Voluntary sector produces the happiest employees, survey finds

Employee engagement in UK organisations is highest in the voluntary sector, research finds.

According a study by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD), more than half (55 per cent) of employees in the voluntary sector feel engaged at work, compared with 41 per cent last quarter.

The news comes despite a backdrop of increasing redundancies (25 per cent reporting planned redundancies ahead, a jump of 15 percentage points since last quarter).

That’s compared with engagement levels of 37 per cent in the private sector, where 8 per cent of workers expect redundancies ahead, and 33 per cent engagement levels in the public sector, where 28 per cent of workers report plans for redundancies in their organisations.

The CIPD’s quarterly Employee Outlook, which surveys employees across all sectors about their attitudes to working life, finds that engagement in the voluntary sector is driven not only by an affinity to the organisation’s core purpose, but by open and honest management teams and cultures of mutual trust and respect.

Voluntary sector workers enjoy the highest rating of job satisfaction (a net score of +52, compared with +25 in public sector and +45 in the private sector).

Workers in the sector are also aware of what is happening in their organisations (68 per cent compared with 51 per cent in public sector and 53 per cent in the private sector).

Voluntary sector workers are most likely to agree that their directors and senior managers treat them with respect (+31 net agreement, compared with +19 in private sector and -7 in public sector) and are most likely to have trust and confidence in their leaders (+19 and +23 compared with -25 and -22 in the public sector and +12 and +14 in the private sector).

Claire McCartney, research adviser at the CIPD says, ‘It would be easy to attribute strong engagement scores in the voluntary sector to employees’ affinity to their organisation’s charitable purpose, but our survey suggests that quality of management is a principal driving factor behind high levels of job satisfaction and employee engagement despite prolonged job insecurity.

‘The data from the voluntary sector gives us some hints on how to engage staff through leadership – at all levels of the organisation – and provides some good practice that both the private and public sectors can learn from.’

Ben Lobel

Ben Lobel

Ben Lobel was the editor of SmallBusiness.co.uk from 2010 to 2018. He specialises in writing for start-up and scale-up companies in the areas of finance, marketing and HR.

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