Tag: Employee Wellbeing

Lack of well-being benefits for SME works 

A recent survey revealed that 65% of SME employees are hesitant to take sick leave when working from home.

The survey, conducted by HR Software provider Breathe, looked at the current state of well-being among SME employees. The survey was conducted across 1,264 UK SME employees, and the respondents were asked a series of questions regarding sick leave, mental health, and remote working. The goal of the survey was to establish whether the pandemic had a lasting effect on the working world and the impact of hybrid working.

According to the data, there is an ongoing pattern of presenteeism, with 65% of respondents saying they are less likely to take sick leave when working remotely and 42% of respondents feeling the need to prove their productivity while working remotely.

Of the workers who didn’t take sick leave, despite feeling unwell:

  • 32% could not financially afford to take time off work
  • 25% were too busy to do to take time off
  • 21% didn’t want to let their colleagues down
  • 20% felt pressured to work through it

The data suggests a lack of benefits aimed at employee well-being. Seventy-two percent of SMEs do not offer well-being days despite 35% of workers feeling that well-being days would be helpful.

The survey also found that only half of SMEs offer flexible working, even though 67% of the respondents believe that WFH supports work-life balance and overall well-being

Another finding was that 54% of SME employees work overtime when WFH. Forty-four percent of employees struggle with feeling ‘seen’ by their employers. A further 47% said they were less inclined to take a lunch break when working from home.

The survey also found that:

  • 41% of workers felt that their symptoms weren’t severe enough to take sick leave
  • 36% of SME workers reported mental health issues in the past three months
  • 12% of workers have taken sick leave for mental health reasons
  • 67% of SME workers say working from home improves their work-life balance, but 54% report they are still more likely to work longer hours than usual
  • 48% of SME employees are offered flexible working whereas 27% are not offered it but would find it the most useful benefit

Balancing a company culture in a hybrid working world is a challenge, and SME leaders need to address toxic traits in their existing culture, like overworking and presenteeism, to maintain a healthy and productive workforce.

Rachel King, UK General Manager, Breathe, commented: “The benefits for mental and physical well-being that come from a flexible approach to work patterns have been widely discussed but are still so important. Flexible working can positively impact physical, mental and financial well-being. That said, working from home has proven effective for many people, but crucially not for all. It’s often the case that people find themselves working longer hours and taking less sick leave, under pressure to be seen as super productive when working remotely. Employers should look for ways to tackle the ‘always-on’ ethos and habits that have crept into remote working culture. Focusing on creating a culture that supports flexible working as standard can benefit teams and improve productivity if handled intentionally.”

Lizzie Benton, Company Culture Coach & Founder at Liberty Mind, added: “As a business, your attitudes, behaviour, and beliefs will all ultimately present to people what you truly think about employee well-being. If people are feeling unseen and pressured to work through illness, that’s really not a good sign. Now is not the time to ignore your culture and the true ripple effect it has on your people. After two years of momentous life changes, employees across the UK are considering whether where they work is adding to their life or taking something away. That’s why it’s important to put your people first when making decisions that impact them both personally and professionally. Creating a positive healthy company culture is ongoing work and it’s a choice that will benefit your business in the long run.”

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Dealing with distance in a post-pandemic workplace

Focusing on employee mental health in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, a recent survey commissioned by Cigna among US adults has shown that employers need to pay attention to feelings of loneliness among their employees.

The survey of almost 2,500 respondents conducted by Morning Consult showed that employees experiencing loneliness were less likely than their colleagues to say that they could work efficiently and perform to the best of their abilities. They were also more likely to say that they were “mentally somewhere else” while at work during the last three months.

In 2020, an analysis by Cigna showed that loneliness costs employers more than $154 billion per year in lost productivity caused by absenteeism.

Productivity isn’t the only negative result. The survey also found that employees experiencing loneliness were three times more likely to be dissatisfied with their jobs than their peers. A further 30% of lonely employees admitted feeling unwell or sick while at work in the past three months.

While the circumstances surrounding the pandemic may have led to more flexible remote working arrangements for many, isolation and loneliness were also side effects of the new working situation. Together with exhaustion due to blurred boundaries between work and home life, these feelings have added to the stress of many employees.

Cigna highlighted three areas that employers could focus on to address issues with workplace loneliness:

  • Regular activities that bring employees together, both in-person and virtually, such as town hall events, volunteer events, and employee resource group meetings.
  • Providing employee benefits that support mental and emotional well-being while remaining mindful of the barriers that may prevent employees from accessing the help they need.
  • Diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives could also go a long way to creating a safe and welcoming environment for employees.
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Is a collaborative approach with employees the answer to labour issues?

