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Business leaders risk staff engagement through inability to communicate with employees, finds People 1st/ICM

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Business leaders face competing priorities in a tough economic climate but must make the most of communication tools if they want to maintain a productive workforce, a survey from People 1st Training Company and ICM, has warned.

Almost a third (31%) of the working public surveyed feel that when their boss (defined as the leader of their company) is more visible the company performs better, and over a quarter (28%) feel better about their job and the company they work for if they see or hear from their boss.

But 27% of workers never see their boss, this rises to almost half (43%) of workers in larger companies.

Sharon Glancy, director of the People 1st, said: "A difficult business environment means tough decisions for CEOs but connecting with staff is an important part of creating a strong and positive company culture. Being a visible leader is not about keeping tabs on staff but creating a strong vision for the company that all staff can be part of."

Visible leadership will only become more important as younger workers and social media users value seeing or hearing from their boss more than older workers. A third (31%) of 18-24 year olds said that when they see or hear from their boss it makes them work harder, just 5% of 55-64 years olds felt the same. Thirty-five percent of those who use social media think that when their company's boss is more visible to staff, the company performs better.

Glancy added: "Online technology such as podcasts and webinars, as well as social media channels offer a variety of ways for leaders to stay in touch with staff that can be light touch but effective.

"With such a clear link to performance, visibility is a key element to successful leadership. Companies must ensure their training programmes support leaders - and those earmarked with leadership potential - to achieve greater agility. Today it's a necessity to maintain productivity while also improving communication and strengthening relationships."