People in Britain are disengaging from their jobs because they are not involved in interesting or innovative work. In fact, as many as seven-in-10 UK employees report they don't feel challenged in their role, and are not being given opportunities to develop or acquire new skills.
Understandably, people are worried about the political and economic ambiguity of Brexit, and are thinking about how this impacts their jobs. CEB data shows that employees are pulling back from work by putting in less effort - particularly as just eight per cent report they are being given the opportunity to utilise new skills - which may contribute to declining interest.
It's surprising (and alarming) that so much of the workforce feel underutilised in their jobs, when there is so much change going on. Our findings show that 51 per cent of employees have experienced one or more major change - organisational restructuring, changes in leadership, reporting lines and job responsibilities, and layoffs - at work in the last year alone. And a similar proportion expect further changes in the next six months.
It's easy to see why change is often perceived as negative thing, but it can be positive. Change brings new opportunities. Employees want to work hard, try new things and add more value, but our research shows their simply not being afforded the opportunities or given the freedom to do so.
Interestingly, UK workers are most dissatisfied with the level of risk they are allowed or encouraged to take to improve business outcomes - whether it's streamlining processes to close a sales deal, giving people additional responsibilities in an area they have no experience in, or testing a new idea or product in the market.
During periods of change and uncertainty, organisations tend to be at their most risk averse and are less willing to challenge the status quo. They default to risk prevention and overly formalised processes, which cause action and ideas to be stifled.
It's not about giving employees free reign to cut corners and prioritise short-term gains over longer-term success. But rather, leaders being open to hearing new ideas and trying new ways of working to help the business adapt to the changing environment and maintain competitive advantage. They should be encouraging their high performing staff to take ownership of business challenges and collaborate with others. After all, innovations are born from transforming a challenge, change or crisis into an opportunity.
This is the time that companies should be honing intrapreneurial spirit, taking measured risks, and encouraging the workforce to be more innovative. It's on leaders to overcome the drag of malaise and translate this energy into tangible value for the business by:
- Empowering employees to have a voice and creating opportunities to share ideas
- Embracing new proposals to show trust and respect to employees
- Identifying projects and work that will stretch and challenge high-performing employees
- Fostering a collaborative, safe environment where employees can test things out
- Helping employees learn from and share experiences and mistakes from others
- Celebrating good ideas and concepts that may not or don't work out
Despite workers not feeling motivated or energised in their role, the prolonged period of uncertainty post-Brexit will make people less likely move jobs. However, UK employers cannot afford to ignore this dissatisfaction, nor can they waste new ideas and creativity. If they fail to channel employees' energy effectively, they run the risk of losing them over the long term and suffering the loss of their productivity in the short term.