Opinion: What the Prime Minister does that over half of the New Zealand workforce wishes their organisation would do

Thursday 2 May 2024

By Professor Jarrod Haar

Prime Minister Christopher Luxon has recently been praised in the media, including the New Zealand Herald and Stuff, for acting on what has been termed ‘poor performers’. According to my latest wellbeing@work research, it appears many New Zealand employees wish their employers would take similar action.

The most recent wave in April 2024, which covered 1081 representative New Zealand employees, asked workers about poor performers. The findings showed that 57.6 per cent reported working with a poor performing co-worker whom they wished would quit (but stubbornly wouldn’t), 57 per cent reported believing their manager appears to tolerate the poor performance and 58.4 per cent report that the reason for this ‘tolerance’ is due to their organisation not wanting the hassle of managing poor performers.

This clearly indicates that the majority of workers feel they have a poor performer in their team or workplace, and that either the person doesn’t want to quit, or their manager or organisation doesn’t want to address the issue. This research suggests that over half of New Zealand’s workforce sympathises with the Prime Minister’s predicament and likely applauds his management style.

But why should we care?

Well, workers who think their employers tolerate poor performance are much more likely to consider quitting!

Those in the category of working with poor performers who are not addressed are 22 times more likely to seriously consider quitting their job. They are also more inclined to reduce their work ethic and ‘slack off’ because the lack of respect around poor performer management bugs them.

If you think poor performers are a problem, wait until other workers start joining in and doing less than they previously did. It seems poor performers encourage good performers to be bad!

This is a wakeup call for employers and managers to consider making the performance of poor employees a critical issue rather than the current norm of ‘blasé indifference’.

Irrespective of your political leanings, the majority of the workforce likely appreciates the action being taken by the Prime Minister.

Professor Jarrod Haar is the Dean of Management and Māori Business in the Massey Business School. He is a world-class researcher who focuses on themes related to employees and employer dynamics, including wellbeing, job burnout, work-life balance, teams, firm innovation, HR practices, entrepreneurship and retention.

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