Rigid workplace cultures are holding back employees, says ILM

New research suggests employers should adapt to get the most out of today’s workforce

More than half of UK workers feel that both the structure and culture of their workplaces are holding them back from doing their job more effectively (55% and 53% respectively).

That’s according to new research from ILM, the leading provider of leadership and management qualifications in the UK, which is launching a new report calling for workplaces across the UK to foster a more collaborative culture in order to boost business success.

More than a third (34%) of UK employees say they work in a regulated and controlled structure. When asked how they’d like to change their company culture, the top answer was more freedom and flexibility (35%) followed by more innovation and creativity (32%). Three quarters (74%) of employees say they would like more freedom at work.

Although employers tend to agree with the need for teams to have more freedom, with two in five (40%) saying they’d like a more flexible culture, more would prefer to champion innovation and creativity (46%), indicating a disconnect between the way that businesses and their people are keen to work.

As well as a clear cry for more autonomy, workers are looking for more input in the business. Two thirds (66%) of UK employees want to have a greater say in the business and 64% are seeking a better understanding of where they fit in. Just a quarter (24%) say that their managers definitely foster collaboration.

“Rigid structures, siloed working and overly complex hierarchies are things of the workplace past,” says John Yates, Group Director at ILM. “People today want to work at flexible, fun and friendly organisations – and employers who can deliver on that always have an edge in recruitment. At a time when the UK faces an unpredictable future, greater flexibility gives businesses an opportunity to get the most out of their people. That means fostering a culture in which people thrive, encouraging collaboration, and enabling leadership at all levels.”

Case study

Media agency OMD UK is one business putting this into practice, with schemes including The Minerva House Employee Council – a group of employees from all levels and disciplines that provides feedback to the Board on how to make the business bigger and better. The OMD Board Academy even helps the junior team to deliver training and development 

Managing Partner - Head of People, Kate Herbert, says “Our people are the single most important asset OMD UK has. It’s so important for us to develop people’s skills and careers at every level, but also make sure that people across the organisation are working in a culture where their voice is heard, and which empowers them to be leaders in their own right. It’s a two-way relationship and we want to create the kind of company that people want to work with.”

For more information on ILM’s report, please visit www.i-l-m.com/manifesto


Notes to editors

For more information, contact Sam Rowe / Emma Popham
0203 434 4302

Lara van den Bogaard, Communications Manager at ILM
020 7294 3062/ 07730 764 867

About ILM

ILM is the leading specialist provider of leadership qualifications in the UK. Over 70,000 ILM qualifications are awarded each year and in the past year alone, ILM has delivered over 14,000 management apprenticeships.

Over one million people hold an ILM qualification and the organisation is dedicated to continuously improving leadership, management and coaching skills - both in the UK and internationally – ensuring businesses and individuals are equipped for the working world now and in the future.

ILM develops qualifications, accredits and assesses training, and provides quality training materials to ensure continual learning development. ILM is a City & Guilds Group Business. All ILM qualifications are awarded by The City and Guilds of London Institute, which was founded in 1878 and is incorporated by Royal Charter.


About the research

ILM surveyed 2000 UK employees in full and part-time work, and 500 UK HR professionals in organisations of 250 people or more. The research was conducted by Censuswide in October 2016.

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