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Stress and lack of development blight UK job quality

The CIPD’s annual UK Working Lives survey looks at seven dimensions of job quality, measuring how important each one is to people in work.

The launch of the survey follows the government’s response to the Taylor Review, which called for a measure of job quality across all levels, sectors, and regions.

This year’s results show that while overall headline satisfaction with work and jobs is reasonable, there are a significant number of people who are not satisfied. There are some major systemic issues with overwork, stress and a lack of training and development, the CIPD said.

This year’s survey found that 44% are satisfied with their job overall. However, middle managers and those at low levels face significant challenges with stress and a lack of support. More than a third (37%) of workers in low-skilled and casual work stated they had not received any training in the last 12 months, while two in five (43%) said their job did not give them opportunities to develop their skills.

Meanwhile, the research suggested that high workloads among middle managers are having a detrimental effect on their health and wellbeing. Three in 10 (28%) said work has had a negative impact on their mental health, while more than a third (35%) said that they have too much work to do.

Those at the top of the workforce were found to be the most satisfied at work, and felt less pressurised than middle managers. Poor work/life balance was found to be the main drawback of these roles, with 28% saying they found it difficult to fulfil personal commitments because of their jobs. This is even though senior leaders had the most access to flexible working, with 60% having the option to work from home.

The report made a series of recommendations for employers, including offering clear pathways for progression, increasing opportunities for flexible working, conducting stress audits, and signposting support services to staff.

Peter Cheese, chief executive of the CIPD, said that while the news of strong job satisfaction should be welcomed, there are still structural issues within the labour market that have to be addressed.

“Those in management positions are often overworked, which can not only lead to stress and poor mental health, but also means they are not able to manage their teams to the best of their ability,” he said. “Stress in the workplace passes down, and combined with the concerning lack of training and development opportunities for those in low-skilled work is a heady mix that needs to be better understood and addressed to enable better productivity and wellbeing across all organisations.”

Full article available at hrmagazine.co.uk

I think that we must be careful with statistics as it is always possible to manipulate them in favour of the point that you are trying to make.  The one figure that sticks out for me is that 44% of people are satisfied with their job overall.  The flip side to this is that 56% are not, which to me seems a lot.

We all spend a large percentage of our time at work, and at the risk of sounding morbid, are a long time dead.  To have 56% of people unsatisfied in their current job makes me a little bit sad.  Clearly people have a responsibility to themselves to manage their own position effectively, however when we look at this from a HR point of view, there seems to be several areas where we can make some very easy wins.

A common theme within my posts is the fact that “People drive Profit”.  It therefore makes sense to have your people operating to the best of their ability and in my opinion a good start to this is a happy and engaged workforce.  When we consider the lack of training and development for low skilled/casual workers there are probably many reasons as to why this happens.  I get that we are all busy, however every role regardless of level, is important to an organisation.  If it is not, then it should not exist but that’s a discussion for another time.

It’s easy to forget about casual employees as you may think that they are not going to be around for that long and so not worth the effort or monetary spend.

In many organisations, these guys are right on the front line and the first and often only point of contact for your customer base.  A knowledgeable, well trained and happy workforce surely must translate into improved sales.  A proper, fit for purpose training and development strategy then moves from a “nice to have”, to a highly-aligned business critical activity.  Not only are your people better equipped to serve your customers, but it enables you to start to address retention issues as well as identifying and developing your future managers and leaders.

When we consider work life balance, we surely must be able to move away from the old-school way of thinking that if you are not chained to your desk for 12 hours that you are not putting a shift in.  OK, there are going to be some sectors where it is going to be more difficult to have flexible/smart working, however most of the time it’s a mindset issue as opposed to a practicality one.  Letting someone have a day off their commute by working from home, or allowing them to drop off or pick up their kids from school is easy to sign off, but has the potential to make a massive amount of difference to their individual well-being.

The issue of flexible working is one of the most common questions that we are hearing when discussing career opportunities with candidates and so by embracing this, employers are not only benefiting from increased levels of engagement, they are also able to attract candidates from a much wider talent pool.  If you have struggled to recruit recently, then this is well worth considering.  Opening it up to reduced or flexible hours significantly increases the number of people that could consider that role.

From a HR Recruitment point of view, we have seen a great increase in the number of dedicated talent roles that have come into the market recently. A strategic learning and development function, linked into an aligned resourcing function means that not only are you able to increase the amount of talent that you “grow yourself”, but when you do need to recruit, you know what you are looking for and how you are going to get it.  This is when you can start really competing in the war for talent!

You may not have the requirement for a full-time specialist in this area, however we know some very capable HR Consultants who could help on a project/ad hoc basis and so by all means please do give us a call if this is something that you would like to discuss.


“Paul Withers is an experienced HR Recruiter with extensive exposure gained across a diverse range of industry sectors. Equally happy working at entry through to director level, he is well placed to advise on any recruitment or job search challenges that you may be currently facing.