Solve the UK motivation crisis and productivity will follow

The reality, according to the recent Edenred Barometer research, which looked into employee attitudes to work, couldn’t be more different.

Despite feeling positive about their own prospects and confident about the future of their employer, only a third of UK workers say they are happy in their job and less than half say they are happy with their quality of life at work.

What’s more, in the face of rising job security, only a tiny number of people said their motivation levels were increasing – one of the lowest proportions of all the countries we surveyed.

While it would be wrong to say that our workers are coasting, it is clear from the survey findings that the majority of businesses are failing to get the most out of their people. This is something that should worry any organisation that is hoping to turn the potential for growth into a reality.

Happy and motivated employees not only help their organisations achieve higher levels of performance but they inspire others to do the same.

What can managers and leaders in the year ahead do to create this kind of high-performance environment? Our research provides some clear direction.

As things stand, many people feel disconnected from future of their organisations. The first priority then should be to establish a sense of shared enterprise between employee and employer. This means bringing clarity for every person in your an organisation about what you are trying to achieve and what they can do to help you. Without this mutual understanding, you’ll continue to be held back.

A second area for action is around the way we recognise the impact of our employees. If people leave poor managers, the opposite is also true they feel motivated to perform for those who recognise the contribution they make to a business. That means we have to teach our managers to be obsessed with recognition.

Praise, appreciation and a simple thank you for a job well done will create this culture where people are motivated and happy: that is what transforms an organisation from an employer to great place to work.

The final action is to recognise that not every employee will want to play a positive role in taking the business forward. A vital part of performance management is therefore to make sure that the actively disengaged understand the need to contribute in their current role or find a new one that suits them better. Organisations that tolerate coasting employees deprive themselves of new talent that could help them travel faster towards their goals.

These are exciting times for business in the UK. The potential for growth is way beyond what our European peers are experiencing across nearly every sector of the economy. Every HR team in every business needs to ask itself whether it is doing enough to ensure its managers, leaders and employees are in the best place to take advantage of that opportunity.

I am the sales and marketing director at employee benefits provider Edenred. You can follow me on Twitter @andy_philpott and read more blogs at www.edenred.co.uk/ehub.