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72% of UK managers name wellbeing as top priority for 2021 

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Chartered Management Institute

4 min read Partner content

At a pivotal moment for the UK workforce, when good management and leadership is more important than ever, a new report shows sizable shifts in attitudes to remote working and a desire to continue with some form of hybrid working when the pandemic recedes.

A major new survey has taken a temperature check of the UK workforce during the early stages of the Covid-19 pandemic - looking at how they were coping with the immediate shift to homeworking, how they were supporting colleagues’ mental health and wellbeing, and how they were helping teams remain productive, remotely.

At a pivotal moment for the UK workforce, when good management and leadership is more important than ever, the findings of ​‘Management Transformed: Managing in a Marathon Crisis’ show sizable shifts in attitudes to remote working and a desire to continue with some form of hybrid working when the pandemic recedes.  

Surprisingly, it shows that productivity levels don’t depend on ​where someone is working, but ​how they’re working - and how they’re managed and led. It also showed greater emphasis on the need for ​effective communication from bosses, ​empathy for the personal circumstances of staff and the importance of fostering a ​strong company culture​.

We found that the managers who have really excelled are those who have recognised they are in a marathon, not a sprint...


Key findings include:

● 72%​ of staff named ‘ensuring wellbeing’ as the top priority for managers in 2021;

● 85% ​of those surveyed said that managers would be just as important if not more important in 2021;

● Just over 2 out of 5 managers across all workplace settings (the workplace, remote, and a hybrid of both) reported increases in productivity for their direct reports;

● 95%​ of those surveyed say that communicating clearly is the most important trait for managers right now - ​68% ​identified it as very important;

● Nearly half (​49%​) of senior leaders believe their employees are more involved in decision-making, but only a quarter (​27%​) of employees report feeling engaged;

● Nearly half (​46%​) of staff from diverse ethnic groups think that workplace inclusion has improved since Covid-19, compared to ​29%​ of all UK employees; 

● Of those with children working virtually, ​69%​ of women wanted to work at least one day from home when the pandemic ends, compared to ​56%​ of men.

Ann Francke OBE, Chief Executive of CMI, said: “The launch of our new report ‘Managing in a Marathon Crisis’ comes at a time when professional management and leadership is more important than ever.

"Our data outlines the approaches that really deliver results - communicating clearly, providing flexibility, and focusing on employee wellbeing.

"We found that the managers who have really excelled are those who have recognised they are in a marathon, not a sprint, and we've distilled these learnings into practical steps to help all leaders navigate this crisis and beyond”.

Bruce Carnegie-Brown, Outgoing President of CMI, said:  "Managing through this crisis has given leaders a glimpse of what the Future of Work holds.

Our primary goal with Management Transformed is to provide practical advice to best prepare managers for the future, but this is only the beginning - the challenge now is both tol earn the lessons of this crisis and to seize some of the opportunities it has presented, so we are better prepared to face ongoing uncertainty and flourish in the future.” 
In response to the research findings, CMI has today launched a new series of practical online programmes called ​CMI Bitesize​. An online, on-demand, contemporary resource for aspiring and established managers, it directly answers the issues raised in Management Transformed. ​

Programmes will support learners to become more digitally literate and agile managers and leaders, and meet current and future leadership challenges.

Using research and insight from real businesses, and reflecting the ​CMI Professional Standards​, topics covered in ​CMI Bitesize are a reflection of the key skills that employers need to help upskill their workforce, and that managers need to effectively navigate through and beyond the Covid-19 crisis. 

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