IPD research shatters myth of dissatisfied and insecure British worker

Leadership & Organization Development Journal

ISSN: 0143-7739

Article publication date: 1 May 2000




(2000), "IPD research shatters myth of dissatisfied and insecure British worker", Leadership & Organization Development Journal, Vol. 21 No. 3. https://doi.org/10.1108/lodj.2000.02221cab.001



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2000, MCB UP Limited

IPD research shatters myth of dissatisfied and insecure British worker

IPD research shatters myth of dissatisfied and insecure British worker

Keywords: Job satisfaction, Job security, Employee relations, Britain

Popular portrayals of a harsh British workplace populated by dissatisfied and insecure workers, have been shattered by findings from an authoritative new study into the state of the employment relationship. Conducted by the Institute of Personnel and Development (IPD), How satisfied and secure are British workers? A survey of surveys of the employment relationship is an analysis of all major nationally representative UK employee satisfaction surveys conducted in the last five years. It shows that British workers are largely satisfied, expressing high organisational commitment and positive feelings of job security. It urges employers, trade unions and policy makers to be cautious when reading reports of dissatisfied and insecure workers, and to take with a large pinch of salt "Bleak House" caricatures of British working life.

The IPD study was undertaken to explain the spate of surveys reporting apparently conflicting findings on the state of the UK employment relationship, and resolve debates about whether British workers are happy or miserable. It analyses responses from authoritative representative studies such as the General Household Survey, the British Social Attitudes Survey, the annual IPD surveys into the psychological contract, and most recently, the 1998 Workplace Employment Relations Survey; and concludes that "the majority [of British workers] are satisfied, committed to their employing organisation and feel secure in their employment".

The report also says that: "satisfaction, commitment, feelings of job security and good employment relations are likely to be higher in those places where positive human resources practices are in place and where there is a climate of involvement and partnership" and concludes that "there is, therefore, a responsibility on policy makers to be vigilant in this respect, to take the causes and consequences of employee satisfaction seriously and to promote the satisfaction and security of British workers".

Geoff Armstrong, director general of the IPD, says that these findings send out an encouraging message to employers and policy makers: "These results show that the 'Bleak House' scenario of an overwhelmingly depressed and insecure workforce is largely mythological. They also indicate that we have good reason to feel optimistic about the future of UK plc. Job satisfaction and organisational commitment are strong predictors of subsequent productivity and profits and there is a clear and consistent link between job satisfaction, organisational commitment and labour retention."

However Armstrong warns British employers not to become complacent. "There is still a sizeable minority of dissatisfied and insecure workers. Our performance on workplace learning still falls a long way short of what is needed for world class competitiveness. As we move closer to the knowledge-driven economy of the twenty-first century, it becomes increasingly clear that our long-term competitive success rests on our people and how they are managed and developed. This new research emphasises once again that sophisticated people management and development strategies closely tied to the overall business strategy are connected to big productivity growth and increases in profitability which is good for the businesses, their employees, their shareholders and the economy as a whole."

How Satisfied and Secure are British Workers? A Survey of Surveys of the Employment Relationship is published by the IPD and is available from Plymbridge on 01752 202301, priced £11.95.

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