Tag: Work from home

Employees avoid working from home due to concerns over increase in energy costs

A new report published by Global expenses app, ExpenseOnDemand, shown that as the cost-of-living crisis starts to impact millions across the UK, travel expense claims are surging, as employees start to reduce time working at home to keep energy bills down. The data revealed that mileage and travel expense and claims have increased by 21% while entertainment claims by 15% showing that employees are spending more time out visiting contacts, clients, and colleagues.

According to the report, the trend for working from home is starting to shift as employees are leaving the house to keep energy costs down, however, the cost of the commute to the office doesn’t make going back to the workplace a viable option. Hence, many employees are focussed on meeting and entertaining clients and contacts as a way to spend time away from their home office during the working week. For those with cheaper commutes, many are heading back to the office for the majority of the week and this trend is expected to continue throughout winter.

Sunil Nigam, Founder at ExpenseOnDemand, commented, “We could be looking at a situation where workers want to spend more time meeting clients or in the office to better manage their domestic energy and electricity costs.

This trend is naturally causing a surge in employee expenses. Companies need to ensure they are equipped to manage claims and also monitor dubious expense claims, as employees may try to increase their income. We use advanced tech solutions to make managing expenses seamless, minimise bogus claims and help our clients ensure they aren’t overpaying on expenses.”

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New candidates less likely to work remotely

UK’s Net Employment Outlook has fallen to +25% for Q4, according to the latest ManpowerGroup Employment Outlook Survey (MEOS). This figure shows a decrease of eight percentage points compared to Q3 and six percentage points year-on-year.

The MEOS is the most comprehensive employment survey of its kind and is used as a key economic indicator by the Bank of England and the UK Government.

The survey reveals that hiring confidence is still positive across all sectors, but new candidates have less bargaining power, with employers focussing on retaining their existing workforce.

In the survey, 2,030 UK employers were asked whether they intend to hire additional workers, maintain their current headcount, or reduce the size of their workforce in the coming quarter.

For the second quarter in a row, the Banking, Finance, Insurance, and Real Estate sector are in the lead with a Net Employment Outlook of +40%. This, however, is a decline of nine percentage points in Q3 and nine percentage points year on year.

Looking specifically at London, employers report an Outlook of +28% for Q4. This is a decline of 13 percentage points since last quarter. In Q1, employers in London were least likely to ask employees to work in the office full-time. Empty office space in London increased by 51% since the beginning of the pandemic, showing that working from home remains popular despite the increased cost of living, making working from home less affordable.

Chris Gray, Director at ManpowerGroup UK, said: “Employers are keen to get people back into the office, however employees still have a lot of bargaining power.”

“Over the last 12 months we have seen employers offer unprecedented benefits, from hefty signing bonuses to fully remote working, in order to attract skilled candidates. However, as demand for new workers cools, candidates are less able to secure these benefits – but many existing employees don’t want to give them up. One of our clients saw 75% of employees decline new contracts that didn’t guarantee fully remote work. This leaves employers engaged in a balancing act of keeping their existing employees happy while phasing out remote work for new candidates.”

“We’re seeing a shift from candidates holding all the cards to employers now having the leverage to ask candidates to come into the office – at least some of the time. Existing employees are more likely to have the bargaining power to retain their home working benefits, but new candidates will increasingly see pandemic-era benefit offers in the rear-view mirror.”

“As household energy bills hit record levels, trends may shift slightly with existing employees keeping their options open where possible to maintain their bargaining power. Decisions on whether to go back into the office will be based on individual circumstances. This is especially true for employees who moved away from big cities where commuting is most costly.”

“Despite the shift in power from candidates to employers, the fight for talent is still firmly underway, and employers need to meet candidates half-way to attract the best talent. That means offering sustainable benefits like increased annual leave and flexible working arrangements alongside increases in pay.”

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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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Experts examine the pros and cons of the potentially game-changing pilot scheme

This week, more than 70 companies are kicking off a four-day work week. Over 3,000 employees will be working a shorter week, with no impact on salary, between now and December as part of a nationwide pilot project.

Between 2020 and 2022, the pandemic “moved the goalposts” on office life. As a result, many workers experienced the flexibility and work-life balance of remote working for the first time during this period. On the back of that, many organisations are now trying to work out new, more productive ways of working. If successful, this scheme is likely to completely change the working world as we know it.

Experts have examined the possible impacts of this change and question whether this change is a gimmick or a progressive move to the future. Before adopting the four-day work week, businesses are encouraged to examine their reasons for making this change and consider whether this development will truly solve any problems or simply plaster over bigger issues.

Laura Baldwin, President at O’Reilly, commented: “When it comes to work schedules, what people really care about is flexibility. It’s not about four days or five. Either is still very prescriptive and doesn’t account for the varied reasons many employees want flexibility – for example, to manage five-day-a-week school pick up hours. For the burnt out, overworked employees who went above and beyond during the pandemic, fewer hours, worked flexibly across five days is likely to mean more than a four-day slog.”

