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UK performs poorly on employee engagement

Nearly all UK workers (90 per cent) are not enthused by their work and workplace, according to Gallup’s State of the Global Workplace 2023 Report.

The UK rate of engagement at work (10 per cent) remains one of the lowest in Europe, ranking near the bottom among peer countries (33 out of 38) with countries like the US reporting triple the number of engaged employees (31 per cent). The poor state of disengaged workforces is not unique to the UK, with just 13 per cent of employees across Europe feeling engaged at work, and the lowest rates of engagement reported in France (7 per cent) and Italy (5 per cent).

Over the last year, there has been an abundance of negative news in the UK around the cost-of-living crisis, climate change, and the mounting pressure on the NHS, which Gallup says are all possible triggers for people in the UK reporting growing levels of worry, stress, and anger at work. The survey results reflect this bleak picture for the current mood of the UK workforce, with nearly a fifth (19 per cent) of UK professionals reporting feeling angry at work, a significant four-point increase year-on-year, putting the UK well above the European average (14 per cent).

Despite this, most UK workers may not be leaving their unfulfilling jobs for greener pastures. As the report also reveals confidence in the UK’s current job market has declined by four points since last year’s report, with just 36 per cent of people believing that now is a good time to find a job. Falling UK confidence bucked the trend of growing job-market confidence in the rest of Europe, where over half of the population (56 per cent, up 12 points year-on-year) believe now is a good time to look for a job.

There has been speculation about an impending recession and against this backdrop, Gallup adds that this could explain why job confidence in the UK is considerably lower than much of the rest of Europe. People may be opting to stay in their current role as this is the ‘safer’ option, rather than risk being ‘last in-first out’ if a recession hits.  

With employee engagement at an all-time low and rising levels of anger, companies must act fast to turn the tide on this trend. Amid economic instability employers may not be able to incentivise their employees with remunerations and benefits.

Anna Sawyer, Gallup Partner said: “The UK continues to perform poorly on employee engagement. To tackle widespread disengagement, businesses need to be championing employees and giving them the right tools and resources to be productive and purposeful. Additionally, it’s important for employees spend time together. The value of real human interactions cannot be overlooked – it’s crucial for career development, productivity and wellbeing, amongst other outcomes. Companies that fail to make employee engagement a priority risk losing talent and ultimately jeopardise their overall success.” 

About Sarah OBeirne

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