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UK – Insurance workers twice as proud as accountants of their job

22 August 2013

Accountants have among the lowest levels of professional pride of any sector in the UK, according to research by specialist recruiter Randstad Financial & Professional.

In a survey of over 2,000 British workers, 58% of British workers said they were proud of their profession. But just 44% of those working in accountancy said they were proud of their profession. By contrast, the majority of both insurance and financial services professionals felt proud of their sector.

In the sectors where employees felt least proud of their professions, staff spent less time at work than the national average, suggesting that employers need to make staff feel proud of their profession, or they risk creating a disillusioned workforce.

Tara Ricks, managing director of Randstad Financial & Professional, explained: “In order to attract and retain a talented, dedicated workforce, employers need to make their staff feel proud of what they do. No one wants to go to work each day without feeling proud of their careers – and the research proves that employees who fall into this category often spend less time each week at work. Pride in your profession isn’t just good for employees – it’s good for business”.

“One way that employers can strengthen pride in their sector is through employer branding. It can be difficult to change the reputation of a sector as a whole, but companies can use employer branding to improve morale among their workforce.”

In most of the sectors where the level of professional pride was below the national average, employees spent fewer hours at work. For instance, only 44% of accountants felt proud of their profession, and their working hours of just 33 hours and 50 minutes per week are considerably below the weekly average. By contrast, 90% of insurance professionals feel proud of their work, and their working hours of 39 hours and 15 minutes are significantly higher than the UK average.

Tara Ricks explains: “A sense of pride in the workplace doesn’t automatically mean that employees are more committed to their jobs, but a lack of it presents a very real, organisational risk. When employees are less engaged with their profession, they are less likely to go above and beyond the minimum requirement in terms of their weekly hours.”

The research also compared professional pride with pay in different sectors – and found no correlation between the two. While property professionals are paid less than the national average, with weekly earnings of just £479.40, workers in this sector are the second most proud of their profession in the country. Meanwhile, accountants receive an average of £639.50 per week – considerably more than the UK average of £505.90 – but are the second least happy of all sectors in the UK.

Tara Ricks continued: “There are clearly a variety of factors at play here.  We know that professional pride among employees isn’t just about pay. It relates to an intrinsic sense of what working in that profession means to them.  Many of those working in insurance, financial services and accountancy receive generous salaries – but this doesn’t always instill pride in the workplace.”

Following the successful completion of the Olympic Park, Randstad recorded a significant upswing in employee motivation in the construction sector. The timely completion of such a high-profile project was widely reported as a great British success story, resulting in a surge in employee pride.

By comparison, some of the results point to contradictions between the external pride in those industries and the reality of working within them.  For example, the Technology sector is one of the fastest growing in the UK, with employees receiving among the highest salaries of any profession. But yet the IT & Technology sector delivered lower than expected levels of professional pride in the research.

Tara Ricks continued: “Accountants may be battling against stereotypes of being overly cautious, when in reality attention to detail is a highly desirable, professional skill. But in order to sustain a truly engaged workforce, these industries should seek to challenge and solve any underlying image problems that might exist."

“The same image problem may also exist in reverse. Looking at the results, it’s interesting to see that media professionals are among the most proud of all professions in the UK. Despite a large scale public inquiry into professional conduct in the sector, 81% of media professionals feel proud of their career choice,” she added. 

To view the full occupational breakdown from Randstad, please click link below. 

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