Executives Say They Would Use Top Job to Improve Work Environment, Communication at the Office, Survey Finds

MENLO PARK, CA -- If named president of their companies, executives say they would make the office a better place for employees, a recent survey shows.  Twenty-six percent of senior managers said creating an employee-friendly work environment would top their to-do lists; 17 percent would improve communication.  One in four respondents (26 percent) said they would not change a thing.

The survey was developed by Robert Half Management Resources, the world’s premier provider of senior-level accounting and finance professionals on a project and interim basis.  It was conducted by an independent research firm and includes responses from 150 executives -- including those from human resources, finance and marketing departments -- with the nation’s 1,000 largest companies.    

Executives were asked, “If you were the president of your company, what, if anything, would you change?”  Their responses:

Improve the work environment   26%
Improve employee communication   17%
Improve company operations/performance      15%
Nothing   26%
Other   6%
Don’t know/no answer   10%

Several executives said they would provide greater flexibility and a more employee-friendly work environment, including taking the following steps:

  • “Focus on programs to help achieve work/life balance.”
  • “Support more flexible programs such as offering telecommuting options.”
  • “Allow staff to wear business casual attire all the time.”
  • “Increase the number of vacation days, and tuition and mileage reimbursements.”
  • “Make things more exciting and promote entrepreneurship.”
  • “Celebrate more often and offer individual thank-yous for accomplishments.”

A number of respondents pointed to the value of communication.  Their responses: 

  • “Improve internal communication so everyone is on the same page.”
  • “Have senior management do more walk-arounds so that people feel a natural connection with those leading the company.  It puts a face to a title.”
  • “Improve the company vision so everyone is aligned with where the company is going.”
  • “Be more frank with employees about what is going on with the company.”
  • “Listen to employees more.”

Some executives said they would focus on employee compensation, from increasing pay across the board to restructuring the company’s bonus and incentive programs.  Others said they would increase the hiring of women and minorities for senior roles. 

A few of the more outspoken survey respondents minced no words when describing their “king-for-a-day” plans:

  • “We need to put decision-making authority in the hands of managers versus where it currently is; that is, with top management.”
  • “More holidays.  We get major ones, but the day after Thanksgiving would be great.”
  • “I would change our work location.  Our headquarters building is ugly.  We are a $2 billion global company, and it is embarrassing to bring clients and top-level people here.”
  • “Change the general policies about attendance.  Make it clearer which excuses are acceptable and which are not.”
  • “Increase the amount of time for lunch.  Nothing is located nearby.”

“Employees are a business’s most vital resource,” said Paul McDonald, executive director of Robert Half Management Resources.  “One of the most effective ways companies can gain a competitive advantage is to create an appealing work environment, and reward innovation and productivity.  Employees value managers who encourage their ideas, support smart risk-taking and promote work/life balance.”

McDonald noted the importance of senior management being open and accessible to employees.  “Staff members want to hear from top executives how the company is performing and be asked for their ideas on improvements that benefit the business and the workplace.”

Robert Half Management Resources has more than 120 offices throughout North America, Europe, Asia and Australia, and offers online job search services at



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