Tag: Employee Wellbeing

Employers are prioritising plans to improve productivity

Since the start of the pandemic, rising financial stress due to an uncertain economy has created a downward spiral on employee wellbeing that has impacted employee performance. A study by borofree revealed that an average of 3.05 working days were taken off by workers in Great Britain last year due to the financial stress felt by employees.

The study examined the plans that companies across the UK now aim to implement in order to improve employee productivity, financial wellbeing and increase morale in the workplace as business recovery begins to take shape.

The research, which was conducted online by YouGov, highlights that HR decision makers are feeling optimistic about building stronger employee productivity as the economy settles into a ‘new normal’ with over half (57%) believing that employee productivity is set to  increase over the next 12 months.

Action taken from businesses to increase employee wellbeing over the next year will be critical for them to regain strong post-pandemic productivity growth and recover from a challenging 18 months. In fact, 83% of HR decision makers surveyed revealed that their business will be prioritising plans to improve employee productivity over the next year. Improving pay and working conditions for employees is high on the agenda for companies looking to regain lost morale due to the pandemic, with almost a third (31%) stating that this will be a business priority for them this year.

Across Britain the study highlights that employers are searching for new ways to increase productivity. The research shows that wellbeing is now a vital part of ensuring that teams remain productive, with over one in five (23%) companies looking to introduce new or improved health and wellness benefits for employees to improve morale and productivity over the next two years.

Despite financial worries among the UK workforce being a cause of emotional stress, the study shows that offering financial wellbeing initiatives as part of a businesses’ productivity recovery plan is still being overlooked. Whilst financial stress is a contributing factor to absenteeism in the workplace, only 12% of HR decision makers are looking to introduce personal finance coaching and training to employees to improve morale and productivity amongst teams within the next two years.

Minck Hermans, CEO and Co-founder at borofree, comments: “Whilst it’s great to see that businesses are prioritising incentives to build stronger employee productivity following a challenging 18 months, it’s critical that they do not overlook initiatives to promote better financial wellbeing amongst teams.

Our findings show that financial stress can lead to increased absenteeism in the workplace and the effect of this will hit a company’s bottom line. For employees that seek a certain degree of financial security from their employer such as being able to absorb an unforeseen financial shock, only one in ten (10%) businesses surveyed have stated that they are looking to introduce earnings on demand and paid weekly options for employers within the next two years and just over one in ten (14%) confirmed that they’ll be introducing salary advance facilities (e.g., a loan a company can give an employee from their future salary).”

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Over half of employees feel undervalued

Research released by Firstup, a digital employee experience company, revealed that employees are unhappier in the workplace now more than ever post-pandemic. The survey showed a mounting dissatisfaction among employees across the UK, US, Germany, Benelux and the Nordics, with talent feeling undervalued, uninformed, and un-unified.

Lack of communication from leadership was cited as a main contributing factor to unhappy employees with almost a quarter of respondents to the survey agreeing that better communication will lead to increased productivity and work satisfaction.

Nicole Alvino, founder and CSO of Firstup, said: “Businesses need to provide more valuable working experiences or remain responsible for the career reboot of the decade that some are calling The Great Resignation of 2021. This research is a clear and urgent call to action – an organisation’s employees are its most valuable asset with employee satisfaction having a direct impact on the bottom line. Business, HR and Internal Comms leaders must act now to stem this workforce dissatisfaction and engage their teams with personalised information that helps them do their best work.”

Research from the 23,105 workers found that 56% don’t feel valued in their role and 38% want employers to ‘create better lines of communication between executives and employees’.

It appears that remote workers seem to feel these complaints most keenly, with a growing tension between desk based and deskless workers. It found that 25% of respondents felt they get more attention from their employer when they are physically at the office, only 30% of deskless workers think that their employers listen to them, and 39% of desk-based workers felt that their deskless colleagues could learn from them about ‘how to communicate with colleagues and ‘how to work as a team’.

