UK employees least happy with leadership

11 September, 2018

  • Four in ten UK workers are dissatisfied with the quality of leadership at work (40%)
  • 14% are concerned that their manager “hardly” knows them
  • 15% don’t have “any faith” in the quality of their leadership
  • Other causes of unhappiness in the workplace include employees feeling uncomfortable (44%) or unsafe (28%)

LONDON, UK – 11 September 2018 - Four in ten UK employees (40%) are unhappy with the current quality of their work leadership according to research from ADP (Automatic Data Processing). The study, which surveyed over 2,000 workers across France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands and the UK, found that UK workers were least satisfied with their leaders compared to the average across other nationalities of 33%.

A similar proportion of respondents (38%) also don’t feel their manager knows them well enough to understand their full potential. This lack of understanding goes far beyond leadership and management, with half of UK employees feeling their employer doesn’t understand them, or their potential (50%). Alarmingly one fifth of respondents (21%) feel like their employer just sees them as a number.

Jeff Phipps, Managing Director at ADP UK commented on the findings: “Management and leadership has a direct and tangible impact on employee engagement. Our research has shown that too many companies across Europe are still getting it wrong. It’s important that managers, leaders and HR teams take the time to understand their employees properly. Workers are clear that they want to be valued and treated as individuals and so by knowing your employees, from their abilities to their desires, you can truly inspire, nurture and engage, which in turn will drive productivity and business success.”

Other causes of discontent

A lack of understanding from employers and management is not the only thing driving discontent in the workplace. Almost half (44%) have felt uncomfortable at work in the past year, often due to too much stress, poor relationships with colleagues and a poor working environment. Measures to support mental wellbeing are also limited, with only a few employees feeling like they are offered support such as mindfulness training (17%), unconscious bias training (11%) and access to a counselling service (29%).

Almost a third of employees have felt unsafe at work in the past year (28%), mainly due to poor health and safety, and aggressive clients. When asked, respondents revealed that employers aren’t implementing the right steps to ensure physical wellbeing, with only a third (35%) offering a feedback process for staff to raise any concerns and only half providing health and safety training (55%).

Jeff Phipps continues: “There are a number of measures that HR teams can take to ensure that employees feel safe, comfortable and happy in their roles. It’s important to give your workforce the opportunity to contribute their thoughts on how well you support their physical and mental wellbeing. More importantly, you need to take the time to consider how you could be doing better.”

About the Research

ADP and Circle Research conducted an online quantitative survey in April 2018 of 2518 employees across 5 different countries (France, UK, Germany, Netherlands and Italy). The sample was a representative mix of employees by age, gender, full-time / part-time workers, salary brackets and seniority.

Circle Research are the B2B research experts. With offices in London and New York, we are dedicated to helping our B2B clients understand how business decision-makers behave and think. Visit


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Media Contact:

Laura Brooks, Flagship Consulting
Sarah Callaghan, Flagship Consulting
Tom Jenkin, Flagship Consulting
Claire Nelson, Flagship Consulting
020 7680 7104