The feel-good factor

Enjoyable work, a good team and flexible working – the three things that UK workers like most about their jobs. It sounds simple doesn’t it, yet many organisations still struggle to make work a rewarding experience for their staff. Almost one in four of us are unhappy at work. More worryingly, in terms of talent management and retention, 47 per cent are considering moving jobs in 2018.

Unemployment has reached its lowest level since 1975, but feelings of discontent in the workplace are still rife. So what’s happening? Wages have stagnated and pay continues to be a driver for dissatisfaction. Interestingly though, nearly a third of workers would rather have a more flexible approach to working than a 3 per cent pay rise. Unhappiness is often exacerbated by a lack of career progression and, of those looking to swap careers, an astounding 49 per cent cite poor management as the main reason why.

Strong leadership and good people-management strategies are delivering significant improvements among members of the Investors in People community

These insights, from Job Exodus Trends 2018 (Investors in People), reflect some other disheartening statistics from recent times. They include the fact that almost 30 per cent of the UK workforce are in jobs not suited to their skill level – the fifth highest level of skills mismatch in Europe – and UK workers are no more productive now than they were on the eve of the 2008 financial crisis.


It’s not all doom and gloom, however. Fifteen out of 100 people have a higher than average level of education for their occupation, which means there is a huge pool of untapped talent out there. What’s more, the key to unlocking the true potential of employees is relatively simple.

Strong leadership and good people-management strategies are delivering significant improvements among members of the Investors in People (IIP) community. These are companies and organisations of every size that understand the dynamics of good people management, and the obvious connection between rewarding, enjoyable work and high performance.


With research suggesting that employee disengagement costs the UK economy £340 billion annually, bad leadership is eroding productivity. Aiming to halt that decline, IIP has been honing its own offering in the last couple of years, working with top business leaders, academics and industry experts to enhance the go-to international standard for people management.

Working with thousands of top businesses, including familiar names such as Allianz Insurance, Sainsbury’s and Brompton Bikes, IIP supports forward-thinking leaders to engage more effectively with their people and create a simple road map for sustainable success. The results speak volumes about the benefits of more enjoyable work, in environments where people feel their talent is valued, developed and rewarded. Nearly three quarters of IIP-accredited organisations have reported improvements in efficiency, with almost as many achieving that critical and coveted advantage of better leadership.


Here’s some food for thought: the average cost of replacing a skilled worker is typically 150 per cent of their salary and firms with engaged employees enjoy around 40 per cent less turnover of staff. They also benefit from around two-and-a-half times more revenue than comparable businesses. That’s the bottom line and it is helping to clarify the importance of better staff engagement in many people’s minds.

Neil McInnes heads up Umega, an Edinburgh-based lettings agency with a clear focus on talent management. “For us, the biggest difference since we started our IIP journey has been the energy and buzz in here, with everyone believing in what we are trying to do and really fulfilling their own potential,” he says.

Last word goes to Sony UK TEC, another IIP advocate. As its facility in Wales has evolved, so has Sony’s approach to staff development. It now has its own Learning Academy, offering bespoke training opportunities. Director of professional services Gerald Kelly believes meaningful engagement with staff has enabled Sony to focus its attention in all the right places. He says: “We can move away from a one-size-fits-all approach and adjust leadership, reward and recognition, for example, from department to department.”

Promoted by Investors in People (IIP)

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