Workforce commitment on the slide

Workforce commitment in the UK has fallen for the fourth year running, as many UK companies restructure their benefits and pension schemes to maintain margins - often at the expense of their employee's well-being.

Aon Consulting's annual UK at Work 2003 survey paints a picture of an increasingly dissatisfied workforce, with concerns over pension, benefits and work-life balance coming to the fore.

The study, which surveyed 1,500 individuals throughout the UK, has been carried out against a backdrop of recession, cutbacks and a corporate mantra of ‘do more for less’ and paints a disturbing picture of an increasingly anxious workforce.

The survey showed that the UK workforce lags behind the US, Australia and South Africa in its level of commitment to employers. And the gap is widening: Aon’s Workforce Commitment Index shows that the commitment of UK workers has declined year on year - from 94.1 in 2000 to 91.0 in 2003.

In contrast, workers in the US report higher levels of commitment to their employers (rising from 98.8 in 2000 to 99.7 in 2003) and are almost 10 per cent more committed than UK workers.

Craig Lydiate, Director of Organisational Measurement at Aon Consulting, said: “The alarming picture from this years study is that employers are failing to understand what motivates their workers. The findings provide a wake-up call for employers to start listening more to their employees on the issues that are most important to them as well as working on the issues within their control.

“Issues like being more communicative and building in elements of flexibility to remuneration and benefits schemes have been highlighted as key areas of concern.”

The areas that employers appear to be neglecting, the survey suggests, are the classic ones of remuneration, leadership, training and development and work-life balance.

Around remuneration, the survey reveals a shortfall between employees expectations and the reality. Almost four out of ten employees cannot see a direct link between their performance and remuneration while almost one in three are unhappy with their benefits package

A worrying ‘them and us’ mentality is also deepening the divide between management and employees. Six out of ten UK employees no longer trust the leaders of their organisation to provide them with information and advice, while almost four out of ten feel less valued than shareholders and customers.

Training and development is also causing problems, with one in three employees dissatisfied with the development opportunities on offer in their organisation.

A third of respondents felt that management did not recognise the importance of personal and family life and failed to provide adequate support during times of heavy workload.

Worse still for employers, the Aon findings are just the latest to underline the growing dissatisfaction of younger workers. Workers under the age of 30 are least committed to their jobs, scoring 7 points less than those in their 50s who are the most committed.

Earlier this month, the Work Foundation also reported a damaging communications gap between young workers and their managers in a survey that found up to half of young employees recruited via graduate recruitment ‘Milk rounds’ leave UK firms within only two years.

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