Bad management has prompted one in three UK workers to quit, survey finds

Posted: 16th October 2023

Study shows widespread concern over quality of managers, with 82% of bosses deemed ‘accidental’, having had no formal training.

Almost one-third of UK workers say they’ve quit a job because of a negative workplace culture, according to a new survey that underlines the risks of managers failing to rein in toxic behaviour.

Research carried out by the Chartered Management Institute (CMI) pointed to widespread concern about the quality of management, and its impact on workers’ daily lives.

Other factors that the 2,018 workers questioned in the survey cited as reasons for leaving a job in the past included a negative relationship with a manager (28%) and discrimination or harassment (12%).

Among those workers who told researchers they had an ineffective manager, one-third said they were less motivated to do a good job – and as many as half were considering leaving in the next 12 months.

The research was commissioned by the CMI after recent high-profile scandals, from claims of sexual misconduct at the CBI, now under investigation by the police, to accusations that ITV managers turned a blind eye to presenter Phillip Schofield’s affair with a younger member of staff – something ITV has denied.

The survey, carried out by YouGov, questioned 4,500 workers and managers in the UK.

The CMI found that as many as 82% of new managers in the UK are what it calls “accidental managers” – embarking on the role with no formal training in management or leadership.

Those managers who had undergone training appeared to be more likely to call out bad behaviour – 25% said they had done so, against 15% of untrained managers.

Anthony Painter, the CMI’s director of policy, said improving the performance of UK managers is crucial to preventing toxic workplace cultures developing, where bad behaviour goes unchecked.

He also argued that better managers will improve the UK’s economic performance – and aid much-needed public services reform.

“This stuff is dragging down businesses, dragging down the economy, and also stymying the ability of public services to do what we need them to do,” he said.

“Economists have looked at this and they think that something in the order of a third of the difference between us and the most productive countries is down to the quality of management and leadership – right there is the reality.”

He added: “In any skilled area of modern work, you would expect people in positions of competence to receive at least minimal training. You want your plumbers to be trained, you want your cybersecurity people to be trained – well the same is true of managers.

“The fact that 82% haven’t received training when they’ve become managers, that tells us really how seriously we’re taking management and its importance collectively.”

Many managers have faced particular challenges through the pandemic and beyond – including sometimes fraught negotiations about how and when office-based staff would return to workplaces.

Unions have reported a rapid increase in the use of surveillance software and other remote monitoring technology, as managers have sought to oversee staff from a distance.

The TUC’s head of economics and employment rights, Nicola Smith, urged managers to work with unions to navigate such challenges, adding: “If we want to see more great management across the economy, government needs to lift the bar.

“As well as more training and support for managers, we need a stronger floor of employment protection that guarantees working people greater security and recognises the benefits that union recognition brings.”

Source: Bad management has prompted one in three UK workers to quit, survey finds | Management | The Guardian

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