Only a tenth (11 per cent) of UK employees feel engaged at work, according to new research from Gallup, while a fifth (21 per cent) are actively disengaged.
In its 2017 State of the Global Workplace report, the management consultancy also found that just 10 per cent of Western European workers generally were engaged, compared with 33 per cent of those in the US.
Although Gallup said the current economic and political landscape in Western Europe was doing little to lift workers’ spirits, it added that management practices in the US were also helping to keep staff across the pond better engaged.
The report also stressed that UK businesses needed to do more to account for the preferences of millennials. “To some extent, knowing what millennials want as customers and as employees will determine whether a company succeeds over the next 20 years,” read the report. “However, many British businesses currently neglect motivational considerations when it comes to younger employees – or those of any age.”
Jane Sparrow, co-founder of The Culture Builders, told People Management that, while a number of factors were likely leading to low engagement levels, “we are also driving ourselves harder and harder, but we are not as productive as we used to be because we are always on”.
Meanwhile, Howard Sloane, managing partner at Teslo HR, said the low scores could be driven by a change in the methodology used to define the term engagement over the years. He said that, while good engagement used to mean high scores on employee surveys, it is now a much more complex concept – and one that many organisations were yet to grasp.
“Businesses simply haven't caught up with the pace of employee expectation and the speed that technology is changing the world of work. Flexibility is crucial,” said Sloane. “We are still some way off a global acceptance that improved employee engagement equals better sales and improved customer service; therefore it is only the really enlightened businesses that take it seriously enough to invest heavily in this area.”
The findings from Gallup follow a study by productivity platform Asana earlier this month, which revealed that a third (31 per cent) of UK workers have been tempted to quit their job, or have already left a role, because of the amount of time they spend on ‘work admin’ – such as attending meetings or organising their workflow – as opposed to doing their actual job.
Official figures also suggest that the UK’s productivity has all but come to a standstill. The Office for Budget Responsibility found earlier this month that it had previously been overestimating the country’s productivity, which had grown at just 0.2 per cent a year for the past five years, and warned that it would likely remain weak for the next five years as well.
Meanwhile, Office for National Statistics data, released earlier this month, suggested that labour productivity had fallen for the second consecutive quarter between April and June.