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UK employee business confidence plunges amid economic, workplace uncertainty

Employee confidence in UK. business conditions has fallen to its lowest level on record on the back of Brexit and rising fears around the coronavirus, according to Gartner, Inc.

The research group’s latest Global Talent Monitor report found U.K. business confidence fell to an index score of 44.5 in the fourth quarter of 2019 (4Q19), a decrease of over 11 index points from 4Q18. The figure puts the U.K. more than 6 index points below the current global average.

“Employers in the U.K. are facing several challenges as they look to restore the confidence and trust of their employees,” said Brian Kropp, chief of research for the Gartner HR practice. “On top of ongoing concerns around the results of Brexit trade negotiations, employees are now also worrying about the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak. Given all that is occurring, businesses could face a confidence crisis if they fail to address these issues in the workplace.”

Despite employees feeling less confident in near-term business conditions and long-term economic prospects, 45% of employees reported a high intent to stay at their organization in 4Q19, up from 42% in 3Q19. Active job-seeking behaviour fell to 14.6%, well below the global average of 20.8%.

According to the most recent Global Talent Monitor report, manager quality is now the most significant factor employees consider when deciding to leave a company. More than one-third of U.K. employees who recently changed jobs ranked Manager Quality as the most dissatisfying attribute of their previous employer.

“Now more than ever, managers face enormous pressure — their number of direct reports has increased and many managers report being increasingly removed from their employees’ daily work,” said Kropp.

Work-life balance (34.6%) and people management (32.2%) ranked second and third as drivers of attrition. Meanwhile, only 23.4% of employees reported Compensation as a factor for leaving their previous job, despite its ranking as the top reason employees cite globally.

Gartner research found that 45% of managers don’t feel confident in their ability to develop the skills employees need. Additionally, managers lack time to coach their direct reports, spending only 9% of their time on developing their direct reports.

The lack of ability and time to focus on employee development is an issue, given that a recent Gartner survey found that more than 70% of HR executives believe that managers should get more involved in coaching employees compared with three years ago.

Organizations need to support their leaders so they can devote time to coach and develop team members. Gartner says the companies that are most successful at developing their employees have focused on cultivating connector managers, who are able to connect employees to the right people and resources at the right time. In fact, connector managers boost employee performance by up to 26% and more than triple the likelihood that their employees will be high performers, notes the research group.

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