Tuesday, July 23, 2024

One third of employees feel less engaged at work due to personal finance issues

A large-scale survey which examines UK employee engagement has found that a third of people are distracted at work due to their personal finances; they were also more likely to report unmanageable job stress.

The Engage for Success (EfS) UK Employee Engagement Survey 2023 received responses from more than 3,000 people. The annual survey, run in partnership with Nottingham Business School, part of Nottingham Trent University, began in 2022 to measure UK employee engagement levels following the pandemic.

The results of the survey are translated into an EFS Engagement Index score, which is calculated using three questions that assess satisfaction, advocacy, and loyalty. The latest results show a stagnation in engagement, with the score remaining at 62%. This suggests that UK employees are showing up but not fully engaged.

However, these scores were impacted by the actions of organisations. Respondents who agreed that senior leaders and managers adequately prioritised people issues showed significantly higher engagement scores.

They were more likely to hold positive views about their organisation’s culture, ethics, honesty, openness, and change management capabilities. Additionally, they felt their wellbeing, professional development, and psychological safety were valued.

In contrast, two in five respondents did not feel this way, leading to negative views of the organisation and higher levels of unmanageable job stress. This stress was notably seen among those experiencing issues due to cost of living, people with long term health issues and workers from the LGB+ community.

This was reflected in an EFS Engagement Index score of 55% from respondents who reported having no access to wellbeing resources, compared to those who reported having five or more wellbeing resources available achieving a score of 73%.

The survey also examined four key aspects of organisational practices – wellbeing, voice, learning and development, and social engagement – and revealed that the greater the number of practices offered in each aspect, the higher the EFS Engagement Index score. For example, respondents with no learning and development opportunities had an EFS Engagement Index score of 47%, while those with five or more opportunities scored 75%.

Dr Sarah Pass, senior lecturer in Human Resources Management at Nottingham Business School and Engage for Success advisory board member, said: “Along with emphasising the importance of employers offering their workers a full package of support, our findings revealed the critical role of line managers and workplace relationships in fostering and nurturing engagement levels.

“Line managers are the primary link between the employee and the employer, significantly influencing how employees perceive their work environment and their overall engagement.

“However, there are ongoing issues of training, accountability, and responsibility that are hindering the positive impact of line managers. Addressing these issues can help line managers better support their teams, leading to higher engagement levels and a more positive workplace culture.”

The report recommends that organisations must prioritise individual wellbeing, adopt a human-centered approach to employee experience, and re-evaluate organisational purpose.

Dr Pass added: “Investing in their workforce will help businesses build resilience during economic uncertainty and promote sustainable growth.”

David MacLeod OBE, co-founder of Engage for Success, said: “Given the challenges the UK now faces we must harness much more of the untapped potential in all our employees both in the public and private sectors. This research makes clear that we have much to do, but also that best practice already exists, offering us all a way forward to significantly improve organisational outcomes in all sectors of our economy.”

Nita Clarke OBE, director of the Involvement and Participation Association and co-founder Engage for Success, said: “Positive employee engagement must underpin every national effort to improve our productivity. This immensely valuable survey points to what works – but also indicates we have a long way to go.”

James Court-Smith, director at business analytics firm, Stillae, NTU Visiting Fellow, and Engage for Success board member, said: “How we feel about work affects how we show up there. The job itself, the wider career, our boss, and colleagues all impact our self-worth and our health, either positively or negatively.

“It should be no surprise that this has a direct impact on how productive we are, how much ownership we take and what discretionary effort we apply at work.

“Engagement offers an opportunity to measure and manage this dynamic, in order to boost organisational performance. The impact on performance is there regardless, employers can choose to seize the opportunity by working on engagement, or choose to ignore it, and leave attainable performance gains on the table.”

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