Category: Employers

Staff wellbeing tops employee concerns  

A recent report called the Healthier Nation Index published by Nuffield Health stated that more employees are demanding that their employers take more responsibility for their physical and mental wellbeing.  

The research found: 

  • More than 21% of those surveyed (8,000 respondents) believed employers should implement mandatory reporting on the physical and wellbeing initiatives they have in place to improve the wellbeing of their staff 
  • 52% stated that they were aware of the measures they could take to improve their mental and physical health 
  • 37% stated that employers should take responsibility by making resources available on how to boost mental and physical wellbeing 
  • 46% said that free health checks for all staff should be provided by employers 
  • 54% said that work was having a negative impact on their mental health 
  • Half of those surveyed stated that their workload created a barrier to undertaking physical exercise. 

Darren Hockley, Managing Director at  DeltaNet International commented: “Improving both mental and physical health is rising up the corporate agenda. If employees feel overworked or stressed, then they won’t be as happy or productive. This will only lead to other issues for the company, such as sick leave or them resigning and moving to another organisation that prioritises wellbeing.   

“Mandatory reporting on physical and wellbeing initiatives is a great way for organisations to take more responsibility for their employees. Offering that support through wellbeing seminars, mental health and wellbeing training or even mental health support where staff can talk to a specialist can make a significant difference to employees.” 

Extra leave given in support of mental health  

Nike recently announced that their head office employees will be given a week’s holiday in support of their mental health.   

Suzanne Staunton, Employment Partner at JMW Solicitors, commented: “It is unlikely that (many) UK employers will provide their staff with a week’s mental health break. However, anecdotally, over the past 12 months, we saw that number of employers have given staff a day or two additional mental health days or an extra day holiday. Those employers who implemented such schemes reported an increase in morale and productivity.”  

Returning to work post “freedom day” 

Data published in the Supporting Your Remote Workforce in 2021 and Beyond report found that 40% of those who are returning to office-based working are concerned about contracting COVID-19 from colleagues.  

Data from CPD Online College reported that the top concerns for those returning to the workplace were: social distancing (60%), workplace safety (56%), and workplace cleanliness (55%) at the top of the list. 

With these employees concerns in mind, it is imperative that HR and employers think about how to properly support staff wellbeing when staff returns to the office, as well as how to help alleviate their concerns. 

Liz Forte, Health and Wellness Director at Compass Group Business and Industry, shared three top tips:  

  1. Embrace the hybrid office: the hybrid should be seen to inspire staff to work together again and reconnect. This could assist with easing staff back into office life. Because there is a clear shift towards employees wanting a hybrid way of working, offering this to staff is a great way to encourage them to split their time between home and the office, thereby getting the best of both worlds.  
  2. Be aware of anxieties: Forte explains that it is crucial to be aware of your employee’s anxieties and concerns. Employers should communicate cleaning protocols and implementing visible cleaning teams during working hours could put staff at ease.  
  3. Support staff lives: providing work perks that encourage living a healthy life outside of work and that also support health and wellbeing will help improve performance as staff return to their desks. Offering classes which give employees the opportunity to try new hobbies or skills add to a positive experience at work. Data has shown that this could also be a good tool for attracting and retaining talent. 

 

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Great company culture is a top draw in retaining talent

Employers are poaching talent directly from competitors in a bid to mitigate skills shortages.

Talent solutions provider, Talent Works surveyed software and government professionals in the lead up to Talent Acquisition Day. The survey requested opinions on existing working policies and asked employees how often they’d been approached by other companies for new roles in the last year.

The research found that 38% of tech and government professionals were approached by competeitors more than five times in the last 12 months, with more than a fifth of employees saying that they’ll leave their current employer in 2022.

Other findings from the survey were:

  • More than a third of organisations don’t have work from home polices in place
  • Being asked to be in the office negatively impacts one in five employees
  • Software professionals, and employees aged between 18 and 34-year-old are more likely to want to be in the office than women, government professionals and those who are older than 35
  • Oppurtunities to advance their career (38%) and good company culture (33%) were things employees wanted most in their organisation.
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Own your niche and share high-quality content to stand out

Creating content about your day job on social media could earn you extra money according to new research from Lickd.

