The Current Trend in Employee Engagement in the UK

The Current Trend in Employee Engagement in the UK

The current trend in employee engagement in the UK

Earlier this month the Chartered Institute of Personal and Development (CIPD) published its latest Good Work Index report. This report is produced annually and is the recognised benchmark for good work, or job quality, in the United Kingdom (UK). This blog article looks at one key aspect of the report i.e., the current trend in employee engagement in the UK.
The Good Index report, amongst many other things, covers how people feel about work and their jobs. This clearly relates to the topic of employee engagement. The report compares two dimensions of employee engagement and how these have changed since 2019 (i.e. before the Covid-19 pandemic).
The dimensions of employee engagement compared in the report are work centrality (i.e. how people view work as being important in their lives) and discretionary effort (i.e. people’s willingness to work harder than needed to help their employer or organisation. The trends are reported for each year over the period of the past five years. The sample size is 5482 which is acknowledged to be statistically significant.
You can clearly see from the graph that the trend for people being at work just for the money has steadily increased since 2019. In summary, work is playing a less central role in people’s lives. Of course, the cost-of-living crisis that people have been experiencing over the last year or so will be a contributory factor but the trend goes back much further over time. It’s widely accepted by many that the Covid-19 pandemic is a watershed moment for many people to re-evaluate their lives and their relationship with work.  
The graph also provides the trend in people’s willingness to provide discretionary effort at work. Although the figures remain the same in 2024 as in 2023, the data shows that the is lower than in 2019 and shows no sign of returning to pre-pandemic levels. Again, this re-enforces the view that Covid-19 provided a pivotal moment where many people have re-assed their relationship with work and/or their employer.  
So what? This is a good question to ask. For me, the answer is very much about choices. It is well established that higher employee engagement provides increased customer service levels and productivity. Whatever choice we make will impact these key factors of business success.  
One choice is to do nothing. This choice will be to let the trends take their course, to let people become less engaged and watch levels of customer service erode and productivity suffer.
Another choice is to act by creating, revisiting and/or re-energising your employee engagement strategy. Depending on the type, size and scale of your company or organisation your approach will differ as every workplace culture is unique. However, we know that those employers who do employee engagement well have these four pillars in place:

  • Strategic narrative – explaining where your organisation has come from, where is it now and where it is heading.
  • Engaging managers – skilling up your managers so that they can lead, direct and support your teams to deliver your strategic goals.
  • Employee voice – enabling employees to offer ideas and suggestions for continuous improvement in service levels and productivity.
  • Integrity – consistently living the values of your organisation without any ‘say-do’ gap.

For more information on creating an employee engagement strategy please see here.  
Paul Beesley
Director and senior consultant, Beyond Theory

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