93% of UK employers think it’s important to be liked, but 90% of their staff want their day-to-day experience of work improved, research by People First, the HR solutions provider, has found.
Exploring the attitudes of 250 bosses and 250 employees in UK firms, the research revealed how employers lack an accurate picture of how staff feel and the way it affects their work.
84% of bosses think their staff are happy and 76% believe most of their employees are fully engaged in what they do. But only 64% of staff find work makes them happy and just 42% are fully engaged or absorbed in what they do to earn a living.
“Likeability is good in a boss,” said Mark Williams, Senior Vice President Product, People First. “But with so many staff wanting their experience at work improved, you have to ask if employers really understand their workforces. There’s obviously a happiness gap where managers believe morale is better than it really is. They are clearly failing to measure staff engagement regularly.”
The research found men are more likely to say their work really engages them (48%) than women (37%), reflecting the longstanding difference in support and career development offered to women, as well as the well-publicised gap in pay between the sexes.
And lack of understanding plays a role in another difference between bosses and workers. Whereas 39% of employers believe most staff quit a job for emotional reasons, only 17% of employees say that’s the main cause of them handing in their notice.
The research also found more than half of UK employees (56%) regard being rewarded for excellent work as important to their experience at work, while 51% want more opportunities for flexible working.
“Poor productivity is a British disease which we can cure through better understanding of what motivates employees and gets them into the flow where time flies and work is more enjoyable and fulfilling,” added Mark. “That’s why it’s important to rely on more than gut feeling about how happy or engaged staff are. Regular check-ins must replace the dated annual appraisal as only with regular conversations can an employer see the true picture of their employees.”
“There are so many different aspects to any job, such as training, career development and flexible working, that making assumptions about what employees want is misguided. As an employer you need to know what makes your staff happy to work hard and what makes them leave.”