The key to increased productivity: interesting work and trust to do the job

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If employers want to boost the productivity of their workforce they need to give them interesting work and trust them to get on with it. This is one of the main findings of the /Halogen Software Employee Outlook 2015 survey.

When asked what would make them more productive at work, top of employees’ list is interesting work (40%), followed by being able to use their initiative (39%), having the resources needed to do the job (31%) and being given tasks that complement their skills (25%).

Employees were then asked what hinders productivity and the results were unnecessary rules and procedures (28%), not having the resources needed to do the job (28%), office politics (24%) and boring work (20%).

Overall, the report found that job satisfaction has increased slightly – up one point from +47 in spring 2015 to +48. Private sector employees are the most satisfied (+50), with public sector employees the least (+38). Older employees are the most likely to be satisfied with their jobs – only 13% said they were dissatisfied, compared with 26% of 18-24 year olds and 22% of 25-34 year olds. The report also looked into the levels of satisfaction reported in different sectors and types of business. Those working in the construction sector were found to be significantly more likely to be satisfied than those working in any other sector surveyed. Employees working in micro businesses also reported the highest levels of satisfaction at +76.

Despite this small increase in job satisfaction, there has been an equally small decline in employee engagement –39% of employees said they were engaged in the spring report, compared to 36% in the autumn report. The number of employees who are neutral regarding engagement has risen to 61%. Men reported significantly higher engagement levels than women. Several factors contribute to high levels of disengagement – many of the respondents to the survey highlighted the attitude of senior managers, work life balance and satisfaction with their line manager as being problematic.

Relationships between senior managers and line managers were found to have deteriorated since the spring survey. When measuring employee satisfaction with senior managers across five key areas – consultation, respect, trust, confidence and clarity of vision – the report showed that scores had worsened in each area. The biggest drop was in clarity of vision, followed by confidence and consultation. Of the respondents that are actively job seeking, more than a quarter (28%) said they are doing it because they are unhappy with the leadership of their senior management team.

The report also highlights the need for organisations to communicate more effectively with employees. A little under half (46%) of employees said they felt that they received either limited information or very little about what is happening in their organisation.

Would the employees polled recommend their organisation to others as a place to work? Just over half (51%) said they would. However, one fifth of them are currently looking for a new job at a different company, a fall of 3% from the last survey. Of those who are looking, over half (51%) have actually applied for a new job in the previous six months. Why are they looking to move? The number one reason is to increase job satisfaction (54%), followed by achieving better pay/benefits elsewhere (52%). Roughly two-fifths stated that they are looking to change the type of work they do altogether.

When respondents were asked if their current organisation could fulfill their career aspirations, the results were pretty even – exactly a third said it was likely or very likely that it could, while 32% said it was unlikely or very unlikely.

Almost a third (29%) said they were overqualified for their current role. But, 63% thought they had the right level of qualifications for their current role. What are organisations doing to improve the skills and knowledge of their workforce? Again, opinions were fairly equally divided here – 46% of respondents said that their organisation invests in training and developing people in order to fill roles that are difficult to recruit for while 45% said it happened infrequently or not at all.

When it comes to performance management, three fifths of respondents said their organisation has a performance management process and nearly half of them believe it is very or somewhat fair.

There is also good news in that there has been an increase, albeit a small one, in employees’ ability to strike a good balance between work and home life. Female respondents reported an increase in work-life balance, although men reported a decrease. And it’s managers that are making the difference – +6 of respondents said their manager provides them with support, compared to the 0 figure that praised their organisation for providing the necessary support.

Despite this overall improvement in work-life balance, two fifths (38%) of employees still report being under excessive pressure at work at least once a week.

The report concludes by exhorting employers to everything they can to empower and stimulate employees at work, for the sake of employees and the sake of organisational productivity.

by Roisin Woolnough

[Picture credit: tpsdave]

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