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Workers under the spotlight

November 2008 - Nearly half (45%) of the UK workforce is seeing its performance at work put under the spotlight as economic pressures increase. A worrying one in five reported a significant rise in this kind of micro-management.

The results reveal worryingly high levels of British workers feeling the pressure of a critical eye over their shoulder. It seems the continuing turbulence of the economic downturn and job insecurity it has caused has led to an environment of scrutiny and stress.

The silver lining is that bosses seem to be reacting to help stem the tide of stress that the culture of intense performance monitoring is creating.

Over one third (34%) of office workers feel supported by their manager despite this rise in scrutiny, and 29% believe their managers are working towards the same goals as they are. However, one in five still feel they aren't getting enough feedback from their boss, adding to the environment of unease and suspicion that's becoming prevalent in the British office.

In general, how supported do you feel by your immediate boss?

I feel supported; s/he is trying to help me 34%
I feel as though we're working towards the same objectives 28%
It is difficult to tell, s/he doesn't give much feedback 21%
I feel as though we're working towards different objectives 7%
S/he is combative; s/he is seeming to make things difficult for me 5%

Neil Wilson, managing director of Badenoch & Clark comments: "It's clear that workers feel under pressure to perform in the current climate. Equally, many managers will feel that they have to show that they are managing performance effectively.

"The important thing for all employers to do is to use performance monitoring in the right way. It should be more of a carrot than a stick, used to identify how best to support and develop your people rather than as an overt tool to weed out the chaff from an organisation.

"Good managers will be constructive in their advice and show trust in workers. By talking with employees and going over any worries they may have, you will avoid making workers disgruntled. In order to succeed in any market, especially a deflated one, showing support and transparency is the key to getting the most out of your staff."