The great temptation

This comes off the back of research from Reed.co.uk which found that almost three-quarters of Britains are actively looking for a new job or are open to opportunities. The survey, which canvassed 2,000 employers attempting to attract new talent and retain restless employees, suggests that businesses will need to adapt their offering to align with new employee priorities that have been shaped by the pandemic.

Salaries remain a top driver with 39% of respondents stating that they would stay should their employer offer a high salary. Flexible working hours is also at the top of the list. Other suggested incentives from the survey included: more annual leave (25%), a promotion (21%), and 18% asked for increased training and development opportunities.

Commenting on the research, Simon Wingate, Managing Director of Reed.co.uk, said: “We are in the midst of a sea change in the labour market, with it very much having shifted from a buyers’ to a sellers’ market due to the sheer – and record-breaking – number of job opportunities available.

“After a challenging 18 months for jobseekers which gave rise to a culture of uncertainty in the labour market, workers are now mobilised by the prospect of new and exciting opportunities with better rewards. Employers must find creative solutions and adapt to the new market conditions following the pandemic in order to maintain the resurgent economy’s trajectory.”

Following LinkedIn’s recent research highlighting 6.8 times the number of recruitment roles posted on its site in June compared to the same time last year, is the Great Resignation spreading to the staffing sector?

“There is a lot of potential for ‘revenge resignation’ for all those who were put on furlough through successive lockdowns, in the wider economy but particularly in recruitment, but it’s less likely to impact employers who offer flexibility and authenticity with a client-centric culture,” said Tim Cook, Group CEO of nGage, who will be speaking on this topic at the World Leaders in Recruitment conference on 5th October.

Commenting on the growing debate about the Great Resignation, TALiNT Partners Managing Director, Ken Brotherston said: “In general it is always wise to treat dramatic headlines or simple phrases with a large pinch of salt. My general rule of thumb is this: does the person promoting the headline have an interest in it being true? If so, approach with caution.”

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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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As employers explore new ways of attracting and retaining their talent, how important are perks, which have the most impact, and who gets the most?

A survey of 2,011 UK employees, undertaken by Censuswide in July 2021 for perk specialist Cartwright & Butler, sought to rank the most giving industries in the UK which offer the biggest perks for employees.

Its research found that marketing provides the most valuable perks, at £1,179.56 per person, on average across the year closely followed by the financial services sector (£1,091.60 per employee), and construction (£967.39).

At the other end of the scale is the third sector, which spends an average of £332.62 per person per year, with many people volunteering for charities in their spare time.

The utilities and hospitality industries both make up the bottom three of the least giving sectors – although there are several other industries that also spend less than £500 worth of perks on each employee over the year – namely retail, education, and agriculture.

Gen Z employees (those aged between 16 and 24) receive the highest value of perks on average across all industries, at around £900.08 each year. Across a range of industries, flexible working hours was by far the most popular, with 28% of brands offering this. Other popular perks of the job include employee discounts, and free food and drink, with 24% and 20% of businesses offering these, respectively.

A spokesperson for Cartwright & Butler commented: “Everything from birthday days off to free gym membership – and even something as simple as flexible working hours – are all taken into account when a candidate is deciding whether to accept a job offer. If you want to boost current workers’ morale and make them feel appreciated, then show them you care, by offering them perks that they can enjoy both in and out of work.”

Commenting on perks for marketing, particularly in recruitment where talent is in higher demand as the industry competes for attention post-pandemic, Glenn Southam, Founder of TwoEnds and The Lonely Marketers, said: “For many businesses throughout 2020, and into early 2021, day-to-day business in terms of working with customers and clients just simply stopped. This created an opportunity for marketers to come to the fore and prove their worth and impact in the workplace. In the Lonely Marketers community, made up of 150+ marketers working in recruitment, we saw countless examples of creativity to build brand awareness and add value in the most challenging of times.

“This has paid dividends as we enter a highly competitive job market with marketing being seen as integral to company growth beyond the ‘making things look nice’ stereotype. As a result, more and more marketers are now being afforded the perks, rewards and financial remuneration that were in many cases only reserved for the sales teams.”

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Over half of satisfied workers are open to a career move, according to a new survey of over 4,000 workers in the UK, US, France, and China.

