Alison Maitland: Treat people well and they won't 'slack'

Productivity would plummet if employees were always looking over their shoulders

Share
Related Topics

Trust is at the heart of a productive relationship between employer and employee. The idea, floated in a new report to the Government, that employers should be able to sack underperforming staff more easily threatens to destroy that trust – and with it the productivity of other employees.

Good employers have nothing to fear from employment legislation such as the unfair dismissal rules targeted by Adrian Beecroft, a venture capitalist and author of the report. Legislation is there primarily to prevent bad employers from exploiting people or treating them unfairly.

A big danger of Mr Beecroft's proposal, as he acknowledges, is that employers could use it to get rid of people they dislike. This might well include employees who challenge management and question how business is done. It could end up being a charter against whistleblowing. Given the dangers of "groupthink", highlighted by the financial crisis, do we really want to make it harder for employees to speak out when they see things going wrong?

Productivity would plummet if employees were constantly looking over their shoulders in fear of being dismissed without explanation. An atmosphere of mistrust and suspicion at work is not in employers' interests. High-performing bosses today know that they will get the most out of people by giving them the tools, setting them clear objectives, and trusting them to get on with the job.

In a survey for our new book, Future Work, 95 per cent of managers agreed that "good leadership is about empowering people". Our research shows that companies adopting innovative, more efficient ways of working are also more likely to value creativity, to trust and empower their people, and to assume they are self-motivated.

So why do some employees end up being "slackers"? Is it an inherent fault? Or is it because they do not feel valued, because their views are not taken into account, and because their manager treats them like a child rather than an adult? There are two sides to every employment relationship. Addressing the causes of someone's underperformance would be better for UK Plc than adding another person to the costly ranks of unemployed.

The world of work is changing rapidly in the digital age. The global knowledge economy is blurring the lines between employment and self-employment. Companies increasingly draw on freelance agents and contractors. These relationships have to be based on trust and rewards for results – not hours at work, which may or may not be productive. Legislation must keep up with these radical changes – but not by reverting to the old "them and us" confrontation between employers and employees, as this proposal risks doing.

The writer is co-author with Peter Thomson of 'Future Work: How Businesses Can Adapt and Thrive in the New World of Work'

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Associate Recrutiment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped OTE: SThree: SThree Group have been well ...

Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + OTE: SThree: Real Staffing Group is seeking Traine...

Year 6 Teacher (interventions)

£120 - £140 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: We have an exciting opportunity...

PMLD Teacher

Competitive: Randstad Education Manchester: SEN Teacher urgently required for ...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Letter from the Political Editor: Cameron's unexpected tax pledges give the Tories home advantage

Andrew Grice
President Barack Obama walks with U.S. Secret Service agents to Air Force One at Los Angeles International Airport in Los Angeles, Calif., May 8, 2014.  

Obama's Secret Service has become sloppy with its delusions of Hollywood grandeur

David Usborne
Italian couples fake UK divorce scam on an ‘industrial scale’

Welcome to Maidenhead, the divorce capital of... Italy

A look at the the legal tourists who exploited our liberal dissolution rules
Time to stop running: At the start of Yom Kippur and with anti-Semitism flourishing, one Jew can no longer ignore his identity

Time to stop running

At the start of Yom Kippur and with anti-Semitism flourishing, one Jew can no longer ignore his identity
Tom and Jerry cartoons now carry a 'racial prejudice' warning on Amazon

Tom and Jerry cartoons now carry a 'racial prejudice' warning on Amazon

The vintage series has often been criticised for racial stereotyping
An app for the amorous: Could Good2Go end disputes about sexual consent - without being a passion-killer?

An app for the amorous

Could Good2Go end disputes about sexual consent - without being a passion-killer?
Llansanffraid is now Llansantffraid. Welsh town changes its name, but can you spot the difference?

Llansanffraid is now Llansantffraid

Welsh town changes its name, but can you spot the difference?
Charlotte Riley: At the peak of her powers

Charlotte Riley: At the peak of her powers

After a few early missteps with Chekhov, her acting career has taken her to Hollywood. Next up is a role in the BBC’s gangster drama ‘Peaky Blinders’
She's having a laugh: Britain's female comedians have never had it so good

She's having a laugh

Britain's female comedians have never had it so good, says stand-up Natalie Haynes
Sistine Chapel to ‘sing’ with new LED lights designed to bring Michelangelo’s masterpiece out of the shadows

Let there be light

Sistine Chapel to ‘sing’ with new LEDs designed to bring Michelangelo’s masterpiece out of the shadows
Great British Bake Off, semi-final, review: Richard remains the baker to beat

Tensions rise in Bake Off's pastry week

Richard remains the baker to beat as Chetna begins to flake
Paris Fashion Week, spring/summer 2015: Time travel fashion at Louis Vuitton in Paris

A look to the future

It's time travel fashion at Louis Vuitton in Paris
The 10 best bedspreads

The 10 best bedspreads

Before you up the tog count on your duvet, add an extra layer and a room-changing piece to your bed this autumn
Arsenal vs Galatasaray: Five things we learnt from the Emirates

Arsenal vs Galatasaray

Five things we learnt from the Gunners' Champions League victory at the Emirates
Stuart Lancaster’s long-term deal makes sense – a rarity for a decision taken by the RFU

Lancaster’s long-term deal makes sense – a rarity for a decision taken by the RFU

This deal gives England a head-start to prepare for 2019 World Cup, says Chris Hewett
Ebola outbreak: The children orphaned by the virus – then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection

The children orphaned by Ebola...

... then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection
Pride: Are censors pandering to homophobia?

Are censors pandering to homophobia?

US film censors have ruled 'Pride' unfit for under-16s, though it contains no sex or violence