While skills management remains a concern for companies in Southern Europe, where staying in work and purchasing power are still the top priorities, the question of time spent working has reappeared amongst employees in the UK, Germany and Sweden. And HR departments now face another stiff challenge: how to redefine work, as the phenomenon of "blurring " results in increased tension and imbalance, especially amongst managers.
A reference on the Employee benefits market, Edenred has been developing a wide range of tools to understand social trends for over 50 years. That is why Edenred has partnered with Ipsos since 2004 to conduct a survey among a large sample of European employees to assess their motivation levels and their well-being in the workplace.
2014: new-found confidence for european employees
The key indicators of the Edenred-Ipsos barometer reveal a return of employee confidence in the future of their company: 59% of employees in France are confident in the future of their company (+2% vs. 2013), 65% in Spain (+1% vs. 2013), 73% in the UK (+4% vs. 2013) and 80% in Germany (+4% vs. 2013).
However, this optimism is tainted by genuine concerns about compensation (a major concern for 40% of employees) and purchasing power. European employees are also very concerned about keeping their job. This fear has been accentuated since 2008 in Southern Europe 54% in Spain (+17% vs. 2008), 45% in Italy (+16% vs. 2008), 62% in Portugal2.
Differences in termes of quality of life at work and motivation
Moreover, the indicators of the Edenred-Ipsos barometer have improved significantly in the countries where the signs of an end to the crisis are the most visible: the UK, Germany, Belgium and Sweden in particular. In these countries, the employees have a higher opinion of their quality of life at work than their counterparts in Southern Europe.
With a score of 6.9/10, the employees in the UK are particularly well satisfied with their quality of life at work vs. 6.2/10 in Italy and 6/10 in Portugal. On the other hand, countries in Southern Europe have the lowest scores in terms of motivation: 38% of employees in France and 35% in Portugal consider their motivation is decreasing vs. 22% in Sweden and 23% in Germany.
New means of communication have give rise to concerns about the time spent working
The Edenred-Ipsos barometer also revealed the emergence of a new issue amongst employees: managing the time spent working. It is a major concern for 43% of employees in Sweden, 30% in Germany and 28% in the UK; these are countries where the economic situation has picked up.
Moreover, the phenomenon of "blurring" is accelerating in all the countries. The use of new means of communication (laptops, smartphones, tablets, etc.) has changed the way we work and erased the boundaries between work and private life. Today, 67% of European employees claim that they work out of normal working hours, and 62% say that they take care of private problems at work. This trend is even more pronounced amongst European managers: 90% of senior managers and 84% of managers work outside normal office hours.
While these new tools are perceived as having a positive impact on the quality of life at work (68%), the actions taken by companies to adapt to this trend are still judged to be insufficient: 39% feel that the efforts made to introduce news ways of organizing work are insufficient, 36% feel the same about well-being at work and 28% about the flexibility of the organization of working hours.