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More Than 1 In 2 New Zealanders Hate Their Boss

MEDIA RELEASE 15 December 2003 For immediate release


Improve management skills or pay the price of high staff turnover, says new study

It's a vote of no confidence in managers across the country. Fully 54 per cent of employees cite "quality of management" when asked if they hate anything about their current job and more people are disgruntled with their manager than they are with their salary, working hours, work environment or career prospects.

The 2003 SEEK Survey of Employee Satisfaction and Motivation in New Zealand collected responses from 812 people who were currently employed. It found that quality of management was most criticised by people working in financial/banking/insurance, manufacturing and construction. There was no difference between men and women but dissatisfaction with management was also highest among employees aged 25-39 years.

As if that isn't enough to concern employers, when asked how happy they are in their current job, 49 per cent of employees said they are unhappy or very unhappy, compared to just 25 per cent who are happy or very happy and 27 per cent who are neutral.

More than half of all survey respondents (53 per cent) said they were actively looking for a new job, and 96 per cent said they would consider switching jobs, depending on the opportunity offered.

There were some bright spots in the survey. When asked if they love anything about their job, 58 per cent of respondents said: "the people I work with", followed by hours of work (44%), variety and content of work (43%) and benefits and conditions (28%). Just 16 per cent said they disliked their co-workers.

But 31 per cent of New Zealanders said they felt less secure in their job now compared to 12 months ago and 30 per cent said they thought it would take more than three months to find their next job. Only 7 per cent thought it would take them less than two weeks.

SEEK General Manager Jude Manuel said that these findings should ring warning bells in the offices of line managers and HR directors up and down the country: "We are looking at a potent mix of disgruntled employees who would rather be somewhere else but who feel stuck in their current job. That's bad news for morale and bad news for productivity.

"The best people - the ones you most need to retain - will always be able to find another job, no matter what the state of the employment market. Companies that don't address the reasons why their people are so unhappy will be left with average and under-performers, especially when the market picks up," she said.

So what do managers need to change? Some 22 per cent said that a new or improved management style or attitude was the single most important thing employers could change to make them want to stay in their job. Another 21 per cent said a pay rise would make them reconsider leaving. Greater variety or more interesting work was important to 12 per cent of respondents.

"This survey is saying that companies need to invest much more effort in improving how they manage their people," said Jude Manuel. "They need to ensure open and honest communication throughout the company, treat employees with respect and fairness and acknowledge a job well done. They must also let people know how they contribute to the company's purpose and how they can develop professionally.

"These initiatives cost less to implement than an across-the-board salary increase and as our research findings suggest, they will be far more effective in reducing turnover and increasing employee satisfaction and productivity", she said.

About SEEK

SEEK is a privately held company that owns, the country's largest employment marketplace. It publishes approximately 5,000 employment vacancies at any one time and is visited by more than 120,000 people looking for work each month.

About the Survey

The 2003 SEEK Survey of Employee Satisfaction and Motivation in New Zealand collected responses from 809 people who were currently employed. Data collection was via an online survey. Invitations to participate were published on and sent via email to people who had registered with SEEK in the past five years. It measures employees' perceptions of their current employer, their employment prospects and their intentions.

Selected findings

Is there anything you hate about your current job? (multiple responses permitted)

Rank % Response
1 54 Quality of management
2 45 Stress level
3 43 Feedback/appreciation
4= 41 Career development
4= 41 Salary

Is there anything you love about your current job? (multiple responses permitted)

Rank % Response
1 58 People I work with
2 44 Hours of work
3 43 Variety and content of work
4 28 Benefits/conditions
5 27 Workplace environment

How happy are you with your current job?

Very happy 8
Happy 17
Neutral 27
Unhappy 34
Very unhappy 15

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