Flexible working will become part of UK law. Here’s what to know

On Monday, Dec. 5, the U.K. government gifted an early Christmas present to millions of workers by proposing a new law that will grant the right to ask for part-time hours or home-working arrangements from the first day of a new job. 

Additionally, approximately 1.5 million low-paid workers — such as those operating in the gig economy, plus students and carers — would be free to supplement their incomes by taking on second jobs and be protected against restrictive “exclusivity clauses.”

Ministers said the plan was “to make flexible working the default.” But will U.K. employers be muttering “humbug” at the Employment Relations (Flexible Working) Bill?

Reactions to the prospective bill have been mixed. Some groups — including trade unions — have applauded it as a critical evolution to ways of working. Others have complained it doesn’t go far enough or has too much wiggle room for employers.

The full version of this article was first published on DigiDay’s future-of-work platform, WorkLife, in December 2022 – to read the complete piece, please click HERE.

Why employee turnover is more contagious than ever

In the hybrid-working era, job departures are more contagious than ever.

When a teammate goes — whether pushed or pulled — it leaves colleagues reflecting on their positions while having to pick up the extra slack. And it means they are 9.1% more likely to head for the exit, too, according to a new report published in mid-November by global employee analytics and workforce platform Visier.

As the Great Resignation shows no sign of breaking stride, this statistic could become a thornier issue for business leaders and HR professionals.

A cluster of departures is also incredibly destabilizing for any organization and could lead to a recruitment scramble. This desperate-but-necessary tactic might plug the gaps before more employees leave, but the rush to hire could be a misstep if they turn out to be a bad fit for the company.

Piers Hudson, senior director of Gartner’s HR functional strategy and management research team, agreed with this insight. “Smaller teams have micro-cultures, so when someone goes, it is worse as a trigger point,” he said.

As such, Hudson was not shocked by the 9.1% figure. “If anything, I was surprised it wasn’t higher,” he said. “Any departure would lead you to reconsider your role. It might raise things like your compensation and whether the person who has left is being paid more elsewhere.”

The full version of this article was first published on DigiDay’s future-of-work platform, WorkLife, in November 2022 – to read the complete piece, please click HERE.

HR teams admit fault for why most new hires aren’t working out

Most human resource departments across the planet are feeling deep buyer’s remorse, according to new research.

Thomas International, a talent assessment platform provider, surveyed 900 HR professionals globally and found nearly two-thirds (60%) of new hires are not working out. And the majority of respondents blamed themselves for effectively taking shortcuts that turned out to be dead ends.

Nearly half (49%) of hiring managers said recruits were unsuccessful because of a “poor fit between the candidate and the role,” and 74% admitted to compromising candidate quality due to time pressures in response to the Great Resignation and a tight labor market.

It seems that this post-job-move remorse hasn’t just been a burden on HR teams, but the new hires themselves. “We see a higher level of regretted choices because things have not worked out the way the candidate had hoped,” said Piers Hudson, senior director of Gartner’s HR functional strategy and management research team, referencing trends his organization’s proprietary data has highlighted.

However, he added that overall, there has been an “elevation in expectations,” particularly among younger generations, that employers are finding it difficult to live up to.

The full version of this article was first published on DigiDay’s future-of-work platform, WorkLife, in November 2022 – to read the complete piece, please click HERE.

Cost-of-living worries prompt workers to seek higher-paid jobs

Sorry kids, Santa’s sack might not be so full this year. According to new research, an alarming 88% of U.K. workers are unsure whether their current role can sustain them financially during this economically uncertain period.

Further, productivity platform ClickUp’s study, published in late November, calculated that 26% of Britain-based employees are planning to switch jobs because of the cost-of-living crisis — inflation hit 11.1% in October, a 41-year high — and the desperate need to earn more money.

“With the highest inflation rate among the G7 countries [consisting of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the U.K and the U.S.], there’s no doubt almost every working family in the U.K. is feeling the pinch,” said Alan Bradstock, a senior insolvency practitioner at Accura Accountants in London. “Many have no choice but to seek higher paid work.”

Citizens Advice, a U.K. charity, said the number of employed people seeking crisis support between July and September jumped 150% compared to the same three-month span two years ago. “Every day, our advisers hear stories of people skipping meals, going without essentials, and then coming to us when they simply can’t cut back anymore,” said Morgan Wild, the charity’s head of policy. “This cannot continue.”

The full version of this article was first published on DigiDay’s future-of-work platform, WorkLife, in November 2022 – to read the complete piece, please click HERE.

