Job satisfaction up despite pay cuts

Employees remain motivated and satisfied at work despite changes to pay and benefits resulting from the economic downturn, according to research by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS).

Its 2011 Workplace employment relations study (WERS), which interviewed almost 2,700 managers and 21,000 employees between March 2011 and June 2012, explored the current state of workplace relations covering a range of issues, including pay, work-life balance, equality and diversity, and training. The research was last conducted in 2004.

The 2011 study found the most common changes cited by employee respondents in terms of their experiences of the recession were that they had increased workloads and less pay. A third (33%) of respondents had their pay frozen or cut, and 29% saw their workload increase.

The study also found:

  • Manager respondents are now more likely to hold team briefings to communicate with staff. This has risen from 60% to 66%.
  • Manager respondents also said they communicate with employees via all-staff workplace meetings (80%), staff surveys (37%) and problem-solving groups (14%).
  • Flexible-working opportunities available to employee respondents include: reduced hours (56%), flexi-time (35%), home working (30%) and job sharing (16%).
  • Job satisfaction levels among employee respondents have increased since 2004. A fifth (20%) of employee respondents in 2011 were satisfied or very satisfied with all aspects of their job measured, compared to 16% in 2004.
  • Since 2004, employee respondents’ levels of commitment to their employer has increased. The largest rise was in the percentage of respondents who said they shared the values of their organisation, up from 55% in 2004 to 65% in 2011.
  • Over a quarter (27%) of employers surveyed with some female staff offered maternity pay in excess of statutory maternity pay for some of the period of maternity leave, while 21% of workplaces with some male staff offered enhanced paternity pay.
  • 61% of employer respondents were likely to provide staff with information about workplace finances, compared to 55% in 2004.

Jo Swinson, employment relations minister, said: “We are going through one of the most challenging periods in our economic history, and employers and employees have had to adapt rapidly in order to deal with the many pressures that it brings.

“This study gives us a valuable insight into what is going on inside the workplace. I am very pleased to see that job satisfaction levels have increased and that more employees report that they share the values of the organisation.

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“Engagement of employees is key to building stronger workforces, which will, in turn, drive economic growth. This is why the government is supporting such excellent initiatives as Engage for Success, where top companies are coming together to share best practice and promote employee engagement.

“The results of the study show us in a new light just how workers and organisations are affected, how they are changing and what the workplace of the future might look like. We will be using these findings to help develop future government thinking and practice, and to stimulate future debate.”