HR & Management

Are employees a "necessary evil"? Some board directors and senior staff seem to think so

4 min read

16 October 2015

Morgan Redwood's latest report has revealed that nearly half of board level staff consider the employee pipeline to be "endless" and that "for everyone who leaves, someone as good or better comes through the door".

Based on responses from the heads of human resource departments and board directors, Morgan Redwood found that employees were regarded as being a “necessary evil”.

Janice Haddon, MD of Morgan Redwood, said: “Considering that the key business decisions tend to be made at board director level, the fact that any consider staff to be a ‘necessary evil’ is a startling outcome. Combined with the fact that the employee pipeline is regarded as endless, do findings suggest a disconnection with the wider workforce?”

Along with looking at board level, the study also questioned senior management in regard to their thoughts on the wider workforce. Some 41.2 per cent of senior staff believed employees to be “brand ambassadors”, whilst 39.6 per cent identified them as “individuals to be nurtured”. However 22.4 per cent considered them to be an “easily replaced commodity”, tying in with much of the board directors’ attitude towards the employee pipeline.

Haddon said: “It seems that on the whole, senior staff have a positive view of their workforce. However, almost one in four still consider the workforce to be easy to replace, which could be suggesting that not all senior people consider more junior staff to be a worthwhile investment.

“Elsewhere in our report we found that reducing staff turnover is seen as the second biggest HR challenge at present, behind attracting better talent to the business. When you hold this up against the outlook of senior staff and board members regarding the employee pipeline as endless, it seems the two could be related. Does it suggest that the higher echelons of a business think there’s an infinite pool of talent to dip into whilst HR are in a constant loop of dealing with leavers and recruitment?”

Senior staff were also questioned about their management styles and whether they believed that their approach got the best out of the organisation’s workforce, to which 54.4 per cent admitted that “no” they didn’t think it did. However, a large proportion did feel that their methods worked, with 45.6 per cent believing that their approach was the right one.

Janice said: “The right approach to management is key, and whist a good number see themselves as doing it right, a similar proportion don’t. It’s essential that senior staff take on board the things that can affect morale and productivity. Work-life balance and job flexibility were found to be the biggest motivators according to our report so organisations need to consider their policies as part of their retention strategy. The fact that over half of respondents feel management style means they are not getting the best out of staff also needs to be considered against retention issues”

According to Haddon, employees are a major asset to any business that should be nurtured. Seeing staff as easily replaceable dilutes their importance. She said: “The fact that 41.2 per cent of senior managers feel their staff are brand ambassadors is certainly a positive, which should be built on. Looking after the workforce and nurturing their wellbeing can reap dividends in the future. Happy staff makes for happy ambassadors which can only be a benefit to any business.”