Remote-working Gen Zers using would-be commutes to develop side hustles

For some remote workers, how they spend the time they would’ve been commuting has been critical. For Gen Z, specifically, it’s meant developing side hustles.

The most recent calculations show the average one-way trip to the office is 27 minutes and 36 seconds for U.S. workers. In the U.K., it’s almost the same: 28 minutes. Remote workers effectively then gain an hour daily. 

In the U.S. alone, workers now spend 60 million fewer hours traveling to work daily, compared to before the pandemic, according to the New York Federal Reserve’s Liberty Street Economics blog. Its findings show that, depending on age, people do different things with that time.

Older cohorts tend to devote more time to childcare, DIY, and cooking. But younger workers, while reallocating commuting time to social events, exercise, and eating out, are also making use of the extra minutes to develop side hustles and learn new skills.

The full version of this article was first published on DigiDay’s future-of-work platform, WorkLife, in November 2022 – to read the complete piece, please click HERE.

In-office or remote work: which do Gen Zers really prefer for career progression?

The hybrid working headache is not shifting but intensifying. It is a straightforward calculation to work out that by the end of the decade, members of Generation Z — born between 1997 and 2012 — will make up around 30% of the workforce. Yet where they want to work, and thrive, is much harder to determine right now. 

A flurry of recent reports analyzing whether Gen Zers would prefer to be in the office or work remotely are wildly contradictory. For instance, a global report published in mid-October by workforce solutions company Aquent found that 77% of 18- to 24-year-olds are worried that remote work restricts their career progression. 

However, another report published in November by the Policy Institute at King’s College London and King’s Business School found that Gen Zers in London believed remote working had benefits that could help their career progression. Additionally, many people in this generation have just entered the workforce and have never worked in an office.

Considering the mixed picture, what could — and should — employers be doing today to better prepare for tomorrow, when this cohort will lead?

The full version of this article was first published on DigiDay’s future-of-work platform, WorkLife, in November 2022 – to read the complete piece, please click HERE.

How organizations can spot future workforce skills gaps

With technology-powered change being the only constant in the digital age, what skills will pay the bills in the next five years? Moreover, how could — and should — organizations identify the potential gaps in the near future and train employees or hire accordingly to plug them?

According to global data analyzed by LinkedIn, the skillsets required for jobs have changed by 25% from 2015 to 2021. “This figure is expected to double by 2027,” said Becky Schnauffer, LinkedIn’s head of global clients in EMEA and LATAM. 

These findings were mirrored by a Boston Consulting Group report published in May, which showed that 37% of the top 20 skills requested for the average U.S. job had changed from 2016. But which industries have been impacted the most, and which others are at risk?

The LinkedIn Future of Skills report calculated that since 2015, the top three sectors to have experienced the most significant change in required skillsets are hardware and networking (31%), energy and mining (27%), and construction (26%). 

The full version of this article was first published on DigiDay’s future-of-work platform, WorkLife, in November 2022 – to read the complete piece, please click HERE.

People are struggling to make new pals at work

Greek philosopher Aristotle, who died in 322 BC, considered “friendliness” one of his 12 virtues. Over two millennia later, Woodrow Wilson, the U.S. president throughout World War I, said: “Friendship is the only cement that will ever hold the world together.” However, almost a century after his death, the business world is crumbling — because having a best mate at work is increasingly ancient history.

New data from audio-only social media platform Clubhouse, based on a sample size of 1,000 U.S. workers, suggested 74% of people lost touch with a work friend during the coronavirus crisis.

The combination of the Great Resignation, enforced hybrid working policies, and organizations chopping and changing staff — in addition to any health complications suffered — means that fewer people now have besties at work.

Meanwhile, playing “you’re-on-mute” tennis on videoconferencing is not conducive to achieving game, set, match for a smashing new work friendship. The report reveals a worrying statistic: 61% of respondents said work friends are more critical post-pandemic. 

The full version of this article was first published on DigiDay’s future-of-work platform, WorkLife, in November 2022 – to read the complete piece, please click HERE.

How this company is encouraging employees to create in-office FOMO to entice their colleagues back

The carrot and the stick have, respectively, been dangled and wielded to tempt or force workers back to the office, with varying success. So far, neither approach has worked that well. There is limited appetite for incentives like free yoga and chai lattes, or a team lunch on Fridays. And the stick approach is spurring people to leave.

Global mobility and food-delivery company Bolt has embraced a third approach: generating fear of missing out (FOMO).

