Apathy rules in UK PLC

Mar 08 2004 by Brian Amble Print This Article

Too many workplaces in Britain are boring and unchallenging places that inspire little pride or commitment in their disenchanted employees. Little wonder so many of them want to quit.

New research by consultants Development Dimensions International (DDI) paints a depressing picture of life in UK PLC, one made all the worse because so many of the reasons for disenchantment are easily rectifiable.

Almost one in ten of the 1,069 people surveyed said that they are bored at work all the time, while a quarter are 'often' bored. In the financial services sector the picture was even worse, with half of all employees often or always bored at work.

DDI's managing director, Steve Newhall, said: “The data show that anywhere between 10% and 33% of the workforce are so disengaged that it has to have a significant impact on productivity. They bring only about 50% of themselves to work when they come through the door in the morning.”

It is little wonder, then, that more than one in five said that they will be looking for a new job over the next 12 months - with one in ten believing that their employees would be glad to see the back of them.

But the apathy caused by having a boring job is not the major reason employees are voting with their feet. Although almost three out of ten said that a desire for more challenging work made that made them want to leave and just under a quarter were looking for a more exciting place to work, more than four out of ten complained that the absence of opportunities for promotion was their major concern.

Similar reasons lie behind the figure of one in four of those surveyed who felt little or no commitment to their employers. A lack of variety of work, poor development opportunities, the absence of performance feedback, unchallenging work and inadequate training are all to blame, the survey found. Something as simple as failing to give employees helpful feedback on their performance made them twice as likely to lack commitment.

Pay came fifth as a significant factor for lack of commitment, a finding that echoes the fourth annual Capital Incentives & Motivation survey, published last week, that found that making staff feel valued and respected is the best way to motivate them and far more effective than simply offering them more money

As Newhall also pointed out, employers only have themselves to blame for failing to address the symptoms of this malaise:

“Results like these are telling us that some fairly basic errors are not being addressed when it comes to keeping people,” he said. “Some of the figures are particularly worrying, especially as people have more job options with the pick-up in the economy.

"The frustrating thing is that the symptoms are easy to address. We are not talking about reinventing the wheel,”

Pride emerged as another huge factor in the commitment equation. Over half of those who said they were not proud of the organisation they worked for wanted to moving jobs in the next 12 months.

Similarly, eight out of ten of those who felt that teamwork in their organisation was strong described themselves as committed to the company.

And what inspired most pride in an organisation? Not it's ethical record, it's level of customer care or even the quality of its products and services. No, the biggest factor is the way it looks after its staff.

"Organisations that fail to create a sense of meaning through their activities simply don’t earn people’s loyalty,” Newhall continued. “We all have hard jobs; we want to be sure they are worth the effort and help us to grow.

"All the evidence suggests that if you get the basics right, you will get more engagement and increase the rate of return. Now is the time to stop playing and do something.”