Gap between leaders and shop floor on Covid-19


Employers believe they have handled the Covid-19 crisis well. A large majority believe that staff quickly received the necessary support and training. But according to IBM, management grossly overestimates the effectiveness of their efforts.

This is the main conclusion of a study IBM conducted among more than 3,800 top executives from 20 countries and 22 industries. It is striking that directors have a completely different picture of the situation during the corona crisis than their employees. The differences in perception are huge. IBM has identified a significant gap between management and the shop floor.

Most CEOs pride themselves on having innovated a lot to keep things going. But the question is whether that satisfaction is always justified and is not a question of breast throbbing.

74 percent of executives believe they help their employees learn new skills needed to work the new way. But only 38 percent of employees agree.

Four in five employers say they support the physical and emotional health of their workforce. In contrast, less than half of employees feel that support. According to 86 percent of executives, their company provides clear guidelines on how their organization operates during this time. Here too the reality is different. But just over half (51 percent) of employees agree.


“This is a signal to employees that they are redundant”

According to IBM, this is not just about differences in perception. Big Blue thinks employee skepticism is well-founded. The survey shows that 22 percent of employees have either been given temporary leave or have lost their job permanently. In addition, many companies have switched to cost control. This can appear to employees as a signal that they are redundant and are being replaced.

Increased automation, adoption of artificial intelligence and the emergence of ‘contactless’ activity mean that fewer people are needed to do the work. The greater emphasis on cost control is also reflected. This can lead to employees receiving less support, even when working remotely. Furthermore, the personal connections that are so important to many corporate cultures can suffer.


The vast majority of CEOs believe Covid-19 has significantly increased the pace of innovation. The digital transformation has been accelerated at 59 percent of organizations. Initiatives were initiated in 66 percent that previously encountered resistance, the top executives believe.

According to the report, the priorities set by executives are shifting very quickly. At the beginning of the pandemic, everything revolved around crisis management and workplace safety. But the focus is shifting to cash flow management and liquidity management. Cost control is considered crucial. 87 percent of the respondents cite this as a priority. Managers now focus on internal operations. This can come at the expense of customer service, especially at a time when the customer experience is critical.


“Many companies are moving away from ‘just-in-time’ delivery”

Extra emphasis will also be placed on resilience. Three-quarters want to give priority to ‘it resilience’ for the next two years. Furthermore, the supply chain must be better able to cope with shortages. 40 percent want more reserve capacity to deal with future crises.

According to IBM, many companies have moved away from just-in-time delivery. Cyber ​​security concerns have reached a peak. Three quarters of top managers will prioritize this in the near future. 46 percent want to use artificial intelligence to increase security. 65 percent give priority to IoT, cloud and mobility.

The directors cite organizational complexity, inadequate skills and employee burnout as the three main challenges for the next two years. The road to economic recovery is not without its bumps.

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