Change in a climate of fear and uncertainty

07 Mar 2013 | Webinars

The ICG’s own Sheila Keegan has just published a book examining how organisational life has felt the effect of the economic downturn. High unemployment, redundancy and fear for the future are commonplace. Studies repeatedly show that ‘trust’ in the workplace is critical to promote a happy and productive workforce. Yet trust in organisations and management is at an all-time low.

In this webinar, Sheila will explain how organisational fear often leads to greater hierarchical control, e.g. through rules and regulation, rigid performance targets and, for individuals, self-control, in order to survive in a toxic climate. These approaches rarely work. Over-control typically leads to organisational paralysis, risk aversion, a lack of innovation and a depressed workforce.

Counterintuitive as it may seem, placing greater emphasis on ‘human values’ has been shown to promote a happier, more engaged and more pro-active workforce. People stay longer, put in more effort and work together more co-operatively. Productivity increases. This has been shown to hold true even in times of re-structuring and redundancies.

What is the relevance of all this to market research? Sheila suggests that (a) we need to encourage clients to carry out more on-going qualitative research with different sectors of staff within their organisations and (b) she believes we can help organisations to foster a stronger qualitative mind-set, as a counter-balance to the quantification and predominantly target driven cultures which dominate in many contemporary organisations.

In the webinar, Sheila explores the human and business costs of viewing staff primarily as a resource and touch on ways of re-thinking organisations, examining some of the unintended consequences of ill-conceived targets and exploring ‘Qualitative Productivity’ as an alternative or complementary route towards healthy, innovative organisations. At best this may foster more co-operative and productive relationships between researchers and clients.