With access to social networks literally in our back pockets, it’s no wonder work-life has become a huge part of our social media activity. Lickd looked at top influencers in uniform such as doctors and firefighters and analysed their estimated earnings.

The research revealed that Dr Mikhail Varshavksy’s YouTube videos sharing health advice is estimated to earn him over $25K per post which provide health advice.

Name

Profession

Subscribers

Estimated Earnings (per post)

Dr Mikhail Varshavsky

Doctor

7.33 million

$25,251

Jason Patton

Firefighter

306K

$8,019

Darryl Williams Junior

Military

1.23 million

$3,397

Ashley Adkins

Nurse

62.8K

$49

Ben Pearson (ex-Police Interceptor) who has 47.2k subscribers commented: “I always thought YouTube was for 14-year-old rubbery people who didn’t shave yet. I never thought that an over the hill 45-year-old with mental health issues could ever succeed on that kind of platform. It’s not how old you are that counts, but the stories you hold that keep people interested. If you wear a uniform, or come from the emergency services, you’ll have more stories and lived a life that others can only imagine. Say it on YouTube, and people will be fascinated!”

Here are a few top tips from Lickd experts on how to turn your day job into social media-worthy content:

  1. Own your niche – Ask yourself what makes what you have to say about your profession different from others on the same level as you. What insight do you have that sets you apart?
  2. Post engaging content regularly and consistently – For your channel to be successful you need a loyal audience. To keep them engaged, create a content upload schedule so your subscribers know exactly when to expect a post.
  3. Ensure your content is high quality – From the relevancy of your topic to your audience to the background music you use, you need to provide quality content to be able to stand out from the noise on social media.

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Yorkshire has the fastest internet speed in the country

Many large businesses in the UK including PwC, ASDA, UBS, KPMG and Adobe have shared their intent to move to a hybrid of model of working permanently.

But which major cities in the UK offer the best lifestyles for the flexible workforce? Gazprom Energy, the business energy supplier, ranked each major UK city on the following: cost of living, wellbeing (average ratings of life satisfaction, happiness, and anxiety), commuting time (minutes), average salary (£), average internet speed (mbps), and coffee shops per capita.

Once rating was complete, Gazprom created an overall score called the Hybrid Working Score (out of 100) for each city. They then ranked the cities from best to worst.

Key findings from the study include:

  • London is the UK’s worst city for hybrid working (35/100), despite employers in the capital being among the first to instigate hybrid working and offering the most flexible policies
  • York is the best city for hybrid working (64/100), helped along by a moderate cost of living, a respectable wellbeing standard and a lower average commute
  • Surprisingly, Hull and St Albans enjoy the highest average internet speeds (both 138 Mbps) in the country by far, helping employees to get the job done – while those in Worcester (47 Mbps) and Exeter (50 Mbps) have to put up with the worst
  • The worst commutes employees can expect when travelling between home and the office belong to London (avg. 66 min), Nottingham (41 min) and Leeds (40 min)
  • Yorkshire has the fastest average internet speed overall at 85 Mbps, followed closely by the East at 82 Mbps. Northern Ireland and Wales tie on being the regions with the slowest internet connections, at 61 Mbps.
  • Regionally, Yorkshire is also the best part of the UK for hybrid workers, followed by the North West – with Wales and London being the worst.
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Female board members earn almost half of male counterparts

Research published by New Street Consulting Group revealed that female board members at some of the UK’s largest companies are paid around 40% less than men in the same roles.

While equal pay has been in sharp focus over the last few years, data revealed that the gender pay gap is the widest in the c-suite of corporate Britain. On average, women earned £104,800 for non-executive roles at FTSE 100 companies last year, compared with an average of £170,400 paid to men. For executive board members, average pay was £2.5m for men and £1.5m for women.

In the broader market, women were paid 15.5% less than men, according to 2020 data from the Office for National Statistics.

