At the start of another economically challenging year, research conducted across the UK, Sweden and the Netherlands by collaborative work management software provider, Mindjet, encouragingly reveals that the majority of employees within these regions – 54% of British, 53% of Swedish and 60% of Dutch office workers – care passionately about the success of their employers.
In fact, 47% of the British workers interviewed believe that they can influence business success, a figure surpassed by Swedish and Dutch employees at 56% and 53% respectively. The research, which was conducted by Opinium, was gathered from more than 2 000 British, over 1 000 Swedish and 1 000 Dutch office workers.
However, after two years of tough times, some seem to be feeling battle weary – 32% of UK office workers recognise they need to change their everyday working practices to drive success, but 19% are happy to admit that they lack the motivation to do their job to the highest possible standard.
Of the Swedish sample group, a third (33%) acknowledged that they need to change their way of working for greater achievement. At the same time, 11% confessed that they lack the proper motivation to do their job to the highest possible standard.
In contrast, only five% of the Dutch employees feel that they are not motivated enough to operate in the best possible way, despite 22% of respondents indicating that they are overworked, 19% complaining of a lack of funds and 17% citing inefficient communication as a major barrier to better work performance.
Many businesses set themselves tough goals at the start of this financial year – further research by Mindjet shows that FTSE100 companies are striving to achieve operational efficiency, consolidation and growth in emerging markets, amongst other.
The results of this research go some way to explaining why they have struggled to do so. Whilst individuals recognise a need for change, a quarter of those asked say this hadn’t happened because they “haven’t got around to it”. This attitude is not going unnoticed – almost a third of both UK and Sweden-based managers (30%) know they need to improve the way their team works but struggle to motivate them to do so.
Tim Ohlenburg, senior economist, Centre for Economics and Business Research, reflects on UK business performance.
“As this research shows, UK businesses have been working towards clear goals. However, economic growth has been disappointing this year, which has dramatically limited business profits and constrained expansion. The Eurozone crisis has also hampered aims to expand in emerging markets. Unfortunately the outlook for 2013 is still lacklustre.
“Given that the fourth quarter GDP growth is likely to be negative at the end of this financial year, businesses are looking at a slow start. At a time when businesses are still striving to do more with less, they need the full support of their employees to do so, which means they need to address the issues identified by Mindjet as a priority.”
Efficient working practices and communication are clearly key to achieving those all-important business goals and making 2013 a more positive year, explains Frank Reinelt, senior director for Northern Europe & Emerging Markets at Mindjet.
“UK employees are not alone in feeling stressed (27%) and enjoying their jobs less (27%). Twenty three percent of Swedish employees are also feeling the pressure, with the common perception across all three regions that they are being held back by a lack of resources and senior direction and inefficient communication.
“It is clear from the results of our research that – aside from the devastating impact of our ongoing economic issues on business – there are other, more internal issues that need to be tackled to ensure organisational success. For 2013, businesses will need to address these problem areas and seek ways to inspire employees to accomplish greater achievements.”
“Motivated and engaged employees are at the heart of business success, and there’s no time when this is more true than in tough economic times,” says Professor Nelson Phillips, chair in Strategy and Organisational Behaviour, Imperial College London.
“Yet, it’s just at this time that employee motivation and engagement drops as their employers lack the resources to support and reward them, whilst constant cost-cutting and pressure undermines morale and enthusiasm.
“The key to turning things around and getting 2013 off on the right foot is to focus on improving and developing working practices and efficient communication. Business leaders must not get bogged down in cost-cutting, but should strive to communicate a vision that moves employees beyond the current downturn and excites them about the future.
“This two-pronged approach will help re-engage a workforce badly affected by years of recession,” he concludes.