A study of Australian workers has found nearly half rate the ability to motivate and inspire as the single most important attribute they look for in employers.
The 2011 World of Work report by recruitment and HR specialists Randstad, taken from a survey of 1,188 employers and 2,038 employees across Australia, found that when it came to this capacity, over a third of staff respondents rated their direct managers as poor or average.
Randstand CEO Fred van der Tang says that the results signalled a break from the recent past, with the ability to react well during periods of economic instability no longer being foremost on the minds of employees.
“In order to ride the next wave of growth, leaders must shake off the pragmatic approach many found necessary during the downturn, and refocus their energies on inspiring and motivating their people,” he says.
Over one in five workers who responded to the survey said having a solid understanding of how their particular role contributed to their employer organisation’s goals was the single biggest motivator.
Another 8% said sharing the strategic vision and goals of their organisation was the most important factor.
“This means nearly a third of all employees are motivated by an organisation’s vision – underlining the importance of ‘big picture thinking’. Often executives and managers do not realise the profound affect their words and actions have on their employees,” adds van der Tang.
“Leaders who are able to effectively communicate their organisation’s strategic direction can have a massive influence on employee engagement levels. Employees want to feel their efforts are not only directly contributing to a vision, but that the vision is authentic and inspiring – something they can work towards and feel good about.”
“As the economy continues to strengthen, executive and managers who are able to engage their people by articulating a strong and inspiring vision will reap tremendous rewards.”
Among those that did not see having an inspirational leader as the most important employer characteristic, close to 40% think the ability of a leader to build trusted relationships is their most crucial characteristic.
However, over one in four employees say they do not trust their leaders.
On the employer side, the study found that a fifth of Australian business leaders rated increasing performance and productivity as their largest HR challenge over the next 12 months.
Nearly 70% see the need to fill critical vacancies caused by employee turnover or expansion as the biggest threat to achieving this increased productivity.