IN THE not-too-distant past, a well-recognised pinnacle of a professional career was a corner office and a managerial position. But today’s workforce has different ideas of success and a very different idea of what employee reward means in 2020, as a recent survey by Boston Consulting Group (BCG) has shown.

In it, only one in 10 non-managers aspired to become a manager, and 81% of those already in a managerial role, reported feeling “more overworked, more stressed, and less supported than they did just a few years ago”. With statistics like these, it is fair to say that management is in crisis. The survey revealed still more interesting results. A total of 17% of non-managers, having seen the pressures on their bosses, would prefer to sidestep the traditional path when it comes to promotion season and swop a managerial role for a position based on their expertise – with no managerial responsibilities.

In fact, a recent study conducted by South African financial services company PPS showed that burnout is a major problem among South Africa’s top professionals. The study surveyed 5 837 professionals across major sectors, including law, medicine and engineering and 22% of all respondents felt that they were overworked due to staff shortages and long working hours. Malcolm Young, the GM for the Choose Life Specialist Recovery Centre, the inpatient addiction treatment facility, said: “Issues such as unfair demands from senior-level management, restructuring and increased hours, unqualified individuals promoted to positions of seniority – all of these are having an impact on South African corporates.”

Managers themselves, who enjoy the collaborative and team-building parts of their jobs, nevertheless resent having to carry out strategies they disagree with. In fact, what managers are really after is “more control over their workload and greater recognition from their supervisors”. Fortunately, the growing trend for a more agile way of working chimes with the bugbears of the 5 000 employees who were interviewed for this survey. Inspired by the co-operative and empowering nature of a start-up culture, agile working places a great emphasis on cross-functional and self-managed teams who operate in separate units, often in co-working spaces.

“In a world of increasing speed and uncertainty, the days of top-down, trickle-down decision-making are coming to an end,” said Vinciane Beauchene, a managing director and partner at BCG. “Agile is a promising alternative that can improve co-operation, employee engagement and innovation,” he added. It is clear that a sense of autonomy and employee recognition are key drivers for today’s workers, so companies will have to realign traditional ways of rewarding exceptional employees if they want to attract the best. Whether that’s fewer promotions in favour of more collaboration (and less oversight) is something that each company can decide on for itself, but the tools are there to help them.

From the cloud-computing capabilities and increasingly sophisticated software that’s heralded the Fourth Industrial Revolution and allowed employees to work from almost anywhere, to the co-working model that’s springing up not just in cities but suburbs too, one thing is certain – the new promotion trend for self-management is here to stay.

Supplied by GoContent Lab on behalf of Regus.

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