Speaking during a recent round table event organized by messaging platform Slack in London, Mathis Bogens, Bolt’s head of internal communications, said he encourages staff in the office to post about having a great time on the organization’s Slack channels, to stoke jealousy in remote workers.

“We use FOMO. This is the easiest way,” he said. “You just share photographs of how much fun it is to be at the office,” he said. “For example, we will go out as a team and order pints and good food, enjoy it together, and share lots of photos on Slack. So those people who decided not to come to the office don’t feel good.”

The full version of this article was first published on DigiDay’s future-of-work platform, WorkLife, in November 2022 – to read the complete piece, please click HERE.

House swap: Would you switch homes with a colleague to work in another country?

Would you open your doors to colleagues from other countries and swap homes with them for a few weeks or even months? To keep pace with working trends, some organizations are turning to Airbnb-style initiatives.

One such organization is London-headquartered financial technology company Wise — formerly TransferWise — which has 17 offices around the globe including in New York and Tokyo. In early 2021, spurred by the pandemic, Wise established a “work-from-anywhere” perkwhich allows employees to perform their jobs from anywhere in the world for up to 90 days a year.

So far more than 25% of the company’s 4,000 employees have used the perk and worked from places including Sri Lanka, Seychelles and Costa Rica. 

And, quite incredibly, the perk has taken on a life of its own thanks to the quick thinking of Wise employee Kadri-Ann Freiberg. The margin assurance specialist, based in Estonia’s capital Tallinn, sought to take advantage of the work-from-anywhere policy — but she didn’t want to pay rent on an additional property. So she took to the company’s Budapest Slack channel to ask if anyone else at Wise would be interested in swapping homes for a month, especially in Budapest, where she longed to visit. Freiberg’s post altered how her colleagues thought about the possibilities. 

The full version of this article was first published on DigiDay’s future-of-work platform, WorkLife, in November 2022 – to read the complete piece, please click HERE.

Under pressure: Why bosses are struggling more than ever

With the dark clouds of a global recession gathering and workers enveloped by a sense of dread and job insecurity, it’s easy to overlook the plight of those in the eye of the storm: the big bosses. And new data indicates that leaders around the globe are struggling like never before.

The latest Future Forum Pulse report — a survey of almost 11,000 workers across the U.S., Australia, France, Germany, Japan, and the U.K. published in October — found that executives’ sentiment and experience scores had sunk to record lows. Compared to a year ago, execs reported a 15% decline in the working environment, a 20% drop in work-life balance, and a 40% increase in work-related stress and anxiety.

The results shared by Future Forum, Slack’s research consortium on the future of work, were mirrored in workplace culture and recognition firm O.C. Tanner’s 2023 Global Culture Report, which involved 36,000 workers from 20 countries. “We found that leaders are 43% more likely to say that work is interfering with their ability to be happy in other areas of their lives,” said Robert Ordever, the organization’s European managing director. 

The saying that “a happy worker is a productive worker” is particularly relevant to those in a position of power. “When leaders don’t thrive, their employees, teams, and organizations won’t either,” added Ordever.

The full version of this article was first published on DigiDay’s future-of-work platform, WorkLife, in October 2022 – to read the complete piece, please click HERE.

Strike out: Industrial action could accelerate the shift to automated jobs

Set against the backdrop of a cost-of-living crisis, the so-called “summer of discontent” in the U.K. — which has seen strikes from railway workers, criminal barristers, Post Office employees, teachers, airport staff, healthcare staff, and others—looks likely to extend through the winter. And the feeling of dissatisfaction is not limited to the U.K., with workers downing tools across the globe.

Although the U.K. lawyers finally stepped away from the picket line in early October, accepting the government’s 15% pay raise, Royal Mail staff and railway workers are currently participating in long-running industrial action to resolve disputes about salary and working conditions. 

Ironically, the crux of the matter is job security, yet the prolonged absence from work only strengthens the argument for investing in automation that will, ultimately, reduce headcount.

The full version of this article was first published on DigiDay’s future-of-work platform, WorkLife, in October 2022 – to read the complete piece, please click HERE.

Are metaverse meetings the answer to engaging hybrid workers?

Meetings culture for hybrid workers is broken, according to recent reports and analyses. Some 43% of 31,000 workers polled from across 31 countries by Microsoft earlier this year said they don’t feel included in meetings. Some organizations are turning to the metaverse to make meetings more engaging. But can that really be the answer long term?

