11:07pm Tuesday 12 November 2019

Shock-proofing bosses neglecting staff – managers looking to jump ship in record numbers

The latest workplace issues Leadership, Employment and Direction (L.E.A.D.) Survey conducted by Chase Research for Leadership Management Australasia (LMA) found that, having learnt the lessons from the sudden-impact GFC, leaders are continuing to do what is required to shock-proof their organisation for tougher times including reviewing budgets and staff levels, reducing costs and asking employees to use up annual leave.

But in the process, leaders are apparently unaware of the pressures on their staff, especially managers who are looking for new jobs at an alarming rate, according to LMA Executive Chairman, Grant Sexton.

The L.E.A.D. Survey found that 70% of managers and 63% of employees believe they are under more pressure than three years ago (2009 GFC), while only 49% of leaders believe this to be the case.

Leaders are also generally out of touch with their staff on the sources of work place pressure – employees rank “work-life balance” as the biggest source while leaders believe work-life balance is only third as a source of pressure on their employees. (see table below).

Managers rank “continuously being in demand”, “increase in personal workload” and “quality of staff” as the major pressures in their roles.

As a result, managers are busy in new job seeking activity, with one in three (33%) actively looking to change jobs and one in four (24%) having actually applied for a new job in the last six months.

These are the highest levels of manager job seeking activity recorded by L.E.A.D. Survey. The previous highest were 27% and 16% respectively, in May 2010.

“The danger for organisations here is that implementation of the shock-proofing plan is in jeopardy because organisations can’t afford to lose their good managers who are overseeing the shock-proofing processes,” he said.

“It’s like going into battle with your lieutenants deserting the ranks.”

The big gap in the awareness of the both the amount and the source of pressure being experienced by managers and employees is because leaders are rightly feeling pleased with their shock-proofing strategy against external issues.  However, they have neglected the internal risk and their most important resource, their people, Mr Sexton said.

Big gap also in business outlook

There is also a major difference in management’s view to the rosy business outlook held by employees — 71% of employees believe their organisation is growing while only 47% of leaders and 45% of managers share that confidence. (see graph below)

This is the biggest gap on perceived business outlook since L.E.A.D. Survey began in 2000 and is another concern for managers to align the expectations, Mr Sexton said.

Leaders needed to reconnect with their managers, address their concerns and engage them in the shock-proofing plan, he said.

“At the same time, they must listen to their managers and find solutions to their major pressures which could be jeopardising the organisation’s productivity and progress,” he said.

The latest L.E.A.D. Survey closed on February 29 and involved 1650 respondents across Australia and New Zealand.


Top 5 Rankings of Pressures on Employees

(about self)

(about employees)

(about employees)

Balance between work and personal life




Changes to or added responsibilities




Higher performance expectations




Higher customer/client expectations




Changing organisational structures




Detailed lists available on request via return email

About the research. Respondents from 30 sectors in Australia and New Zealand took part with the largest sectors represented being manufacturing, property/business services, finance/insurance, construction, government administration/defence, health/community services and education. Respondents are from major cities and regional centres.

About Leadership, Employment and Direction (L.E.A.D.) Survey.   Running for 12 years, the L.E.A.D. Survey is Australasia’s most authoritative survey of workplace issues and their effect on management and employees. It is now an on-line rolling survey with information released in waves three times each year, constantly updating what is really happening within Australasian organisations. The L.E.A.D. Survey is managed by Adrian Goldsmith of Chase Research. It is commissioned by LMA. Mr Goldsmith designed and conducted previous L.E.A.D. Surveys when a director of Quantum Market Research. Participants are from all sectors, locations and organisation sizes and include employees (Employees), frontline managers and supervisors (Managers) and business leaders and senior management (Leaders). It draws on previous surveys to analyse changes in the workplace, providing the latest insights, trends and emerging issues affecting business and people management.

About Grant Sexton, Executive Chairman, LMA.  Grant Sexton is an expert commentator on workplace issues, having delivered over 1000 presentations on the subject in Australia and overseas. He is a pioneer of the leadership and management development industry in Australia.

About Leadership Management Australasia (LMA). LMA was established 40 years ago. It now has a network of independently-owned and run licensees delivering programs to improve productivity, performance and leadership through 70 locations across Australia and New Zealand. LMA has worked with over 115,000 people in small and medium organisations, large corporations and government departments.

Graeme Willingham Public Relations Pty Ltd

Level 2, 82 Jolimont St. Jolimont

Victoria, Australia 3002

Tel: 03 9660 5541

Fax: 03 9650 3479

Mobile: 0414 499 887


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