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More than one in four UK workers are ‘not performing their best at work’

  • 36 per cent of UK workers say their current work is ‘not meaningful’, up from a European average of 18 per cent.
  • Almost half of UK workers are already feeling the impact of automation.
  • Twice as many workers aged over 54 are interested in freelancing as those aged under 35.

Twenty-seven per cent of UK workers say they are not performing their best at work, or not giving 100 per cent, rising to 34 per cent of those aged 25 to 34, according to Deloitte’s first Voice of the workforce in Europe report. This is compared to a European average of just one in five workers (21 per cent) who say they are not performing at their best.

With the UK struggling to address productivity in the workplace, Deloitte’s findings highlight that many lack enthusiasm for their roles. 32 per cent of UK workers say they are not stimulated by what they do, additionally, 36 per cent say what they do is not meaningful. In comparison, on average, just one in four European workers (24 per cent) say they are not stimulated by what they do, and fewer than one in five (18 per cent) believe what they do is not meaningful.

The research, based on responses from more than 15,000 people across 10 European countries, including 2,043 from the UK, examines workers’ attitudes and views across Europe.

The majority of workers in the UK say that they need to learn new skills in order to do their job effectively. When asked which skills they need to develop to remain employable, advanced IT was cited as the key skill, with 61 per cent of workers selecting this, followed by technical knowledge (57 per cent). Further down the list, just 35 per cent said problem solving skills would be needed and 31 per cent said they would need teamwork.

Anne-Marie Malley, UK Human Capital Leader at Deloitte, commented: “For the UK to remain a globally competitive economy, more must be done to address productivity in our workplaces and the ever widening skills gap. Businesses are facing an uphill struggle to address these factors which is leading to dissatisfaction, disengagement and despondency among employees. Employers must offer more support to strengthen their worker’s skills and communicate the value their roles are bringing to their company, the economy and ultimately society as a whole.”

UK uptake of automation higher than European average
Deloitte’s research highlights that almost half of UK workers are already feeling the impact of automation. Forty-four per cent of workers say that some of the tasks they did five years ago have been automated and are now done by robots or software, up from a European average of 38 per cent of workers. Meanwhile, 34 per cent in the UK say that entire business processes relevant to their job have been automated over the past five years, up from 30 per cent of overall European workers.

Overall, workers across Europe appear relaxed about the future impact of automation. Regarding their own jobs and how they will evolve over the next 10 years, about three-quarters (76 per cent) of respondents say they only expect slow, small, or no change at all. In the UK, four in five (83 per cent) do not expect any major changes to their job over the next decade.

Malley added: “It’s striking that the vast majority of workers do not expect to see any significant changes in their jobs over the next decade. The reality is that the future of work is now, and automation is already impacting day-to-day roles. Awareness will provoke action, so it’s important for businesses to educate workers on how their roles will be augmented by technology over the next decade. This will provide transparency within organisations, allowing them to transition their workforces through training opportunities and bolstering the skills which will be required as a result of automation.”

Older workers show the highest levels of engagement
Finally, Deloitte’s research highlights that the rise of new working models is of particular interest to older workers. While the discussion is often focussed on millennials, twice as many workers aged over 54 are interested in freelancing as those aged under 35. Just seven per cent of UK workers aged 25-34 say they would prefer to be a freelancer of self-employed, compared to 18 per cent of those aged over 54 years old.

Moreover, older workers appear to be the most motivated. Eighty-seven per cent of workers aged over 54 say they go the extra mile to deliver good work, with fewer than one in five (18 per cent) agreeing that they are not stimulated by what they do.

Malley concluded: “Older workers are motivated, satisfied and open to alternative employment arrangements. As the average age of the workforce continues to increase, overlooking older employees will be a missed opportunity.”

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