Engagement crisis could tip UK into recession

Apr 07 2008 by Nic Paton Print This Article

It's well-known British workers often feel unmotivated and uninspired by their managers. While this is a problem for employers at any time, when the economy is turning down it can mean the difference between survival and going to the wall.

A study by HR consultancy BlessingWhite has identified what it calls "a managerial crisis" at the heart of the British economy Ė with British managers among the worst in the world at engaging, motivating or inspiring their workers.

British managers, it warned, were also more likely than any around the globe to be looking for a new job, meaning they were less likely to be completely focused on the job in hand.

And, while this is not a new phenomenon by any means, it has warned that, with the economic outlook now much more uncertain, failing to tackle this problem could cost employers and the country dear.

Its poll of more than 7,000 professionals worldwide found UK's managers were among the most uninspiring of any around the world.

Nearly a quarter of employees complained their managers were unable to motivate them, categorising themselves as discontented, unproductive or "disengaged".

Extrapolating this to the whole working UK population, this meant up to 6.4 million workers were neither happy in their job nor doing much for their organisation, said BlessingWhite.

This proportionately put the UK second only to China as having the most disengaged workforce on the planet, it calculated.

Fewer than a quarter of UK workers described themselves as "fully engaged", with Generation Y workers (those aged under 27) the most likely to feel this way, with almost half feeling dissatisfied or worse.

Just three per cent of workers interviewed said they would stay in their role because they were committed to their boss, and fewer than one in five felt those who led them were offering significant advancement opportunities.

Compounding the issue, just at the point the UK needed strong and effective leaders to engage and motivate their teams, more than a tenth of UK managers said they definitely planned to leave their current roles at some point this year, with a further four out of 10 wavering.

This was the highest in the world, narrowly ahead of South East Asia (a tenth) and continental Europe (six per cent).

Tom Barry, European managing director at BlessingWhite, said: "At this time of economic uncertainty businesses need reliable and consistent leadership to inspire employees to achieve high performance and help them stay competitive Ė these results make for bleak reading.

"If 11 per cent of leaders mean to leave, then that's a lot of people without engaged leadership, just when it is most needed.

"If a manager is unhappy, disengaged and planning to leave, you can bet your bottom dollar that he is not doing his job particularly well," he added.

More than half of UK managers said they would "probably" or "definitely" leave their organisation in 2008, he said.

"This problem must be addressed. Managers need to understand how to unlock their inner motivators and use them to drive their own, and others' engagement on a daily basis," said Barry.