A new study from global integrated communications agency Zeno Group found that 58% of satisfied employees report being open to new opportunities, with many actively searching.

The study, entitled: “A New Mindset at Work: The Evolving Workplace in 2021”, is based on a survey of over 4,000 global workers from March to April this year which analysed employees’ expectations for the return to the office, their attitudes toward workplace mobility, and the importance of factors such as purpose, diversity, advancement and work-life balance through the lens of geographic regions and generations.

It found that workers are demanding a new working environment on their terms. Beyond hybrid work and flexibility, which are seen as permanent expectations for the new workplace, the study reveals that professional growth and career mobility rank high among employees’ expectations, followed by interesting work (77%), opportunities to grow (71%) and the ability to move within the company (62%).

Mental health was high on the agenda for 48% of UK employees, with 46% worried that poor mental health, or feeling more stressed or anxious, may come as a result of working remotely and 47% concerned it will lead to poor physical health.

The study also indicated how shifting employee values are shaping their views on the workplace. Out of 37 values, “protecting the family” (75%), enjoying life (72%) and self-reliance (71%) were the top three rising values in the UK while “status” (13%), “power” (12%) and “success” (11%) were the top declining values.

Across all regions, over 70% of employees say they would perform better at their jobs if they had a clear understanding of their company’s mission and values (a 21-point increase from a 2015 Zeno Group study) yet only around 50% of respondents felt their current company had one. Among US Gen Z respondents, 76% would be willing to accept a job earning less money if it was for an employer that shared their personal values and had a strong social purpose.

In the US, UK, and China, nearly 50% of employees consider having a diverse workforce and inclusive company culture one of the most important elements of a purposeful company.

“Senior management teams need to be actively listening to what their employees want and need,” said Jo Patterson, Managing Director at 3 Monkeys Zeno. “In the PR industry there is a particular need to practice what we preach when it comes to employee engagement post-COVID. This has been a watershed moment for all of us, and we now have an opportunity to build workplaces that align with the rising values highlighted in this report like mental health and flexible working.”

“While many businesses have great benefits and growth opportunities for their employees, often communication can prove the missing link between employers and their workforce,” added Jennifer Edwards, UK Employee Engagement lead at 3 Monkeys Zeno. “In the months ahead, retaining and attracting new talent will not only depend on listening to employees, but actively communicating with them in a meaningful way.”

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UK businesses are doing a much better job of supporting their workers’ mental health than they were two years ago, according to the findings of a large-scale global study.

A survey of more than 32,000 workers in 17 countries for the ADP Research Institute revealed that 50% of UK workers said their employer had provided support for their mental health during the pandemic.

Though the UK lagged the global average of 65%, the People at Work 2021: A Global Workforce View report revealed that there had been significant improvement in the country due to the crisis.

A similar report published by the global HR technology firm in 2019 said that 24% of UK employees felt their company was not at all interested in their mental health, while another 37% believed any interest shown to be merely ‘superficial’.

Jeff Phipps, Managing Director of ADP in UK and Ireland, said: “Mental health in the workplace is by no means a new concern, but the huge changes of Covid-19 have cast a spotlight on the support employees need from their organisations.

“It is encouraging to see so many businesses recognise this need – some responding proactively to mitigate the emotional and psychological toll of a global pandemic. As the status quo of office working and life as we knew it was disrupted, compassionate employers put constructive measures in place to help their workforce handle this turbulence.”

Tailored approach needed

However, he warned that it was important that employers also recognised the need to adapt quickly and flexibly, adding there was no “one-size-fits-all policy”.

“At the moment, organisations and individuals alike are experiencing change on an almost continual basis, so it is also important to acknowledge that what works today in terms of mental health approaches may not work exactly the same tomorrow. Employers must be thoughtful in creating company-wide policies and as flexible as possible in supporting people on an individual basis.”

This advice is perhaps particularly relevant as the UK moves towards the lifting of work from home advice on June 21, albeit recent reports suggest this date may be pushed back.

