The Scottish jobs market is suffering from ‘chronic inertia’, according to new research which found workers feeling unfulfilled but reluctant to move on.
Lack of engagement is not only impacting on morale, but is partly blamed for low productivity.
Now employers are being urged to take the problem seriously and introduce measures to stimulate their employees and make them feel motivated.
More than two-thirds (69%) of Scottish office workers told a survey that they feel limited by their current job. Further to this, almost half of the workforce (49.5%) is considering a career move. Employees of larger organisations (100 – 249 employees) were most likely to feel unfulfilled, with 76% saying their jobs limited their potential.
The poll comes at a time when the jobs market has seldom been stronger, with a record employment rate of 75.9% in Scotland and a jobless rate of just 3.6% – below the UK figure of 3.9%.
Political uncertainty was among the most significant contributors to office workers’ reluctance to move jobs, with 38% agreeing that it has made them worried about job security. One-third (33%) of respondents said political uncertainty made them nervous to apply for other jobs and almost three in 10 said they have felt trapped in their role following the referendum on the UK’s membership of the EU.
Workers said a range of other reasons were preventing them from applying for new jobs, including a lack of confidence and the potential financial implications.
Steven Ross, operations director at HRC Recruitment, which conducted the survey, said: “With unemployment at a record low and a limited talent pool, businesses in every industry need to be doing as much as they can to keep their staff satisfied, motivated and engaged.
“The statistics paint a telling picture of chronic inertia: it’s clear that a large proportion of our workforce in Scotland are not reaching their full potential yet, for many, this is not enough to influence their desire to apply for new roles.
“This level of disconnect is more than likely to be impacting on both work attitudes and job satisfaction across the board. Because of the chronic inertia, employers have to be more aware of their brand, really selling themselves and making candidates aware of everything they have to offer.
“Brexit has been an unsettling period for many and it’s no surprise to see this reflected in the attitudes of potential job seekers, in addition to the usual barriers. We’re still seeing clients looking for change but perhaps in more secure political environments, there would be even more people looking for a career move.”
Perhaps as a result of feeling limited in their roles, employees are wasting a significant proportion of each working day due to boredom or a lack of motivation. The average office worker was found to waste more than 9 hours per month – a total of nearly 24.3 million hours across the country. One-fifth (20%) admitted to wasting up to 60 minutes each day.
The figures reflect the wider issue of weak productivity in Scotland, which has fallen behind the rest of the UK. Measuring output per hour worked, productivity increased by just 3.8% in 2018 and has historically fallen short of the levels seen in other developed economies such as Germany, France and the USA.
In the face of political uncertainty, 62% of respondents have considered or have already upskilled – training beyond their current remit – in the past 12 months to enhance their CVs and increase the range of employment opportunities available to them.
Mr Ross added: “There’s an interesting question about employee engagement for businesses here: are they doing enough to keep their staff engaged in their work and workplace? From the survey data, it seems there is still work to be done.
“The wider story, however, is about productivity – there is a huge amount that could be achieved in the 24.3 million hours currently being lost across the country every month because workers don’t feel motivated or are bored.”