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This week's leadership news - August 11

Rhian Morgan

Leaders are facing the usual struggles this week. As well as having trouble managing their aging workforce, we apparently need to provide more ice cream to our employees. And when the going gets tough, should you just give up, like the Saatchi and Saatchi boss? (Though, admittedly, he was probably pushed.) And further bad news is, if you're a leader involved in teaching, it doesn't bode well for your relationship. All this stress is making me scan the dating ads and the frozen foods aisle...

Saatchi boss lacks vertical ambition

In what can only be described as an ironic move, the boss who declaimed women as being unambitious has now given up on his career. The chairman of Saatchi and Saatchi, Kevin Roberts, resigned in a blaze of management-speak after sparking uproar by saying a lack of women in high-powered jobs in advertising was not a problem and that some women lacked the "vertical ambition" to make it to the top. Roberts was quoted in an interview with Business Insider as saying he doesn't spend any time on gender issues as the diversity debate was over in the advertising world. Publicis, one of the big four global ad groups, suspended Roberts on Monday, saying it did not tolerate "anyone speaking for our organisation who does not value the importance of inclusion". Roberts said he was sorry for the upset his comments had caused. The row which cost Roberts his job comes days after Roger Ailes resigned as chairman and chief executive of Fox News Channel following allegations of sexual harassment. Publicis Groupe has a roughly 50-50 gender split among its staff, while around 65% of Saatchi & Saatchi's staff is female. Mr Roberts also appropriately shared his leadership maxim in the article: "Fail Fast, Fix Fast, Learn Fast". Seeing as Roberts had previously worked for Gillette, maybe he's not the best a man can get.  

Employers struggling to effectively manage an aging workforce

Research from Group Risk Development (GRiD) shows that 53% of employers have taken no steps to meet the needs of an aging workforce. Only 7% have refocused their health, wellbeing and absence-management procedures to manage those with age-related conditions, and only 2% continue to provide group risk benefits for those aged over 65. As 27% of the workforce now comprises 50- to 64-year-olds, coupled with the removal of the default retirement age, employers have had to consider how best to look after their workforce. However, according to the research, conducted from 501 UK businesses, 24% have introduced flexible working initiatives – the most popular step, 11% have introduced job sharing, and 10% have modified roles and procedures to accommodate older workers’ needs. So while some employers have been proactive at looking at areas related to the actual job, such as modifying working patterns, they have been slower to focus on health and wellbeing initiatives. 

Trust, tech, and ice-cream perk employee engagement

A recent study from UK think-tank the Smith Institute has found that more than two-thirds of employees are spending longer at work without significantly improving their productivity. Results from the CIPD’s most recent job satisfaction survey found that as many as a third of workers are diassatisfied with their jobs. Another survey, by workplace consultants and office design specialists Peldon Rose, of more than 600 office workers, has revealed that businesses are failing to provide seasonal perks. During the summer months, businesses can risk staff motivation slowing, as employees are distracted by seasonal events and count down the days until their next holiday. Offering summer perks can help boost morale and wellbeing. Of the companies that did offer such benefits, summer hours (47%), casual dress (37%) and ice cream rounds (31%) were the most popular. The survey carried out in July also shows that workers are increasingly feeling less trusted (more than half wish their boss trusted them more and 88% felt that increased trust would boost their productivity). While less than half of workers (43%) feel they are appreciated by their company. Among the most important factors that make people feel appreciated, other than a good salary, are training and development, and appropriate tools and technology. 

And finally

There's some bad news for me: as my husband is in journalism AND teaching. Apparently, those working in the teaching profession are the most likely to have an affair, research from IllicitEncounters.com has found, with journalists the fifth most likely to play away. The website surveyed 1,500 professionals, and 27% of teachers admitted to being unfaithful, followed by lawyers and pilots, with doctors also high on the list. Men (72%) were more likely to instigate relations with a co-worker than their female colleagues (28%). IllicitEncounters.com’s spokesman, Christian Grant, spoke broadly about why professionals commit infidelity: "You have your doctors and your lawyers; the foundations for infidelity remain the same - long hours, stress, and a serious imbalance of work and play." 

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