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Proximity bias could lead to missed promotions  

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Recognised individuality is a key benefit for workers

According to research by LinkedIn, 86% of employers are planning to offer their staff flexible working opportunities and because of this, leaders are focussing on ensuring their workforce feels included, regardless of their work location. The research also revealed that, between September 2020 and September 2021, there has been an increase of 97% in remote jobs being advertised on the platform.

The study of more than 250 C-level executives in the UK revealed that as businesses look to offer hybrid (56%) and remote working (10%), leaders say their biggest concerns are that employees feel that working from home may result in their missing out on promotions or career decisions (35%) and that proximity bias may arise where leaders/ people favour employees who they regularly see (32%).

Out of sight, out of mind – Employees are concerned

A study of over 1,000 workers in the UK found that nearly half (44%) of workers believe that people who choose to work from the office are more likely to be favoured by bosses or senior management. Nearly 39% say that working from home may negatively impact their career because they get less in-person time with their superiors. A third of workers believe that being in the office is ultimately better for career progression.

Adam Hawkins, Head of Search & Staffing, EMEA, at LinkedIn, said: “It’s imperative that proximity bias doesn’t become an issue that impacts people’s careers. Ensuring everyone feels included at work, regardless of their location, is crucial to not only attracting and retaining great talent, but also creating cultures where people can truly thrive. Leaders must work closely with HR teams to facilitate the appropriate training and guidelines to ensure career progression is centred around performance, and not location.”

The belonging crisis

Similarly, research undertaken by Connectr, an HR tech platform, reveals that the pandemic has upended employees’ priorities with emotional support and a sense of belonging moving right to the top of the list of important workplace benefits.

Almost a quarter of workers now believe that having their individuality recognised is also important. This has more than doubled since February 2020. Other things employees are looking for in employers since the pandemic include being proud of the company they work for, having their opinions listened to, and being part of a supportive and inclusive team.

Millennials and Gen Z employees were found to be the driving force behind these trends.

Will Akerman, Founder and Managing Director at Connectr, commented: “The growing belonging crisis amongst British employees is going largely unnoticed, with many employers still failing to recognise the importance of building a sense of inclusion. In fact, the belonging crisis is 10 times bigger and twice as important than is being realised. If this isn’t addressed quickly, UK businesses are set to face a huge resourcing challenge which could be catastrophic for many who are still coping with financial impact of the pandemic.”