More than a third of UK workers (36%) plan to leave their companies imminently because their bosses fail to inspire them, listen to them or provide them with clear career structures, according to new research from job-search platform Jobrapido. The remaining two thirds plan to up sticks in the next 12 months, citing their bosses’ poor leadership styles.


Jobrapido polled more than 1400 employees in over 20 industry sectors – including sales, marketing, engineering, transport, construction and technology – across June and July. Asked which characteristic of their leaders would be most instrumental in persuading them to remain in their organisations, almost half (47%) of respondents said that a boss should inspire their staff and make them want to stay on.


The research cited Eurostat figures showing that the UK currently has a 2.7 vacancy rate – its highest level in the past decade.


Jobrapido CEO Rob Brouwer said that in UK firms, “demand is becoming vigorously strong and far outstripping the supply for talent”. He stressed: “There is clearly a need for bosses, line managers and HR departments to pay even more attention to the need not only to attract the best talents on the market but, once on board, to look at all the way to engage and retain them. The issue can arise because staff and senior management, while technically brilliant at the job, and/or excellent at running a business, have never received training on how to lead, manage and nurture the careers of other members of their team.”


He added: “If Britain’s bosses are keen to retain their staff, then they should look at way to inspire them and perhaps, getting direct and constructive feedback via 360-degree reviews from all their staff; also, wherever possible, look at how they can address any concerns and give adequate responses. Embarking on the right leadership training or a series of courses will be an important step to inspire staff so they feel inclined to stay for many more years within the company, considering how crucial the talent is for a company business and its success on the short and the long term.”


If you are looking to improve your leadership skills to more effectively inspire staff, what should you focus on during formal training courses?


The Institute of Leadership & Management head of research, policy and standards Kate Cooper says: “Jobrapido’s poll resonates very much with our own New Year, New Job research that we undertook in January this year. In that research, we explored a range of reasons why workers would want to leave their jobs, in relation to different age groups, and then looked at reasons why people would want to stay on. Throughout all the age groups we analysed, there were recurrent findings, with implications both for wanting to leave and a desire to stay. And they were to do with feeling valued, the quality of relationships and – for about three quarters of our respondents – feeling that they had more to offer in their roles. So in the light of those findings, these new figures aren’t surprising.”


However, she notes: “One point that doesn’t get enough attention in these sorts of polls is that, on the whole, everyone who is a manager also has a manager. So, is it the case that we’re not valuing anyone in our organisations – or are these surveys focusing only on people who don’t manage other staff? We have to start from the pretext that management is a series of relationships. But according to these surveys, with the exception of frontline staff who don’t have any managerial responsibilities, everyone is doing it badly. So the crucial factor to focus on here is the quality of relationships, and that’s a two-way thing. Managers don’t just ‘do unto’ other people. It’s a co-created situation. And staff are able to influence that relationship to an extent that I think they often don’t appreciate.”


Cooper suggests: “Rather than taking the position, ‘My manager has poor leadership skills,’ workers could start asking themselves, ‘What do I want from that person?’ or ‘How would I like to be managed?’ Because everyone is different. To some workers, micromanagement may feel like an opportunity to show what they’ve done on a more regular basis, so they have that confidence assurance. But for others, it may signal that they’re not trusted. So it all goes back to what works for each relationship. And of course, that process of negotiating what works best for individuals is time consuming and requires support.”


With that in mind, she adds: “I would question whether sending people on training courses by themselves is constructive. Would that really help the dynamics of the team? Perhaps group-coaching scenarios, or even 360-degree feedback, would be far more effective. Any conversation where everyone is able to talk together about their expectations, and what they think constitutes good leadership, is a really useful first step.”


For further insights on the themes raised in this blog, check out the Institute’s resources on inspiring leadership and managing upwards


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