Employees feel taken advantage of…

Employers across the UK risk disengaging and demotivating their employees who feel they are being taken advantage of, according to Best Companies, the name behind The Sunday Times Best Companies to Work For list.

From the data compiled for the 2009 lists from participating organisations, just 31% of engaged employees reported that sometimes they feel their organisation takes advantage of them; in contrast a disturbing two-thirds of disengaged employees who feel that their employer takes advantage of them.

The size of an organisation also has an influence on these scores; out of all the responses from employees at big organisations, those with a workforce of 5000 or more, 44% felt they had been taken advantage of. But as the size of the organisation decrease, the scores improve and fewer employees feel that they have been unfairly exploited. For mid-size organisations (250-4999 employees) 37% of employees felt this way, and as for small organisations (50-249 employees) this figure drops to 31% of staff. Clearly then, larger organisations have a bigger challenge in making sure their staff do not feel unfairly burdened.

We also reviewed the information supplied by the top five organisations where their scores for this area are best out of all entrants to highlight some useful best practice in this area. The good news? While internal recognition and campaigns that celebrate individual and organisation success yield real results, it need not break the bank to make a positive difference. Sometimes a simple thank you from the right person can be more important than a tacky corporate gift.

None of the top companies have extraordinarily expensive ways of recognising staff. Instead they adopt simple and straightforward ways to show appreciation – whether that be a thank you card, a box of chocolates, theatre tickets or simply celebrating the achievements in internal communications channels.

However, some other organisations undertake this kind of recognition and still have high levels of disengaged and unhappy employees. What makes the difference? The challenge is matching the right recognition scheme to the organisation’s culture, creating a scheme that employees feel connected to, that is viewed as appropriate and rewards the right level of achievement. Adopting an ‘off-the-shelf’ scheme or copying one from another organisation is rarely successful. Any scheme must be tailored to the culture and work of your organisation.

Knowing how your employees feel is the best way to pulse-check engagement levels in your organisation. At Best Companies we produce both The Sunday Times Best Companies to Work For and Best Places to Work For in the Public Sector lists. Registration for the 2010 lists is open now, but there is also the chance to use the same rigorous survey methodology to gain valuable insight into your organisation without entering the rankings.


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