The average UK worker trusts their colleagues, bosses and their own company but has little or no confidence in trade unions, political parties or the Government to have a positive effect on the job market. This is a sentiment that is reflected throughout Europe according to global employment specialist Gi Group which has published the results of its ELTI (Employee Labour Trust Index.)
“In this survey your company and the people you work with stand out across the board as a safe harbour and whilst this is good news it is not enough to revitalise the sector. Other organisations are key to building confidence and currently they are failing in that role and generating a perception of distrust and scepticism,” said Jess Watts, CEO, Gi Group UK.
The Gi Group’s ELTI is made up of results from 6,000 respondents from France, Germany, Italy, Poland, Spain and the UK. The objectives of the survey are to provide an outlook on employees’ confidence levels in the labour market Europe-wide and compare them across six countries. The index has been developed using the statistical average of all of the responses from each of the 6,000 respondents and comparisons are made with the levels of trust that they have in a total stranger.
The research shows that the global economic crisis is leaving an indelible mark on the labour markets of many EU countries and creating a strong sense of insecurity. Across all of the countries surveyed workers showed low levels of confidence in the employment market (ELTI 43.37), with employees in Germany having the highest levels of confidence and those in the UK and France just behind. Spain, Poland and Italy, perhaps understandably, have the lowest levels of confidence, and this geographic division is common throughout the research.
“Evidence from this new international survey confirms that structural reforms are essential which is why countries that have started to implement them such as Germany and the UK, are less vulnerable to the wave of pessimism that seems to pervade the other countries surveyed,” comments Stefano Colli-Lanzi, CEO of Gi Group.
A key part of the survey looked at employees’ confidence in their ability to find a new job if they were to lose their current position. Almost all respondents showed concern with twice as many employees declaring low levels of confidence than high levels. Once again employees in Germany were the most confident, over 10 points higher than the UK (second) and 20 points higher than Spain where almost half of all respondents showed low levels of confidence.
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When asked to estimate how long they believed it would take them to find a new job the responses ranged from around eight months in Germany, UK and Poland to over 16 months in Spain. In addition employees over the age of 50 across all six countries showed the lowest levels of confidence with employees from Spain in this category believing it would take two years to find new employment.
Across the six countries senior managers are more confident than blue collar, white collar and lower and middle managers. Senior managers in Germany showed the most confidence, almost 40 index points higher than blue collar workers in Spain who showed the lowest levels.
“The perception that it will be difficult for employees to find another job should they lose theirs engenders profound mistrust across Europe. The picture is especially critical for certain parts of society, particularly the older generation following reforms pushing back retirement age. In order to address this Southern European countries should follow the example of the German system and more generally the Northern European ones, which are focusing on flexicurity,” comments Colli-Lanzi.
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- At European level there is very low confidence in trade unions – 10 points lower than levels of trust in strangers. By far the highest is Germany with 25 index points more than Spain which showed the lowest levels of trust followed closely by Italy and Poland.
- The index expressing trust in political parties is the lowest index of the whole survey. One in three express low trust in political parties and is 23 points lower than trust in strangers across all six countries.
- Italy has the lowest level of trust in political parties with over 60% expressing low levels of trust. Germany has the highest level of trust but the number is still low with only 14% of respondents citing high levels of trust. The UK is second overall but one in three respondents expressed low levels of trust.
- At European level there is limited confidence in national governments with almost 25% expressing low levels of trust.
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“As a global player operating in over twenty countries worldwide, we are extremely interested in the levels of trust in the different players interacting within the world of employment. Primarily we will use this information to help us be the best we can possibly be at our jobs. However we would also hope to initiate debates and in-depth discussions about these issues, with a view not only to increasing employees’ level of trust but also to encouraging growth within the entire labour market,” concludes Colli-Lanzi.