UK workers 'quitting in seat'

Just 16% are prepared to go above and beyond to help their colleagues

More UK workers are ‘quitting in seat’ and disengaging from their day-to-day work, according to research from CEB.

However, the company’s Global Talent Monitor found that 39% of UK workers report a strong intent to stay with their current employers, which is significantly higher than other international markets such as Singapore (19%) and China (23%), but falls below Germany (45%) and the U.S. (48%).

Despite this, UK employees are less willing to go the extra mile at work. Just 16% are prepared to go above and beyond to help their colleagues and volunteer for activities outside their immediate workload.

Levels of discretionary effort have dropped by 7% over the last year and fall significantly behind those in U.S. (24%) and Australia (20%). The researchers described this as “mentally checking out” of the job.

The survey found that only 19% of employees are taking proactive steps to look for a new job, including applying for jobs online, phoning recruiters and sending out their CVs.

CEB HR practice leader Brian Kropp said that discretionary effort globally has now reached its lowest point in four years, which means more people are choosing to “switch off” at work. “Rather than ‘write off’ those people who are disengaged, business leaders need to be transparent about how employees can contribute to the future business strategy and exactly what is expected from them,” he said.

“Business leaders need to look at new ways to engage employees to get the workforce back on track. This means having open conversations about what is expected from them and whether they can deliver against a set of specific goals.”

Kropp added that the time of year can influence employees’ concerns. “At this time of year, people will be spending more time with their family and friends, inevitably leading to conversations about career progress,” he said. “Leaders need to speak with employees before the holidays about what kinds of new skills and experiences they want to develop, how these will be provided and the extent to which these skills will make them more employable in the future. If this issue is not addressed, we will see a growing trend in employees coming into work, going through the motions, but detaching themselves from work.”