Tag: Research

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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Boards are throwing up roadblocks to increasing the digitisation of their organisations even in the face of the pandemic, claim C-level digital executives.

Some 70% of respondents to the fourth edition of ‘Digitisation on Boards’, a study by global executive search and leadership consultancy Amrop, felt their boards were paying lip service to digital strategy.

The research compared the perspectives of 58 C-suite or board-level digital leaders from fast-growth organisations, mainly in Europe, with their low-performing equivalents and came up with some alarming findings.

Among them that only 30% of respondents felt their board understood the challenges of their role or supported them in carrying it out.

The majority (60%) also reported ‘digital impatience’ and a lack of realism when it came to digital initiatives, with a similar number saying they were being blocked by the short-sightedness of their board, which they felt had not given enough thought to the transformation of business models via digitisation.

The findings were particularly surprising given the study took place at the end of 2020, after a year in which the pandemic forced digitisation to the forefront and was widely understood to be critical to short- and long-term business growth.

Nevertheless, of those surveyed, 50% felt their organisation continued to focus on current revenues, paying relatively little attention to any future benefits that could be gained by digital investment.

“Whilst digitisation is named as a priority for boards in the organisations we surveyed, board literacy and understanding are only on the starting blocks. Board members must be willing and able to transform the business model, focus on the innovation that drives customer value and understand the global impact of digitisation. If this understanding is absent in a board, it must be installed as a priority, even if that means taking some painful decisions,” commented Job Voorhoeve, Leader of Amrop’s global Digital Practice.

He added: “Digital executives deserve support in making the business case to boards in a clear and compelling way. In turn, boards should be in no doubt of their role in igniting an organisation’s ability to harness the power of digital for transformation and growth.”

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New research suggests it is not just the ‘job for life’ concept that has become outdated, but also the idea of working in the same industry for life.

According to analysis by FutureLearn, 21% of UK working age adults do not expect to be working in the same industry in 2030, a feeling shared by a quarter of those in Australia and one-fifth of those in America.

The findings were included in the digital education platform’s global Future of Learning report, for which it surveyed 2,200 adults in the UK, 1,182 adults in the US and 1,040 adults in Australia.

The survey found that many were planning to upskill to help them move into new careers. Overall, 40% of UK respondents said they were likely to take an online course within the next five years, with numbers highest among the younger generations.

The majority (60%) of Generation Z workers polled said they would take a course in the next five years, while 53% of Millennials were planning on doing so.

Many were planning a more imminent change of career, with 21% of UK respondents saying they would consider spending time or money to learn new skills for a job or career move in the next year. This percentage was 31% in Australia and 26% in the US.

Catalina Schveninger, Chief People Officer at FutureLearn, said: “There are no more jobs for life, which is something research has been predicting for some time. Lifelong learning is going to play an ever more central part in helping employees, jobseekers and career-changers alike to develop new skills, grow in confidence and increase their employability.”

Covid a catalyst

While the trend for workers to switch industries during their career has been in play for some time, the research also found that Covid-19 had exacerbated moves in this direction.

The pandemic has led one in 10 UK workers to rethink their career paths, with many having already experienced significant career changes.

Across the three countries, almost one in 10 young people (8% of Millennials, 7% of Generation Z) had already moved into a new industry as a direct result of the pandemic.

In addition, 15% of Millennials and Generation Z workers had re-evaluated their career path due to the pandemic.

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The increasing trend towards remote working caused by the pandemic is leading firms to look further afield for contract workers.

According to a recent analysis by 6CATS International, in Q1 there was an increase in demand for contractors outside Europe, with opportunities booming in India and South Africa in particular.

Stefanie Cook, Sales Director at 6CATS International, said: “Destinations such as France, Belgium, Germany and the Netherlands have long been hotspots of activity, but we’re increasingly seeing contractors, recruiters and end clients looking beyond Europe, with South Africa and India currently leading a significant proportion of the demand for contractor management solutions.

“Much of this shift has arguably been driven by the uptick in remote working options for contract professionals – meaning that recruiters and hirers are less limited by borders when sourcing temporary experts.

“Instead, we are increasingly seeing staffing businesses able to take a more strategic standpoint and focus on where the talent can be found, without concerns around in-country right to work regulations, immigration checks and visa requirements.”

On a sector basis, demand for contractors was highest in the pharmaceutical area, with oil and gas, engineering and IT also seeing a rise in activity in the first quarter of 2021.

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