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Why do fewer workers in the UK do it for the love of the job?

How many people on your payroll come into work every day because they love what they do? According to a new survey reported by the CIPP, it’s not as many as our European counterparts.

62% of payroll workers in the survey said payment was their prime reason for working each day. That compares with just 49% across France, Germany, Italy and the Netherlands. In the UK, just 13% said the love of the job was their prime motivating factor. That’s half the figure in the Netherlands.

The survey also found more UK workers thinking of quitting (19%) and 9% considering it every day – far higher than in Europe, where the figures are 12% and 6% respectively.

Does this matter? Well, not to put too fine a point on it, yes.

Feeling engaged

Clearly, the feeling of being ‘only in it for the money’ is not uncommon in Europe. And the feeling of ‘this is the day I tell them to stick their job’ is not unique to the UK. But the difference between the UK figures and Europe’s are quite startling, putting us at greater risk of an engagement problem.

Even the most basic of management textbooks will address the ‘money as motivation’ question. Payment is the poster boy for ‘hygiene factors’. The salaries provided by your payroll department are likely to have a demotivating effect if they’re late or lower than expected, but being paid on time at the correct amount is not a motivator – it’s simply a retainer of the status quo.

So that fact that most of the UK feels money is its prime reason for getting out of bed each day is a worry. Contrast that with 26% of people in the Netherlands who love what they do. They may need the money too, but their approach to work is very different and is likely to manifest payday feelings very different from their less enthusiastic UK counterparts.

Love the company

Europe-wide, according to the survey, those who say their prime reason for work is to pay for the things they want or need are more likely to say they feel frustrated or disappointed once payroll gives them their money. In contrast, those who say loving what they do or loving the company they work for matters most are least likely to feel deflated come payday.

Start with payroll and HR

So what’s to be done? Turning a significant proportion of disengaged workers into company-lovers is a tough ask, but there are plenty of small steps you can take to remove many of the factors that make people disengaged – and as Personnel Today noted, your payroll and HR system could be an ideal starting point.

If your current systems are an endless sink of processes and requests for information, take another look at the way you’re using them.

  • Explore ways your existing payroll and HR systems can share and inform (ie proactively advising someone about a review date or staff survey results), rather than simply gathering information
  • Communicate changes to HR and payroll processes, so there’s clarity about why a decision has been made
  • Use the transparency of your system to make reporting more of an ongoing dialogue, where goals and achievements are monitored regularly, so it becomes less of a once or twice yearly ‘hit’
  • Many integrated HR systems have local social networks or instant polls as part of their offering – use them to gauge current feeling and act on findings.
  • Shift the emphasis of the payroll and HR system, so it becomes less of an ‘enforcer’ and more of a support for managers and staff.

To explore ways of using your payroll and HR systems to boost employee engagement, talk to our payroll experts now.