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Falling standards of living and job security undermine workplace morale, says latest CIPD quarterly employee survey

Employee confidence and trust in senior leaders has dropped to record lows as the economic downturn continues to erode workers’ standard of living and undermine job security. These are the headline findings from the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development’s (CIPD) spring 2011 Employee Outlook survey based on a representative sample of 2,000 people in employment in the UK.

The survey finds the proportion of employees saying their standard of living has worsened in the last six months has increased to 37% from 31% in the previous quarter. Public sector employees are most likely to say their standard of living has worsened (47%) compared with 35% of workers in both the private and voluntary sectors.

Although job insecurity has edged up since the previous quarter, with 21% of employees thinking it likely they could lose their jobs as a result of the downturn compared to 20% last quarter, there is again a big difference in the sectors. Almost one in three (30%) public sector employees say it is likely they could lose their job compared to 19% of those in the private sector and 27% in the voluntary sector. In all, 21% of respondents say their organisation is planning to make redundancies, rising to 58% among public sector respondents. In all 29% of voluntary sector employees say their organisation is planning redundancies, as do 10% of those in the private sector.

Perhaps not surprisingly against this backdrop, the net proportion of employees agreeing they have confidence in their senior leaders has fallen to -1 from +3 for the previous quarter, while the net trust score has also fallen to -8 from -2 over the same period. These figures are calculated in the survey by subtracting the percentage of employees satisfied from the percentage dissatisfied.

Claire McCartney, CIPD Resourcing and Talent Adviser, comments: “The survey findings highlight the importance of senior leaders in organisations putting even more emphasis during tough times on how they communicate, consult and involve staff where major changes such as restructuring or redundancies are being proposed.

“Evidence suggests that where employees benefit from effective communication and feel their views matter, and are taken into account before decisions are made, they are more likely to remain engaged in their work and committed to the organisation.

“The survey underlines the importance of the Employee Engagement Taskforce launched by David Cameron last month to support and encourage organisations in building the leadership and management capability needed to boost morale and increase the number of high performance workplaces.”

The survey also finds that job satisfaction has fallen over the last three months from +39 to +34 this quarter, which is its lowest level since the CIPD started the survey in spring 2009. Employees working in the voluntary sector remain the most satisfied (+44), followed by public sector workers (+38), with private sector staff least satisfied (+33).

On top of this, the proportion of staff looking for a new job with a new employer has increased to 24% from 19% for the previous quarter. Like last quarter, respondents from the public sector are least likely to be looking for a new job and those in the voluntary sector most likely to be doing so.

Claire McCartney adds: “The job satisfaction scores provide evidence once again of a fixed grin effect, where workers tend to be more satisfied during tough times. This time public sector workers display that ‘fixed grin’, with job satisfaction among this group considerably higher than private sector workers, despite or perhaps because of the turmoil being experienced by the sector. In these circumstances it seems employees are more satisfied simply to have a job.”

 

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