April 8 2002 - The Work Foundation, formerly The Industrial Society,
published its founding report today, arguing that progress in Research and Development,
investment in technology, and product innovation will fail to bridge Britain's widening productivity gap unless
employers address the growing disaffection of their employees.
Working Capital, intangible assets and the productivity gap concludes that
employee job satisfaction has plummeted over the past decade. In 1992, 22 per cent
of employees stated that they were very or completely satisfied with job
prospects. By 2000 the figure had fallen to 15%. And respondents who
expressed satisfaction with pay fell from 25% to 13% in the same period. Similarly satisfaction
with job security dropped from 43% to 39%; hours 44% to 24%; and with the work
itself from 54% to 41%.
Moreover, the Work Foundation considers that satisfaction levels have fallen
against every measure defining the economic and psychological contract between employees and their workplace.
And the steady decline in satisfaction levels has occurred despite the increased practice
of so-called high performance management
techniques over the same period.
Productivity per head has stagnated as job satisfaction has roughly halved,
while employees in the UK's main competitor countries are roughly
30 per cent more productive than the average British worker.
The report draws on data from the Working in Britain survey
conducted by the Policy Studies Institute and the London School of Economics
in conjunction with The Work Foundation
It suggests that so-called "soft options" can deliver the hard result of
improved productivity. These include:
- rewarding creative potential;
- delivering service-centred leadership;
- creating a coaching culture; and
- holding true to social responsibilities.
According to Will Hutton, Chief Executive of The Work Foundation:
"The UK's yawning productivity gap has dogged successive governments and
continues to present major obstacles to Britain's productivity. Yet the
solution lies within easy reach in our offices, shop floors and other
workplaces. People: their creativity, ideas and talent hold the key to
making Britain a more productive nation. But we need a cultural shift and a
new kind of manager that can make use of this resource and transform our
The Work Foundation argues that the government should consider the creation of
a new centre to research productivity and work and the appointment of
a Minister for Management to spearhead the overhaul of workplace
relations and tap into the economy's largest and most intangible
asset - people.
The report also demonstrates how:
* Working mothers have experienced the greatest increase in the
numbers of hours worked compared to women generally or their male
* Managers and professionals are accepting long working hours as a
necessary evil to achieving job satisfaction
* The culture of clocking in and time monitoring is still a reality
for a third of the workforce.