Better Boss-Employee Relations: Professionals or Pals?

Stuart Sinclair - October 28, 2016
Here’s an interesting question for both office and the pub: are you friends with your boss? Would you go out with them for a drink, or have dinner at their home?

Strictly professional

The chances are, probably not. A recent study by Accountemps (1) shows that 61% of employees keep their relationship with their boss strictly professional. While they work well with their boss and respect them, they would not consider them as a friend once they have stepped outside the office door. Indeed, the survey revealed that just 23% of those surveyed would consider their boss as a friend.

Of more concern perhaps were the 13% who described their relationship with their boss as “distant” and the 3% who stated that they had no relationship. Overall, 8% said they were dissatisfied with their boss.


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Room for improvement

The main gripe amongst employees in the survey was lack of communication; 37% wanted better communications with their boss. As part of that general lack of interaction, 31% wanted more recognition for their contribution and input. Employees also wanted bosses to assist more with career development, promote better work-life balance, to give support in difficult situations and, most telling of all, to listen to them more often.

UK and USA

When applying these USA survey figures to the UK, a little caution will be required, as the culture in the US is somewhat different to ours here in the UK. However, the overall message would be probably be the same; employees want better communication and more recognition.


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Integrating communication and recognition

Most managers appreciate that one of the most efficient ways to communicate with employees on a regular basis is through a corporate intranet. The ‘closed’ system allows confidential information and new to be disseminated across multiple sites and locations quickly and easily.

Reward and recognition is often done at a departmental level and usually stays at that level, perhaps with the occasional newsletter item for exceptional achievements. It often isn’t part of the intranet system at all.

That situation isn’t going to work for employees looking for recognition on a regular basis, or a manager pushed for time. By opening out the functionality of an intranet, and viewing it much more as an online community than a way to disseminate information, the twin goals of communication and recognition become achievable in one solution. If that solution is available to anyone, anywhere, on any device, so much the better.

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There’s an app (or three) for that

This is usually the cue for communications and HR managers to start looking at an employee communication app. Or an employee engagement app. Or an innovation management app. Or indeed any number of individual apps that work well, but work in isolation.

Communications apps that work in the real world

Far better are employee communication apps that allow two-way flow of information from managers to employee - and back again. Equally, solutions that allow employees to recognise and highlight the efforts and input of their peers opens up the opportunity for greater recognition at all levels of the organisation. They allow ideas to flow across your organisation, and for cooperation and collaboration on projects across departments, locations and even time zones.

The social link

If that sounds much like your favourite social network, it’s no coincidence. Over 38% of the global online population use Facebook, and they use it on a mobile device for 68% of the total viewing time. If your communications app is easy to use, engaging and full of the latest news, hot topics, company challenges, new ideas and most importantly, interesting people, the enjoyment and methodology of using it will already be second-nature to a large proportion of your workforce.

Would you like to be the boss?

Interestingly, most employees in that US survey didn’t actually want to be their boss, or at least take on their role. In a result that probably reflects how employees recognise the difficulties of being a boss, only 30% said they aspired to their boss’s role.

So, feel free to ask employees all those tough questions via a communications app. They may not want to spend time after hours with you, but at least with a comprehensive communications app, they’ll be happy to interact with you, your information, and your organisation.

We’ll drink to that.


(1) Survey of more than 1,000 U.S. workers over the age of 18.

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