Ayming releases the 1st European study on managers’ commitment and their role in the employees’ engagement.

Leading on from the study of the active population in 2016, Ayming conducted this year with Kantar-TNS a study among 2 843 managers from eight European countries – Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, United-Kingdom.

This 1st pan-European study outlines the high level of commitment of the European managers (71%), combined with their strong happiness at work (86%) and their pride of working for their company (90%). As a consequence, European managers are less absent from work and more committed than the other employees. 

The Ayming / Kantar-TNS survey highlights the vital part European managers’ play in the staff mobilization and engagement strategy. Therefore, European managers must be supported, trained and equipped by their own management in order to sustain the employees’ engagement. 

Beyond product and financial innovation, managerial innovation is a strategic stake to sustain companies’ growth and business performance.

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Discover the results of the European study together with the standard profiles of a “committed manager” for the following countries: 

French managers are committed but want “tools” to assume their role fully

The proportion of French managers who state they are “always present” is higher than the average for European managers (72% compared to an average of 66%), and the reasons for their absence are mostly personal (72%), and have no relation to their work, contrary to private sector employees in general, for whom absence related to their work accounts for 56% of the reasons for their absence.

As with their European counterparts, French managers say they are happy in their job (85% vs. 86% on average in Europe) and would recommend their company to a family member or close friend (90%).

French managers who are happy in their job are clearly more committed and more mobilised for the future of their company than the average for French employees (82% vs. 46%). They are also more invested in their work than the average for European managers (75%).

As with most of their European peers, they feel even more involved in their work when the economic health of their company progresses.

However, they are not very positive as to their company’s capacity to innovate – only 31% consider that their company is making progress in this area (compared to 35% on average in Europe). This being said, when the company’s level of innovation regresses, French managers are more committed than the average for European managers (69% vs. 56%), a sign of their strong attachment to the company.

In their “managerial practices”, French managers allow less autonomy than their European counterparts. They involve their staff only slightly in the organisation of daily activity (79% vs. 81%), and 78% check their staff for misconduct as opposed to 60% at European level.

And yet, their top-ranking priority is the development of their teams’ commitment and motivation, far ahead of management of productivity, considered as the top priority by their senior management, jointly with reduction of costs.

Belgian managers are involved in the future of their company, but not excessively 

Belgian managers are, overall, less present than their European counterparts (61% state they are always present in their company, compared to 66% of European managers). Contrary to observations regarding the working population, their absence is mostly related to personal difficulties (82%) and has no relation to work.

Compared to their European peers (86%), they appear to be, together with Dutch managers, the happiest at work (90%). In Belgium, the mobilisation of French-speaking managers for the future of the company is above average (76% versus 71% for Europe). That of Flemish-speaking managers (61%) is far superior to the European average.

Whether French speaking or Flemish-speaking, Belgian managers would gladly recommend their company to a family member or close friend (91% compared to 90% in Europe) and appear to be, when happy at work, far more mobilised and mobilisable for their company.

However, they are quite insensitive to economic fluctuations in their company, whether positive or negative, and their mobilisation is among the lowest in Europe in the case of difficulties (48% compared to an average of 64% at European level).

More than any other managers, Belgian managers state that the capacity of European countries to innovate is decreasing (13% as opposed to 11% on average in Europe), but with some nuances: French-speaking managers, who are more optimistic, consider that this capacity to innovate is increasing (31%), compared to just 24% of Flemish-speaking managers - versus a European average of 35%.

The survey also points to significant differences between the managerial practices of French-speakers, who are more rooted in the system and involve their teams more, and those of Flemish-speakers, who have a more instinctive style of management. Over 82% of French-speakers, state they organise shared time with their teams and 85% involve their staff in the daily life of their company, compared to 62% and 77% respectively for Flemish-speakers.

Overall, Belgian managers appear therefore to be more detached and less anxious regarding the future of their company, compared to the European average. As executives, and in particular French-speaking executives, they tend to be less affected by unemployment than some of their European neighbours. But the differences between French-speakers and Flemish-speakers remain substantial, both in terms of involvement and managerial practices. French-speaking managers appear to be more committed and closer to their teams. Flemish-speakers, working in the New Economy and services, appear to be less invested in the daily management of the teams they coordinate more “pragmatically”.

