Study says Employers squandering the talents of workers

The Work Foundation continues to think about knowledge management - knowledge work, specifically - and the implications for KM in the U.K.  They have a new study report out that claims Employers squandering the talents of workers (full report here):

Too many employers are poorly equipped to weather the recession because they use workers’ skills and talents poorly, tie them up in rules and procedures, and give them little say over how they do their work, The Work Foundation says today.

This is based on a survey of a wide range of workers in the U.K. and draws a number of conclusions about the state of knowledge work (1 in 10 jobs are "high knowledge content").  The two big conclusions, as suggested in the blurb above have to do with the engagement of knowledge workers in their jobs (the claim that knowledge workers have more skills than are being asked of them in their jobs), and the converse of the engagement of the employers with their knowledge workers (the organizational culture isn't supportive).  Reading more of the details, the results don't seem as stark as they appear on first blush.  The level of engagement on both sides runs across a continuum.

There is a lot more in the survey report than just this focus on the jobs people are doing, such as their definitions of knowledge / knowledge work and a more detailed breakdown of the survey findings.  (Interestingly, one piece of data is that the group that believes they are the most over-skilled for their jobs was operators -- low knowledge content work.  If the manufacturing sector wasn't dying, I'd highlight this finding over the others.  Watch out manufacturers, your people are going to jump at the first chance for a more fulfilling job.)

2 Comment(s)

David Hobbie said:

It's interesting that the felt lack of control of *how* workers do their work is being highlighted just at a time when Enterprise 2.0 and wikis in particular offer a means for front-line knowledge workers to control the structure of the knowledge repositories, at least to some degree. Other 2.0 tools such as Lotus Connections offer as a benefit enhancement of the workers' ability to have a personalized presence and wider connections with coworkers, along with more choices about how they communicate.

Nick Milton Author Profile Page said:

You just have to be a little careful about how the Work Foundation defines "knowledge workers"

I have seen one of their previous studies which defined a "knowledge worker" as someone with a higher education qualification and/or working as a manager, which is IMHO a somewhat crude measure.

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