A third of staff at the Alzheimer's Society 'have negative view of leadership'

An internal survey of staff found that 31 per cent held a negative viewsof the leadership, with 38 per cent having a positive one, 15 percentage points lower than the benchmark for similar charities

(Photograph: Cernan Elias/Alamy)
(Photograph: Cernan Elias/Alamy)

Almost a third of Alzheimer’s Society employees have a negative view of the charity’s leadership, according to an internal survey.

The overall narrative report for the Alzheimer’s Society Employee Survey 2019, carried out by Agenda Consulting and the results of which have been seen by Third Sector, found that 31 per cent of employees surveyed had a negative view of the leadership team.

Thirty-eight per cent said they had a positive view of leadership, 15 percentage points lower than the benchmark median average for similar charities, the report says.

Corinne Mills, director of people and organisational development at the Alzheimer’s Society, said the report was "a starting point in understanding where we’re doing well and where we can do better" and the charity was doing its utmost to address some of the negative points raised.

The report emerged the day after Jeremy Hughes, the charity’s chief executive, announced he would be stepping down in the next year.

Last week, a Twitter account purporting to be run by Alzheimer’s Society employees began publishing serious criticisms of the charity’s senior management.

A spokeswoman for the charity said yesterday that it was "complete coincidence" that the Twitter account was set up a week before Hughes’s departure was announced.

The survey looked at the views of 1,659 employees at the charity, 75 per cent of its 2,211-strong workforce.

Of those surveyed, 6 per cent said they had experienced discrimination, bullying, harassment or assault in the past 12 months, which the report says compares favourably with other, similar charities, but still equates to about 100 members of staff.

"The number of people who tell us they have experienced bullying, harassment or discrimination is low for our sector, but it’s still unacceptable – we have zero tolerance of these," said Mills.

"We are doing our utmost to take action to address these points since we shared the survey results, including discussing with our board, our people committee – which includes independent members – our employee forum and our volunteer advisory panel.

"Their views are being presented to our leadership team to discuss in detail and be included in our action plans, in which we will be involving all our people to build an even better culture that will deliver support to people affected by dementia."

According to the report, 40 per cent of respondents felt the chief executive and directors were not in touch with the charity’s staff.

Only 28 per cent said the leadership was in touch with employees, which at 11 percentage points lower than the median benchmark was "significantly behind" similar charities, the report says.

Mills said it was one of the charity’s focus areas for improvement.

"We will continue to do everything we can to review our procedures and training for employees and to ensure all employees are aware of all the channels available to them to raise issues or concerns, and that they are encouraged and supported to do so," she said.

"The Alzheimer’s Society is committed to a fair, open and respectful working environment, and we thoroughly investigate any reports that members of our team have fallen short of this high bar. We have a robust internal complaints procedure and whistleblowing policy. All complaints are thoroughly investigated to support and protect our employees and volunteers."

Less than half (44 per cent) of respondents said they believed that the chief executive and directors would act on the results of the survey, 12 percentage points below the benchmark median.

The results of the report were shown to staff two weeks ago, Mills said.

Although leadership performed "poorly" in the survey results, according to the report, managers were viewed well by employees, with 83 per cent of respondents saying they trusted and respected their managers.

The survey also found that 91 per cent of people said they were proud to work at the charity.

READ NEXT: What the Alzheimer's Society got right (and wrong) in its response to disgruntled staff

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