With public unionization movements taking place at various Big Tech companies, Microsoft wasn’t to be left out. The tech giant announced last week that it planned to follow an “open and constructive approach” to union organization from its employees.

In their announcement on June 2, 2002, they emphasized that while it wasn’t a requirement for employees to form a union to engage with company leadership, employees have the legal right to create a union.

The company outlined four principles to guide their open attitude to unionization. Among these were that they were “committed to creative and collaborative approaches with unions when employees wish to exercise their rights and Microsoft is presented with a specific unionization proposal.”

Microsoft is currently acquiring Activision Blizzard in an all-cash transaction valued at $68.7 billion. This announcement comes on the back of a vote taken at the end of May by an Activision Blizzard subsidiary to form a union.

Right now, the tech industry seems to be lit up by unionization efforts, with Amazon in a heated battle against unionization at some of its facilities, including in New York and Alabama.

In this post-pandemic world, worker power appears to be on the rise in companies across the US, with unions seeing increased activity in numerous sectors. The retail industry is just one example, with Starbucks and REI, where a number of strikes broke out late in 2021.

In what is known as #striketober, workers made demands for improved benefits, including better pay, flexible hours and more time off.

When it comes to unhappy staff, prevention is better than cure. One solution to staving off strike action would be listening to and acting on employee feedback. A Perceptyx survey released in April revealed that employers who did this were 11 times for likely to retain staff than those who didn’t.

Interestingly, fewer employers in the healthcare and retail industries were “listening to employees” than in other industries. These industries have also faced strike and unionization activities, high staff turnover and labour shortages.

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Internet stats show increasing awareness and demand for change

Recent research about internet search habits has revealed that there has been a consistent increase in diversity and inclusion issues over the last three years. For example, the search for ‘gender pronouns in the workplace’ has risen by 500% between April 2020 and April 2022.

Whether these searches are being conducted by employers trying to be aware of issues or whether it is employees who are trying to find out their rights is unclear.

The data also showed an increase of 58% in searches for ‘unconscious bias at work’ during the same three-year period. There was also a spike in March 2022, which coincided with International Women’s Day. The 2022 theme was based on ‘breaking the bias.’ March was also a big month for diversity and inclusion related with organisations completing their mandatory Gender Pay Gap reports before the Government reporting deadlines.

The data also showed that search results had increased for certain types of discrimination:

  • ‘bullying, harassment, and discrimination at work’ searches grew by 62.5%
  • ‘disability discrimination at work’ searches grew by 51.25%
  • ‘racial discrimination at work’ searches rose by 40.3%
  • ‘age discrimination at work’ searches grew by 30.6%

The same pattern has also been seen in Employee Tribunal Data. According to data from employment law and HR advisory firm, WorkNest, nearly half of the Employment Tribunal Claims received between January 2019 and December 2021 included some form of discrimination, with disability being the protected characteristic most relied upon by Claimants. 

 During the same period, they also saw increases in the following types of claims:

  • Disability-related discrimination claims (17.9%)
  • Sex-related discrimination claims (52%)
  • Race-related discrimination claims (27.3%)

There was also a large spike of racial discrimination claims during 2020, a 42.9% increase, compared to 2019.

Darren Hockley, Managing Director at DeltaNet International, commented: “The data reveals that discriminatory issues continue to rise in the workplace; business leaders and HR teams are responsible for tackling these issues to provide a safe and welcoming working environment for all employees to thrive in,”

“We believe that diversity and inclusion must be at the core of an organisation; we want to help employees and employers evolve from a compliance-based model to embracing true cultural change.”

Evidently, issues of diversity and inclusion are not a “passing storm to be weathered.”

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31% of financial services and banking professionals to leave the industry due to pressure

One third (31%) of financial services and banking professionals plan to leave their industry, and a further third (31%) are planning to stay within the industry but leave their current roles, reveals a new report.

According to the study by the digital accountancy platform, LemonEdge,  33% of financial service and banking professionals believe that working from home and hybrid working has increased burnout. Fourteen percent state that burnout has risen exponentially. The study also revealed that 23% of these professionals are worried about physical and mental health.

When asked why workers are planning to leave their positions, the following reasons were cited:

  • Heavy workload (42%)
  • Manual processes (36%)
  • Long working hours (32%)
  • Tight deadlines (26%)
  • Increasing demands from management (25%)

One in six of the financial services workers who were surveyed feel like they can no longer continue or no longer desire to continue in their role within the industry.