Darren Hockley, Managing Director at DeltaNet International commented: Despite discussions of the gender pay gap over recent years, and the introduction of gender pay gap reporting, it’s clear that FTSE 100 organisations are still not doing enough to tackle the issue – especially when there’s a 40% difference.  The fact is that unconscious bias remains, and organisations must tackle diversity and equality issues by supporting staff with training. HR must work more closely with executive teams to address equal and fair pay to stamp out social injustice.

“Pay equality responsibility does not just lie with HR; it requires support from everyone in the organisation in order to be addressed. So, more executives need to step up and become an ally for their female colleagues. If they are aware of injustice, then they need to speak up and support their female colleagues to get paid what they deserve.”

40% club

The Financial Conduct Authority recently suggested that UK companies should ensure that at least 40% of board level roles and a minimum of one senior executive role are held by women.

New Street Consulting Director Claire Carter, said “Focusing solely on the percentages of directors that are women is not enough when trying to approach equality.”

The government-backed review of board diversity, the Hampton-Alexander review found that, across the FTSE 350, women now held its 2020 target of an average of 33% board roles. But 130 businesses fell short of this target. Senior board roles remained male dominated, with just 14% of executive directorships held by women. Just 17 chief executives across the FTSE 350 are women.

Most businesses are doing their best to ensure they’re no longer a ‘boys club’ even if the reality of their demographics didn’t live up to aspirations, said Carter.

“The key to doing that will be ensuring that women have more executive responsibilities and are trained and prepared properly for taking on that responsibility,” she said. “It will be a case of their examining whether there are any barriers that are preventing females from reaching the very top at their organisation.”

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Demand for IT professionals up 76% year-on-year in July 2021

Data preceding the pandemic highlights the true extent of skills shortages in the UK with applications to jobs down 47% between July 2019 and July 2020. According to real-time data from the global network of job boards, Broadbean Technology, the decline in applications, largely attributed to the pandemic, suggests that the UK was already experiencing talent shortfalls before lockdown.

Sectors worst hit

In the engineering, accounting and financial services industries, the demand for talent increased by over 100% in the year to July 2021. However, when compared to two years ago, Broadbean’s data suggests that talent shortages are worsening.

Broadbean’s data shows that engineering vacancy numbers doubled (up 103%) between July 2020 and July 2021. However, when compared to the latest data with July 2019, vacancies were down by 20%, with the number of applications decreasing by 54%.

The financial services sector also saw vacancies double (104%) between July 2020 and July 2021. But for July 2019 to July 2020, vacancies dropped 12%, and application numbers declined 57%.

In the accounting industry, vacancies were up by 104% between July 2020 and July 2021, but were down 31% when compared to 2019 figures, while application numbers from 2019 – 2021 also fell 56%.

Demand for IT professionals still rising

The fast shift to online working environments in the last year resulted in an annual increase of 76% in vacancies in the IT industry. The digital transformation of workforces continues to drive demand for this talent in this sector.

As Alex Fourlis, Managing Director at Broadbean Technology explained: “While there are ongoing reports of a post-Covid talent shortage, as the so called ‘Great Resignation’ impacts headcount and increases competition for talent, our data shows that the skills shortage was already well underway before the virus struck. Covid may have pushed the severe skills shortages the UK is facing into the public consciousness, but trouble was already bubbling under the surface in the early months of last year.

“This can, in part, be linked to the impact of Brexit on talent pools and the need for an appropriate visa route for independent professionals to encourage people from outside the UK to work in the country.”

Pre-Covid skills shortage

Olly Newton, Executive Director, The Edge Foundation said: “Figures from the Government’s own Employer Skills Survey showed 226,000 vacancies created by skills shortages in 2017, up from just 91,000 in 2011. These are jobs that remained unfilled because the right skills couldn’t be found – an economic and social tragedy.

“It has cost employers dearly – £4.4 billion has been paid out in the past year on recruitment fees, higher salaries and temporary staff. It has also cost young people dearly – young people who should have been given the skills they needed to get into and thrive in those jobs.

