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Workplace dissatisfaction responsible for for UK productivity gap

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 working lives."

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 colleagues.

* 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.


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