20 June 2023 – New research has shown that the UK’s employees are amongst the least engaged at work in Europe, with only 10% being engaged at work. Which means a staggering 90% of UK workers are disengaged.
With recruitment and staff retention already a big challenge for many small businesses, the fact that 90% of UK employees aren’t engaged at work is a big concern.
Not only is it important for staff retention, but disengaged employees can also have a big impact on the productivity of a small business. A happy workforce is a productive workforce.
But having a disengaged workforce is not only bad news for individual businesses but for the economy on the whole.
UK Workers Among The Least Happy In Europe
Analystic and advice company Gallup has released its State of the Global Workforce report 2023, where it analyses data from employees around the world.
According to the report, only 10% of UK workers are engaged at work, which leaves the majority of employees (90%) in the disengagement camp. In comparison with the rest of Europe, the UK is one of the worst countries for disengaged workers.
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.Anna Sawyer, Principal Partner at Gallup
Romania is topping the list, with 35% of workers being engaged, followed by North Macedonia with 29%. The country with the third-highest percentage of engaged employees in Europe is Iceland, with 26%.
The UK only made it to place 33 out of the 38 European countries. Luxembourg and Spain have the same number of engaged workers with 10%. Only France and Italy have a lower rate of workforce engagement with 7% and 5% respectively.
However, many other European countries that have similar prosperous economies to the UK are also towards the bottom of the list.
The Netherlands and Finland have both 14% of employees who are engaged at work, making them 26th and 25th in the list. Germany only made it to rank 23 with 16% of their workforce being engaged.
Ireland is just ahead of the UK with 11% of engaged workers, together with Belgium, Switzerland and Austria.
But UK workers are angrier at work than the European average, with 19% of UK employees feeling that way, compared to 14% across Europe. Overall, Europe has a relative low engagement score, with on average 13% of European workers being engaged.
UK’s Bleak Economic Outlook A Factor
The UK has narrowly avoided a recession at the end of last year. However, with inflation still high and mortgage rates rising, some commentators think that the country might head into a recession this year.
The cost-of-living crisis has made workers money go less far, with real wages falling dramatically. The UK living standards have fallen to lows not seen in decades.
Brexit and the COVID-19 pandemic have further exacerbated the pressure on the NHS, which has caused staff shortages and extended waiting lists.
People’s awareness of climate change and its impact on our planet and lives has grown through an increase in media presence of this topic.
All these factors could have an impact on why workers in the UK are so angry and stressed at work, according to Gallup’s report.
We don’t experience work in a vacuum. Our work and our life are highly interrelated.Anna Sawyer, Principal Partner at Gallup
However, it is also the reason why employees in the UK have less confidence in the job market than the European average. Only 36% of UK workers believe that this is a good time to change their job.
In Europe, over half (56%) of workers think it is, showing that confidence is higher in Europe than in the UK.
As a result, many UK employees choose to stay put in their current job to reduce their risk of being made redundant. New employees are often the first to be let go, when redundancies are necessary.
But that does not mean that they aren’t looking. New research has shown that 37% of UK office workers practice ‘career cushioning. This is a new trend, where employees keep an eye on the job market in case their current role is cut.
However, this doesn’t mean that small businesses shouldn’t put employee engagement on the top of their agenda. Not only are happy staff more likely to stay put, they are also more productive.
And there are ways to improve staff engagement without raising salaries. UK workers are more interested in learning and development opportunities, according to another research.
Flexible working and other perks and benefits are also a way to keep staff engaged at work without blowing the budget in a challenging economic situation.