Poor Leadership at Alzheimer’s Society, according to their latest staff survey

01 October 2019


According to the latest employee engagement survey by the Alzheimer’s Society, some of the findings were as follows:

  • approximately 40% of respondents said that its leadership was ‘out of touch’
  • only 44% believed that the results of the survey would be acted upon
  • The ‘Workplace Engagement Score’ was at 56% – 4% below the median

These not particularly positive results aren’t very uplifting in other areas too.  And, sadly the median numbers that are up for comparison are not in themselves all that high either.  It begs the question about the general engagement of employees in the sector and in the UK.

So what is the problem with poor leadership? 

Whilst we don’t know exactly what poor leadership looks like in this case, here are the most common consequences:

  • Poor direction and clear expectations means employees are unclear as to what they are to do, how they are to do it and to serve their clients – in this case, people who have been affected by dementia and those supporting them
  • Lack of coordination and teamwork and a loss of focus on the vision and mission – in this case, ‘A World without Dementia through transforming the landscape of dementia forever’. This can be through many issues, from poor communication, unhelpful leadership behaviours (eg dictatorship), to toxic cultures etc.

Poor employee engagement means, amongst many things:

  • Unmotivated employees leading to high turnover of staff or absenteeism and presenteeism
  • Loss of morale
  • Reduced/ineffective productivity and efficiency
  • Unhappy clients and customers
  • Poor reputation
  • Increased financial burden on the organization

What can Alzheimer’s Society do?

  • Having conducted the survey is a good start. This should be a regular (but not too regular – overkill brings about inaccurate findings) occurrence
  • Take the survey results seriously and respectfully. By not doing so, it will exacerbate the lack of faith in leadership and trust in the organization
  • Explore broadly and deeply the findings of the survey. Don’t make any assumptions.  Don’t just consult managers or a select few.  Whilst in this case, the managers seem to have a good relationship with staff, there is clearly a reason for the lack of faith in the leadership.  Don’t assume that you know the answers.  Ask open and non-directive questions ie be genuinely curious about the why
  • Consult with a wide group of people (to manage the numbers and to be representative, create smaller working groups and don’t just accept input from volunteers – typically volunteers can be less disaffected). Ensure that when solutions are looked at, that they are as a result of the findings of the groups and that they are well coordinated, as opposed to assumptions being made
  • Leadership – be it the CEO, the executive team, the board or middle management, could look at executive coaching for leadership training as well as commit to having regular and meaningful board evaluations. Without some genuine self-awareness, self-reflection and continuous self-development – of oneself, of one’s team and of one’s organization, organisations will flounder in a world of unhealthy cultures and demotivated employees

The suggestions made above are based on what might be the problem at the Alzheimer’s Society.  Whilst there may be some specific challenges, broadly speaking, the points made above will be relevant.  All leadership teams must remain humble and open to ensuring that they stay on mission and vision.  Having a group of disengaged staff will definitely blow you off course.