This survey looks at employees’ perceptions of work and the workplace. We received 2,226 responses from individuals in the UK who are employed in a representative cross-section of industries and from organisations of different sizes.
As is customary in this survey, we asked questions to understand the following:
Job satisfaction and employee engagement:
Job satisfaction has remained consistent with the previous survey at +47 (net satisfaction score); this is a rise of +5 from when the survey was conducted at the same time last year. Women (68% very satisfied or satisfied) are more satisfied than men (60% very satisfied or satisfied). Employees are more satisfied in the private sector (+50), than in the voluntary (+43) and public sectors (+41) and the most satisfied in micro businesses (2–9 employees) (+75).
Our survey shows that 39% of employees are engaged; this is a small increase on the results from the autumn 2014 survey. The number of disengaged employees has declined slightly from 4% in autumn 2014 to 3% in this survey; however, the number of employees who are neutral has risen to 59% and counts for the largest response category in this survey.
Breaking down the engagement scores by factor, employees are most dissatisfied as a result of their attitude to senior managers (a 2.9 mean score, where 1 = engaged and 5 = disengaged), work–life balance (2.8 mean score) and satisfaction with line managers (2.8 mean score).
The overall proportion of respondents who are looking for a new job with a different employer has decreased slightly after a relatively stable period: 23% of respondents are looking for a new job with a different employer. This is highest within the voluntary sector (29%). Younger employees are more likely to be looking for a new job with a different employer than older employees.
Employee attitudes to senior leaders and line managers:
Employee attitudes towards senior leaders are continuing to steadily improve. The area where senior leaders continue to be weakest is consulting with employees on important decisions: here, the net agree score is –22, a small increase from –24 in autumn 2014. Although the public sector still scores the worst in this area, there has been an improvement from autumn 2014, which hopefully is a reflection of positive action being taken in this sector.
Under two-thirds of employees are very satisfied or satisfied with their relationship with their line manager (64%); this represents a small decline from autumn 2014 (65%). For the first time in this survey we asked respondents their perception on important line manager behaviours: fairness (32%) and being open and honest (29%) came back as the most important behaviours.
Work–life balance and pressure at work:
There is a slight increase in the number of people saying that they are achieving the right balance between work and their home lives (62% of respondents strongly agreeing or agreeing); this compares with 59% in autumn 2014.
The number of people saying they experience excessive pressure at work has declined: 38% of respondents say they experience excessive pressure every day or once or twice a week; this compares with 40% in autumn 2014. The exception to this seems to be in the voluntary sector, where there has been an increase in employees saying they feel excessive pressure once or twice a month (+6 from the autumn 2014 survey).
For the first time in this survey we asked employees to describe the culture of the organisation they currently work for and their preferred culture to work within. The survey results show that nearly 50% of employees describe the culture of their organisation as a ‘formalised and structured place to work, where procedures govern what people do and hold people together’. When we asked respondents to select their preferred working environment, over half specified that they would prefer to work in ‘an organisation with a family feel, held together by loyalty and tradition’ (55%). This is interesting because both of these cultures are internally focused and many organisations will want to exhibit a culture which is more externally focused.
Finally, with much current discussion about the need to change the performance management process, we asked several questions in an attempt to understand the employee perspective and preferences for this practice. Eighteen per cent of respondents said they never receive performance feedback, either formally or informally. Only 56% of respondents said they have objectives set as part of their performance management process. Of those that have objectives set as part of their performance management process, only half (53%) said they help them perform better at their job and just over a third (37%) said objectives would help advance their career.
Looking to the performance management process of the future, employees felt strongly that their performance should be assessed as an individual (79%) rather than as a team (39%). Seventy-nine per cent said that feedback should include clear objectives and should be balanced (77%). Over half said it is important that it explains their contribution to the wider organisation (51%) and should be future-focused (46%). Employees did not express a strong feeling that performance should be discussed regularly (23%) and under a third felt that performance feedback should be conveyed as a ranking or a rating (27%).