Despite its current low level of capability, numerous organizations have embraced the metaverse for meetings and not just for novelty value. One such business is Battenhall, which has created working spaces for employees in Meta’s Horizon Workrooms — a virtual reality meeting space it has developed — and an online game platform Roblox. “Meetings are one of the things that [the metaverse] is particularly useful for right now,” said London-based founder and CEO Drew Benvie.

For the last ten months, Benvie has used weekly team meetings in the metaverse. “Staff members reported that it increases feelings of togetherness for those working from home over traditional phone calls or video meetings,” he said. “While the metaverse is generally considered to be in its infancy … it makes Zoom calls feel prehistoric.”

Moreover, it’s what many workers want, especially younger cohorts. So finds Owl Labs’ new State of Hybrid Work report, which polled over 2,000 full-time U.K. employees. Indeed, 42% of 18- to 24-year-olds said they want an office metaverse, and a further 23% would be keen to work in VR. 

However, plenty of skeptics lurk. “I don’t think the metaverse will solve any of the issues [around engaging remote workers],” said Ariel Camus, founder and CEO of Microverse, a school that trains software engineers. “In fact, I think it will create new problems because there are new technological barriers for people to join and participate as equals in meetings.”

The full version of this article was first published on DigiDay’s future-of-work platform, WorkLife, in October 2022 – to read the complete piece, please click HERE.

Demand for fully remote jobs is on the decline

Is the desire for fully remote roles dwindling? Yes, dramatically, according to Flexa Careers’ most recent installment of the Flexible Working Index, which tracks where, when, and how people prefer to work and what companies offer. 

In August, 60% of job searches on Flexa’s global directory for flexible jobs were for fully remote roles. Yet it plummeted to 44% in September — a drop of 26 percentage points and, in pleasing symmetry, 26.4% — using a sample size of 43,569 searches by those hunting work (83% in the U.K. and 3% in the U.S.) and over 1,290 job adverts.

Interestingly, employers also mirrored the decline: only 10% of fully remote roles were advertised in September. The figure was 24% just a month earlier.

Could we be witnessing the start of seasonal fluctuations in demand for fully remote jobs?

Perhaps the drop in searches for fully remote roles hints at a deeper trend — employees and employers alike have concluded that being out-of-the-office five days a week is counter-productive. Moreover, it is increasing well-being issues and loneliness for some employees and, in turn, making it harder for employers to attract and retain talent. 

The full version of this article was first published on DigiDay’s future-of-work platform, WorkLife, in October 2022 – to read the complete piece, please click HERE.

‘It’s a future that’s upon us’: Will robots ever have the top jobs?

How would you feel about having a robot boss? And not just a line manager but the head honcho of the company.

You might think this is an idle, hypothetical question. Indeed, back in 2017, then-Alibaba CEO Jack Ma stated we are mere decades from having robots at the helm of organizations. He predicted that by 2047, a robot CEO would make the cover of Time magazine.

And yet, those provocative guesstimates from five years ago now look generous. In late August, the world’s first artificial intelligence-powered, humanoid robot CEO, called Mika, was appointed to the top job at Dictador, a luxury rum company.

The full version of this article was first published on DigiDay’s future-of-work platform, WorkLife, in October 2022 – to read the complete piece, please click HERE.

How fair are employers really being about pay raises during the cost-of-living crisis?

You’d think the resignation of U.K. Prime Minister Liz Truss would have sent shockwaves of relief across the country. Perhaps it did in some ways, but the scorched earth she left behind, as a result of her cabinet’s hasty economic decisions, has U.K. public morale at an all-time low.

With inflation at a 40-year high and employees mired in a cost-of-living crisis that looks set to deepen, financial anxiety is sky-high. The worries pile up — including that some may not be able to afford their mortgage this time next year, due to the latest changes made by the Bank of England in response to the disastrous “mini budget. It’s clear we’re in for a shaky recovery.

A new Indeed and YouGov survey of 2,500 U.K. workers reaffirmed this. It showed 52% don’t think they are currently being paid enough to weather the current cost-of-living crisis. And that has a direct correlation to employees feeling undervalued, found the same report. Notably, healthcare and medical staff were most likely to feel underpaid (64%). Next on the list of unhappy workers were those who work in hospitality and leisure (61%) and legal (58%) industries.

To boost bank balances, 13% of those surveyed asked their employers for a pay raise. However, despite the real-earning squeeze, 61% of those who requested an increase either received less than they wanted or nothing at all. Little wonder that overall, 9% had applied for a new role, while others have resorted to taking on additional jobs.

