This report presents the findings from the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) employer engagement survey 2018, conducted by IFF Research. The employer engagement survey 2018 is the third wave of a cross-sectional representative survey of 4,201 employers across Great Britain. The survey was conducted between February and July 2018 and the previous waves of the survey were conducted in 2015 to 2016 and 2013.
The survey is designed to develop DWP’s understanding of employers’ recruitment practices, their views on key policy areas and their experiences of the services offered by DWP. This will enable employer views to be fed into operational management and policy development.
Access channels and internet usage
The percentage of employers contacting DWP in the 12 months prior to the survey has fallen significantly, from 31% in 2015 to 2016 to only 23% in 2018. Employers who were aware that they had Universal Credit employees were more likely to contact DWP (45%) compared to those not aware of having Universal Credit employees (26%).
Fifty-nine per cent of the employers that had been in touch with DWP had done so regarding pension-related issues. Payroll, health and safety, and advertising on Universal Jobmatch were the also common reasons for employer contact.
Almost 50% of those who had contacted DWP did so online, using GOV.UK. The second most common method of contact was telephone (32%), followed by email (8%). However, employers were more likely to say that they preferred to contact DWP by telephone (44%) with online being only the second preference (32%).
Overall satisfaction levels with DWP staff during the most recent contact with DWP remained stable compared to 2015 to 2016 with an average score of 7.5 on a scale of 1 to 10 (10 = highly satisfied).
Use of DWP recruitment services
Forty-eight per cent of employers had either recruited or tried to recruit in the 12 months prior to the survey. This was higher for those organisations in the non-market services sector (68%) and larger business (99% for organisations with over 250+ employees).
Thirteen per cent of these recruiting employers had used Jobcentre Plus to do so in 2018, a fall of 6 percentage points compared to 2015 to 2016. The percentage of recruiting employers who had used Universal Jobmatch (now replaced with ‘Find a job’) remained stable compared to 2015 to 2016, at 11%.
Overall, satisfaction with Universal Jobmatch among recruiting employers was 5.7 out of 10 (10 = extremely satisfied). Employers’ overall satisfaction with Jobcentre Plus recruitment services was lower than that of Universal Jobmatch, at an average of 5 out of 10. Both recruitment methods scored lower than in 2015 to 2016 when satisfaction levels were 6.6 out of 10 for Universal Jobmatch and 6.7 out of 10 Jobcentre Plus services.
In the 2018 survey, 13% of employers reported having staff on zero hour contracts, significantly more than in 2015 to 2016 (8%). The proportion of employers with staff working less than 16 hours a week was 34% in 2018, a decrease of 3 percentage points since 2015 to 2016.
Among all employers, only 16% had any procedures in place to encourage applications from any disadvantaged groups. When asked about encouraging applications from people with disabilities, long-term health conditions, only 9% of employers had such procedures.
Experience and perception of Universal Credit
Sixty-five per cent of employers were aware of Universal Credit, an increase from 58% in 2015 to 2016. Awareness of Universal Credit has increased significantly in all but 3 regions (Wales, the North West, London and Home Counties) since 2015 to 2016. Larger employers were more likely to be aware of Universal Credit than smaller employers, and there were higher levels of awareness amongst employers in the non-market services sector (73%) and business and other services (69%) sectors.
The majority of employers felt that Universal Credit had no negative impact on their business (58%). Seventeen per cent report negative impacts and 7% reported positive impacts. Employers who were aware of having employees in receipt of Universal credit were more likely to report both negative (24%) and positive impacts (14%) of Universal Credit.
Among those employers who were aware of having employees on Universal Credit, 20% had received requests from staff for increases in working hours and for explanations of payslips, and 16% had received requests for skills development.
Child maintenance – deductions from earnings
The proportion of employers with employees paying their child maintenance using a deduction from earnings order has remained broadly the same since 2015 to 2016 at 3%. Of these employers, 33% had used the employer self-service portal to process it online.
Occupational health and sickness absence
The number of employers using occupational health services had dropped in 2018 to 15%, compared with 21% in 2015 to 2016.
Almost two-thirds of all employers surveyed (62%) were aware of the fit note and 77% of these employers required them from their employees for sickness absence lasting longer than 7 days.
Larger organisations were more likely to have occupational health services (72%) and to require a fit note for sickness absence (91%).
Recruitment of older workers
More than three-quarters (78%) of employers said that they have employees aged 50 and over in their company. For the majority of employers (71%), those aged 50 and over make up less than half of the total workforce.
There has been a 9 percentage point reduction in the proportion of employers who monitor the age of their workforce during recruitment, from 22% in 2015 to 2016 to 13% in 2018. Those employers who monitor the age of their workforce during recruitment had a lower proportion of older employees and higher proportion of younger workers compared to employers that do not monitor age.
Among those employers who have employees over 50 years old in their organisation, the experience (78%), reliability (33%) and motivation (13%) of older workers were listed as important benefits. Fifty-four per cent of employers reported ‘no particular challenges’ associated with employing older workers, compared with 29% in 2015 to 2016.
Only 6% of employers had received requests for a change in working patterns from employees approaching retirement. Almost three-quarters (74%) of employers who had received these requests had been able to accept all requests and 22% had been able to accept some requests, on a case-by-case basis.
In 2018, a significantly higher percentage of employers reported providing their employees with information about ‘work-place pensions’ (83%) and ‘new flexibilities when drawing a pension’ (59%) than in 2015 to 2016 (58% and 42% respectively).
Recruitment of disadvantaged groups and awareness of Disability Confident
Six per cent of employers stated that they employ at least one employee from a disadvantaged group. This percentage is significantly lower for those in primary sector and utilities (1%) compared to the non-market services sector (13%).
More than a quarter of employers (28%) were aware of the Disability Confident campaign, which remains broadly the same as in 2015 to 2016. Thirty-eight per cent of those employers who had heard of the campaign stated that it had made them more confident in recruiting disabled people and almost half (47%) said it had made them more confident in supporting disabled people at work.
Awareness levels of the Access to Work scheme was similar to the Disability Confident campaign, at 30% of employers, however only 2% of employers said they had received support through Access to Work.
Five per cent of employers had received at least one request for help with caring responsibilities in the 12 months prior to interview. Of those employers who had received at least one request for support with caring responsibilities, 79% said that they were able to meet these requests in all cases.
Support for staff with a mental health condition
The percentage of organisations with systems in place to support employees with common mental health conditions (such as anxiety and depression) has increased to 44% in 2018, compared to 39% in 2015 to 2016. The percentage of employers with systems to support employees with psychosis (25%) or to assess and monitor mental health (30%) has remained broadly the same since 2015 to 2016.
The 2018 survey shows an increase in the percentage of employers who agreed that ‘people with a mental health conditions are as productive as everyone else’ (62% agree or strongly agree) compared to 2015 to 2016 (53%). Thirty-one per cent of respondents strongly agreed that ‘having a mental health condition does not make a difference when hiring’ or ‘when considering an employee for promotion’. Sixteen per cent of employers disagreed with the statement, ‘people with mental health conditions are harder to make adjustments for than those with physical conditions’.