‘Just paying the bills’: The cost of disengagement

Last week Union Home released some fascinating polling as part of its Fair Work Commission. For me, the most striking finding was the number of people who are clearly not engaged in their work.


An astounding 61% of employees said that their current job was ‘just a way to pay the bills until I find something else to do’, rather than seeing it as a step in a longer career. Interestingly women and part time staff were more likely to agree with this. The biggest disparity was in terms of socio-economic group – semi-skilled and casual workers were more than twice as likely just to see their job as purely a way to get by compared to professionals and senior managers. It is downtrodden workers at the bottom who feel least engaged and enthusiastic.


These starling findings tally with research by Kenexa who found that only around a third of employees in the UK can be seen as engaged. The figure of two thirds of employees who exhibit low levels of engagement matches closely the 61% who see work just as a means of getting by. Read More…

New emphasis on employee voice gives unions a huge opportunity, says Nita Clarke

Time to get engaged? Click on the image to watch the video

IT’S fair to say that trade unions have never been the greatest cheerleaders for the concept of employee engagement. Some within the movement have viewed it with scepticism and suspicion; as an ‘employer’s charter’ in disguise. Some have just been outright hostile.


This reaction is predictable if unwarranted. The employee engagement agenda comes from a different ideological background to traditional unionism. That model is predicated on a belief in a fundamental opposition between the interests of labour and capital; employee engagement argues that there is significant overlap between the interests of employers and employees. Read More…

Nita Clarke

Nita Clarke is the Director of the Involvement and Participation Association (IPA), Britain’s leading organisation delivering workplace support for good employment and industrial relations. She was vice-chair of the MacLeod Review on employee engagement and continues to work with David MacLeod on the new national Employee Engagement task force, launched by Prime Minister David Cameron in March 2011.


She was appointed as Vice-President (employee relations) by the Chartered Institute of Personnel Development in January 2012, and is a visiting Fellow at Kingston University Business School. She is also a member of the Mutuals Task Force established by Cabinet Office Minister Francis Maude in 2011.


She was formerly the adviser on trade unions to Prime Minister Tony Blair, working as assistant political secretary in the Political Office at 10 Downing Street from January 2001 to June 2007. Her role included liaison with individual unions and the TUC, developing national policy in areas such as the two-tier workforce and work-life balance, supporting ministers by trouble-shooting in industrial disputes. Nita was a senior official with public services union UNISON from 1992 -2001. She is the author of the report, The way forward: trade unions and the third sector, commissioned by ACEVO.