are things of the workplace past,” says John Yates, group director at ILM. “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 in three employees want to have a greater say in the business and are seeking a better understanding of where they fit in. Just 24 per cent say that their managers definitely foster collaboration.

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 helps the junior team to deliver training and development.

According to OMD managing partner – head of people, Kate Herbert, the firm makse 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.”

“Today’s leading organisations are typically collaborative, encouraging feedback and input at all levels. Rather than decisions being made at the top (the ramifications of which are cascaded amongst workers whether they like it or not), forward thinking organisations are engaging employees at each stage to generate ideas and ensure buy-in from the start,” says Yates. “The result is a more passionate and dedicated workforce, that is aligned with the company’s vision and objectives.”

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.

Praseeda Nair

Kellen Rempel

Praseeda was Editor for from 2016 to 2018.

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