Employee experience of the workplace does not match employer rhetoric, claims report

A new report (registration needed), based on a survey of UK employers and employees, claims to reveal a significant and increasing gap between employees’ experience of being employed and what employers believe this experience to be. Barnett Waddingham’s four research papers claims that while the majority of employers (61 percent) believe the levels of wellbeing in their organisation to be high, only 19 percent of the employees surveyed report high wellbeing. According to the authors, this suggests employers do not sufficiently know or understand the needs of their people.

But the employment experience gap is not restricted to just wellbeing. It is amplified by the lack of open and honest communication and engagement between UK organisations and their employees – creating a sense of “them and us” rather than “we”. Only 15% of employees believe the success generated by their organisation is shared fairly compared to 70% of UK employers. The gap is still evident when looking more specifically at remuneration communication, with a 36% point gap between the views of employees (32%) and employers (68%) in the belief that there is a genuine openness and transparency about remuneration. This suggests a lack of trust and should be of real concern for employers.

Key findings from the report

  • A third of employees are coasting at work and have significantly lower levels of employment experience and satisfaction than their more productive colleagues
  • Only 43% of employees believe their organisation will be more successful in five years’ time compared to 77% of employers
  • A much lower percentage of employees (27%) to employers (68%) believe the pay gap between management and non-management staff is reasonable
  • Less than one out of five (16%) of employees, compared to 42% of employers believe their organisation’s wellbeing strategy is effective, or delivering real value
  • Only 29% of those employees who are coasting feel they can develop their future careers at their organisation

Damian Stancombe, Head of Workplace Health and Wealth at Barnett Waddingham, said: “The gap and misalignment between employer rhetoric and employee reality needs to be recognised and taken more seriously. In some businesses the gap is a huge chasm and in others a mere plank of wood would adequately span the divide. The problem is companies have failed to identify the size and nature of the gap. Nevertheless, bridging it will help employers reap the benefits of a two-way adult relationship, increasing productivity and having a more engaged workforce.

“The Prisoners’ slogan of “I am not a number I am a free man” is pertinent in today’s labour market, businesses need to stop thinking of employees as assets – As well as being employees they are also internal stakeholders and customers.  They have choice and will judge if and how hard they work based on values, culture and experience within an organisation. The reality is organisations know so much more about their customers and focus on their ‘experience’ at every conceivable touch point than their own employees. This is where they sadly perceive the only value exists and have analytical technology dedicated to the research.

“To help realign employer and employee, organisations need to analyse their workforce taking into account individual needs instead of viewing them as chattels and then as importantly acting on the analytics. It is worrying that a third of employees readily describe themselves as ‘coasting’ doing just enough to get by at work. This is an addition to those who feel they are struggling. They can impact all areas of the business, from productivity and innovation to profitability and corporate reputation. Who are these people in your business and what impact do they have? It is clear from the research engaged people who find meaningful work, have a sense of personalisation and inspiration are motivated to contribute to the success of the organisation.

“By thinking a little more creatively and listening to the needs of their employees, employers can begin to increase productivity. Alignment between employer and employee expectation, experience and performance will begin to bridge the gap.”