The full version of this article was first published on DigiDay’s future-of-work platform, WorkLife, in October 2022 – to read the complete piece, please click HERE.

Broken meetings culture is causing people to switch off, literally

It was only a matter of time. The endless meetings cycles that have become embedded in the working cultures of so many organizations across industries have escalated to the point where people are simply tuning out during them.

And with so many meetings still taking place on video, rather than in-person, a large number of people don’t think they need to be in them at all – which is leading to mass disengagement, according to some workplace sources.

A whopping 43% of 31,000 workers, polled from across 31 countries by Microsoft, said they don’t feel included in meetings. 

“Meeting culture is broken, and it’s having a significant impact on employee productivity and business efficiency,” said Sam Liang, CEO and co-founder of Otter.ai, a California-based software company that uses artificial intelligence to convert speech to text.

A recent Otter.ai study revealed that, on average, workers spend one-third of their time in meetings, 31% of which are considered unnecessary. But employers continue to plow ahead without changing these embedded structures.

The full version of this article was first published on DigiDay’s future-of-work platform, WorkLife, in October 2022 – to read the complete piece, please click HERE.

Time to break the stereotypes about Gen Z attitudes to work

Organizations are over-relying on stereotypes to try and understand what makes them tick in the scramble to attract and retain the best young talent.

Sure, Generation Zers have unique perspectives on careers and how to succeed in the workforce that differs from previous generations, but in the race to better understand an entire generation, important details are falling through the cracks.

For instance, Gen Z bore the brunt of the criticism for harboring so-called lazy work ethics like “quiet quitting.” But that falls short of the full truth, talent execs have asserted.

Meanwhile, new research has emerged that disproves another myth: that Gen Zers don’t want to work in an office, ever. It turns out a large proportion does want to experience in-person workplace environments. Indeed, 72% of 4,000 U.K. Gen Zers said they want to be in the office between three and five days a week, according to research published in September by Bright Network, a graduate careers and employment firm.

The full version of this article was first published on DigiDay’s future-of-work platform, WorkLife, in October 2022 – to read the complete piece, please click HERE.

Is long-term employee retention a losing battle?

Is the concept of a job for life dead?

The mass reassessment of careers people have undergone over the past few years – described by many as the Great Resignation, by others as the Great Reshufffle – is showing no signs of calming down. In fact, in the U.K., the trend seems to be accelerating.

More than 6.5 million people (20% of the U.K. workforce) are expected to quit their job in the next 12 months, according to estimates from the Charted Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD), which published the data in June after surveying more than 6,000 workers. That’s up from 2021, when 16% of the U.K. workforce said they plan to quit within a year, according to the CIPD. Meanwhile, in March Microsoft’s global Work Trend Index found that 52% of Gen Zers and Millennials — the two generations that represent the vast majority of the workforce — were likely to consider changing jobs within the following year.

Tania Garrett, chief people officer at Unit4, a global cloud software provider for services companies, argued that it is time for organizations to get real — they are no longer recruiting people for the long term. Instead, they should embrace this reality, and stop creating rewards that encourage more extended service from employees. 

This article was first published on DigiDay’s future-of-work platform, WorkLife, in October 2022 – to read the complete piece, please click HERE.

The Great Disconnection: People no longer recognize their workplace

Modern workplaces have an employee-disconnection problem. And it’s costing businesses a fortune.

Two-thirds of 2,000 white-collar workers in the U.K. feel disengaged from their workplace, while 53% of 3,000 U.S. workers polled in the same survey, recently published by recruitment firm Robert Walters, said they also feel disengaged. The firm calculated that the cost of that workplace disengagement to the U.K.’s already shaky economy will be £340 billion ($386 billion) this year alone.

It’s a strong indicator that despite having moved past the worst peaks of the coronavirus pandemic, and the long period of enforced remote working that followed, the shift to more flexible-working policies hasn’t solved the issue either. At least, not yet.

More than two years later, it seems that the employee disconnection can is still being kicked down the road. That’s not for lack of trying.

Employers everywhere have brought in new working measures at every turn – whether it’s hybrid models, work-from-anywhere policies, flexible hours, four-day weeks, or even full five-day returns to the office. You name it, it’s being tested. But could it be that there has been so much change that that in itself is adding to the confusion and disconnection? 

This article was first published on DigiDay’s future-of-work platform, WorkLife, in October 2022 – to read the complete piece, please click HERE.