Dissatisfaction at work grows – Mercer survey

25 Oct 2011

A new survey by Mercer, conducted between Q4 2010 and Q2 2011 among 30,000 workers in 17 markets, including 1,000 workers in Ireland, reveals that a rising number of employees are dissatisfied at their workplace, with benefits, pay and job security topping the list of reasons for workers’ discontent.

As a result, slightly more than one in three (35pc) Irish workers are seriously considering leaving his or her organisation at the present time, up sharply from 22pc in 2004. Meanwhile, another 23pc are indifferent about leaving but view their employer unfavourably. These employees have the lowest scores on key measures of engagement, a term that describes a combination of an employee’s loyalty, commitment and motivation.

“This erosion in employee sentiment has business consequences that reach well beyond the direct costs of employee turnover,” said Patrick Robertson, senior consultant with Mercer. “Diminished loyalty and widespread apathy can undermine business performance, particularly as companies increasingly look to their people to drive productivity gains and spur innovation.” 

Employees’ concerns about work are pervasive and rooted in what they see as an already pared-down employment deal, diminished by cuts made in response to the country’s economic hardship:  
–       Only 47pc of Irish workers today say their benefits are as good as, or better than, those offered by other organisations in their industry, down 24 points from 71pc in 2004 – the largest decline in the survey.

–         Irish employees place the greatest value by far on base pay (relative to other elements of the employment relationship); however, only 46pc say they are satisfied with their base pay. Today, far fewer than before:

  •    believe they are paid fairly given their performance and contributions to the organisation (53pc, down from 62pc in 2004)
  •    understand how their pay is determined (67pc, down from 75pc in 2004)
  •    believe the pay in their organisation is as good as, or better than, that of other organisations in their industry (49pc, down from 54pc)

–        Far more employees participate in bonus plans today (45pc) than in 2004 (34pc). While only 34pc say they are satisfied with their incentive pay, 63pc are personally motivated by their organisation’s incentive compensation plan.

–       Job security is the second most important element of the employee value proposition. However, those who say the job security in their organisation is as good as, or better than, that offered by other organisations in their industry has dropped 20 points (57pc, down from 77pc in 2004) – one of the largest declines in the survey.

–        Only 40pc of Irish employees believe their employers are doing enough to help them prepare for retirement; in addition, just 41pc are confident that they, themselves, are doing enough.

Overall scores are down consistently across key engagement measures while ‘intention to leave’ is up across all employee segments, with the youngest workers most likely to be eyeing departure. Of particular concern, nearly half (48pc) of Irish employees aged 24 and younger are looking to leave.

“These young, vibrant workers may choose to emigrate given the dearth of opportunity plaguing Ireland’s job market and this may seriously diminish the talent pools available to employers,” Robertson added.

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