Be Honest, Are you Doing Enough For Your Junior Staff’s Wellbeing?
With research revealing junior staff are the unhappiest section of the UK’s workforce, we take a look at the cause of the problem, and what can be done to put it rightJermaine Haughton
The influx of young staff entering the workforce are increasingly expecting employers to provide fulfilment and work-life balance alongside a good salary. Yet, many managers are seemingly failing to acknowledge the shift in staff expectations with junior staff members ranking as the least happy within the workforce.
Your organisation’s future stars may very well be within your junior ranks, as previously demonstrated by rise of the likes of celebrity chef Gordon Ramsey, former General Electric boss Jack Welch and shelf-stacker-turned-Tesco boss Terry Leahy.
‘Junior’ and ‘assistant’ roles within companies are an important way for many ambitious career starters to forge their career in a particular industry or company. Meanwhile, for employers, hiring junior staff provides support to key existing staff on administrative and low touch tasks, allowing them to focus on important profit-driving duties.
Their energy, youthful insight, skills and growth prospects are also important to giving company growth a boost.
However, research into workplace happiness from office search engine OfficeGenie.co.uk suggests that employers are not doing enough to cater for their junior staff.
The survey of 2,000 UK office workers found poor remuneration levels, overworking and the low quality of work on offer were among the major factors causing disgruntlement among junior staff.
Some 62% of junior staff feel they deserve to earn a higher wage and 75% want a pay rise and, despite feeling overworked, nearly a third (32%) of junior staff admit to not feeling fulfilled while 29% felt they weren’t being challenged in their role.
The denial of flexible working opportunities is also denting the morale of junior employees, with 46% believe working from home would improve their happiness.
When nearly half of junior staff report feeling overworked (46%), flexible working could provide a welcome solution. It may also help to prevent the presenteeism found among junior staff. Some 64% admit to going into work when they are ill - compared to 47% of senior management and 43% of business owners.
CMI’s own Quality of Working Life 2016 report found that managers put in 29 extra days of work a year which cancels out the typical holiday entitlement of 28 days, with 54% of managers saying their working hours have a negative effect on their stress levels.
Sometimes, however, all that is wanted may even just be a bit of recognition from their colleagues. Almost a quarter (23%) of junior workers wanted more praise to help improve their motivation - more than any other level of seniority.
Peter Ames, head of strategy at OfficeGenie.co.uk, said: “The fact junior staff are the least happy is alarming but not surprising when you consider they appear to be underpaid, undervalued and denied basic rights such as flexible working.
“While junior staff may expect a lack of experience to result in a slightly lower paycheque - flexible working is a fairly universal right. It comes down to trust, I’d suggest that the more you trust employees by allowing things such as flexible working, the more you will get out of them.”
The power of happiness
From tech giants Google to sportswear firm Under Armour to medium-sized healthy fast food chain LEON, companies are increasingly investing in ‘staff happiness’ programmes to boost employee morale and engagement and are seeing results.
LEON, for example, achieved a 46% growth in earnings totaling £2.26million this year, and its founder John Vincent attributed the rise due to the company’s good relations with its staff.
In addition to paying its 600 staff the National Living Wage three months before legislation made it compulsory, LEON has also established a £600,000 programme of wellbeing and development events and training, equating to almost £1,000 per employee, which has seen employees receive massages and mindfulness classes.