More than one in five UK workers reckon that they rarely or never feel fulfilled by their jobs, according to a new survey by workplace assessment specialists SHL. This dissatisfaction (which is particularly prevalent among young people) has apparently got even worse as a result of the recession. And although workers are reluctant to act on it for the time being, it supposedly could mean a mass exodus once the job market starts functioning properly again...
If SHL's sample is a representative one, that would mean almost 6m people are going into work every day without any great interest in what they're doing. And they’re no happier about their jobs as a result of the recession; on the contrary, almost a third claim to have re-evaluated the kind of organisation they want to work for as a result, while a quarter are considering a complete change of career. After the difficulties of the downturn, these disengaged staff have clearly convinced themselves that the grass will be greener elsewhere (which could be a self-fulfilling prophecy, if they don't move until the economy picks up).
The problem is, of course, that moving jobs is pretty tough at the moment. With unemployment expected to go on rising for a while yet, many of these ingrates won’t be able to jump ship until the economy picks up. This is particularly true for young people, who according to SHL are on average less likely to be fulfilled in their jobs and more likely to be considering a change of employer. But since youth unemployment is at such chronically high levels, their alternatives are a bit limited.
In some ways, these results aren't particularly surprising. If businesses are struggling in the recession, it’s no surprise that staff are feeling the pain – in many cases, fewer people are being asked to work harder to deliver better results. Equally, there’ll always be a sizeable grass-is-greener contingent in any workforce – particularly among young people, who are less likely to have settled on a long-term career plan. Given that so many people don’t have a job at the moment, it’s tempting to suggest that those who do should stop moaning and count their blessings.
On the other hand, if staff are feeling unfulfilled, they’re also less likely to be productive in the short term, and more likely to leave in the long term – both of which could damage a company’s prospects. So even if you don’t agree with SHL’s proposed solution (which, believe it or not, involves more psychometric testing – who’d have thought it), it’s a problem that business leaders need to be worrying about.
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Six million people can't get no (job) satisfaction?