When asked what would help overcome burnout, 33% of financial services professionals agreed that a reduced workload would reduce burnout. Time off work (27%), support from management (25%), and faster, more efficient technology (23%) were also popular solutions.

Gareth Hewitt, Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer at LemonEdge, comments: “An exodus of industry professionals is a sure sign that levels of burnout have reached an unacceptable scale. Any experience of  burnout is serious and with thousands of employees planning to leave the industry as a direct result of high pressure, it should be a clear warning to firms before they risk losing valuable talent.

“The risk of burnout to employers is huge, and there are simple measures firms can introduce to reduce the risk of burnout, making the lives of their employees’ much simpler, easier, and with less stress. Firms need to be aware of the impact absenteeism and presenteeism will have on both their employees and business productivity. Just because you’re working from home, or in a hybrid model, doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy time off. With one in four (23%) asking for faster or improved technology to eliminate manual processes, firms need to look at their approaches to improve the lives of their staff. In this day and age, technology, not only can but should, provide the automation and flexibility that can contribute to reduced stress, reduced working hours, and lower risk of burnout. At LemonEdge we are passionate about providing the tools and technology that enable financial services professionals to get home on time.”

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Companies need to build wellness culture into business

There is no doubt that the thought of returning to work-life after COVID-19 is filling many employees with dread. More than two years of pandemic related uncertainty and stress have taken their toll on employees’ mental health.

Lockdowns sent us into survival mode, and it is only now, as life starts to get back to normal, that we begin to process the reality of what we’ve been through. There may still be safety concerns. Cognitively, employees may feel safe, but they may not feel emotionally safe. In addition, new habits have had two years to develop, and they may be a challenge to break.

But there are practical reasons too. A recent survey of 1,000 workers conducted by messaging app Slack suggests that almost two in five workers are stressed or anxious about going back to the office after more than two years at home. Concerns about work-life balance, the cost of travel and food were among the reasons for their stress.

The study revealed that 75% of workers had experienced burnout, and one-third had put in extra hours.

The study also found that only two in five respondents think their employers value their mental health, indicating how essential it is for businesses to provide more help.

Employers need to recognise and empathise with the different reasons that workers may be reluctant or anxious to return to the office.

Seventy percent of respondents agreed that a four-day workweek would help their mental health and wellbeing. Almost 50% believe that a hybrid work situation is the best approach for mental health, yet only 25% can choose whether or not they will work in the office.

Chris Mills, of Slack, said: “An employee who is cared for and supported will be inspired to do their best work.”

“It’s positive to see UK workers highlighting that hybrid work and technology has an important part to play in their wellbeing.”

“To ensure technology continues to be an enabler of healthier workplaces, leaders can also set a good example. Building best practices, for instance on how to use features like ‘do not disturb’ and scheduled messages to avoid out of office messaging, can be a great place to start.”

Charlène Gisèle, High Performance Coach and Burnout Advisor: “It is more important than ever for employers to integrate and incorporate a wellness culture embedded within the company. Offering wellness solutions goes beyond a gym membership – instead fostering a wellness culture is what a company ought to aim for.

Instead of focusing on concerns employees can focus on the positive aspects of being back in the office: camaraderie, being able to see colleagues again, and having social work life back on the horizon are all great for mental health as opposed to social/work isolation which many employees have faced during lockdown.”

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Paid sick leave tops the list

HR and payroll software provider CIPHR recently polled 1001 people about which benefits, perks, and incentives are the most important for employees. According to the new research, 67% of employees said that paid sick leave matters most to them. Next on the list were flexible working hours at 57% and pension contribution matching at 46%.

Also important was mental health and wellbeing support, at 40%. This comes as no surprise after the pandemic and the ever-rising cost of living.

The order of importance depends largely on the individual being surveyed. For example, pension contribution matching is higher on the priority list than flexible working hours for those over 45 (59% vs. 45%). However, the opposite applies to respondents under 45 (57% vs. 42%).

Gender also played a role, where female respondents valued childcare assistance over a market value salary (27% vs. 21%). On the other hand, more men placed more importance on a performance bonus over a market-value salary (45% vs. 34%).

The top 15 benefits and perks were as follows:

  • Paid sick leave (67%)
  • Flexible working hours (57%)
  • Pension contribution matching (46%)
  • Mental health and wellbeing support (40%)
  • Performance bonus (39%)
  • Four-day work week on full-time pay (37%)
  • Extra holiday allowance (32%)
  • Employee discounts scheme (30%)
  • Flexible working location (27%)
  • Market-value salary (26%)
  • Childcare assistance (23%)
  • Health insurance or cash-back plans (21%)
  • Extra paid day off for birthdays (21%)
  • Extended paid parental leave (20%)
  • Death benefits (18%)
  • Unlimited paid leave (18%)

In a separate survey of 332 UK-based businesses, CIPHR found that employers only rated six of the 24 benefits in the same order as employees.

