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@cmi_managers - 72% of UK Managers Name Wellbeing As Top Priority for 2021

Today, the Chartered Management Institute (CMI) launches the findings of a major new survey that has taken a temperature check of the UK workforce during the early stages of the Covid-19 pandemic - looking at how they were coping with the immediate shift to homeworking, how they were supporting colleagues’ mental health and wellbeing, and how they were helping teams remain productive, remotely. 

At a pivotal moment for the UK workforce, when good management and leadership is more important than ever, the findings of ‘Management Transformed: Managing in a Marathon Crisis’ show sizable shifts in attitudes to remote working and a desire to continue with some form of hybrid working when the pandemic recedes. 

Surprisingly, it shows that productivity levels don’t depend on where someone is working, but how they’re working - and how they’re managed and led. It also showed greater emphasis on the need for effective communication from bosses, empathy for the personal circumstances of staff and the importance of fostering a strong company culture.

Key findings - 

  • 72% of staff named ‘ensuring wellbeing’ as the top priority for managers in 2021;

  • 85% of those surveyed said that managers would be just as important if not more important in 2021;

  • Just over 2 out of 5 managers across all workplace settings (the workplace, remote, and a hybrid of both) reported increases in productivity for their direct reports;

  • 95% of those surveyed say that communicating clearly is the most important trait for managers right now - 68% identified it as very important;

  • Nearly half (49%) of senior leaders believe their employees are more involved in decision-making, but only a quarter (27%) of employees report feeling engaged;

  • Nearly half (46%) of staff from diverse ethnic groups think that workplace inclusion has improved since Covid-19, compared to 29% of all UK employees;

  • Of those with children working virtually, 69% of women wanted to work at least one day from home when the pandemic ends, compared to 56% of men.

Ann Francke OBE, Chief Executive of CMI, said:

“The launch of our new report ‘Managing in a Marathon Crisis’ comes at a time when professional management and leadership is more important than ever. Our data outlines the approaches that really deliver results - communicating clearly, providing flexibility, and focusing on employee wellbeing. We found that the managers who have really excelled are those who have recognised they are in a marathon, not a sprint, and we've distilled these learnings into practical steps to help all leaders navigate this crisis and beyond”.

Bruce Carnegie-Brown, Outgoing President of CMI, said: 

"Managing through this crisis has given leaders a glimpse of what the future of work holds. Our primary goal with Management Transformed is to provide practical advice to best prepare managers for the future, but this is only the beginning - the challenge now is both to learn the lessons of this crisis and to seize some of the opportunities it has presented, so we are better prepared to face ongoing uncertainty and flourish in the future.”

In response to the research findings, CMI has today launched a new series of practical online programmes called CMI Bitesize. An online, on-demand, contemporary resource for aspiring and established managers, it directly answers the issues raised in Management Transformed. Programmes will support learners to become more digitally literate and agile managers and leaders, and meet current and future leadership challenges. Using research and insight from real businesses, and reflecting the CMI Professional Standards, topics covered in CMI Bitesize are a reflection of the key skills that employers need to help upskill their workforce, and that managers need to effectively navigate through and beyond the Covid-19 crisis.


Karan Khanna, UK and Ireland Managing Director, InterContinental Hotel Group (IHG):

“Good leadership is delivering the very opposite of chaos and confusion. When your people are dealing with visceral fears about health and loss of livelihoods, you have to be calm. By no means is this easy, especially during a crisis that none have experienced before. Emotional intelligence is key, but conventional actions like reading body language have to be adapted when your team does not or cannot work in the same physical space.”

Francesca Moody, Co-Director of Shedinburgh Fringe Festival and Olivier Award-winning Theatre Producer:

“Not knowing if or when the wider arts sector will bounce back means difficult conversations and constantly planning and re-planning for multiple future scenarios. As a manager and leader, there is the challenge of how to communicate a variable and uncertain future to various colleagues, teams, and stakeholders. How does a manager or leader in the arts - or indeed other industries hard-hit by the Covid crisis - help their teams or other colleagues understand the severity of the situation without terrifying them? How can managers be positive but realistic at the same time?”

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