Sector Comment: New CIPD Report Reveals Job Satisfaction is Slumping

The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development‘s (CIPD) Employee Outlook Spring 2016 report is in and the cipd-logoconclusion is a blunt warning to leadership teams in all sectors:

“Employers should take note of a substantial slump in job satisfaction along with a substantial rise in job seeking intentions.”

Nina Mehta-Vania, Talent Management Consultant at Halogen Software, talks us through the findings.

Key findings from the report include:

  • A “worrying drop” in net job satisfaction stats in all sectors;
  • Reduced employee motivation;
  • Fewer employees agreeing that leaders have a clear vision, and fewer still employees believing their leaders actually consult with them.

The report, produced in partnership with Halogen Software, also reveals that over a third of employees believe they are unlikely or very unlikely to fulfil their career aspirations. And a growing number feel they are over qualified for their roles.

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Why is today’s workforce so disenfranchised?

The report notes that wider global economic uncertainty characterised by “sinking stock prices, flat inflation, and very low interest rates, coupled with a downturn in emerging markets, are undermining confidence at home and abroad.”

While macro-economic factors may be contributing to employee malaise, there’s clearly more to it than this. The report’s conclusion makes the point that the “world of work is changing rapidly and it seems our approaches to job design and career management have not kept pace with that change.”

What can and should leaders do differently?

The CIPD report also provides some important insights:

  • Quality communication and consultation with employees around things that matter is important [to job satisfaction, engagement, motivation].
  • One overall score for employee engagement risks over simplification and should include: employees’ influence over their jobs, use of skills, motivation and effort.
  • Employee satisfaction with the senior managers of their organisation is critical to engagement and this includes: consultation, respect, trust, confidence, and clarity of vision.

Workplace expectations have changed

These observations signal an urgent need for better if not different performance management tactics. The reality is workforce expectations, as revealed by the CIPD report, have fundamentally changed. Performance management is not just about extracting productivity from employees – it’s fundamentally about employee engagement and satisfaction.

To this end, the question many leaders should be asking is what can employers do for their employees, rather than what employers can get from their employees. In other words, how can your company help each employee maximise their skills and advance their career within your organisation?

Of course it’s not a one-way street. Individual and organisational needs must be aligned. The point is this: Now more than ever, performance management is about give and take. It is a partnership between the employer and employee.

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Peak productivity is the goal

Yet peak productivity is only possible when employees feel engaged and connected to their organisation’s core purpose. As the CIPD report points out, many organisations have a long way to go. The report revealed that while respondents’ knowledge of the organisation’s core purpose is “very high, “net agreement to being highly motivated by their organisation’s core purpose is much lower.”

Do your employees feel empowered?

As well, employees also need to feel that they can and will grow within their organisation. Again the CIPD report cites dismal job satisfaction stats on this too with almost a third of respondents (30%) disagreeing or strongly disagreeing that their organisation provides them with opportunities to learn and grow.

Performance management must be an ongoing process

All of this underscores the importance of shifting performance management from the traditional, infrequent approach to one that is ongoing. Performance management is not a part-time, occasional goodwill practice – but rather a key success factor in motivating employees’ to want to play a critical role in the organisation’s results and ultimate success.

A key theme running through the CIPD Employee Outlook Spring 2016 report that reinforces the ongoing role that performance management must play is the need for better communication and feedback. HR professionals have long understood the correlation between job satisfaction and communication. A lack of communication and performance feedback can fuel self-doubt and uncertainty.

However, like performance management, feedback is not an occasional or once-a-year event. Indeed, for many performance experts, the quaint practice of an annual sit down performance review has long been on the endangered species list.

Continuous feedback and coaching, rather than an annual performance review, is what employees need and crave. A key outcome of the performance management system is not only job performance measurement, but also the achievement of job satisfaction for employees. Job satisfaction is virtually impossible for an employee to achieve without continuous, constructive feedback.

This is why it’s crucial to embrace performance management – and reviews in particular – as an ongoing, practice that’s woven seamlessly into the DNA of the organisation’s culture. Only then will employees get the feedback they need – as they need it – to fully understand what’s expected of them and how their contribution helps the organisation succeed.

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Nina Mehta-Vania is a Talent Management Consultant at Halogen Software. She’s responsible for delivering continuous advancement consulting services to clients across EMEA. Nina works with clients to evaluate their talent management strategy to structure the best solution for their talent requirements.


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