The top 10 benefits that employers think matter most to employees are:

  • Mental health and wellbeing support
  • Flexible working hours
  • Paid sick leave
  • Flexible working location
  • Performance bonus
  • Four-day work week on full-time pay
  • Extra holiday allowance
  • Health insurance or cash-back plans
  • Childcare assistance
  • Pension contribution matching
  • Market-value salary

Matt Russell, Chief Commercial Officer at CIPHR, commented: “It is surprising to see such a disconnect between the benefits that employees value and what employers think – especially given how important good rewards and benefits packages are to attracting and retaining top talent and for supporting a great employee experience.”

“There is no one model or benefits scheme that works for every organisation. Employers need to spend time listening to their own employees to understand their needs and priorities and what benefits they want and value. For example, things like employee discounts, childcare assistance, and health or dental insurance, can go a long way to helping employees through the current cost-of-living crisis. And, what was once more important, pre-2020, has now been superseded by other benefits that reflect the growing shift to remote working and the desire for more flexibility at work.

“It won’t always be possible to deliver on every specific benefits request but organisations that can act on employee feedback, wherever possible, and provide agile and flexible benefits schemes are more likely to have a happier and engaged workforce.”

The significant differences between what employees actually value and what employers think their employees will value, indicate that organisations may be missing valuable opportunities to improve employee experience and engagement.

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43% set to quit jobs for improved working conditions

EY has released their 2022 Work Reimagined Survey, showing that 43% of employees are likely to quit their jobs, motivated by higher salaries, better career opportunities, and increased flexibility.

The survey canvassed over 1,500 business leaders and 17,000 employees across 22 countries and 26 industry sectors and found that employees have significant influence amid a shrinking labour market and rising inflation.

According to the survey, 35% of employees say that their main motivation for quitting their jobs is a desire for higher pay. This is likely due to record inflation numbers in many countries. Twenty-five percent are looking for career growth, while 42% believe that pay increases will address high staff turnover. However, only 18% of employers agree with this statement.

Last year’s survey found that flexible working arrangements were the biggest driver in employee moves. However, with many companies now offering some flexibility, remote work is less of a factor, at 19%. Seventeen percent say they would leave for well-being programs.

When looking at age groups in the various countries, the survey found that 53% of Gen Z employees and millennials in the US are the most likely to quit their jobs this year. In addition, across all sectors, 60% of employees with technology and hardware jobs are eager to leave.

Despite an improved outlook on company culture, many employees are keen to job hunt. In contrast, employers are less confident about company culture. Similarly, while many employees feel that the new ways of working increased their productivity, employers’ confidence in productivity decreased from 77% to 57%.

In looking at growing skills and the talent gap, findings among employers are:

  • 58% agree that it is important to have a strategy that matches talent and skills to business needs.
  • 74% are prepared to hire employees from other countries and allow remote work if their skills are critical or scarce.
  • 21% believe that improving opportunities to build skills will help address turnover.

In respect of flexible working models, the survey shows that:

  • 22% of employer respondents want employees back in the office five days a week.
  • Reluctance to work remotely among employees fell from 34% to 20%.
  • 80% of employees would like to work remotely at least two days per week.

The survey also examines whether new ways of working boost culture and productivity. It reveals that 32% of “optimist” employers have improved culture and productivity by ensuring that their leaders understand company issues, external practices, and strategies. Other drivers of success are hybrid work, investing in on-site amenities, enhancing workplace technology, and empowering employees.

Liz Fealy, EY Global People Advisory Services Deputy Leader and Workforce Advisory Leader, commented: “This latest survey shows that employees around the world are feeling empowered to leave jobs if their expectations are not met. As employers have increasingly provided flexible work approaches, higher pay is now the biggest motivation for changing jobs, particularly given rising inflation and available unfilled roles.”

Roselyn Feinsod, EY Work Reimagined Leader, commented: “We are seeing a top third of companies successfully navigating these divergent positions on pay, career opportunities and flexibility. They have moved from ‘resistance’ to ‘renaissance’ and that’s a win-win for their companies and their workforce. Organizations have to work to retain their employees, instill trust and provide a package that takes into account total pay, career path and flexibility to balance market concerns and risks.”

