Nearly eight in ten (76%) UK business leaders consider their employees to be friends, not just colleagues, according to new research.
Challenging the steroptypical 'hard nosed' boss, the study from recruitment firm Michael Page, claims that three quarters (74%) admitting they want their staff to like them.
Researchers who carried out more than 1,000 UK business leaders say the results show that leaders’ attitudes towards their employees have significantly changed since the pandemic began.
More than seven in ten (74%) admit that they are more considerate of their employees’ needs now than they were pre lockdown, even prioritising health and wellbeing (45%) over financial profitability (41%).
Almost eight in ten (76%) business leaders claim to have become better at encouraging employees to look after their own health and wellbeing and have embraced flexible working as a result.
And nearly three quarters of business leaders (74%) support a split between remote and office-based working as a permanent move, saying that hybrid working could offer employees the “perfect balance”.
Period of transition
Nick Kirk, regional managing director UK & North America at Michael Page, said: “We are so used to thinking of leaders as powerful, untouchable and occasionally intimidating – but it’s encouraging to find that’s not the case at all.
"It’s inspiring to see that other leaders also find it important to prioritise their employees’ wellbeing, with many offering things such as mental health and wellness time off.
“Lockdown has presented leaders with personal challenges of their own, but their primary focus now is making sure that their employees feel happy and supported during a period of transition that is inevitably going to pose challenges.
“The fact that so many are placing an emphasis on employee health and wellbeing and opening up about their own insecurities sets a positive precedent for other people in senior leadership positions who are yet to do so. The pandemic has opened up possibilities for leaders to become more approachable and human, which will be business critical as we navigate the uncertain path towards the future of work.”
Toll on leaders
The ressearch also shows that half (50%) pf bosses will allow staff to leave work earlier for personal needs, including caring and parental duties, while 47% are providing training to help employees return to office lifestyles.
There is even an acknowledgement from business leaders that financial support may be necessary to encourage workers back to the office. As such, 42% are looking to subsidise the cost of commuting or even increase wages to support colleagues return to the office.
However, when it comes to their own wellbeing, the findings show that lockdown has taken its toll on leaders.
Three quarters (74%) say that they find it much harder to lead a team remotely than in person, and over two thirds (67%) admit vulnerability by saying their confidence as a leader has been impacted as a result of the pandemic.