Stuart Gentle Publisher at Onrec

I am not a number! New research reveals half of UK workers don't feel they are treated as individuals

New research commissioned by Talent Q reveals that organisations are missing a trick when it comes to motivating employees and retaining staff

  • 81% agree they would be more engaged and energised if employers understood what motivated them as individuals
  • 37% of employees are planning to leave their job in next 12 months

New research commissioned by Talent Q reveals that organisations are missing a trick when it comes to motivating employees and retaining staff. Nearly half (47%) of employees feel that they are not treated as an individual in the workplace, suggesting that organisations are categorising them as part of homogenous groups, despite 81% of respondents stating that this would better motivate them and improve their performance levels.

The findings, taken from Talent Q’s ‘Putting the ‘I’ into engagement’ report – an in-depth survey of 1,255 employees, across sectors and job roles– looks to gain insight into post-recession employee attitudes and individual workplace concerns. The new report also offers practical advice about what organisations can do to engage and retain individuals in 2014 and beyond as dissatisfied employees look for new job opportunities in the improving economy.

The research also reveals that nearly a third (30%) of employees are unmotivated in their job, with 10% claiming to be ‘very unmotivated’. More than a third (37%) are also planning to leave their current role in the next 12 months, suggesting UK companies are on the brink of a mass talent exodus.

The least motivated industry is the finance sector with 46% of employees reporting to be either ‘very’ or fairly’ unmotivated. By comparison, the most motivated employees were found in the architecture, engineering and building sectors, with 79% reporting being ‘fairly’ or ‘very’ motivated.

Lucy Beaumont, Solutions Director at Talent Q, comments, “The overriding message here is that across the board, a significant proportion of employees are unmotivated, disengaged and ready to leave their current role. This is an alarming state of affairs, and indicates that the low levels of engagement we are seeing in the UK are likely to be down to employees not being motivated in ways that matter to them individually. Understanding what motivates an individual employee is a key piece of the talent management jigsaw and one that cannot be overlooked. “

The research also highlights the critical link that line managers play in the motivation levels of employees. Nearly half (47%) of workers say they feel neglected by their line manager; reporting that they feel they have either insufficient time or resources, or both, to dedicate to managing them. However, while it’s commonly thought that ‘people leave managers not jobs’, of those planning to leave their job, only 20% say it is due to this relationship. This suggests  that while the research indicates that staff motivation and engagement levels is not directly linked to relationships with line managers, it is clear that line managers are in a position to influence and direct change.

When looking more closely at line manager relationships with staff, 11% of employees describe their working relationship as having a ‘personal element’ and more than half (51%) disagreed with the statement ‘my line manager adapts their working styles to suit me’, suggesting that line managers are failing to get the best out of team members because they are not treating them on a personal and individual level, or being empowered to do so.

Beaumont continues: “Our research clearly highlights the need to assess individual motivation. Only by addressing these motivational factors will organisations truly understand what energises and stimulates employees. It also clearly demonstrates the need to empower line managers with the tools and resources to engage with employees to help improve employee motivation and engagement levels.

“During the recession, with fewer job opportunities available the disengaged have stayed in their jobs, biding their time before actually deciding to leave – we call this ‘ghost turnover’.  With the economy on the upturn, we believe there’s an 'Engagement Revolution' coming and organisations need to act now and do all they can to keep talented employees before it’s too late.

“These workforces have delivered through the toughest economic recession in decades and organisations would be foolish if they didn’t take steps to retain staff. We strongly urge employers to re-address their employee engagement methods and respond to the individual drivers of employees who may well be looking for another job right now.”