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A recent survey conducted by recruitment firm Randstad and reported by People Management suggests this is more likely for them than for their European counterparts or indeed than for others in the English speaking world. Absence levels, poor retention and lower productivity are typical outcomes. There is hope…

We know from many studies that happiness at work has a significant effect on performance (some suggesting the ratio can be as much as 3:1) and it is reasonable to assume that the positive effect is greater for professionals (the subject of the survey in question) than for those who have much more structured jobs. But all the evidence points to there being much in the way of wasted resources and opportunity in UK employment.

Can employers address this? Here are some suggestions:

By trust

This is always a risk but most of us respond well to trust. Your employees may understand your customers better than you do; especially if they interact with them day to day. Trusting employees may pay dividends. Ronald Regan used to say of the Russians: Trust but verify. Maybe that is what you will prefer to do. But Trust-Guru, Charles Green, says if you have to verify then it is not trust!!

Trusting means providing individual autonomy, listening and (the risky bit) relinquishing control.

By providing opportunity for progress

This may mean providing employees with opportunities grow the job, enabling them to grow personally through training or coaching, or if realistic, creating opportunities for promotion. You want your employees to feel they are going somewhere. One way may be by participating in your vision.

By engendering meaning

Where is your organisation going? What is its mission or your vision? Do employees know what that is? Do they subscribe to it? How can they contribute?

Some employees never see the end product. Just engaging them with that end product can fire enthusiasm and productivity.

By creating a more diverse workforce

Many parties argue (including the CIPD) that a better gender balance, a more level age demography and the inclusion of minority groups in the workforce tends to boost satisfaction at work and hence productivity.