Press Release – Cologne, November 19, 2018

Flexible, Hierarchical, Digital? Managers and Employees Experience Their Work Very Differently

Cologne, November 19, 2018

Workflows are speeding up, people can connect with colleagues around the world in a matter of seconds, and processes are constantly being reassessed: the digital revolution is still ongoing, but it has already had a massive impact on the world of work. How have these changes affected managers’ and professionals’ experiences of their day-to-day work, and how satisfied are they with the results of the transformation? The job search site StepStone and the Kienbaum Institute @ ISM (the research institute of the HR and management consultancy Kienbaum) asked these questions to 13,500 managers and professionals. The results show that when it comes to flexibility, organizational structure, and satisfaction, managers’ experiences in their day-to-day work are sometimes very different than those of their staff.

Selected results at a glance:

Managers are happier than their staff

  • Overall, managers are more satisfied with their day-to-day work than employees: whereas 63% of managers reported being satisfied, the same was true of less than half of employees without line management responsibility.
  • Moreover, over half of the nonmanagerial employees surveyed for the study were planning to quit their job.
  • In keeping with these figures, only just under a third of employees identify with their employer’s norms and values and are actively committed to their company; the equivalent figure for managers is 67%.

A digital workplace – but with differing levels of freedom

  • Managers and employees agreed on one point: the vast majority described their workplace as digital, meaning that digital media and technologies are used extensively in day-to-day work.
  • However, more managers (36%) reported having flexibility in their daily work (for instance, in terms of where and when they worked, or their decision-making) than employees (16%).
  • According to Dr. Walter Jochmann, head of the Kienbaum Institute @ ISM, “When employees complain about a lack of flexibility in their work, it’s usually an indicator of excessive micromanagement, which means they are given limited freedom over how they accomplish the goals they are set. What employees want are managers who present a clear vision but allow their staff flexibility when it comes to achieving their goals.”

Most German employers are hierarchical

  • Most managers (63%) and professionals (68%) said the organization they worked for has a hierarchical structure.
  • The bigger an organization (in terms of employees and revenue), the more likely its structures were to be perceived as hierarchical. The analysis also found significant differences between industries: while managers and employees in agencies and IT companies reported flat hierarchies, those working in the public sector were more likely to speak of hierarchical structures.
  • “The results of our study show that rigid hierarchies are not only a barrier to innovation, but also have a negative impact on employees’ motivation, productivity, and identification with their organization. The companies best equipped to deal with the challenges of digitalization will be those that are fast and agile and that allow even nonmanagerial employees to make their own decisions.” – Dr. Sebastian Dettmers, executive director of StepStone

The full white paper for the study can be found here.

About the study “The Art of Work in the Digital Revolution”
This study by the management consultancy Kienbaum and job search site StepStone examines the impact of digitalization on the workplace. It is based on an online survey of 13,500 managers and professionals conducted in Q1 2018.

StepStone helps people find their dream job. The company employs over 3,000 people and alongside www.stepstone.de also runs job search sites in a number of other countries. The company, founded in 1996, is a subsidiary of Axel Springer SE.

V.i.S.d.P.:

Saskia Leininger – T.: +49 221 801 72-495 | E-Mail: saskia.leininger@kienbaum.de

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