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Complacent Workforce Set for a Shock with Predicted Rise in Unemployment by 2018

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Employees in Britain are becoming increasingly idle at work, according to CEB, now Gartner. As productivity in the UK slumps, levels of discretionary effort has dropped to the lowest point in six years with just one-in-seven (15 per cent) workers applying extra effort in their jobs. With a slowdown of jobs growth just six months away, workers will no longer have their pick of employment opportunities, and firms will be limited to the people – and skills – in their existing workforce, putting business performance at risk.

The CEB Global Talent Monitor shows employee confidence in the UK business environment and jobs market improved again in Q1 2017 – for two consecutive quarters – and British workers emerged as the most positive about their career prospects compared to European peers. However, this optimism is set to fade as forecasts show job creation and the supply of jobs will slow in the run up to 2018.

“Employees are not working as hard as they could be, for two reasons. Firstly, they don’t believe it’s in their interest to do so. There is no incentive for working harder – it doesn’t earn them more money and they face no immediate consequences for coasting or poor performance,” said Brian Kropp, HR practice leader at CEB, now Gartner. “Secondly, managers are underutilising, and in some cases overlooking, the skills and experience in their current teams. It’s not that workers themselves are indolent, they’re just not being challenged or stretched. As a result, engagement levels have dissipated, and their productivity and job satisfaction now suffers.”

Data from the quarterly survey indicate that employees are unhappy with virtually every aspect of their current job – rewards, opportunities, employer, people and work – and levels of satisfaction are at an all-time low. In fact, a growing number of workers are leaving their employers because of poor people management (37 per cent) and cite it as a major shortcoming in the organisation.

Dr. Kropp continued:

“The UK’s poor productivity is a matter of national concern and improving the situation is dependent on employers sharpening the focus of their learning and development programmes. As part of this, firms should be building in-demand skills in their existing workforce, rather than buying them via external candidates, and improving the quality of managers.”

Workers who are switching jobs have a clear idea of what they want to gain from their new employers – a better work-life balance, a more convenient work location and greater stability. While compensation is important, Britons have very low expectations for pay gains over the coming year compared to the rest of the world. They expect just a 1 per cent increase in base pay and a 4 per cent premium in moving jobs, compared to the global average at 4 per cent and 15 per cent, respectively.

“As the economic tides turn, there will be fewer opportunities for businesses to bring in fresh talent, and employees’ job options will be more limited. Many workers will just have to accept that their current situation is as good as they’re going to get for a while,” added Dr. Kropp.

Global Talent Monitor data is drawn from the larger CEB Global Market Survey, which is made up of more than 22,000 employees across 40 countries. The survey is conducted quarterly and is reflective of market conditions during the quarter preceding publication. Visit cebglobal.com/talentmonitor to learn more and compare talent data from around the world.