Investment in employee engagement could boost UK economy by £49bn

Posted on 5 Feb 2014 by Victoria Fitzgerald

Staff who dislike their jobs are three times more likely to call in sick, but investing in a positive career culture for low wage work could boost the UK economy by £49 billion, according to a study released today by The Work Foundation.

Absenteeism currently costs the UK £13.4 billion a year, with disengaged staff members on average missing roughly six days of work, compared with their engaged counterparts missing less than three. Unhappy workers are also four times more likely to quit their role.

The research reveals that by increasing investments in strategies to boost employee engagement by just 10 per cent could raise company profits by £2,700 per employee, per year. Professor Stephen Bevan, director for the Centre for Workforce Effectiveness at The Work Foundation said:

“We know that underemployment has increased by one million since the start of the downturn, and the labour market for low wage, low skilled work is likely to continue growing.

“Contact centre work especially has one of the highest labour turnover rates in the UK, and sick leave for this sector alone costs the UK economy £626 million per year. These roles often have standardised work methods and lack of development opportunities.

“Many workers who have moved into this sector do not view their employment as a career option. Creating a career culture in this sector, by implementing training and development or shared leadership for problem solving, could have a real impact on productivity.”

Recent studies also showed that that 80 per cent of the 587,000 new jobs created in the UK are primarily in low wage work and the UK is less productive than other OECD (Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development) countries such as Germany, France, the USA and Spain.

The report comes just days after National Sickie Day, Monday 3 February, with dark mornings, financial constraints and low morale preventing workers from making it into the office.

The Work Foundation highlights the introduction of performance rewards, training, professional development and flexible working hours as ways to boost team morale.