UK workforce remains relatively disillusioned

Survey reveals that almost half of British employees considered quitting their job in the last year

UK workforce remains relatively disillusioned

Fresh on the heels of the news that a third of UK employees have experienced a wage freeze or cut since the recession kicked in, it is probably of little surprise to learn that pay continues to rank as their most pressing concern five years on. Research from market research company Ipsos MORI and global pre-paid services firm Edenred reveals that 47% of the 800 British employees surveyed as part of their latest ‘Barometer on the well-being and motivation of European employees’ mentioned the ‘level of wages’ as their main concern. This represented a 1% increase from 2008, and ranks higher than ‘keeping their job’ at 31% (up 3% from 2008) and the time they spend working at 22% (down 4% from 2008). 

The barometer goes on to show that 44% of the UK workers surveyed were dissatisfied with their purchasing power, 39% with their fixed pay and 30% with their variable pay. These figures are accompanied by further data showing that over a third (36%) of employees are not confident about their professional future in the company and the future of the company as whole (27%). Meanwhile, 35% believe it would be easy to find a comparable job, with over half (56%) admitting the opposite.

However, perhaps of more concern is the fact that 48% of those surveyed this year admit they have already considered leaving their job, with 12% actively seeking alternative employment. And such a lack of loyalty appears more common among managerial types with 53% having pondered a departure at some point in time. To put things in gloomy perspective, these levels of dissatisfaction are the highest of the six countries selected to partake in the survey. Whilst 42% of French have considered leaving their job in the last year, this figure is 40% in Germany and 34% in Belgium.

Indeed, the barometer notes the persistence of two key characteristics in British employees: firstly that they seem relatively distant from their jobs and secondly, as a result, they are potentially more volatile towards their companies. Additional statistics, whilst not that different from previous barometers , still offer worrying reading, notably that just 39% of employees are “sufficiently” committed to their job, with 10% in the “not much” camp and 5% “not at all”. That said, some solace can at least be found in the 38% who said they have “a lot” of commitment, yet we are scratching our heads somewhat at the 8% who described their commitment as “too much”.

Nevertheless, the final nail in the proverbial coffin is provided by the 37% who see their job as routine – again the highest level of all countries surveyed. And scarcely more than a third of UK employees (35%) said they were frequently happy, with only 27% saying they regularly felt fulfilled.

Andy Philpott, sales and marketing director of Edenred UK said: “This survey paints a picture of employer-employee relationships under incredible pressure in the UK. Employees feel uninspired by their work and think they are getting a raw deal when it comes to pay as the cost of living rises.

“It is clear as optimism in the UK economy increases that employers need to rethink the way they engage and reward their people if they are to improve employee loyalty and retain the talent they need to sustain their organisations through the economic recovery.”

Pessimism, it seems, remains the resounding feeling when it comes to the country’s workforce then. Whilst something like yesterday’s welcome unemployment news provides a tiny glimpse of the light at the end of the tunnel, it is relatively clear that redemption is still a fair way off yet.   

Adam Pescod
Adam Pescod

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