Tag: WFH

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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Portugal passed law prohibiting contact with employees outside of regular hours 

A poll conducted by Fasthosts has revealed that seven in 10 Brits receive one to 10 emails out of working hours every single day.  

The pandemic has resulted in millions of people working from home and has made ‘switching off’ difficult. The right to disconnect in France has been law for six years, and Ireland has brought in a similar code of practice under which employers should include reminders in their emails to employees indicating no requirement to reply out of working hours. In late 2021 Portugal also passed a law prohibiting employers from contacting workers outside of their regular hours by phone, message or email.  

Based on the research, a shocking 49.2% of respondents receive one to five work-related emails outside of their office hours while one in seven Brits receive up to 10 after-hours work emails per day! Shockingly, 67% of Brits generally reply to after-work emails, while 16% say they always reply no matter what. 

Fifty percent of respondents admitted that receiving after-hours work emails has a negative impact on their lives. It’s no wonder that the poll found that 46% of people in the UK experienced or felt on the verge of burnout in 2021, based on various studies.  

Specifically, Brits voted that the after-work emails make them feel like they’re always at work (19.4%), like they have no time for themselves (17.6%) and their family (15.1%) and are concerned that if they don’t reply it would affect their career (11.3%).  

One question in the survey asked if there should be a law in the UK restricting after-hours work emails with over four in ten (43.5%) agreeing that there should be one in place, with most of them being women!  

Millennials are the most affected and women receive more emails compared to men  

Based on the findings, women receive more work-related emails after work, compared to men (51.3% and 47.1% respectively). Despite this, the poll revealed that both genders felt as if they were always at work whereas men felt that they are more likely to have no time for themselves or family, while women felt the pressure to work all the time or that not replying could affect their career.  

There is a significant shift in the working environment with policies that promote a healthier work-life balance amid the rise of remote working. With more countries banning employers from contacting their employees outside their shift hours, maybe the UK will follow. Our study showed that many Brits receive after-hours emails which affect them in their personal lives and as a result, most of them believe that there should be legislation aimed at minimising this problem. 

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Employers to carefully consider vaccination policies

New COVID-19 restrictions came into force on 13 December, effectively sending workers back to working from home, if they’re able. But can the businesses that need employees in the workplace force them to be vaccinated?

Damian Kelly, partner and head of the employment law practice at Lodders Solicitors weighed in: “Other than employers of care home staff, employers have no legislative right to require staff to be vaccinated. In other sectors, employers who try to mandate staff vaccinations are running a high risk of Employment Tribunal claims, including claims for unlawful discrimination.”

“Increasingly, employers are seeing value in introducing Vaccination Policies which, whilst falling short of requiring mandatory vaccinations, encourage their staff to get vaccinated and set out various means by which they will be supported in doing so.”

“For care homes and their staff, The Health and Social Care Act 2008 (Regulated Activities) (Amendment) (Coronavirus) Regulations 2021 were approved on 22nd July 2021, and made it mandatory for a person working or providing professional services in a care home to have the COVID-19 vaccine from the 11th of November 2021.

Damien added: “Employers should give careful consideration to the drafting of a Vaccination Policy and the way in which it is communicated and implemented across their workforces. Important issues for consideration are likely to include timing, confidentiality, time off measures and fair procedures for dismissals should they be necessary.”

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2.7 million workers to set up their own business  

According to a study recently published by Aviva, two thirds of UK workers plan to make changes to their careers in the next 12 months. This number indicates that 22 million workers are seeking some kind of change to their careers.  

The intended changes range from reducing hours, to moving roles within an organisation, to choosing a different career path completely. 

The number of people planning to set up their own business is now around 2.7 million* workers (8% of workers) while the proportion planning to get a similar role in a different company has risen from 5% to 8% over the same period. 

The proportion of workers planning to reskill now stands at 11%. However, this figure increases to 15% among those aged 35 to 44, suggesting people are taking stock of their careers; with 9% of workers wanting to take a different career path.  

Planned career change over the next 12 months  Percentage of workers July 2020  Percentage of workers February 2021  Percentage of workers October 2021 
I plan to find a role which will allow me to work from home  10%  10%  10% 
I plan to retrain / learn new skills  9%  10%  11% 
I plan to gain more academic qualifications  8%  8%  9% 
I plan to follow a completely different career path  7%  9%  9% 
I plan to find a role which helps others / makes a difference to those in need  6%  8%  8% 
I plan to set up my own business / work for myself  6%  7%  8% 
I plan to increase my working hours (e.g. part time to full time)  6%  7%  8% 
I plan to reduce my working hours (e.g. full time to part time)  6%  7%  9% 
I plan to move companies but stay in the same industry/role  5%  6%  8% 
I plan to find employment after losing my job  4%  4%  4% 
I plan to retire  4%  6%  7% 
I plan to find a new role but with the same organisation  4%  6%  7% 

Nicki Charles, Retail MD, Customer, Aviva General Insurance says:“Benefits that were once seen as luxuries are now being viewed as essentials. While the pandemic has been devastating in so many ways, people are seeking out silver linings and a more progressive approach towards working is just one of these outcomes.” 

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66% of senior leadership encouraged by burgeoning economy

According to specialist recruiter Robert Half, there is no better time to secure a new job with businesses growing in confidence and recruiting for new and vacant positions.

According to their 2022 Salary Guide, the improvement in the UK’s economic climate has boosted the confidence of top-tier leaders with 66% feeling ‘somewhat more’ encouraged about growth prospects over the next 12 months.

