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Failure to manage todays workforce a threat to UKs future, warns Adecco

Failure to manage today’s workforce a threat to UK’s future, warns Adecco

Employers are managing in the dark

Employers who fail to engage, motivate and retain their best employees across all ages risk damaging the UK’s productivity and competitiveness warns Adecco Group.

A new report, “The Workplace Revolution”, warns that UK employers must change their working practices if they are to appeal to employees with a much wider range of personalities, skills, interests and beliefs, including today’s & lsquo;X-factor’ generation .

Despite continuing high youth unemployment, new research findings from the UK’s largest recruiter, demonstrate the increasingly high expectations of younger working generations.  Half of those aged 34 and under - Generation Y - (47%) want a promotion every two years, compared to just a fifth (22%) of UK workers as a whole, and 16% expect a promotion every year. 

Demands for flexible working are also greater among younger workers. Well over three quarters (84%) of Generation Y believe they have a right to work from home, compared to only two thirds (68%) of the over 55s.

According to Peter Searle, CEO of Adecco Group: “Employers face a serious set of challenges and cannot risk alienating any section of their workforce. They must instead appeal to and cater for a multitude of conflicting needs across different generations. Embracing and managing the expectations of today’s younger workforce will be critical for future business success.”

These changes in employee expectations and behaviours are the result of unprecedented changes to UK employment practices. The new report maps the course of cultural, legal and demographic change to the UK labour market over the last 40 years. With more women in the workplace, increased numbers of older workers, more part-timers and more migrant workers, and a surge in legislation, modern working practices are almost unrecognisable from those in Britain in the 1970s. The report warns that many employers have failed to keep pace and, as a result, employers are managing in the dark.

The report calls for employers to tackle issues head-on by:

recognising the diverse nature of their workforces and the differing expectations of different categories of employee, flexing their approaches as appropriate

addressing an engagement conundrum to offer opportunities that appeal to all including  women, an ageing workforce and a growing migrant workforce

taking a longer term view of skills requirements and plan ahead for how they will plug future potential skills gaps

Peter Searle continues “Employers must continually reassess existing practices to ensure they are meeting demands for flexible working while navigating a complex set of employment legislation, and addressing what their own role should be in helping to shape what some business leaders have described as a failing education system.

“As all these challenges collide, employers are currently faced with a situation where they are effectively managing blind. They must now address these issues to ensure they have the right resourcing and management models, plus access to future skills to gain competitive advantage in an evolving global market.”

Key data/insights from the report include:

Opportunities for younger generations to progress: Generation Y sees development opportunities as their biggest barrier (23%) – suggesting that employers are not providing sufficient opportunities for Generation Y workers to progress at a rate they’re satisfied with. If employers want to retain top talent, they need to consider what development opportunities they have on offer.


The workforce is increasingly mobile: half (49%) of UK workers are prepared to travel up to an hour a day for the right job and 16% are prepared to travel up to 2 hours – increasing for Generation Y.  Employers should consider extending their recruitment search beyond the local talent pool to ensure they have the pick of the country’s most promising professionals.

Work life balance: eight out of ten (85%) workers believe they have the right to work on a part time basis and over three quarters (76.6%) of workers also believe they have the right to work from home. Attitudes towards flexible working differ between generations and employers must decide whether to respond to requests for flexible working or actively promote it in their recruitment practices.

The new report, “Managing the modern workforce - Workplace Revolution” - can be downloaded at


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