By Daniel Hunter

The struggling economy has left a large proportion of UK workers feeling pessimistic about their prospects over the next ten years, while a quarter of employees now feel that they cannot be motivated by anything. This is according to a new survey of over 2,500 UK workers, carried out for ADP.

One in five workers admit that their feelings about work have changed in the past year alone, with more than one in three saying this is a result of the economic slowdown. Worries about having the skills to compete in a global workforce combine to paint a picture of a workforce teetering on the edge of a motivational cliff unless action is taken quickly.

More than 40% of workers say they feel quite or very pessimistic about the next 10 years, with 10% describing their feelings as very pessimistic. Even a quarter of 16-24 years-olds describe themselves as such. Pessimism is highest in the public sector (46%), in large organisations (46%), in healthcare, education and the manufacturing sectors (all 45%), and among manual and unskilled workers (50%). In total, only 12% of all workers describe themselves as very optimistic about the next 10 years, with those in arts and culture the most optimistic and those in education the least.

Part of this might be down to fears over job security, with over half of respondents citing this as a worry. Lack of prospects or job progression also appears to be a problem, with nearly half of workers (43%) believing they will be in the same job at the same organisation in 10 years’ time.

Meanwhile, ADP also asked what motivated people at work. Worryingly, a quarter of employees do not feel they can be motivated by anything, rising to 29% of 45-54 year-olds and 43% of unskilled and manual workers.

Outside of pay, the single biggest motivator that keeps employees engaged is praise and recognition, with 30% of employees citing this as significant. Employee benefits that provide long-term financial well-being are also important motivators, with one in four people seeing such benefits as important.

Interestingly, bearing in mind the concept wasn’t mainstream until recently, another important motivator revealed in the ADP research is the ability to work flexibly, with 24% of workers identifying this as critical to motivation.

Don McGuire, Managing Director, ADP commented: “It is little surprise that employees have been affected by the economic downturn and are worried about the impact of globalisation on their jobs, but the extent of the pessimism and its spread across age groups and industries is shocking and will cause worry to many organisations. This pessimism and de-motivation is something that organisations and their HR teams will have to deal with in the coming years.

“Fostering a highly engaged and motivated workforce is a key priority for all organisations, but the research suggests workers are worried about their prospects and how their skills stack up against global competition. Organisations and their HR teams need to address these concerns with a targeted engagement strategy and clear communications if they are to maintain and foster a motivated workforce.”

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