24 January 2013

Recession hits UK workplaces

The latest Workplace Employment Relations Study has found the recession has had a dramatic impact on UK offices, although workers are proving remarkably resilient in the face of adversity.

Managers have responded to the recession by making significant changes which are likely to have a lasting impact on businesses in the UK. Wage cuts or freezes have been implemented across the board as workloads increase, but despite the adverse effects of the economic downturn, British employees seem to be coping quite well.

Research by the National Institute of Economic and Social Research has revealed that although few workplaces have managed to escape the effects of the recession, many have dealt with it better than expected. Several aspects of the working environment have improved since the last study in 2004, with managers more attentive and sensitive to their employees’ needs.

For example, managers were found to be communicating more by increasingly holding team briefings and keeping staff informed on how the company is performing. There is also more workplace training taking place, with 41% of firms giving off-the-job training to the majority (80%) of experienced employees in their largest occupational group, up from 35% in 2004.

Employees were also found to have more autonomy at work, which could be why the levels of job satisfaction remained consistent with 2004 levels, despite economic conditions being a lot worse.

Alex Bryson, Principal Research Fellow at NIESR and one of the co-authors of the report, said: “The survey shows the scale of the effect that the economic downturn has had on Britain’s workplaces and employees, with many staff having to forego wage increases or increase their workload to help their company survive. But there are also signs that working life has improved in a number of respects for those who have been lucky enough to stay in work.”