Job-seeking intentions hits two-year high, finds CIPD


Job satisfaction in the UK has dropped to its lowest level for over two years and job-seeking intentions have risen to almost a quarter (24%) of employees – a two and a half year high, the CIPD says.

The organisation states that although wider global economic uncertainty has likely shaken the labour market, the world of work is changing too, and organisations therefore need to rethink their approach to employee career management, in order to engage and retain staff.

The latest CIPD/Halogen Employee Outlook report surveyed over 2,000 UK employees in February and March 2016. It found that job satisfaction has fallen across all sectors (net score = +40, compared to +48 in Autumn 2015), but particularly in the private sector (+41, compared +50 in Autumn 2015). Employees in micro businesses have the highest levels of job satisfaction by size of organisation at +49, but even this figure represents a substantial reduction from Autumn 2015 where job satisfaction was almost 30 points higher at +76.

Exploring a range of employee issues that could affect job satisfaction, the CIPD/Halogen survey finds that almost a fifth (23%) of employees believe their organisation’s performance management processes are unfair (an increase from 20% in Autumn 2015). Over a quarter (27%) are dissatisfied with the opportunity to develop their skills in their job and this is reflected in the number of employees who say they are unlikely to fulfil their career aspirations in their current organisation, which has also increased to 36% (32% in Autumn 2015).

Claire McCartney, research adviser for resourcing and talent planning at the CIPD, commented, “Today’s research shows that our approaches to job design and career management have not kept pace with the rapidly changing world of work or with employee expectations.

Although many organisations are flatter in structure and have adopted matrix ways of working, this can mean routes for career progression are not as clear. Despite wider global economic uncertainty, employers need to think of new ways to keep their employees engaged and committed.

“Organisations therefore need to redefine their approach to careers in the light of this new context in order to future-proof their workforce. They need to think about career growth in a more holistic way, rather than traditional, hierarchical progression, and instead give employees opportunities for a breadth of diverse experiences and opportunities that maximise their skills and their employability going forward.”

The survey also reveals that net satisfaction with line managers has risen to +47 (+44 in Autumn 2015). Employees in the voluntary sector (+53) are most satisfied with their managers, followed by those in the public (+48) and then the private sector (+46). Employees say that their line managers are most likely to be committed to their organisation (69%), treat employees fairly (67%), make clear what is expected of them (59%), are supportive if they have a problem (57%) and listen to their suggestions (55%). Line managers, however, were reported as less likely to coach employees on the job (24%), act as a role model (34%), discuss training and development needs (38%), provide feedback on performance (42%) and keep them in touch with what is going on (46%).

McCartney added, “It’s really positive to see overall satisfaction with line managers increasing in this survey, and the findings point to the importance of quality communication and consultation between employees and line managers. However, although line managers are committing themselves to their duty of care and employee welfare, it seems they aren’t hitting the mark in terms of helping that individual develop and progress. With subsequent gaps in active management, learning and development, it’s not surprising that people are dissatisfied with their jobs and looking for new opportunities elsewhere.”

Dominique Jones, Chief People Officer at Halogen Software, said, “These figures demonstrate a clear need for employers to shift their approach to performance management — to make it an on-going part of the rhythm of work — not a separate, once-a year-burden. Regular one-on-one conversations between line managers and employees can help improve employee engagement and satisfaction when used to identify new opportunities for employees to develop, ensure clarity on goals and expectations, and to provide employees coaching and feedback related to performance outcomes. HR plays a critical role here in supporting line managers, guiding them and providing them with the right tools to enable them to listen, measure and act on employee needs.”

John Salt, Group sales director at totaljobs, said, “It is interesting to see that despite economic growth and low unemployment rates, job satisfaction amongst employees is actually decreasing. The ongoing candidate-led market means employees have more options in who they work for and this is leading to high expectation for improved workplace conditions and a greater sense of job satisfaction.

“Employees are more likely to switch jobs to find a company where they feel more valued and can further their career. In fact, totaljobs research with The Boston Consulting Group found that the three most important factors for job satisfaction were appreciation for good work, strong relationships with colleagues and a work-life balance – all more important than salary. To improve employee satisfaction and retention levels, employers need to foster a positive working environment and company culture, for example through offering flexible working, tailored employee benefits, or regular training and career development opportunities, to help create a healthy, happy workplace.”

Andy Sumner, managing director for Monster UK & Ireland, commented, “Today’s CIPD findings paint a very distressing picture for the UK workforce. Being happy in your job is so important. Spending so many hours every week doing something you don’t enjoy, or working in an environment that doesn’t suit you, can really inhibit career progression and personal productivity levels. Sustained unhappiness at work can even have detrimental effects on your health and wellbeing. The current job market is on the rise and there’s really no excuse for people to stay put in their current roles if it’s making them unhappy or uninspired. Jobseekers just need to be given that confidence to look elsewhere find something that suits them better.”

Further highlights of the survey include:

  • More employees are satisfied (41%) than dissatisfied (36%) with their current level of pay
  • Almost a third of employees (31%) say they come home from work exhausted either often (24%) or always (7%)
  • Employee knowledge of organisational core purpose is very high (+70), but the number of employees that are highly motivated by their organisation’s core purpose is much lower (+28)
  • Employees are most likely to say that work makes them feel ‘cheerful’ (24%), most or all of the time as opposed to any other feeling. This is followed jointly by ‘optimistic’ and ‘stressed’, with 18% respectively saying work makes them feel this way most or all of the time
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