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The Chief Elusive Officer: More than one in five employees have never met their CEO

February 10, 2020 GMT
Unit4 Logo
Unit4 Logo

BURLINGTON, Massachusetts, Feb. 10, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- More than one in five (21%) non-management employees have not met their CEO and less than half (42%) have met their CEO in a one-on-one situation, according to global research from people-based ERP software provider Unit4. It should come as no surprise then, that 60% of employees in the US feel they don’t have a say into where their organization is headed.

The research also found that more than three in five (62%) non-management employees have never received company-wide emails from their CEO. This lack of even the simplest, most direct outreach to employees demonstrates a clear need for CEOs to increase their engagement with their workforce.


The findings come from Unit4′s Decision Making for the Future Business Report; Who Calls the Shots in the Business of Tomorrow? which is based on interviews with employees across the world – the UK, US, Germany, Sweden, Norway, Canada and The Netherlands – to identify how working practices and organizational behavior dynamics differ in companies from around the world.

The research points to institutional challenges non-management employees face in getting their voices heard. Disappointingly, over a third of global respondents (37%) said they would feel uncomfortable approaching senior management to complain about something in the organization, with the most uncomfortable employees being non-managers from the United States (40%).

Crucially, however, executives do not perceive the disconnect between leadership and the rest of the enterprise. Nearly all (94%) think CEOs are performing well in their role, whereas over a third (37%) of non-managers believe the head of their organization is the right person for the job.

Mike Ettling, CEO at Unit4, said: “Today we really have a new board member in companies across the world – the Chief Elusive Officer, the business leader who has not once engaged with their employees or sought to empower them to make decisions that impact the future of their organisation. This must change, and it must change fast.”

“When CEOs are disconnected from their workforce, employees can be left feeling disengaged which can lead to much lower productivity at work and ultimately impact the bottom-line. A rigid, hierarchical business structure is simply no longer suitable for today’s workforce and CEOs need to change in order to lead more effectively”

“This old-fashioned management mindset is no longer fit for today’s business and must be rejected in order to encourage the best asset a company has, its people. Perhaps a way to enable that is through the better use of technology so that employees can feel more engaged and empowered to make those decisions.”


To find out more about why and how the workplace must evolve to accommodate the business of tomorrow, download the full report here.

About the research

Our research, in partnership with Opinium, talked to 1,837 managers and non-managers to get a sense of their autonomy, their own sense of empowerment in the workplace, and any biases and challenges that can cause friction.

This research looked at those who work at organisations of 10 – 999 employees across transportation, infrastructure and logistics, retail, financial services, technology, public services, government, higher education, NGO / not-for-profit and professional services in the following markets: Canada, Germany, Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, United Kingdom and USA.

*For the purpose of this research, non-managers were defined as employees with no management responsibilities in organisations, including entry-level employees. Managers were defined as those within the C-suite, VPs, directors, senior management or middle management.

About Unit4

Unit4′s next-generation enterprise software supports our customers in delivering an exceptional People Experience to their customers – from students and professionals to the public servants and non-profits doing good in the world. Unit4 transforms work to be more meaningful and inspiring through software that’s self-driving, adaptive and intuitive, intelligently automating administrative tasks and providing easy access to the answers people need. Unit4 works with people the way people work.

For more information please visit https://www.unit4.com/thepeopleexperience follow us on Twitter @Unit4global or visit our LinkedIn page.

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