Dutch managers are invested but insufficiently prepared to mobilise their teams

According to the Ayming –Kantar TNS survey, Dutch managers say they are a little less “present” in the company than their European counterparts. The percentage of those who state they are “always present” is 63% (versus 66% on average in Europe). And, like their European peers, 78% of their absence is related to personal reasons with no relation to work.

They appear, jointly with their neighbours the Belgian managers, to be the happiest at work (90% versus 86% at European level), as do the rest of Dutch employees, also identified as the happiest in Europe in 2016 (82% versus a European average of 74%).

However, contrary to the rest of Europe, Dutch managers and employees express an almost identical level of commitment and mobilisation regarding their employer (68% and 60% respectively), which is lower than the average European manager (71%) but far higher than that of European employees (48%).

They are, like their European counterparts, proud of their company (89% compared to 90% on average in Europe) and even more mobilised when their company is progressing (80% versus 79%). As with Flemish-speaking Belgians and the British, they become easily demobilised (52% versus 64% at European level) if their company is encountering difficulties. And, even when they say they are happy at work, their mobilisation for the company seems less strong than the majority of their European peers (71% versus 75%).

36% of Dutch managers consider that companies’ capacity to innovate is increasing (compared to 35% for European managers). This innovation dimension has a strong positive impact on managers’ level of commitment (85% versus 82% in Europe) and on that of employees (47% versus 42%) in the Netherlands.

In their managerial practices, Dutch managers do not particularly stand out from their European counterparts. They seem slightly more authoritarian than average (65% versus 60%) in the case of misconduct by their employees.

As with what emerges from the survey at European level, there is however in the Netherlands a real gap between the priorities given by senior management in companies (reduction of costs - 20% - and management of productivity – 20% -) and those estimated by managers themselves (development of teams’ commitment - 24%- and quality approach -24% -). Hence, the importance, for Dutch companies, to rethink the management role and to equip it with the tools and processes necessary to sustainably coordinate and mobilise teams.

Italian managers are happy, dynamic and mobilised by innovation

Italian managers seem to be the least present of European managers, with an “always present” rate of 48%, compared to 66% on average in the 8 countries included in the study. This figure should be compared with that of 41%, recorded in the 2016 survey conducted among Italian employees. Are they more honest and less affected by the absence denial syndrome than managers in other European countries or are they really more absent than others? Do they include their training periods and paid holiday periods in these absences? This is an open question.

However, they say they are very happy (86%) and even more satisfied when the economic health of their company is progressing (96% versus 93% on average). They are in fact the managers whose rate of commitment is the highest in Europe (92% compared to 72% on average in Europe). They are also those who feel most concerned to make their company progress (87% versus 75%). Employees questioned in 2016 also said they were committed, but at a far lower level (53% versus 48% at European level).

Proud of their company, they would recommend it to a family member or close friend (91% versus 90% in Europe). The strong incentives recently launched by the Italian government in favour of innovation have a positive impact on Italian managers: 89% of them say they are a lot more mobilised when innovation is progressing in their company, while 53% say they are mobilised when there is no innovation.

With a long tradition of consultation developed within medium-sized or artisan companies, Italian managerial practices are among the most dynamic and the most advanced in Europe. Italian managers are keen to involve their employees in the daily life of the company (85% vs. 81% in Europe) and to create a real team spirit. They feel they are supported by their senior management and well “equipped” to make their teams’ level of commitment progress (42% compared to 39% on average in Europe).

Their own priorities in terms of management are in fact very close to the objectives set for them by the company’s senior management, particularly in terms of managing costs, productivity or quality approach. The notion of commitment and mobilisation of teams is only in 4th position for senior management and managers alike.

There are several possible explanations for this: the objectives set by managers were until now mainly technical and operational; so the concept of job satisfaction and happiness in the workplace is very recent; and the role of mobilisation of teams delegated to managers is just beginning to emerge...

