Organisations must improve how they support their deskless workforce

50 per cent of U.K. deskless workers say that they’re living paycheque-to-paycheque meaning they’re without any spare cash once their monthly bills are paid. On top of this, almost a third of U.K. deskless workers (29 per cent) admit to having to borrow money from family and friends to pay bills, creating an employee experience that’s overshadowed by financial stresses. These are the findings from O.C. Tanner’s 2024 Global Culture Report which gathered data and insights from more than 42,000 employees, leaders, HR practitioners, and executives from 27 countries worldwide including 4,818 from the U.K (of which 1,734 are deskless).

Deskless workers comprise 80 per cent of the Global workforce and include offline, frontline, and other critical employees, who traditionally work away from a desk. According to the Report, 50 per cent of these U.K workers are in ‘survival mode’, with 43 per cent stating that giving a gift for a wedding or birthday would put a serious strain on their finances for the month. In fact, a combination of financial pressures, a lack of support from employers and a feeling of not being valued, is resulting in an 83 per cent increased likelihood of deskless workers burning out. They are also more likely to be disengaged with their job and feel disconnected from their organisation.


“Deskless workers who are living with financial instability will naturally find it harder to engage with their organisation”, says Stuart Cheesman, European Strategist of workplace culture expert, O.C. Tanner. “While increasing their take-home pay is an obvious solution to improving engagement levels, this must be coupled with greater support from employers so workers can better manage their lives both inside and outside the workplace.”


The Report recommends that, if deskless workers are to feel job fulfilment and have a greater sense of wellbeing, they need to feel seen, respected and appreciated. As part of this, leaders must get to know their deskless workers as individuals so that they can support them with their unique challenges. Providing time off for personal emergencies (currently denied by a third of organisations), investing in deskless workers’ growth and development  and allowing greater flexibility so basic needs like medical appointments and home repairs can be more easily managed, are just some of ways deskless workers can be made to feel valued.

When deskless workers feel seen and valued by their organisation, their engagement levels increase by 674 per cent, great work increases by 592 per cent and their sense of job fulfilment increases by 448 per cent.


Cheesman adds, “It’s crucial that all employees – whether they are based in front of a desk, on a factory line or in a customer-facing role – are recognised and valued for the job they do and are also given a voice in how they perform their role. The simple acts of getting to know them as individuals, proactively listening to them and showing appreciation for their contributions, can make a huge difference, including higher levels of employee engagement, a reduced risk of burnout and ultimately improved business performance.”


About 2024 Global Culture Report

The O.C. Tanner Institute, O.C. Tanner’s research, analytics, and education team, uses multiple research methods to support the Global Culture Report, including interviews, focus groups, cross-sectional surveys, and a longitudinal survey.

Qualitative findings came from 18 focus groups among employees and leaders of larger organisations. The groups and interviews represent various types of employers, including both private and public entities.

Quantitative findings came from online survey interviews administered to employees across Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Denmark, France, Germany, India, Italy, Japan, Mexico, the Netherlands, Poland, the Philippines, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom, and the United States. The total sample size was 42,446 workers at companies with 500+ employees. The O.C. Tanner Institute collected and analysed all survey data. This sample is sufficient to generate meaningful conclusions about the cultures of organisations in the included countries. However, because the study does not include population data, results are subject to statistical errors customarily associated with sample-based information. All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from the O.C. Tanner Institute.


About O.C. Tanner

O.C. Tanner is the global leader in software and services that improve workplace culture through meaningful employee experiences. Its Culture Cloud is a suite of apps and solutions, including recognition, service awards, wellbeing, leadership, and celebrations that help people thrive at work. O.C. Tanner provides these and other services for thousands of the most respected companies in the world. For more information visit