More than half of employees don’t feel respected at work

Oliver RoweDirector of Reputation Research
August 17, 2017, 11:12 AM UTC

Most bosses think they have good management skills. Many workers disagree.

New research by YouGov, undertaken with management author Kevin Murray, shows that there is a wide gap between how employers and employees perceive bosses’ management skills which is leading to a respect deficit.

The data shows that both groups agree on the qualities and behaviours that make a good manager. Approaching two thirds of both employers (66%) and employees (65%) believe that making workers feel important and appreciated is the most essential management attribute.

However, often these behaviours aren’t demonstrated resulting in lost discretionary effort by employees.  While almost three quarters (73%) of bosses say they make their employees feel respected at work, only 40% of employees agree.

Soft skills are critical, with Development Economics research claiming they are worth £88 billion a year (gross value added) to the UK economy — but £8.4 billion will be lost to the economy each year by 2020 due to a lack of soft skills.

How employer and employee perceptions differ

YouGov’s research shows that the biggest perception gap comes from whether or not employers care about the people they lead. While 93% of managers say they do care, only 52% of employees think their manager actually does — and almost a quarter actively disagree.

The data suggests that this could be because employees just don't feel their bosses understand their needs. More than nine in 10 managers (93%) say they try to understand the needs of their team – but a significant number of them are failing. Only 48% of employees believe their managers understand them, with more than half either having mixed feelings or actively disagreeing.

These gaps in perception point to a significant finding of this research – which is that managers consistently overrate their performance on all of these attributes, often by quite some margin. Those on the receiving end, their staff, just don't see the relationship in the same way.

Honesty and integrity

Employers’ overall integrity also seems to be in question. Almost all (94%) managers either strongly or somewhat agree that they are honest at work, with almost as many (92%) saying they are sincere. However, employees feel differently. Only 63% agree that their manager is honest, and 58% think their boss is sincere. Similarly, while 90% of managers say they consistently do what they say they will do, only 54% of employees agree.  

What can employers do to bridge the gap?

The research shows that the underlying perceptions of a lack of respect and integrity correlates strongly with less effort being put in to work. However, should managers raise their performance in this area even from “poor” to just “good”, the analysis suggests that there would be a 36% jump in discretionary effort.

For more information about YouGov’s solutions for understanding your employees engagement, please contact Oliver Rowe

*YouGov interviewed 1,884 managers, comprising 134 CEOs or managing directors, 240 board level managers, 735 senior managers and 775 middle managers. (66% of the managers were male and 34% were female. 28% were over 55, 13% were between 18 and 34, and 58% were aged 35 to 54. Of those interviewed, 53 percent came from the private sector, 28% from public sector organisations and 19% from non-profit organisations.)
YouGov also surveyed 2,121 employees, of whom 1,258 were employed in the private sector, 605 in public sector organisations, and 264 in the not for profit sector. These employees were evenly split male/female with 51% of the survey sample aged between 35 and 54, while 24% were 18 to 34 and 26% were over 55.