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Quarter of UK employees feel voiceless at work

Quarter of UK employees feel voiceless at work

One in four (25%) UK employees don’t feel like they have a voice in their organisation, or that their employer encourages, listens to, and acts on feedback from its staff, according to a new study by HR software provider Ciphr.

Of the 1,000 workers who took part in Ciphr’s survey on diversity and inclusion in the workplace, just over half (53%) believe that they have a voice within their company. The remaining 22% of respondents – that’s over six million people – were undecided on whether they have a voice or not (which perhaps implies that many of them don’t).

The results suggest that a huge swathe of the UK workforce could, potentially, be lacking a ‘voice’ in their organisation, which means that their views may not be being asked for, heard, or included in conversations and decisions that may directly affect them.

Female employees appear less likely than male employees to believe that they have a voice in their organisation (50% of surveyed women think they do have a voice at work, compared to 57% of surveyed men).

Feeling voiceless is even more pronounced among those at the start of their careers, with a third (33%) of women aged 18 to 24 years old reporting that they don’t think they have a voice in their organisation. Just one in six (17%) men of the same age feel that way.

Ciphr’s research shows that there is a direct link between feeling voiceless at work and a negative employee experience. Employees who don’t feel listened to and heard in their organisation are, unsurprisingly, less likely to stay at that organisation – and be unhappier and less engaged while they work there.

Of those who don’t feel that they have a voice in their organisation, or that their organisation encourages, listens to, and acts on feedback from staff, less than a third (29%) report enjoying their job, only a quarter (26%) feel engaged and motivated at work, and just half (51%) intend to stay in their job for at least the next year.

In comparison, over three-quarters (81%) of those who do feel that they have a voice in their organisation, and that their organisation encourages, listens to, and acts on feedback from staff, said that they enjoy their jobs and have job satisfaction, while 82% intend to stay at their jobs. These ‘happier’ workers are also more likely to agree or strongly agree that they feel loyal to their organisation (79% of people who feel they have a voice vs 25% of those who feel voiceless), and feel included in, and consulted on, decisions that affect them (78% vs 17%).

% who enjoy their job and have job satisfaction% who feel engaged and motivated at work% who feel loyal to their organisation% who feel included in and consulted on decisions that affect them% who intend to stay with their employer for at least the next year
Employees who: feel that they have a voice in their organisation81%80%79%78%82%
Don’t feel that they have a voice in their organisation29%26%25%17%51%

Ciphr’s research also revealed that employees are, in general, much less positive than bosses about their organisations’ diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) efforts.

Other key findings from the survey included:

  • One in four (25%) 18- to 24-year-olds don’t feel confident or comfortable being themselves at work (compared to 12% of over 25s, and 4% of senior managers)
  • Nearly a fifth (18%) of all respondents (21% of men and 15% of women) rarely or never feel like they belong at work
  • Nearly one in six (17%) junior and middle managers don’t think that discriminatory or inappropriate behaviour is appropriately addressed at their organisation (the survey average is 14%)
  • One in seven (15%) non-managers don’t think that their leaders lead inclusively. Just 60% believe that their leaders lead inclusively, compared to 77% of those in leadership and senior management positions
  • Over three-quarters (79%) of senior managers think that their organisation’s policies take account of diverse needs and situations, but less than two-thirds (63%) of non-managers agree with them

Ciphr, a leading UK-based provider of integrated HR, payroll, learning and recruitment solutions, conducted an online survey of 1,000 employed UK adults. The results, which form part of an employee experience in the UK study, are available here.


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