Benchmark study on organizational vitality

June 19, 2019
Borderless Leadership - report

Big opportunities to boost organizational vitality by focusing on improving cooperation between disciplines, meeting effectiveness and practical and emotional support to middle management.

“Vitality levels” among executives in global companies are disconcertingly low, according to respondents of the 2017 Benchmark Study on Organizational Vitality, conducted by Borderless ResearchSM. Because Organizational Vitality impacts revenue, productivity, innovation and engagement, the study highlights opportunities for corporate managers to tap into energy sources that increase vitality and improve organizational performance.

The benchmark study captures insights from 400 global executives worldwide, across a range of industries.

Key findings

  • While the topic of vitality is relevant for most respondents, the level of organizational vitality reported is very low. Most respondents are unfamiliar with how best to manage vitality and energy.
  • Senior Managers perceive their personal vitality as excellent. This positive finding is in strong contrast with the vitality of middle and lower management, which is reported to be low and, in some cases, very low.
  • The perceptions and needs of respondents over and under 45 differ greatly. Younger generations perceive a lower level of organizational vitality than older generations. Younger generations also score lower on individual vitality than older generations. As for energy sources, respondents under 45 lack emotional support and positive feedback, while respondents over age 45 say they lack practical support, guidance and coaching from their superiors.
  • One of the main energy drains for all respondents is the poor division of tasks and lack of cooperation among functions. The ineffectiveness of meetings continues to be an important energy drain.
  • On the whole, respondents report a lack of support from superiors, and the general absence of a culture of support and constructive feedback.

The Borderless perspective

“Much managerial effort is spent on fighting sources of stress. Recognizing and understanding the energy sources of an organization and creating the conditions to tap into them offers a constructive alternative,” explains Niels-Peter Van Doorn, Borderless Consultant.

Companies adjust to changing circumstances by changing their strategy and their structure. To improve the agility of their organizations, managers should focus on synergy (cooperation between people) and the support of individual employees to create an important source of energy. However, these tend not to be part of current priorities.

“We also see that the workplace has evolved to serve the needs of generations over 45. The workplace needs to be adapted to ensure the engagement of younger generations,” adds Mijke Ketting, Borderless Consultant.

“Organizations focus on establishing shared values and a sense of belonging based on a well-defined corporate identity,” says Andrew Kris, Founding Partner, Borderless. “Given their reactions, it is evident that respondents would benefit more from practical and moral support from their leaders and peers.”

To that end, Borderless offers the following recommendations to increase levels of both organizational and personal vitality:

  • Make sure organizational vitality is on the radar by demonstrating its impact on business results and engagement, and its consequent potential to yield competitive advantage.
  • Educate leaders on the importance of their roles as facilitators and coaches, and their likely impact on the agility of the organization.
  • Develop organizational initiatives for cross-functional cooperation, preferably around key projects that have strategic relevance.
  • Develop organizational initiatives that support individual employees and allow different approaches for different generations.

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