Global HR trend 1: Influence of organisational structure

Arne Barends

The survey of the Global Employee Engagement Index™ reveals striking differences between the countries in the area of work perception. Some of these differences are explained by the difference in organisational structure.

Take the United States and the United Kingdom, where the Anglo-Saxon model dominates in most organisations. That model is characterised by strong leadership, a clear direction from the organisation, little consultation and performance-driven management. This can be seen in the results: leadership, role clarity and performance all score well. Conversely, motivation and employee engagement do not score as well (in employee surveys).

In countries like Denmark, Norway and the Netherlands, the organisational structure is often characterised by the Rhineland model: the attainment of consensus and harmony, lots of consultation and less hierarchy. For these countries (and organisations), the biggest point for improvement is efficiency – in a consultation and consensus culture, lower efficiency is experienced by the employees. At the same time, these countries score well on involvement, engagement and willingness to change. 

In the Eastern European countries, it is primarily a hierarchical structure with top-down communication and management that dominates. From the survey, it appears that within these countries, employees, in general, know what they have to do, but that they have little variation in their work. There is task-oriented leadership, but it is hardly inspiring, and the employees receive little respect from managers.

East Asian organisations have a more tradition-driven model, based on the Three Pillars Employment System, which originated in Japan. Age and length of employment determine the degree of status and recognition (of the higher echelons of the organisation). Also, promotions are given only as the years of service increase.

Global HR trends

1. Influence of organisational structure
2. Impact of unemployment
3. Positive young and older employees
4. More engagement at veterans