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42% of accountants and City workers not professionally fulfilled, survey finds

A poll of 2,000 workers from a wide range of different industries revealed that 62% of the UK workforce describes itself as professionally fulfilled. 

But just 58% of employees in financial services and accountancy said they are professionally fulfilled. 

And while one in eight (13%) of the UK’s workers said they were unfulfilled, almost 1 in 4 (23%) working in financial services and accountancy say they’re unfulfilled – making accountants and financial services professionals the most unfulfilled employees in the country.

Those working in the IT sector and sectors such as HR, Legal, and Marketing have the highest levels of professional fulfilment among UK workers (73% each).

Tara Ricks, managing director of Randstad Financial & Professional, said, “It’s certainly not all bad. The majority of people in the financial services industry are fulfilled, but there are a big block of staff who aren’t. Despite the fact that optimism in the sector is surging as firms report they are the most upbeat about their overall business situation for almost 17 years , these findings demonstrate that their employees are some of the least fulfilled workers in the country. There is undoubtedly plenty of scope for improvement, which employers should see an opportunity to improve their businesses. Our research offers a number of pointers on how to do that.”

The cost of dissatisfaction

Poor levels of job satisfaction and professional fulfilment increase absenteeism  affecting the bottom line.  Across the UK, the average costs of absence per employee per year is now &pound975. 

Roughly 160 million working days a year are lost due to absence from the workplace with the total direct cost to the economy now standing at &pound14bn.

Job satisfaction (as well as commitment and work-life balance) also has an important effect on levels of engagement and intention to quit. Furthermore, it’s a self-fulfilling prophecy: high staff turnover in an organisation makes it more likely that employees will feel dissatisfied with their job.

Randstad suggests employers hire more younger and older workers and more women to increase the job satisfaction of their workforces without drastically increasing costs.

Randstad’s research demonstrated that professional fulfilment is at its highest among those at the start or end of their career.  More than two thirds (67%) of 18 to 24 year olds feel fulfilled in their professional lives as do two thirds (66%) of those aged above 55.  Fulfilment then diminishes during the middle of people’s careers – the lowest proportion of those who feel fulfilled at work was among those aged 35 to 44 at 57%.

Rick commented, “The mid-life crisis has long been a dreaded part of growing older, but is often seen as a figment of people’s imagination.  Our research shows a mid-career crisis is a very real phenomenon.  Employers who are keen to increase the overall professional fulfilment of their workforce can ensure they are hiring older workers as well as passionate young people.  Only 57% of people aged between 55 and 64 are employed in the UK.  In the US and Australia, it’s 60 and 61%.  We can’t disproportionately rely on the middle aged.  There’s a lot of scope for improvement.”

Fulfilment higher in women

The research also revealed that a higher proportion of women feel very fulfilled than men (17% vs. 16%) while more men say they are not professionally fulfilled (39% vs. 38%).

Ricks said, “If you increase the number of women in your organisation that will have an effect on the overall job satisfaction of your workforce.  To do that you’ll need to ensure you are a flexible employer and are providing working conditions that suit women.  Out goes a culture of long hours and presenteeism, in comes temporary and part time employment and greater attention to work-life balance.”

The research was part of a wider study showing Britain’s workers are amongst the least professionally fulfilled in Europe and the English speaking world. 

As part of its Fulfilment@Work report, and launch of a campaign to help people find greater fulfilment, How I Became, Randstad interviewed approximately 45,000 employees from the UK as well as Britain’s English-speaking and European peers over the course of three years.  British workers have had the lowest scores in 9 out of the past 13 quarters when compared to European peers including France and Germany – and 9 out of the last 11 quarters when compared to English speaking countries including the US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. 


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