The job market is heavily in favour of candidates who now command higher salaries, benefits and working conditions that align with their desired lifestyle. This is proving difficult for employers who need to fill roles created by the post-pandemic working economy.

With this new-found power in a buoyant job market, candidates are free to consider their job options with more than a quarter (28%) of employees likely to look for a new job in 2022 –  and many are already searching.

 Working from home affects salary potential

Increased activity in the permanent recruitment space is expected in 2022 as 31% of businesses move to fill  roles. There is higher demand for talent with hybrid skill sets and digital skills that ensure businesses can keep up with the pace of transformation and automation.

In most sectors covered by the report, salaries are expected to remain static and 25% of employers say they have no plans for increases in the near future. However, with fierce competition in the market, intentions may not match reality, and increases in average monthly salaries show the strength of candidates’ influence when agreeing terms with a new employer.

Location of candidates still matters to employers when hiring for a remote post despite the rise in remote and hybrid working over the past year. Nearly half (47%) of employers believe where the candidate is based could limit salaries for those opting to work far away the office location.

Matt Weston, UK Managing Director at Robert Half, said: “While businesses may not intend to increase the salaries on offer, the booming jobs market means they may need to re-evaluate. With candidates holding multiple offers now, we’re finding that a competitive salary alone is not enough; businesses must review the benefits on offer and promote their values to set themselves apart.”

Rethink benefits to retain talent 

To gain that competitive edge, employers are balancing stable salaries by enhancing benefits packages. For example, more than three in five (62%) employers are now offering bonuses above or in line with pre-pandemic levels to counter stagnant salaries. Nearly half (45%) now offer remote working as standard, which is what candidates expect now.

One in five (20%) employees say they would consider leaving their current role if they weren’t offered their desired working arrangements. In such a candidate-driven market it’s imperative that employers meet these needs to retain talent.

Matt Weston continued: “We’re currently seeing demand above and beyond pre-pandemic levels, and despite the so-called ‘Great Resignation’ creating a tsunami of turnover, we are still experiencing a saturated market where the demand for skilled talent outstrips the supply.”

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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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Collaboration and communication are key skills  

According to new research from LinkedIn, 87% of UK business leaders stated that young workers have been plagued by a “developmental dip” because of long periods of time working from home during the pandemic.  

250 C-level executives in the UK (from companies with 1,000 employees and more and with an annual turnover of £250+ million) who were surveyed for the study, found that almost 30% of business leaders feel that onboarding from home has been a challenge for young employees. A further 42% of leaders believe that young people’s ability to build meaningful relationships with colleagues while working remotely has been difficult. 

Out of practice  

A complementary survey of young professionals showed that they agree. 69% of young people (aged 16 – 34) believe their professional learning experience has been impacted by the pandemic. More than half of those asked to return to offices feel their ability to make conversation at work has suffered, and 71% say they’ve forgotten how to conduct themselves in an office environment. 84% of young workers ultimately feel “out of practice” when it comes to office life, especially when it comes to giving presentations (29%) and speaking to customers and/ or clients (34%).  

Missing out 

Business leaders say the key development experiences that young people have missed out on during the pandemic include learning by “osmosis” from being around more experienced colleagues (36%), developing their essential soft skills (36%), and building professional networks (37%).  

Skills to succeed 

Business leaders believe that for hybrid working to be a success, collaboration (59%) and communication (57%) are the two most important skills employees need. Nearly half (49%) of leaders say working closely with experienced team members is the best way for young people to catch up and build these soft skills.  

Janine Chamberlin, UK Country Manager at LinkedIn, said:  It’s positive to see leaders recognise the disproportionate impact the pandemic has had on young people as they consider their future workplace policies. To help young people develop the skills they need to succeed, companies must understand where the skills gaps are, introduce mentoring schemes and bolster learning experiences that cater for a hybrid workforce to help younger workers get back on track.”

Photo courtesy of Canva.com

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35% of millennials likely to take a pay cut  

A survey by Hitachi Capital UK revealed that over a quarter of office workers are willing to take an 8% cut in pay to switch to permanent home working, with 2% prepared to forgo 20% of their salary to work from home permanently.  

According to the survey, those earning in the lower salary brackets are driving the trend with a third of office workers earning less than £40,000 per annum most willing to accept a pay cut to work from home. This compared to 20% of those earning over £40,000.  

39% of Generation Z want a permanent work-from-home solution compared with 16% of millennials who also want to work from home permanently; this despite 31% missing interpersonal interactions in the office.  

Millennials are most likely to consider taking a pay cut (35%), followed by over 55s at 25% and 45 – 54-year-olds (24%) if it meant the reduction was less than their usual travel spend and were given increased flexibility by their employer. 

Meanwhile, the ability to balance household and family responsibilities alongside work is driving half of female decisions to work from home (49%) compared to 37% of men. 

Spending time with family is a key incentive for over a third of males (34%) to work remotely compared to 26% of females. 

The report revealed the following regions are most ready to return to the office: Yorkshire and the North East (21%), as the office environment and access to a conventional desk allows increased focus and productivity. While, Northern Ireland (37%), West Midlands (35%) and South West (31%) are the strongest supporters of the post-pandemic shift to hybrid working. 

Theresa Lindsay, Group Marketing Director at Hitachi Capital UK PLC said, “The pandemic has led to a seismic shift in the way people want to work to effectively manage their work and home life commitments. It’s clear that most employees have adapted very well to remote working whilst actually enhancing productivity.”  

 

Have you got news to share with us? Please email debbie@talintpartners.com

Photo courtesy of Canva.com

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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.
Photo courtesy of Canva.com
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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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