The Britain at Work report also found that 40% of workers believe their achievements are not recognised, and 51% would not recommend their company to friends or family.
“People do start a job engaged,” said Charles Fair, head of consultancy at the Great Place to Work Institute UK, speaking at the report’s launch event at the British Chambers of Commerce. “So the organisation or the line managers are doing things to disengage people. Often workers get promoted to leadership positions based on their technical skills rather than their soft skills, their people skills. We’re seeing a move away from charismatic leadership.”
Almost a third (32%) of those surveyed said they need more support from their manager, while 22% did not know who the head of their organisation is.
“What we ask from a line manager is different from what we asked five or six years ago,” explained Sabrina Clarke, head of diversity and inclusion for Barclays.
“The ask is for leaders to be visible, but also vulnerable, to move away from the Superman complex. They should be able to admit faults.”
Cary Cooper, professor of organisational psychology and health at Manchester Business School, said he was not surprised by the report finding that 31% of people don’t take a full lunch break because of work stress. “What disturbs me is that the UK has the longest working hours in Europe, and the second longest in the world behind the US,” he said.
Regarding the statistic that 25% of employees reported being bullied in the past five years at work, he said: “We have poor managers. We have to find a way to get through to them.”
Neil Carberry, director of employment and skills for the CBI, said that training for line managers is critical. “We need to empower line managers to make decisions, but we also need to give them the skills to do it,” he said. “Until we get to that understanding HR is the central provider of management services.”
Scott McKenzie, director of Lansons’ change and employee engagement practice, said that the report highlights some important actions for both employees and employers, including “creating and increasing training and development opportunities, providing a safe and pleasant working environment, implementing people-friendly policies, implementing appropriate recognition and reward schemes, providing fair pay, and ensuring clear and consistent two-way communications.
“However, there is only so much line managers, leaders and organisations can do. The rest is about all of us taking increased individual responsibility,” he added.