The latest Employee Outlook report, published by the CIPD in partnership with Halogen, reveals unique insight into what UK employees feel is enabling and hampering their productivity at work.
To dig into the findings further, we reached out 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 research findings.
The findings show that overall, job satisfaction has remained fairly steady and yet, employee engagement is down slightly. Why is that?
Claire: Yes the findings show that job satisfaction is stable and fairly positive – 65% of employees are either satisfied or very satisfied with their roles. We also measure overall engagement levels in our survey through an engagement index which is made up of seven different factors in total that contribute to employee engagement, job satisfaction being just one of those factors.
This shows that 36% of employees are satisfied, a drop from 39% in our last survey. Much of this drop is attributed to a worsening view of senior leaders within organisations.
How can oranisations address this gap?
Claire: More work is needed in particular around providing employees with meaningful opportunities for consultation, and creating a climate of trust where employees feel supported rather than punished to innovate and try new things.
What are some easy things organisations can do to help employees be more productive?
Claire: UK employee productivity has been constantly in the press in recent months with UK productivity levels lagging behind our European neighbours. Much of the debate has been spearheaded by what government and employers think needs to change.
Very little attention so far has been given to employees’ perspectives. Yet, they arguably have the most important contribution to make to the discussion.
Our findings show that the answer to improving productivity is much simpler than many people would assume. Employees maintain key enablers of workplace productivity are: having work they find interesting, being able to use their initiative, and ensuring that their skills are matched to their roles.
On the flip side, unnecessary rules and procedures work against productivity, as do not having the resources needed to do their jobs, and office politics.
The good news is that these factors are all things that employers can work in partnership with employees to address. For example, talking to them about job design, how to broaden the scope of interesting work, and opportunities to use their initiative.
There is also an important role to play in developing our leaders and line managers to empower rather than control employees in the workplace.
How does over-qualification and skills mismatch impact employee engagement?
Claire: Our survey findings show that almost a third (29%) of employees believe that they are currently over-qualified for their roles and this increases further for women and part-time workers. When it comes to qualification groups, graduates are more likely than any other qualification group to feel that they are over-qualified.
When it comes to engagement, over-qualified employees are significantly more likely to be neutral or disengaged than engaged. However, all is not lost and over-qualified employees point to the solution themselves with 61% of them believing that there is real scope to broaden responsibilities in their existing role to potentially make better use of their skills.
Focus on career development and growth
These findings reveal a strong need for organisations to focus on developing leaders and line managers who empower their staff. There is also a clear need to provide jobs and goals that enable employee autonomy and connection to their organisations.
Further, leaders need to be engaging in regular conversations with their people about career development and growth. Because when you invest in employee development, it not only expands the employee’s capacity and ability to contribute, it can also translate into a range of business results. A win-win for everyone.