Every so often the Telegraph lets non-subscribers like me peek inside its paywall and see a fascinating article such as this one from Jeremy Warner on why companies are reticent about investing in Britain. Sadly, they’ve locked it away again so here’s a synopsis of the message.
Warner offers a number of reasons behind this reticence with a focus on the shrinking workforce, including the impact of long Covid and a passing reference to Brexit, but concludes, controversially, with: “Idleness and state dependence have triumphed over a once culturally ingrained work ethic.”
Depending on your particular dogma you may or may not agree with Warner’s conclusion, but surely there are more complex reasons for this crisis in the workforce. Many of the same reasons are behind the phenomena of the shrinking workforce, the Great Resignation and ‘quiet quitting’. These include post-pandemic re-evaluation of work/life balance, declining real terms of pay and benefits, lack of recognition and responsibility, uninspiring company culture and vision, and certainly the departure of many highly skilled Europeans after Brexit.
Warner observes that companies don’t invest in productivity because they can’t get the staff they require to drive expansion, but isn’t that precisely the impetus needed to increase productivity and automation, as many enlightened UK companies are already doing? Irrespective of the effect of the “post materialist generation”, the UK, like Japan, has an ageing workforce so it is inevitable that solutions requiring fewer workers are needed.
Given the long-term workforce crisis, leaders should check on their existing people periodically to mitigate shrinkage in their own organisations. Often the reasons for people leaving are very obvious as in the case of professionals in the NHS, but this is not always the case. Your people will have opinions about the situation in your organisation, opinions which are rarely shared. This is information about the business, not the individual, which we call organisation experience (OX) data. Tensense is a digital early warning system for your business which can be used to collect OX data confidentially from your people, alerting you to any unnoticed discontent which they have identified. You can watch a short video here.