Job freedom could improve productivity: CIPD study

New research from the CIPD adds employees’ insights to the productivity debate and suggests that unnecessary workplace rules could be hindering business performance.

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Over 2,000 UK employees were canvassed for their views on what made them more productive in the workplace.The most frequent responses were interesting work (40%), being able to use their own initiative (39%) and being given tasks that complement their skills (25%). By contrast, the most common hurdles to employee productivity were unnecessary rules and procedures (28%), not having the resources available to do their jobs (28%) and office politics (24%), according to the study.The data, published in the professional body for HR and people development’s latest Employee Outlook Survey, suggests employers could increase productivity by improving the amount of autonomy employees have at work to use their skills and ideas, harness more empowering approaches to leadership and line management, and improve job design.The twice-yearly benchmarking survey has also registered falling levels of engagement as measured by its Engagement Index. This fell from 39 per cent in the spring 2015 survey to 36 per cent in the current autumn dataset.In the context of declining engagement, the study found over-qualification to be a factor. Almost half of disengaged survey respondents said that they felt over-qualified for their role. Fortunately for employers, across the sample as a whole, 61 per cent of respondents felt that broadening their job role would make better use of their skills and experience, potentially boosting engagement and productivity in the process.Claire McCartney, research adviser at the CIPD, comments, “Productivity at work has been a real focus this year for employers and policy-makers, but it’s easy to forget that the most important perspective on the productivity debate is that of employees themselves.“This survey gives us unique insight into what workers feel affects how well they work, and the answer is much simpler than many would probably assume.“Setting employees free to innovate and play to their strengths also involves an employment relationship based on trust and removing unnecessary and restrictive rules and procedures that get in the way of common sense and agility.“The survey shows that many employees see the over-qualification issue as a rectifiable one, and employers should take advantage of this.”Dominique Jones, vice president of human resources at cloud-based talent management provider Halogen Software, which partnered with the CIPD for the survey, adds, “These results show a strong need for organisations to focus on career development, growth and stimulation as a way to support job satisfaction and retention. Investing in employee development not only expands the employee’s capacity and ability to contribute, it can also translate into a range of business results.”
  • Read more Re:locate news, insights and features here from the CIPD and its annual conference and exhibition in Manchester, which takes place on 4-5 November.

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