Quarter of workers ‘stuck in a rut’, research finds


One UK worker in four feels stuck in their role and more than three-quarters say that their ability to advance in their careers has either worsened or stayed the same compared with one year ago.

This is according to a survey released today by professional services company Towers Watson, which also found that 40% of respondents said that they felt they would need to leave their current employers in order to advance to a higher-level job.

The research surveyed 2,628 UK workers and also found that only 32% of respondents said their organisations do a good job of promoting the most qualified employees. In addition, only 33% said that their organisations do a good job of providing career advancement opportunities.

However, perhaps most worryingly, only just over half (55%) of respondents said they have the tools and resources they need to achieve exceptional performance.

According to Towers Watson, many workers (66%) also cannot see a clear link between performance and pay, suggesting that workers have little incentive to push themselves in their role.

Yves Duhaldeborde, head of organisational surveys and insights at Towers Watson, said: “The research suggests that both workers and UK PLC are stuck in a rut, without the tools, inclination or support they need to progress. The post-recession reality is that many people have swapped ambition for stability and are choosing a steady income from their current role over aiming for promotion or looking for a new job entirely.

“We need employers to really inject innovation, creativity and confidence back into their business to ensure that employees feel assured of their career options and can break through the current ambition ceiling we’re seeing.”

In response to the findings, Towers Watson has offered advice for employers looking to inject creativity and confidence back into their business:

1. Create an atmosphere of innovation. Encourage employees to actively participate in the future direction of the business and put forward solutions to problem areas.

2. Provide positive leadership and direction. The recession has seen a chasm open up between senior leadership and employees which has left many workers nervous about the future. Bridge the gap by regularly communicating change to the business and ensuring that your organisation has a clear and active voice at the top.

3. Be brave. Find opportunities for your staff to do work that might be out of their comfort zone. This could give them the opportunity to move sideways in the organisation if a promotion opportunity is unavailable. It will also improve their wider skill set which will ultimately benefit the business.

4. Invest in your people. Make sure that your senior staff and middle management have the time, training and tools needed to inspire their teams and make it clear what is expected of them. Motivation can be a powerful tool for improving performance – take time to make it an everyday part of your company culture.

5. Control the controllable. Issues such as the eurozone crisis will have an inevitable impact on employer confidence but they shouldn’t have an impact on how you talk to your people and the processes that keep your business running. Make sure that you have the right tools and processes in place – from software to training – to make sure that your employees are confident about their role, know what is expected of them and can do the best possible job.

For more on this topic, see XpertHR’s good practice guide to promoting employees.

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