Managing a post-pandemic workforce
70% of employees surveyed find work a chore, nearly 60% have no clue what their retirement income might look like. How does this square with the aim of having a creative, happy and productive workforce?
Your workforce believe they have no control over 43% of their lives.
How do we know? We asked them.
People who feel out of control in anyway tend to spend more time worrying about this than anything else. There can be no dispute that anyone who’s attention is distracted by fear or worry are likely to be less productive than the person without worry.
We sought to understand what concerns people have about their work and lives in general. Business today has an obligation to demonstrate that the organisation is taking the interests of employees seriously. Today more than ever we need to find ways to retain talent and make best use of all of the resources a business has.
Whether you consider business and the world of work to be in unprecedented times or not it is inescapable that we live in very different times. Operating a business today and navigating the many challenges they face in the years ahead is not going to be easy. Then again when was it ever easy? Probably never, after all when everything seems to be plain sailing, the hidden risk of complacency could be set to undermine or even destroy a company.
Complacency can affect many parts of a company, none more so than the people who work within it. How people are treated by a business has never been more important, especially against a backdrop of the Great Resignation and the loss of other workers whether due to Brexit, the pandemic or maybe both. The aim of this report is to set out the results of research into the attitudes of employees to their workplace and employers. The research was conducted across multiple sectors and was split equally by gender. The age range of respondents was 18-64 and their positions within organisations was from bottom to top. The largest number of respondents work in organisations employing over 5,000 people.
Among the many reporting requirements of business is the need to include a statement in the annual report and accounts of how directors have engaged with employees and how they have had regard for employee interests and to include principal decisions taken by the company. This applies to any business employing 250 or more people and is part of the company’s ESG reporting.
We have included headline data with this short report, however we can assist with more detail if needed.
57% of respondents have no idea what level income their pension will provide in retirement. Only 30% of the respondents felt their benefits in retirement would meet their needs.
These answers may speak to the reduction in the number of those who are members of final salary pension schemes, however 70% of respondents work in organisations which employ more than 5,000 people, 30% work for employers with between 1,000 and 5,000 employees. Over 30% work in sectors where defined benefit pensions are still available, so the lack of awareness of pension rights may not be fully explained by being a member of a defined contribution scheme but probably point to the information they given regarding projected retirement income and how to relate this result to their own circumstances.
Both seem to view retirement saving as a necessary evil dictated by the State, yet neither would disagree that life beyond work will need to be paid for. Another common problem is that contributions are seen as a cost by the business or a loss of salary by the employee. Both views are wrong. In effect contributions are deferred compensation, an exchange of immediate value for a future benefit. Business can lead a change in attitude, after all it is common for a business to view salary as an investment in the productivity of its people, so how is the deferred element an expense and not an investment?
It is common in reporting pension rights to focus on the benefits the scheme provides and ignore the impact of a members overall circumstances. Providing the employee with the means to consider their long term financial picture as a whole rather than just the employers pension helps address the concerns people have about their long term needs.
Happy people are usually productive people, over 86% of respondents report they are happy and nearly 69% state they feel their mental and physical wellbeing is addressed by their employer and yet 70% either somewhat agreed or strongly agreed that work is a chore. There could be a lot of explanations for these answers many of which could be caused by issues outside the workplace.
Unhappiness, stress and excess tiredness are hard to set aside when we come into the workplace no matter how committed an individual is, there is always an impact, that impact can lead to a loss of productivity or in some workplaces even serious risk whether to work colleagues, customers or both.
Employers need a simple way to demonstrate both their investment and commitment to employees. It is through a sense of connectedness that a business can create confidence in its people and inspire them to their best. Every business wants to leverage its main asset, its people and each member of that group seeks to be valued and know the business cares. Businesses exist and thrive due to the interdependent nature of the people within them.
The way an individual views the present and how they feel about work, is influenced by their view of the future, for example issues concerning the rising cost of living, which for many is not something they have previously experienced.
Fear of the future is not exclusive to one age group or another, for example the younger worker considering how their career might evolve, might be fearful they may not make the next promotion or that they might become stuck in a role, much like a typecast actor. For the older worker the issue could be retirement where worries range from understanding if they can even afford to retire to the potentially paralysing fear of the unknown life after work.
Typical career paths are no longer sufficient to allay the fears of the younger worker, unless they are given the freedom and encouragement to help create that future.
Creating the future is also an issue for the more mature worker, who will have an opportunity to create a future for themselves less dependent upon their employer and societal expectations and one for which they are wholly responsible.
Too often people are faced with multiple choices in the absence of the tools or how to think their future through. As any business manager knows making a decision in the absence of data and information is guesswork.
There is a risk that some older highly valued people could leave a workplace simply because that is what is expected of them rather than from a desire to move on. Establishing an understanding of what they want their lives to look like can be beneficial to both the individual and the employer. Following conventional practices can cause a business to lose the experience and knowledge of a key worker, whilst the individual themselves suffers from a loss of direction, purpose and meaning as they fall into a life pattern set by someone else.
We are happiest when we are working towards something, regardless of the label one chooses to use as humans are instinctively aspirational beings.
When asked about their skills the majority of answerers indicate they are aware of their own skills and abilities and that their skills are put to use at work and in daily life. 70% also felt they have skills which go unused.
Attendees at past Bliss workshops have often been surprised to rediscover skills they possess but had forgotten or perhaps they have become so “unconsciously competent”, they do not recognise their skills as such and often unaware at how these abilities can be redeployed. Over 44% answered that they feel either fulfilled or very fulfilled in their role.
In answer to the question “having considered your skills, are there changes you could make to positively impact your life?” 73% answered yes. This leaves us to ask employers, do you have people with skills and abilities that are underused? Is it less costly to retrain an existing employee rather than hire a new individual, assuming they can be found in the first place?
67% of respondents indicated they would be likely to or somewhat likely to use an app that aided them in creating plans for the future. Only 12% replied that they would not.
Human assets are expensive to replace if they move on, whether to new roles or into retirement. There are a wide range of costs being claimed as the true cost of replacing an employee, the true figure would seem to differ by sector and can run from a few thousand pounds to tens of thousands. Regardless of the number it is fair to say finding new people is not cheap. Less costly is making sure you don’t lose existing employees, some staff turnover is inevitable, but it is more productive for business to keep its people.
A small investment of resource could potentially impact the business dramatically especially if the lives and therefore the feeling of the worker are boosted in ways that have previously been ignored.
What is the solution?
Bliss provides a suite of products designed to address the issues raised in a variety of different ways. As each of us learns and works slightly differently we have created a solution that enables people to access the same educational and learning tools across various formats from App based software to video and readable content.
The process centres around self-discovery exercises enabling the user to better understand where they are in life and the skills and abilities they have to plan for their future. Together with measuring and goal setting tools the user can plot a course and track their progress. In addition, we have added a lifetime cashflow calculator enabling the user to understand if their current financial situation will provide for the long term retirement they have been able to envisage through the tools.