By Max Clarke

Prolonged economic downturn has left UK employees overworked and unsatisfied with work, and yet unable to seek new employment.

These are the grim findings Randstad recruitment and HR consultancy’s latest World of Work survey. The survey gauges the attitudes of some 1,400 workers from across 200 organisations, identifying three ‘talent dynamics’ that may further impede the UK recovery.

The Spread Thin Effect:
Lower headcount budgets mean 23% of organisations acknowledge their people are working at full stretch — and have no spare capacity to achieve more. Yet organisations admit the need to make people work harder to increase productivity is a top three priority on the HR agenda.

Boiling Point Talent:
A tenth of those people surveyed are actively looking for a new job, to escape the grind of working in their current organisation. Thirty six per cent of employed respondents’ state they would take the first job they were offered elsewhere as long as the salary and benefits were commensurate with their current position, whilst 7% would take the first job offered regardless of the remuneration package.

Those earning over £52,000, regularly working over 40 hours a week (typically people in critical organisational positions) emerged as the most disengaged and most likely to move on as soon as they can.

The top three reasons for people wanting to leave their employer included: 1) lack of career opportunities, 2) personal/lifestyle choices, and, 3) uncompetitive remuneration — which employers do recognise as push factors. However, only 26% of those people surveyed said they received a pay review in the last year.

Stagnant Talent Pools:
A desire to move does not necessarily translate into an ability to move. Lack of demand and an uncertain economy mean many people feel compelled to stay with an employer they would rather leave. Fourteen per cent of respondents admit to feeling dissatisfied with their current employer.

“Our report highlights that employees are creaking under the strain of having to work exceptionally hard over the last few years, to keep their organisations going through what remains a very uncertain economic climate,” said Mark Bull, CEO of Randstad UK.

“For some, the test is simply too exhausting; they are starting to give up, with stagnant talent pools emerging in organisations - the people may be present but they are contributing little. Others are tired of working so hard for such a long time with little additional reward. They are reaching boiling point in their desire to be recognised - driving them to consider options elsewhere.

“However,” continued Bull, “our research shows that doing ‘meaningful work’ under clear leadership is a key motivator which doesn’t require significant financial investment. Tapping into this will enable organisations to be more productive, and will help retain and attract the talent they need. It’s not easy to get right but it’s crucial that organisations review their engagement strategies as a matter of urgency. Ensuring that line management understands and is prepared to perform their pivotal role in driving engagement is a vital component of this.”


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