As of 2018, the employment rate in the UK is listed at 75.6%, the highest since records began in 1971. Whilst this would seem to be a cause for celebration, reports from numerous bodies continue to suggest that these impressive figures come at the price of severe employee dissatisfaction and poor mental health.
Matthew Taylor, author of the 2017 Taylor Report on Modern Working Practices, highlights that despite the strong levels of employment in the UK these figures do not advise whether employees are happy, well-treated, have opportunities for progression or feel that have control over their working lives. Indeed, a recent study found that only 57% of employees on average feel that managers are sincere in understanding their views and that 70% felt tense some or most of the time. Major issues would seem to be poor communication between managers and their staff, lack of progression opportunities and consistently stressful working atmospheres.
These new plans, expected to be introduced as part of the quarterly labour force survey, would ask over 88,000 workers country-wide about their working lives. Devised by a working group that includes both employers and unions, questions will include how well employees feel supported by their managers and colleagues alongside whether they have experienced anxiety or depression as a result of their work. Fundamentally, the survey will aim to measure the quality as well as the quantity of work, helping to highlight any issues with a worker’s sense of purpose. As stated by Business Minister Kelly Tolhurst, ‘this report will be very helpful as we bring forward further workplace reforms.’
Managers should be prepared to have their working practices scrutinised and evaluate if they are providing appropriate opportunities and support to their workforce. It would be advisable to conduct an in-house survey to ascertain whether the organisation’s workers do feel overworked or under supported and consider taking steps to help counteract these issues. This could include providing further opportunities for training and career development or considering the implementation of family friendly working practices, such as flexible working.
The issue of employee treatment and remuneration continues to receive significant attention from the government, who have also recently announced legislation that would require companies to publish the ratio of their CEO’s annual earnings compared to an average worker’s salary.