How UK Employees Feel About Remote Work, Brexit And Job Security

How UK Employees Feel About Remote Work, Brexit And Job Security

The latest Employee Outlook Report from CIPD in partnership with Halogen Software, now a part of Saba Software, is out and reveals a lot about how employees in the UK are thinking. The bi-annual report covers a ton of ground including subjects like remote work, Brexit, differences between public and private sector employees, and so much more.

Claire McCartney

To dig into the CIPD Employee Outlook findings further, we talked to Claire McCartney — Research Adviser, Resourcing and Talent Planning with the CIPD. Claire is responsible for research exploring different aspects of effective talent management strategies and manages the Institute’s Resourcing and Talent Forum. She also co-manages CIPD’s Employee Outlook research.

The key trend everyone seems to be talking about from the report has to do with employees’ inability to ‘turn off’ due to their remote access to work. Can you talk a little about that?

Yes, it seems that technology such as remote access to work is certainly aiding the blurring of work and personal lives for many employees and while for some this is a positive development (helping them to feel empowered and more productive), for others it is less so. The CIPD/ Halogen Spring Employee Outlook found that almost a third of UK workers feel that having remote access to the workplace means they can’t switch off from work. Clearly this is an issue for both employees and employers because it can impact on employees’ physical and mental health (around a fifth experience increased anxiety and sleep issues as a result) and undermine trust if employees believe they are under surveillance. Clear employer rationale and guidance is therefore really important around remote working highlighting that it is about empowerment, flexibility and productivity rather than about surveillance and working excessive hours.

What are some of the implications of the EO findings that relate to the UK’s decision to leave the EU? What should employers be mindful of?

When it comes to the UK’s decision to leave the EU, employees are beginning to feel some impact from an organisation and employee perspective. From an organisation perspective, a third think it is likely to increase their organisation’s costs, while around a fifth think their exports will be less competitive and that investment in workforce training and skill development will be reduced. From an employee perspective, a fifth of employees believe the decision to leave the EU has led to a decrease in morale among colleagues and an increase in stress, while almost two-fifths (37%) of employees feel pessimistic about the future. At the CIPD we believe that HR and L&D professionals should be using Brexit as a stimulus for applying focus to what we should already be doing as an economy and society: to get the fundamentals right, to build a stronger, more productive workforce, and to create workforces that engender growth and inclusiveness.

We saw a trend of increasing job satisfaction in the Employee Outlook Report from autumn 2016. Has that trend continued?

It is nice to be able to report some positive findings in this spring 2017 Employee Outlook research. This survey sees fewer employees thinking it is likely they will lose their job, an increase in net job satisfaction, and an increase in our engagement measures. Public sector job satisfaction in particular has increased once again and now is the highest it has been in the history of this survey (which has been running since spring 2009).

These largely positive findings might at first seem puzzling given the current, unsettled context that the UK finds itself in. However, there was a great deal of uncertainty before the EU referendum, so people might be feeling more settled now. Employees might also be continuing to experience the optimism that often comes with a new government.

For public sector workers it could be that some of the government’s messages on fairness and equality might be resonating with them. Trust and confidence in senior leaders in the public sector has certainly increased in this survey, as have opportunities for employee voice. There is also the possibility that the challenging work associated with negotiating the UK’s exit package from the EU might be positively reflected in public sector workers’ increased job satisfaction, aspects of engagement and opportunities to learn and grow.

You made changes to how you measure employee engagement. Could you explain those changes and the rationale behind why they were made?

We have moved away from a single measure of engagement calculated through an index in recognition that employee engagement has different aspects, and creating one score risks oversimplifying it. We include four different areas that research has shown to be important drivers and aspects of employee engagement, while recognising that other factors discussed in the research (such as employee voice, shared purpose and organisational commitment) also relate to employee engagement. The four areas of focus are: employees’ influence over their jobs, use of skills, motivation and effort.

Get the full report

Want to dig deeper into these results? We’ve made the Spring Employee Outlook Report available for free download here. Feel free to dive into the results yourself and let us know in the comments what you think about these findings.


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