The latest Employee Outlook report, published by the CIPD in partnership with Halogen Software, reveals some surprising results in a post-referendum United Kingdom. While the CIPD Employee Outlook Report from the spring indicated that employee satisfaction and engagement were on a downward trend, the autumn edition shows a bounce-back in a number of key areas such as employee engagement, financial security, and . The autumn report also revealed the need for improvement in how employers approach career development and growth, and how employee wellbeing is supported.
To dig into the CIPD Employee Outlook findings further, we talked to Claire McCartney — Research Adviser, Resourcing and Talent Planning with the CIPD. Claire is responsible for research exploring different aspects of effective talent management strategies and manages the Institute’s Resourcing and Talent Forum. She also co-manages CIPD’s Employee Outlook research.
Here’s what Claire had to say about the changes in how employees see things in the UK.
What are the key trends in employee job satisfaction employers should know about?
The trends around job satisfaction in recent Employee Outlook surveys have been particularly interesting. We have seen an overall rise in job satisfaction across the board from spring to autumn. And, when it comes to the public sector, the data shows that employees in this sector are the most satisfied they’ve been with their jobs in four years. It’s hard to know exactly what is causing this increase in job satisfaction as there are no causal links in the survey. However, speculation on this might include the optimism that often comes with the introduction of a new government. Some of the messages from the Government regarding fairness and equality for all might also be resonating with public sector workers. There’s also evidence in the public sector of improvements in perceptions of leaders (particularly relating to trust in them and the clarity of vision they create) and of motivation by the core purpose of the organisation.
The usefulness of learning and development was another point of interest in the survey. What's the story there?
In similar findings to our spring Employee Outlook survey, the autumn report shows that there is room for improvement when it comes to employee development and career progression. A third of employees say they are unable to fulfil their career aspirations in their current organisation, over a quarter disagree that their organisation provides them with opportunities to learn and grow, and around a quarter are dissatisfied with the opportunities to develop their skills in their jobs.
When it comes to the training employees find useful versus the training they actually receive there is a noticeable implementation gap. Around 9 in 10 employees said they found job rotation, secondment and shadowing useful but only 6 per cent have received this type of training in the last year. Similarly around 8 out of 10 found blended learning beneficial but only 4 per cent have received this type of training over the last year.
Employers therefore need to choose training and development that is right for their staff and the skills their business needs to develop. They need to work with employees on different ways to develop their ability to do their jobs and start to fill skills gaps now and in the future.
How do employees’ impressions about wellbeing (physical, mental, financial) play into these results?
Employees are positive about their organisation’s overall consideration of their wellbeing and the sentiment employees are most likely to associate with work is one of cheerfulness. However, more work needs to be done when it comes to supporting employees with mental health problems. More employees showed a lack of confidence in disclosing unmanageable stress or mental health issues to their employer. This underlines the importance of creating open and inclusive cultures where employees feel able to talk about issues that concern them before they worsen.
When it comes to employees’ financial wellbeing the results are also fairly positive. Almost half of employees feel there has been no change to their financial security since the start of 2016 and a similar number feel there will be no change in the next 12 months. The aspects of financial wellbeing most important to employees are: earning a sufficient wage to enjoy a reasonable lifestyle, being able to save for the future and feeling that they are being rewarded for their efforts in a fair and consistent manner.
How can organisations continue to increase employee satisfaction in the year ahead?
There are some clear signals from the survey around things that employers could do to bolster employee satisfaction. Firstly, more work could be done to try to connect employees to, and motivate employees by, the core purpose of their organisations. Improved communication around organisational strategy would help here, as would giving employees space to reflect on how their individual jobs adds to the overall purpose.
As with our spring survey, improvements could also be made to the areas of learning and development and career progression. Around a quarter of employees feel that they are not given opportunities to develop their skills in their role or opportunities to learn and grow in general. Improving communication between line managers and employees should help so that practical conversations can take place about development opportunities coming up across organisations. These need not be financially costly – think about options such as cross-function working, special projects, colleague mentoring and short or longer term secondments.
Learn more in the Autumn 2016 CIPD Employee Outlook Report
The Employee Outlook Report from CIPD and Halogen Software contains a ton of useful information about how UK employees see their place in the workforce. We’ve heard from Claire about how employers can improve in supporting employee development and career progression, but what else can organizations do to improve employee satisfaction and engagement? After all, we know that happy employees work better.
Download the report now to learn more.