Workers: Use us properly

81% of employees feel their skills are not being fully used at work. That's never a good state of affairs, but during a downturn?

by Dave Waller
Last Updated: 06 Nov 2012

Talent management group Lumesse ran a survey of attitudes towards jobs among 4,000 workers, and came up with results that suggest David Cameron’s worldview needs a subtle tweak: here we are in the middle of an economic downturn, and the vast majority of people polled are expressing frustration that their talents are going unused. Isn’t the PM obsessed with a skills shortage? Unless these people have a woefully inaccurate view of their own abilities, they’re not being pushed enough or are stuck in roles that are clearly wrong for them. That sounds more like a skills misallocation.

It can be highly unsatisfying to be stuck in a job that’s not taxing you properly, and so it shouldn’t be a surprise to find that one employee in three said they expect to leave their job within five years. That figure goes up to 46% of 18- to 25-year-olds and around half of more experienced staff.

Such a picture may give weight to Cameron’s obsession with the nation’s happiness, but implies that the answer is out of whack with the PM’s drive to measure it: if people are unhappy because they’re not being used properly at work, just asking them what they want to do and letting them get on with it may work out both cheaper and more effective.

All of which is a pity, as elsewhere the survey suggests companies are doing plenty right: 69% of employees revealed they are proud to tell people where they work. Give them the right role, it seems, and people may just stay to finish the job...

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