“For businesses, the four-day week can also create complicated scheduling nightmares – especially for smaller organisations. While some larger organisations can implement A/B schedules where, for example, half of the employees are off on the Friday and the other half, Monday, this won’t work for smaller teams that need cover all week. Instead, there needs to be more effort invested in creating real cultures of flexibility, which can best serve employees without forgetting the needs of customers.”

“Quite simply, customers expect (at least) a five-day-a-week service and until every organisation moves to four days as standard there will be a very hard balancing act to cut to four. Dropping the ball on customer experience to pay lip service to flexibility is a losing strategy for all.”

“If you’re thinking about a four-day workweek, use it as a prompt to ask, what is it that you are really trying to solve? Are you trying to create a shortcut to flexibility? Will this rather drastic move really create the flexibility your employees want? Will it enable work-life balance, but also get the work done? Could it be you are looking for a sticking plaster to bigger issues? Rather than embracing trust and flexibility for your teams, are you just seeking another way to exert control behind a facade of a four-day gimmick?”

In his recent blog on the subject, Ken Brotherston, CEO at TALiNT Partners also questions whether this was a situation of designing a problem to fit a solution.

He asked where the idea of working less originated. If society begins to work less and results in lower growth and higher national debt, we may be creating bigger problems for future generations.

Another concern is that while this new scheme could create an improved work-life balance for some workers, without clear boundaries, staff could feel more burnt out than before as they’ll have to complete five days of work in four.

Staff will need guidance to help them adjust to the change, to ensure that they’re not working additional hours in the four days that they are working. This creates more issues for leadership teams who are already having to deal with burnout among staff since working from home became a full-time gig. There is no divide between work and home.

Andrew Duncan, Partner and EMEA CEO, Infosys Consulting, commented: “Many businesses are acutely aware of the positive impact that location-agnostic policies can have on employee wellbeing. It is clear that flexibility-forward is the approach of the future, however, ensuring these policies are properly structured is key to making them a success.

“With the launch of four-day working week trials, outlining clear parameters around these policies will be vital. Failure to do so risks a downturn in quality as talent attempts to squeeze the same amount of work into a shorter week.

“This also poses risks from a people management point of view potentially resulting in burnout or staff working outside of agreed hours, setting back aims to improve work-life balance.”

Paul Modley, Director, Diversity, Equity & Inclusion at AMS, commented: “The flexibility of being able to work four days a week will certainly help create a better work-life balance for some workforces. However, this concept is new to individuals and businesses alike. The key hurdle to overcome if this is to be successful is the careful management of workloads. If staff are cutting their hours by 20% but their workload and delivery expectations remain the same, employers could face a scenario where people are struggling to meet expectations and failing to take breaks or working overtime during the new working week in order to gain an additional day off.”

“With the right communication and careful management a four day week can work, but without appropriate implementation, employees can become disengaged with a brand or even feel disgruntled with the forced reduction of days. In an economy where talent shortages are rife and retaining staff is a critical business priority, it’s important to ensure that any changes to work set ups are delivering against the needs of individuals as well as the company. At AMS all of our roles can flex to some degree so we have experience in making different working methods successful across the globe. It’ll be interesting to see the results of this trial, but the information that will be most valuable from my point of view will be the feedback of staff themselves, not just the productivity data from the businesses.”

Regardless of the outcome, this new way of working is sure to divide the workforce with flexible and hybrid working already becoming a bug bear to those employers who want their staff back in the office full-time, post-pandemic.

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The pandemic has stifled their career

According to a recent by Indeed, findings are on par with what HR experts know about Gen Z leading the Great Reshuffle. Likewise, the report builds on previous data wherein Gen Z feels disconnected and disadvantaged due to working remotely. In February 2022, Washington State University’s Carson College of Business reported that most of their Gen Z survey-takers felt that the COVID-19 pandemic stifled their career.

Indeed’s May 2022 report contextualizes these concerns with a fresh spin. Simply put, just because Gen Z feels as if they’re missing out on office work does not mean they want to start working in the office full time, if at all.

Flexibilty, as well as other perks, remains one of the ways employers can help attract and retain their young talent. Indeed’s research highlights that explicitly with the report finding that 95% of Gen Zers are considering a job with more work-from-home flexibility and 78% are actively looking for one.

Just less than half (47%) of Gen Z responders told Indeed they’re very likely to change jobs within the next 12 months, more than the slightly older cohort, millennials. Of those Gen Zers making moves to jump ship, 61% were driven by employers’ implementation of a return-to-office plan conflicting with their work from home desires.

Despite their concern, for example, more than half of Gen Zers interviewed by talent acquisition firm Lee Hecht Harrison reported career anxiety, young professionals don’t appear to be compromising on their values anytime soon. In fact, they want employers whose moral code matches theirs.

