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The Chief Elusive Officer?

A fifth of employees say they have had no contact at all with their CEO

Newsfacts

  • Over a fifth (21%) of employees worldwide have never had contact with their CEO
  • Two-fifths (38%) have only received company-wide emails from the person at the top
  • Over a third (37%) would feel uncomfortable approaching senior management to complain about something

Over a fifth (21%) of employees worldwide say they have never had any form of contact at all from their CEO, according to international research from global software company Unit4. Two-fifths (38%) have only received company-wide emails from the person at the top, making it clear that business leaders must do more to engage the workforce.

The findings come from Unit4’s Decision Making for the Future Business Report which is based on interviews with employees across the world – the UK, US, Germany, Sweden, Denmark, Canada and The Netherlands – to understand the commonalities and differences in their working practices as well as how critical decisions are made.

Surprisingly only 42% have met their CEO in a one-to-one situation. UK CEOs prove the most elusive of all nations surveyed: in Britain over a third of workers (36%) haven’t had any contact with their CEO. Globally 5% of workers worldwide were so far removed from their own CEO, they didn’t even know if their CEO was a man or a woman.

Interestingly executives also do not perceive the disconnect between leadership and their workforce. Nearly all (94%) think CEOs are performing well in their role, whereas over a third (37%) of non-managers believe the head of their organization is the right person for the job.

Despite this, the reputation of today’s CEO is not all lost. Approval ratings for CEOs are overall a net positive, even if it appears managers and non-managers feel there is room for improvement at the top. 65% of respondents felt their CEO was trustworthy and just over half (51%) believed their CEO has a clear vision for their organization. 67% of employees thought their CEO was good at their job.

“Today we really have a new board member in companies across the world – the Chief Elusive Officer, the business leader who has not once engaged with their employees or sought to empower them to make decisions that impact the future of their organization. This must change, and it must change fast.”

Mike Ettling, CEO at Unit4 Twitter

Mike Ettling, CEO at Unit4, said: “Today we really have a new board member in companies across the world – the Chief Elusive Officer, the business leader who has not once engaged with their employees or sought to empower them to make decisions that impact the future of their organization. This must change, and it must change fast.”

“When CEOs are disconnected from their workforce, employees can be left feeling disengaged which can lead to much lower productivity at work and ultimately impact the bottom-line. A rigid, hierarchical business structure is simply no longer suitable for today’s workforce and CEO’s need to change in order lead more effectively”

“This old-fashioned management mindset is no longer fit for today’s business and must be rejected in order to encourage the best asset a company has, its people. Perhaps a way to enable that is through the better use of technology so that employees can feel more engaged and empowered to make those decisions.”

To find out more about why and how the workplace must evolve to accommodate the business of tomorrow, download the full report here

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About the research

Our research, in partnership with Opinium, talked to 1,837 managers and non-managers to get a sense of their autonomy, their own sense of empowerment in the workplace, and any biases and challenges that can cause friction.   

This research looked at those who work at organizations of 10 – 999 employees across transportation, infrastructure and logistics; retail; financial services; technology; public services; government; higher education; NGO / not-for-profit and professional services in the following markets: Canada; Germany; Netherlands; Norway; Sweden; United Kingdom and USA. 

*For the purpose of this research, non-managers were defined as employees with no management responsibilities in organizations This includes entry-level employees. Managers were defined as those within the C-suite, VPs, Directors, senior management or middle management. 

About Unit4

Unit4’s next-generation enterprise software supports our customers in delivering an exceptional People Experience to their customers – from students and professionals to the public servants and non-profits doing good in the world. Unit4 transforms work to be more meaningful and inspiring through software that’s self-driving, adaptive and intuitive, intelligently automating administrative tasks and providing easy access to the answers people need. Unit4 works with people the way people work.

For more information please visit https://www.unit4.com/thepeopleexperience follow us on Twitter @Unit4global, or visit our LinkedIn page

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Contact

Emma Keates

Global Head of Communications

emma.keates@unit4.com
  • +44 (0)7769 671378

Paul Addison

Global Communications Manager

paul.addison@unit4.com
  • +44 (0)7980948966

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