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Mental health decreased by 14% since start of pandemic

In a survey of over 1,000 employees to analyse how SME leaders in the UK adapted to the mental health needs of employees during the pandemic, GetApp found that 71% of employees received no mental health resources from their companies. This, even though good mental health decreased by 14% since the beginning of the pandemic.

The survey found that 18% of respondents told their leaders about their mental health issues. However, 16% of managers did nothing in response. The study further revealed that 11% of employees struggled with mental health issues, but their managers did not address their challenges.

Twenty-three percent of respondents were uncomfortable discussing their mental health conditions with their managers. A further 36% wouldn’t talk to anyone at work and would rather seek help externally.

Where managers did support their employees with their mental well-being, the findings were:

  • 55% took time to listen to their employees’ mental health concerns
  • 30% motivated their staff to take time off work
  • 27% scheduled regular check-ins
  • 42% of employees found the support very helpful compared to the 18% who found it unhelpful. The balance found the support somewhat helpful
  • 66% of employees who did receive mental health support received support via email, while 39% received in-person support, 24% received support through printed material, and 18% through virtual workshops

The study also found that 23% of employees now feel less connected to the company culture than before the pandemic. This is likely attributed to the fact that 27% of employees shared that their companies did not host social events, while 20% host them once a year. Nineteen percent host them once a quarter.

According to the respondents, the most valuable mental health resources were:

  • flexible work schedules (44%)
  • mental health days (36%)
  • access to a specialist to assist and provide employee support (24%)

Yoga and nutritional wellness programs were found to be the least useful resources.

David Jani, Content Analyst at GetApp UK, commented: “It was a surprise to see as many as 71% of our participants had not received access to workplace mental health resources at all during the pandemic.

This was also combined with a reluctance by around 23% to speak to a manager or decision-maker about declining mental health and 16% not receiving any response from their superiors when the issue was raised.

Having support from your company can be vital when experiencing mental health difficulties. This was observed from the 29% of workers that received assistance from their companies, with 42% of this group saying the resources they received were “very helpful” and another 38% regarding the assistance as “somewhat helpful” to their well-being.”

While UK employees appear to be reluctant to discuss their mental health in the workplace, effective support by employers is critical to the workforce’s mental health.

 

 

 

 

 

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95% of UK employees say their company doesn’t offer wellbeing support

The Employee Mental Health and Remote Working report conducted by virtual events and in-person team building company Wildgoose has revealed that one in six UK employees feel worried that raising mental health concerns with their company could put them at risk of losing their job. The report on mental health and remote working surveyed employees from 129 different companies on whether their mental health at work had improved or become worse during the last year. It also asked if those surveyed felt comfortable raising any mental health concerns with their employers and what they believed would happen if they did.

Results showed that 86% believed that their workplace is not a safe space for employees to be open about mental health.

According to the report, over the last 12 months, two in three employees have experienced worse mental health at work, compared to the previous year. As remote and hybrid working environments continue to be adopted by more UK businesses, evidence suggested that companies have struggled to adapt their mental health support processes, with the report revealing that one in three employees feel less able to raise mental health concerns during remote meetings, which has caused issues to go unnoticed.

The results also showed that just over one in eight companies in the UK don’t have a process in place for remote workers to report mental health concerns with the highest prevalence in SMEs, where this figure nearly doubled to one in five not having a process in place.

What employees want from their employers

Worsening employee mental health continues to be a growing concern and the researched showed that the change most desired by employees is for companies to offer more regular in-person meetings (36%) and for managers to receive better training on identifying signs of poor mental health (36%).

Just under a third of respondents (32%) stated they would like to see a process policy of reporting mental health concerns, which is not currently broadly offered, followed by assurances of job security after reporting.

Wildgoose Managing Director Jonny Edser commented: “As remote and hybrid working practices become more widespread, companies need to start doing more to ensure that employees are still receiving the same levels of mental health support. It’s essential that employers communicate with their staff, finding out how they would like to be supported. Perhaps they’d appreciate more regular workload reviews, weekly face-to-face meetings, or even the creation of better mental health policies. The most important aspect is that employees feel comfortable and safe to discuss any concerns.

Kristen Keen, founder and owner of Cluer HR, also commented on the report: “Unfortunately, there is still a stigma that surrounds mental health issues and a lack of education on the subject. To help improve employee wellbeing at work, both managers and the entire workforce should receive training, so that everyone can recognise and understand mental health issues. Plus, having 1:1 meetings with employees is a great way to encourage people to safely discuss any problems they are having.”

Full report available here: https://www.wearewildgoose.com/uk/news/employee-mental-health-and-remote-working-report/

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