Quality of life at work: the findings
Quality of Work Life (QWL) has become a concern for many companies. They recognise that employees who are happy in their jobs are more productive, provide better service to customers, embrace change more quickly, and have a significant impact on their company’s competitiveness.
But they often imagine that the development of digital technology, the adoption of flexible working hours or teleworking hours, the opening of crèche facilities, the improved layout of workplaces, the setting up of relaxation or games rooms… or even the testing of new management styles such as Holacracy, Agile Management, Liberated Company… will suffice to bring well-being to their employees.
They have not yet realised that to be a good place to work, employees must first and foremost feel listened to, respected, understood, useful and important for their department and their company. And it follows that the direct managers of these employees, on whom the quality of life at work ultimately depends, must have the desire and the skills necessary to establish trusting, direct and open relations with them.
These companies have not realised that this is the price they need to pay in order that the energy, intelligence and creativity of their employees can be fully released. And as a result, they are not seriously concerned about their managers’ ability to mobilise their employees on a long-term basis. Moreover, today, most managers do not know that this is an essential part of their role….
This explains why a large number of employees do not feel fully engaged in their work today. Studies show that, on average, in France, fewer than one in five employees are fully committed to their professional life. There is therefore a considerable waste of enthusiasm, creativity and productivity in many companies. And this phenomenon is by no means exclusive to France….
Yet, companies invest heavily in training their managers. They generally offer their top managers and their “high potential” extensive management training courses, often run by prestigious business schools.
But while these training courses are useful for discovering new theories and developing relational networks, they are not very effective for the daily management of people: the one area on which the well-being and engagement of employees depends.
They do not take sufficient account of the fact that effective management depends first and foremost on each manager acquiring the interpersonal skills, behaviour and know-how necessary for open and confident communication with his or her employees.
They forget that the success of a managerial training course depends less on the sophistication of the knowledge transmitted than on its capacity to provoke, in its participants, an ability to question and change their own behaviour. They forget that it is only through these behavioural changes that most managers will be able to listen to their employees, involve them in decision-making, ensure their professional development, stimulate their desire to contribute fully to their team’s objectives.
Quality of work life: an impossible quest?
By ignoring the vital importance of direct managers in the well-being and engagement of employees and by turning a blind eye to the ineffectiveness of traditional training in certain fields, companies are preventing themselves from establishing a real quality of life at work. They are thus depriving themselves of a major vector of competitiveness, innovation and talent attraction.
Translation from the french version made by Sharon PURNELL