“Research from before COVID showed that these shortages were widening not shrinking. Research by the Open University publicised by the Edge Foundation shows that nine out of ten organisations (88%) report a shortage of employees with digital skills. Meanwhile, looking to the future, work by the Government’s own Industrial Strategy Council suggested that by 2030, 7 million workers could be under-skilled for the requirements of their changing jobs.”

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Relief for employers & recruiters already struggling with skills shortages

The Home Office has announced an extension of the temporary adjustments which allow right to work (RTW) checks to be completed with copies of documents via video conference due to pandemic restrictions.

The announcement to extend is a welcome relief for employers already struggling with skill shortages. In-person RTW checks were set to begin again in September with fines of up to £20,000 for those not complying. Companies have been gearing up for the change, however, the temporary RTW checks solution will now continue to 5 April 2022 and employers are still allowed to carry out the adjusted checks using a scanned copy or a photo of the worker’s original documents via email or mobile phone.

The Association of Professional Staffing Companies (APSCo) has welcomed the delay to in-person right to work checks.

Tania Bowers, Legal Counsel and Head of Public Policy at APSCo commented: “While we look forward to seeing the results of its longer-term review, we hope that the success of the digital processes over the last 18 months leads to a more appropriate and modern method of managing Right to Work checks.

“Research from the Better Hiring Institute – which Chair of the APSCo Compliance+ Committee, Keith Rosser, is a director of – shows that at least 40,000 workers were successfully hired during the pandemic via temporary adjusted checks. This highlights that the digital Right to Work checks have been working. And with the UK facing a skills shortage at a time when the Office for National Statistics has reported a record number of job vacancies, ensuring employment regulation is fit for purpose in the modern world of work and doesn’t put UK employers on the back foot, is crucial.”

Keith Rosser, Director Group Risk and Director of Reed Screening at REED, has championed the move to extend the digital RTW checks. He said: “Digital right to work checks have been critical for helping the Levelling Up agenda, driving Build Back Better, and helping with the current UK staffing crisis.”

 

Permanent solution

Screening expert Sterling  has called on the Home Office to use RTW extension to drive meaningful change. Steve Smith, Managing Director EMEA, Sterling, commented: “This digital move delivered a number of other positive results, streamlining checks for some and expanding the reach of recruitment activity as a worker’s location became less important – a critical element in a skills short market.”

The Home Office also confirmed that they’re reviewing the availability of specialist technology to support a system of digital RTW checks for the future to introduce a sustainable digital solution which will include many who are unable to use the existing online checking service. This would enable checks to continue to be conducted remotely but with enhanced security.

Jason Medcalf, Sales Director at People Group, which specialises in pre-employment background-screening, added:

“Most recruiters feel that a return to manual checking of RTW, now or in the future, would needlessly apply the handbrake to the excellent work recruiters are doing to fuel the economic recovery of UK Inc. The sector is simultaneously facing the widest and most pronounced candidate shortages in years, plus a fundamental change in where, when and how recruiters perform their work.

“Research and business cases have shown that using the available technology as a precursor to human review delivers benefits ranging from filtering out fake and stolen documents that would pass a human-only review to halving the total length of time taken to validate an applicant and place them sooner – creating additional margin for recruiters, delighting end hirers, and mitigating the skills shortage.

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Employers are ramping up their HR teams as the economy opens up, according to the latest research from the Association of Professional Staffing Companies (APSCo), and the demand for human resource specialists continues to grow in England and Wales with vacancies up 18.7% in the last quarter.

Business intelligence specialist Vacancysoft revealed that total hiring levels for 2021 have already exceeded last year’s by 23.2%.

With IT professionals in high demand as work from home policies continue, recruitment specialists are now some of the most sought-after professionals with 6,081 jobs published this year alone, according to APSCo. ONS data also reveals that job vacancies are at a record high so it’s not surprising that there is an increased demand for specialists to manage talent attraction and sourcing strategies in businesses.

Ann Swain, CEO of APSCo comments: “Our data clearly shows that employers in England & Wales are well on the road to recovery with demand for HR professionals continuing on an upward trajectory. And with businesses not only hiring again as the economy has opened up, but also contending with some of the worst talent shortages in years, it is easy to see why recruitment specialists are in such demand. As we progress throughout the next few months, we expect to see the market for HR professionals continue to perform exceptionally well.”

