Only 50 percent of people say they are productive at work

Junior members of the workforce are most likely to be disengaged, demotivated and lacklustre about work according to survey on happiness in the UK workplace

Survey highlights include:

  • 48 percent of UK employees surveyed are not happy at work
  • Yet happy workers are 12 per cent more productive
  • Only 39 percent of junior team members feel positive about whether their job is important and worthwhile
  • The over 50s most want to get to work in the mornings, while the 18-29s are the least keen
  • 52 percent of respondents felt that their job is important and worthwhile
  • Only 11 per cent said instant benefits such as cinema and retail discounts would have an impact on their happiness at work while 23 percent said longer-term benefits such as life and medical insurance or hospital plans would make them happier
  • On average 52 percent of all respondents are working as efficiently as possible
  • 30 percent of front line employees never feel enthusiastic about work
  • 33 percent of people responded that in the last month, something has happened which had made them feel positive about working life
  • 35 percent of employees would be happier if they had more recognition in the workplace
  • Time and long hours are top most major complaints when asked what would make them happier

Personal Group, a leading provider of employee services in the UK, has today unveiled the findings of its Hapi Survey as part of an upcoming report on The Business of Engagement: Improving Productivity through People. The results show that a shocking 48 percent of employees are not often happy at work and that almost one in five are rarely or never happy at work. When considered alongside the research from the University of Warwick that shows happy workers are 12% more productive, this may explain the widening productivity gap in the UK. [i]

Employees and their influence on productivity and business performance

In particular, the figures show that it is the more junior employees who are not only less keen to get to work in the morning but are also unhappier at work when compared to senior managers, directors and those who are self-employed. It is perhaps then unsurprising that when asking employees whether they feel enthusiastic about their job, directors and self-employed are the most passionate, reporting 70 percent and 76 percent respectively. Team leaders and frontline employees are significantly less enthusiastic, with 30 percent of the latter saying that they never feel enthusiastic at work.

The survey also brings to light some interesting age-related trends. Millennials, when asked about efficiency, pride at work and enthusiasm regarding their job, those aged 18-29 consistently showed increased negativity compared to those aged 30+. The figures show that the older the respondent, the more positive they feel at work across all fronts.

Almost a quarter of all employees responded that the offer of long-term benefits, such as health insurance, would result in them feeling happier at work. Almost 20 percent of those aged 18-29 feel that being offered instant benefits, such as retail discounts and cinema tickets, would improve their engagement with their employer. When asked about the impact of money on happiness, respondents were split 50:50, showing that money is not always the way to long-term happiness at work. Recognition and a simple thank you for a job well done came out as recurring theme, both as something valued by those who feel happy at work and as significantly missing from the workplace of those feeling unhappy.

Why employee engagement is key to the UK’s future economic success

The survey interviewed nearly 800 UK employees. Employee Feedback Ltd then benchmarked the findings against a database of over 41,000 employee responses from companies where employee engagement is a corporate priority and regularly measured. These benchmark results support findings from Personal Group’s own survey.

Chris McGivern, Director of Employee Feedback Ltd said: “Our engagement surveys look at organisations where employee engagement is a top corporate priority. With the Personal Group survey, we could be looking at a sample of ‘typical’ businesses from across the UK economy. If so, the potential gain of investing in engagement would seem to be enormous.”

Mark Scanlon, chief executive of Personal Group said: “It’s no surprise that there are variations in engagement and happiness between those in different roles: directors and senior managers tend to be much more positive than more junior team members. Efforts to increase engagement should therefore focus on the latter groups. Many of these people tend to be frontline workers; these workers are the engine room of the UK economy. Our experience has found when we’ve gone out and spoken to these workers they tend to feel disenfranchised, demotivated and neglected.”

“Our survey supports the findings of The Business of Engagement report and shows that only half of employees feel they are working as efficiently as possible. Can this lack of engagement with the people at the coalface explain the widening UK productivity gap? There is growing evidence of the connection that happy and engaged employees are more productive. This could explain why those who are self-employed seem to be happiest and why the UK entrepreneurial and start up scene is so successful – these people unsurprisingly tend to feel more invested in the business outcome.”

“Our survey found that money and recognition seem likely to have the greatest impact but longer term benefits like medical insurance and life plans are appreciated by around a quarter of employees. Ultimately, each organisation, and each group of employees within it, will have their own needs and wants. It is the responsibility of managers today to build engagement strategies and ensure their workplace is delivering its full potential and productivity.”

Personal Group’s Hapi survey aimed to find out how happy people are at work in the UK today; how engaged with their work; what would make them happier and how employee’ outlook in organisations that invest in employing engagement techniques differ from others. Personal Group also published a report which interviewed ten CEOs and business leaders from across the UK to test a hypothesis that happy employees are more engaged employees, and therefore more productive. Results can be viewed here


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