'Strict control': Barely half of employees satisfied with their boss

'Strict control': Barely half of employees satisfied with their boss
Credit: Belga

The Covid-19 pandemic has strained people's relationships at work, and about half of employees are reportedly not happy with their boss, according to new research by Professor Anja Van den Broeck (KU Leuven) and the Tempo Team.

Just over half (55%) of employees are satisfied with their managers, and about one in five (19%) indicated that they have less confidence in their managers since the Covid-19 pandemic.

"We notice that we are coming out of a very difficult period, which has demanded a lot from employees and their managers," Van den Broeck. "Unfortunately, our survey shows that their relationship has often suffered as a result."

Now, employees give their managers an average score of 6.3 out of 10 – clearly lower than the 7 out of 10 before the pandemic, which resulted in a lot of teleworking during the lockdowns.

Urge to control

Additionally, the relationship between supervisors and employees weakens depending on the length of service: starters are happier with their relationship with their managers (48%) than people who have been working for the same company for ten years or more (40%).

Strikingly, managers and bosses seem to view the relationship with their employees a lot more positively than their employees do: for example, 80% of managers say they are concerned about their employees' welfare, while only half of employees (56%) feel like their managers are concerned about their welfare.

For a third of employees, the main complaint is their managers' urge to control. "Of course, it is important that employees are properly monitored, even when they are teleworking," said Van den Broeck.

"However, it seems that this regularly turns into strict control, which employees find oppressive," she added. "Everyone knows the example of managers who want emails and messages to be answered within ten minutes."

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She stressed that fun extras – such as a pool table and a hammock in the office, or drinks over Zoom in lockdown – are nice, "but if your working relationship with your supervisors is not good, that is all just secondary."

Additionally, now that many companies have reverted back to their old pre-Covid work culture, there is a "sense of not feeling recognised," organisational psychologist Martin Euwema (KU Leuven) told De Morgen.

"Many employees worked extra shifts during the Covid crisis. But they now notice that they do not really get recognition for this, it can damage their trust in the employer," he added.

Van den Broeck's research is based on an online survey of a representative sample of 2,500 employees and 250 managers, conducted from September to December 2021.

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