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Legion of the damned

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UK managers must act now to bring productivity and motivation back to Britain’s beleaguered Workforce.

Leading workforce management solutions provider Kronos Incorporated today launched a new report, ‘The Forgotten Workforce’. The report highlights some of the most common issues affecting workplace motivation performance and outlines positive actions which UK management can take to address the concerns of Britain’s ‘Forgotten Workforce’ as well as increase productivity and profit. In the wake of the credit crunch and prolonged UK recession, British businesses have been forced to make tough business decisions to ensure survival in challenging economic times. In many cases, managers have been forced to deliver tactical efficiency goals rather than business effectiveness. Amongst the biggest losers in this ‘efficiency and survival’ mentality has been the UK workforce. In particular, this has hit workers in key sectors such as retail, hospitality, contract services, and manufacturing.

UK workers have become ‘The Forgotten Workforce’. They have suffered a series of blows to morale, including cuts to their working hours, increasingly inconsistent working patterns, pay freezes, and introduction of zero hours. This – coupled with little or no investment in technology to support employees – has led to a UK workforce lacking morale and disengaged from the business. An efficient business needs an efficient workforce. If this cycle continues, businesses will face increasingly poor productivity and the UK economic recovery will suffer. Kronos Incorporated commissioned ‘The Forgotten Workforce’ research amongst the UK workforce (2,500 employees) in medium to large organisations to investigate why the UK workforce has become so disengaged, and what managers could do to solve the issue. In ‘The Forgotten Workforce’ Kronos uncovers a workforce lacking motivation and job satisfaction, with 61 percent of workers either feeling neutral or unhappy about going to work most days. Only one in four (26 percent) are very satisfied and 20 percent say they are unhappy about, or dread going to work.

The biggest causes of workplace unhappiness are low pay (36 percent), little or no variety to the job role they perform (25 percent), and unpaid overtime (22 percent). Employers are getting simple business processes wrong, such as underestimating the number of people needed for a specific shift (48 percent) or failing to accurately pay staff for the hours they work (19 percent). Getting these processes right is essential to motivating the workforce. Employees are desperate for more engagement with management and more control over their working life.79 percent of workers think their experience at work could be improved, 59 percent would like more flexibility in the hours that they work, and 53 percent would like equal control with their manager when it comes to planning their working hours. The Forgotten Workforce’ was conducted by independent research company Loudhouse.

Neil Pickering, director, Kronos: “The effects of a long recession have resulted in the creation of a trudging, uninspired workforce, with a lack of desire to contribute to the success of the business. Is it any wonder that businesses feel sluggish and unable to respond to the changing dynamics of their respective markets? The drive to keep costs as low as possible is creating a race to the bottom which undermines job satisfaction and squeezes employees’ abilities to respond to demand. “But forward-thinking businesses are focusing on innovation and growth, looking to deliver better services than the competition and maximise the quality of the customer experience. They can inspire and re-engage with their workforce through technology to drive better business performance and profit. Organisations that effectively deploy workforce management solutions experience both financial returns on investment as well as demonstrably improved employee engagement. The starting point is to begin treating front line staff as people, not simply as numbers on a balance sheet.”

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