In summary, employers have two sure fire ways of attracting and retaining talent: Offer work flexibility and find define the employer brand so that candidates are attracted to who you are, not just what you do.

 

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Half of workers spend time on video calls now than a year ago

According to Asana’s 2022 Anatomy of Work Report, workers in the US are overwhelmed by their notifications with almost two-thirds (63%) of US workers continuously checking their emails outside of work hours — the highest percentage across the board in the international study.

The software company’s research team surveyed workers from Australia, France, Germany, Japan, Singapore, the U.K. and the U.S. At 62%, workers in the U.S. were the most likely to report feeling the need to reply to emails straight away. This rate was even higher among Generation Z and millennials. The US participants reported that they’re overwhelmed by the breadth of their digital interactions with colleagues with 34% stating they struggle to respond to important messages, with the rate being even higher for millennials and Gen Zers.

Just under half (41%) of respondents reported that they spend more time on emails now than a year ago with 43% stating that they spend more time on video calls than one year ago.

More than half (52%) reported that more efficient meetings could effectively reduce the number of notifications, and 48% of respondents said clearer responsibilities could also limit the number of notifications. Gen Zers, millennials and those in C-suite roles were most likely to emphasize the importance of well-outlined expectations.

Debbie Walton, Editor at TALiNT Partners commented: “The move to working from home means that there is no option to display an ‘out of office’ or to switch off from work. I have made the decision to remove all work apps from my cell phone so as not to be bombarded by endless notifications after hours. It’s supported a healthier work/ life balance.”

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New survey looks at popular issues facing the future of work

According to Emburse’s new YouGov survey of 1,000 British office workers, it was found that 68% of British office workers would consider working from the office full-time if their commute was fully paid for. However, 27% of respondents wouldn’t consider coming back into the office full time, even if costs were covered by their employers.

The survey revealed that two-thirds agreed that Wednesday was the best day to work from the office if given a choice. On the other hand, Friday was the least popular office day at only 10%.

The top incentive to go back to the office was a four-day workweek (59%). Other findings related to incentives included:

  • Fully-paid commute: 52%
  • More paid holidays: 51%
  • Employer-paid lunch in the office: 30%
  • Reimbursement for lunch expenses: 24%
  • Paid childcare on workdays: 14%

The survey also found that most are not concerned about proximity bias, but 24% worry about career prospects.

Kenny Eon, GM and SVP EMEA at Emburse, commented: “The impacts of COVID and the Great Resignation mean that companies need to be more employee-centric in their approach, and humanising the workplace has never been more important. Part of this means ensuring team members get the best possible work environment. Whilst working remotely is certainly convenient for employees, there are clear benefits of having in-person interactions, as well as the cultural importance of bringing teams together. Data clearly shows that they are more productive than audio or video meetings, so there needs to be a balance between convenience and productivity. A relatively small investment from employers could have a significant impact in driving more in-office collaboration.”

“Given the sharp increase in the cost of living, businesses should consider how they can support staff by reducing the financial burden of attending the office in-person. Reimbursing travel and lunches can certainly help do this. It also doesn’t have to mean endless time on paperwork, as expense apps can make the process easy for both the employee and the finance team.”

With inflation reaching a 30-year-high of 7% and national insurance hikes, clearly, commute costs are deterring workers from returning to the office.

Employers will need to observe and respect their employees’ preferences to create a hybrid working arrangement to shape and maintain a productive workforce.

 

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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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75% of employees feel salaries should increase in line with inflation

A recent study by Insight Global, a staffing firm, has revealed that 66% of American workers are concerned they will need to look for a higher paying job in order to keep up with inflation.

The survey took place in March and included 1,005 US workers who are employed full time.

The rise of inflation is also prompting some workers to ask their bosses for flexibility to work from home to save on fuel costs. The survey found that 26% of workers who said they are seriously considering looking for a new job also plan to ask that they be allowed to work from home with 24% of those already working remotely planning to continue doing so most or all of the time until gas prices go down.

Overall, 75% of workers believe employers should increase pay during economic inflation.

Bert Bean, CEO at Insight Global commented: “Leaders need to get ahead of this curve before they see some of their greatest talent leave to explore other career opportunities. The simplest way to ensure your employees are content in their current roles is to ask them. Find out what they need — is it a raise, the ability to work from home or are they feeling disconnected?”

Other findings in the survey included:

  • 56% of American workers feel there are many job openings, but few job opportunities offering pay that can keep up with the rising cost of living.
  • 61% of workers who say they are seriously considering looking for a new job feel there are many job openings, but few job opportunities offering pay that can keep up with the rising cost of living.

Flexible working remains key in navigating the skills shortage crisis as employees will continue to look for roles that offer flexible and support during turbulent economic times.

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