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Low morale affects one in three employees

8 February 2022

New research has found that almost one in three workers say they feel unvalued at work despite the fact that staff retention is one of the biggest challenges facing employers in 2022.

Lack of recognition at work is causing many employees to consider handing in their notice, according to new research by Adler. The findings come as the Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC) reports that the UK is experiencing the worst staff shortages since 1997, with a 200% increase in advertised vacancies.

At the same time, staff retention has become a greater challenge as the pandemic has seen many employees reassessing their working lives, prompting fears of what has been dubbed "the great resignation".

Adler surveyed 2,000 UK workers about the level of recognition they receive at work and how this affects their morale. The poll results show that 28% of UK workers say they receive no appreciation from the companies they work for. In addition, 15% of workers say that COVID has had a negative effect on workplace recognition.

A lack of recognition in the workplace is cited by 25% of UK workers as a reason to look for a new job. Respondents said that lower morale also caused reduced productivity, a negative perception of management and poor mental health.

The findings reveal that more women feel unappreciated than men (30% compared to 24%), highlighting a gender gap in worker recognition. In fact, the findings show that women are also less likely to receive pay rises, bonuses, recognition and gifts than male colleagues:

  • Pay rises (21% of women vs 25% of men);
  • Bonuses (27% vs 31%);
  • Personal recognition (27% vs 29%);
  • Public recognition (12% vs 17%);
  • Awards (17% vs 21%);
  • Gifts (14% vs 17%).

At the same time, the survey results show that employees feel more undervalued as they get older, with just 18% of 16-24-year-olds saying they feel undervalued, compared with 20% of 25-34-year-olds, 28% of 35-44-year-olds, 35% of 45-54-year-olds and 43% of the over-55s.

When asked how they would prefer to be recognised, over half the employees surveyed cited pay rises and bonuses; one-third said they preferred gifts, such as chocolate and personal care.

Some of these expectations have not gone unnoticed by employers who have had to increase their financial incentives to attract staff as well as retain them. Recent research shows that over half of UK employers (67%) have increased salaries in order to compete for talent. Others are offering "golden hellos" to attract the talent they need.

Written by Rachel Miller.

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