Not to mention that, statutorily, Italian managers are often assimilated with the head of the company, because of the country’s economic fabric, made up mostly of small companies.

Portuguese managers are more autonomous and more invested in their company’s success

According to the Ayming-Kantar TNS survey, Portuguese managers are more present than the European average (76% say they are always present in their company compared to 66% of European managers).

They say they are slightly less happy at work (81%) than all countries included in the study (86%), but seem more mobilised for the future of the company they belong to (78% versus 71% for Europe).

Proud to be part of their company, they would strongly recommend it to a family member or close friend (93% compared to 90% in Europe). They say they are particularly sensitive to the company’s economic health and, contrary to their European peers, they feel even more involved when the company is encountering difficulties (85% compared to 64% for the rest of Europe).

“Happy” Portuguese managers are more committed than the European average – 81% versus 75%.

Portugal is also the country where managers appear to be most confident in the company’s capacity to innovate (50% versus 35% on average in the 8 countries surveyed), whatever the economic and structural context in which it finds itself.

In their managerial practices, they appear to accord greater importance than the European average to proximity and involvement of teams on a daily basis, while also focusing on monitoring their professional development. In parallel, they are also those who most ensure management of productivity (22% versus 14%), aligning themselves with the objectives set by their senior management (27% versus 20% on average in Europe).

Portuguese managers therefore appear to be particularly “agile, autonomous and involved” in the success of the company that employs them. They naturally take charge of themselves and personally invest in their teams to reach the objectives set for them by their senior management. Their managerial practices appear to be the most dynamic and they appear to reach the most balanced match between senior management imperatives and  employees’ expectations.

Spanish managers are happy, committed and responsible

Spanish managers are in line with the average for European managers in terms of presence and commitment to the company that employs them. The study demonstrates that 65% of managers surveyed consider themselves to be always present, compared to 66% on average in Europe.

Their level of absence for personal reasons – with no relation to their work – is among the lowest in Europe (68% versus 74% in Europe), in line with what was observed for employees in 2016 (44%).

However, they consider themselves to be happy in their job (88% versus 84% in Europe), as do the majority of the working population (67%). Spanish managers, like their employees, also appear to be more committed and mobilised to make their company progress (74% and 57%) than the European average (71% and 48%).

94% of Spanish managers and 81% of happy and committed employees would recommend their company to a family member or close friend. Their pride and attachment to the company is the highest in Europe (94% versus 90% on average in Europe). This is demonstrated in the company by a strong culture of co-optation.

Spanish managers are also those who say they are happiest when their company is doing well (98% versus 93% in Europe). But their level of happiness does not dramatically drop when their company encounters difficulties (68% compared to 65% in Europe). Perhaps a sort of fatalism in the face of a long-term depressed economic environment?

Their involvement is higher when the company is flourishing (81% versus 79% in Europe), but it remains high when there is a drop in economic activity (71% versus 64% on average in Europe) and if managers consider themselves to be “not professionally happy” (63% versus 51% on average in Europe).

As with European managers, Spanish managers consider that their company’s capacity for innovation is progressing (39% versus 35% on average in Europe) and they are ready to commit more if they work in a more innovative company (48% compared to 42% in Europe).

Their managerial practices are dynamic and close to the European average. 81% of Spanish managers say they make a habit of sharing relaxed moments with their teams (77% in Europe) and involving their employees in the organisation of daily activity (81% in Europe). But they are also the most numerous in Europe to want to control absence (54% versus 40%), in a country reputed for its high level of employment fraud.

Priority objectives set by their senior management focus on reduction of costs (23%) and quality approach (21%). Their own priorities do focus on the quality approach (19%), but also, practically at the same level (18%), on developing the commitment and motivation of their teams and on reduction of costs.

Spanish managers therefore appear to be both happy and committed with their senior management to make the company progress, but also very autonomous and close to their teams, whose commitment they are keen to improve. An understandable attitude in the context of the high rate of unemployment (almost 20%, i.e. twice as high as the euro zone average) in the country, whose fragile economy is subject to significant seasonal variations and, consequently, highly dependent on temporary work.