31 October 2019 | Prithvi Pandya
Ninety-three per cent of UK employers think it is important to be liked, according to research by HR solutions provider People First.
People First explored the attitudes of 250 bosses and 250 employees in UK firms to reveal how employers lack an accurate picture of how staff feel and how it affects their work. It found that 90 per cent of staff want their day-to-day experience of work to be improved.
Eighty-four per cent of bosses think their staff are happy and 76 per cent believe most of their employees are fully engaged in what they do. But only 64 per cent of staff think that work makes them happy and just 42 per cent said they are fully engaged or absorbed in what they do to earn a living.
Mark Williams, senior vice-president product at People First, said: "Likeability is good in a boss, but with so many staff wanting their experience at work improved, you have to ask if employers really understand their workforces. There's obviously a happiness gap where managers believe morale is better than it really is. They are clearly failing to measure staff engagement regularly."
The research indicates that men are more likely to say their work really engages them (48 per cent) than women (37 per cent), reflecting the long-standing difference in support and career development offered to women, as well as the well-publicised gap in pay between the sexes.
And lack of understanding plays a role in another difference between bosses and workers. Whereas 39 per cent of employers believe that most staff quit a job for emotional reasons, only 17 per cent of employees said that had been the main cause for handing in their notice.
The research also indicates that more than half of UK employees (56 per cent) regard being rewarded for excellent work as important to their experience at work, while 51 per cent want more opportunities for flexible working.
Williams added: "Poor productivity is a British disease which we can cure through better understanding of what motivates employees and gets them into the flow where time flies and work is more enjoyable and fulfilling.
"That's why it's important to rely on more than a gut feeling about how happy or engaged staff are. Regular check-ins must replace the dated annual appraisal as only with regular conversations can an employer see the true picture of their employees.
"There are so many different aspects to any job, such as training, career development and flexible working, that making assumptions about what employees want is misguided. As an employer you need to know what makes your staff happy to work hard and what makes them leave."