A number of studies have shown that many UK employees are concerned about returning to physical workplaces when they are unsure about the vaccination status of their colleagues.

And a recently published US study revealed workers were generally anxious about a return to the office, with the most recent Mental Health Index by Total Brain and the National Alliance of Healthcare Purchaser Coalitions finding that mental health was worsening across the board as a return to the workplace loomed.

In particular, it found that stress, anxiety and depression was rising fastest among those aged 40-59 and among women.

‘Bounce back’ for mothers

Indeed, there has been much discussion about the fact the latter have been disproportionally affected by the pandemic, largely due to childcare responsibilities.

On that front, however, there was some positive news with the release of a report considering the impact of school closures on parents’ mental health by researchers from the Universities of Essex, Surrey and Birmingham last week.

While the authors concluded that having children at home had had a “significant detrimental effect” on mothers’ mental health – far more so than fathers’ – they also noted that, on average, the mental health impact had not been permanent.

Dr Claire Crawford, Reader in Economics from the University of Birmingham, said: “Our research suggests that, for the most part, mothers’ mental health seems to have bounced back once schools re-opened, suggesting that the negative effects of school closures were temporary for many mothers.”

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Employers are significantly under-reporting the number of people who have died after being exposed to Covid-19 at work, according to the Trades Union Congress (TUC).

The union said there was a large discrepancy between the number of people of working age who had died from Covid-19 and the number of reports of work-related deaths by employers.

It pointed out that while Office for National Statistics figures showed that between April 2020 and April 2021 15,263 people of working age had died of Covid-19, employers had reported just 387 deaths from workers contracting the disease at work.

The TUC said it believed the true number of work-related deaths was much higher, and highlighted sectors such as food production and transport as having been particular guilty of under-reporting.

In a report published last week the union pointed out that between March and December last year, more than 600 people working in the transport sector died of Covid-19, but between April 2020 and April 2021 just 10 work-related deaths were reported in the sector.

Similarly, while 63 food production workers died from Covid-19 over the same period, just three were reported as work-related.

Frances O’Grady, General Secretary of the TUC, said: “Everybody deserves to be safe at work. But this pandemic has exposed a crisis in health and safety regulation and enforcement.

“Employers have massively under-reported Covid work-related deaths and infections.”

‘Letting bosses off the hook’

“This has made it much harder for regulators to track where outbreaks are happening and allowed bad bosses to get away with flagrant labour rights abuses,” she continued.

O’Grady said the pandemic had highlighted deficiencies in the way workplace deaths were reported, and added, “the current system is letting bosses off the hook”.

At present, employers are required by law to report deaths, injuries and illnesses that take place at work or are in connection with work through the Health and Safety Executive’s (HSE) Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 2013 (RIDDOR) mechanism.

However, it is up to employers to decide whether a Covid-19 infection is the result of workplace exposure or transmission outside work and as is clear from the data, in most cases employers have decided on the latter and not reported the death.

The TUC said this has prevented the HSE from carrying out inspections and making sure employers take action to keep workers and the public safe.

Better enforcement needed

It also called on the government to provide more funding for the HSE, which the TUC said had had its funding cut by more than 50% in real terms over the past decade, leading to a sharp fall in workplace inspections.

“Ministers must fund enforcement bodies properly so they can recruit and train qualified workplace inspectors, inspect more workplaces, and prosecute companies who don’t keep their workers safe,” said O’Grady.

This view was echoed by Darren Hockley, Managing Director at training provider DeltaNet International: “The government needs to ensure companies understand the consequences of not following protocols and guidelines, by prosecuting those who continually fail to keep their employees safe.”

He added that the problem went beyond accurate reporting of deaths. “Not only does the report reveal that employers are not reporting the number of Covid-19 infections, but it also suggests that employers are not putting in place the right health and safety procedures to protect their workers.

“Organisations have a responsibility to protect their employees. Health and safety responsibility doesn’t stop at fire safety policies, with Covid-19, it’s ensuring employees work socially distanced, there is a one-way system in the workplace and there is easy access to ensure workstations are continuously sanitised for starters.”

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