‘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…

There’s power in employee voice

Employee voice is becoming increasingly important in the modern economy. If a company does not listen to its workforce, it will not succeed. As Brendan Barber explains “the voice of employees, individually and collectively, represents the day to day experience and views of those who really do know what works and what does not work. Successful organisations are those that recognise this.”


Voice is an important but little understood phenomenon. We know that being able to have your say and feeling that your employer listens to you is crucial both to engagement at work and to wellbeing. Yet there has been little work looking at the wider impact of voice on the organisation, the barriers to the expression of voice and the conditions that support it.


Research conducted by the IPA and Tomorrow’s Company, released today, addresses some of these gaps. It highlights some exceptional examples of where, by supporting employees to have their say, trade unions have made a real difference to the success of the organisation and benefitted all involved. 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…