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Ninety percent of office workers want more flexibility to do their jobs, according to research conducted by global workspace specialists Instant Offices, who also found that almost a third of employees will look for a new employer if they have a toxic workplace culture.

 

If employers aren’t willing to offer their employees flexible working policies, they risk losing their experienced talent. A survey conducted by EY found that 54% of employees will leave their jobs post-pandemic if not allowed to work from home. As of this year, 67% of workers believe that their employers can successfully measure productivity regardless of whether they work at home or in the office and employers will be hard pressed to find reasons to insist their employees return to full-time office-based working.

 

With online job postings overtaking the number of candidates, retaining talent should be front of mind for every employer. The increased demand for work from home (WFH) and hybrid working polices is reflected in the high number of job postings offering it to potential candidates. For example, in the last 30 days, Glassdoor posted over 80,000 jobs advertised as remote work, and 490,000 jobs offered as flexible.

 

Lack of flexibility will drive out talent

With one in 10 companies expecting a full return to the office, competing businesses will snap up the talent who are prepared to leave their current jobs because of toxic work cultures and no offers of flexible work policies. A number of large consultancy firms and corporations have been outspoken regarding their WFH policies and have insisted their entire workforces return to work as normal, pre-pandemic.

 

A recent report from BreatheHR claimed that more employees are leaving due to poor workplace culture. This figure has risen from 21% in 2020, to 27% in 2021.

 

Having collected data and insights around the biggest signs of toxic workplaces, Lucinda Pullinger, Global Head of HR & Talent at Instant Offices urges employers to take action and discusses why it is more crucial than ever to create an inclusive and empowering workplace environment for their employees. Having collected data and insights around the biggest signs of toxic workplaces, Instant Offices highlighted the following to address:

 

•            Constant interpersonal conflicts

•            Lack of teamwork and camaraderie

•            Pointing fingers and blaming others when something goes wrong

•            Poor problem-solving as a team

•            Exclusive cliques or social groups

•            Office gossip

•            Work awarded based on personal connections rather than skill

•            Poor communication and lack of clarity around projects

•            Inconsistent communication and mixed messages

•            Unhappy, demotivated workers

•            High turnover rate

•            Stifled/ stagnated career progression

•            Lack of work-life balance

 

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In the last year, HMRC assisted more than 155,000 workers across the UK recover more than £16m in wages owed to them. They also issued more than £14m in fines to businesses who did not comply with minimum wage requirements.

Whilst most employers do pay their staff the National Minimum Wage,  HMRC has revealed some of the most ridiculous excuses for businesses not paying the legal minimum:

1. “She does not deserve the National Minimum Wage because she only makes the teas and sweeps the floors.”

2. “The employee was not a good worker, so I did not think they deserved to be paid the National Minimum Wage.”
3. “My accountant and I speak a different language – he does not understand me, and that is why he does not pay my workers the correct wages.”
4. “My employee is still learning so they are not entitled to the National Minimum Wage.”
5. “It is part of UK culture not to pay young workers for the first three months as they have to prove their ‘worth’ first.”
6. “The National Minimum Wage does not apply to my business.”
7. “I have got an agreement with my workers that I will not pay them the National Minimum Wage; they understand, and they even signed a contract to this effect.”
8. “I thought it was okay to pay young workers below the National Minimum Wage as they are not British and therefore do not have the right to be paid it.”
9. “My workers like to think of themselves as being self-employed and the National Minimum Wage does not apply to people who work for themselves.”
10. “My workers are often just on standby when there are no customers in the shop; I only pay them for when they are actually serving someone.”
Steve Timewell, Director Individuals and Small Business Compliance, HMRC, said: “This list shows some of the excuses provided to our enforcement officers by less scrupulous businesses. Being underpaid is no joke for workers, so we always apply the law and take action. Workers cannot be asked or told to sign-away their rights. We are making sure that workers are being paid what they are entitled to and, as the economy reopens, reminding employers of the rules and the help that is available to them.”
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