From failed wellbeing intiatives to access to toilets at work

This week’s HR news round-up covers everything from a report on wellbeing initiatives and why addressing work life balance and workplace culture matters more than apps and yoga sessions to concerns about retention amid increased pressure to be back in the office more days.

Various emotion and mind. Waste paper and head silhouette.


Work wellbeing initiatives ‘a waste of money’

Workplace wellbeing initiatives, involving meditation apps, subsidised gym memberships, yoga and free lunches, are a waste of employers’ time and money, according to new  research by the London School of Economics.

Employees would prefer employers to focus on addressing work-life balance and decent pay, the research found, and on reducing negative aspects of the workplace such as bullying, favouritism, burnout and lack of career progression.

Researchers at LSE’s The Inclusion Initiative (TII) in the Department of Psychological and Behavioural Science interviewed 100 people across banking, finance and professional services in the UK and created the Beyond Workplace Wellbeing Framework to advise employers. Not one of the interviewees was in favour of workplace wellbeing initiatives.

One third of employees reported that the demands of their job, a lack of flexibility regarding the way in which they fulfilled their responsibilities and the way they were treated significantly exacerbated mental and physical health conditions.

Over half [51%] of employees highlighted the benefits of autonomous working conditions, where they had decision making power over how, when, and where they completed their work. Autonomy allowed employees to create a workday that enabled them to be both productive and enhance their own wellbeing. Autonomy was also linked to greater work-life balance for a third of employees.

The researchers said employers should instead minimise ‘ill-being’ caused by the workplace and focus on creating ‘psychologically safe’ work environments and promoting autonomous working conditions which allow employees to create a workday that enables them to be both productive and enhance their own wellbeing.

Survey highlights bias faced by young women at work

Bias still seems entrenched in some sectors of the HR world, according to a new survey which finds 15% of HR managers felt that men are better suited to senior management jobs than women and 19% said that they would be reluctant to hire a woman who they thought might go on to start a family, compared to 13% who said the same for a man.

The annual survey of nearly 1,000 HR decision makers by the Young Women’s Trust also found that over a third were aware of instances of young women being discriminated against in the past year. The same number agreed that sexist behaviour still exists within their organisation and 28% agreed that it is harder for women to progress in their organisation than men.

The survey also polled 4,000 young women and 1,000 young men and found increasing numbers of young women are being discriminated against at work, with half saying that they had faced some sort of discrimination, compared to just over two fifths last year. Almost a quarter of young women said that they are being paid less than their male peers even for the same work, despite this being illegal. They also said that, when instances of discrimination do occur, they feel less able to challenge or report it (25%) compared to young men (17%).

The survey also showed the progression and job security is a big cause of concern:
– Almost half of young women are worried about not having enough opportunities to progress (49%) – a small increase on last year (47%).
– Over a third (36%) of young women are worried about job security, up from 33% last year. Young women are more likely than young men to have been offered a zero hours contract – 42% compared to 33%, according to the survey.

Low pay is a huge worry for young women with over half (56%) of young women saying their financial situation was uncomfortable compared to 40% of young men. Over half (55%) of young women are worried about how much their job pays, while almost a quarter (23%) have been paid less than the minimum wage they were entitled to, compared to 20% of young men.

Read more here.

Employees looking to leave for better flex

Two in five UK employees are considering changing jobs in the new year, with the demand for hybrid roles driving people’s decision to move, according to a new study.

Workspace company Beyond commissioned an independent survey of 1,262 UK adults in part-time or full-time employment. It found that two in five (39%) employees are weighing up moving jobs in the coming year, with 47% saying that wanting a better hybrid working policy is a factor in doing so.

For those who have changed jobs since the start of 2022, 43% say that finding an employer with a better remote or hybrid working policy influenced their decision.  The survey shows 80% of employees believe that the rise of flexible working is the single best thing to come from the pandemic.

Meanwhile, the PCS union says thousands of civil servants are considering quitting after being told they should go to the office three days a week. Early results of a poll, already answered by 13,000 civil servants, found 39.43% said they are considering leaving the civil service as a result of the Government’s plans. Of those with caring responsibilities 58.71% of respondents said it would place them under more stress and mean they would be less able to look after those they care for. 39.75% said they felt that being forced to attend the office more frequently would disadvantage them because of their sex, disability or age. 82.43% also said that hybrid working had made them more productive.

PCS General Secretary Mark Serwotka said: “Ministers should be very worried by the results of this survey. To have more than 13,000 responses already — the vast majority of them opposing the move — shows just how deeply and widely this issue is felt by our members.

“Some 80% of respondents said hybrid working had made them more productive, and already we’re hearing stories of how this would adversely impact upon our members with caring responsibilities. We believe staff should be allowed the maximum possible choice and maximum degree of flexibility over how and where they do their jobs, and our response to the Cabinet Office when our survey has finished will reflect this.”

Women lacking in roles that lead to the top

Only a fifth of commercial roles on FTSE350 executive committees are occupied by women, according to a new report by gender consultancy The Pipeline.

Its annual report, Women Count, finds that rather than securing pivotal executive roles like CEOs or those with Profit and Loss responsibilities, women predominantly find themselves in ‘functional’ roles such as HR or Marketing. This limits their progression to crucial leadership positions, says the report.

Moreover, while female representation on FTSE350 boards has exceeded 30%, only 13% of FTSE100 companies have a female CEO, just 9% of FTSE350 companies boast a female CEO, up from 4% in 2019 and, despite comprising nearly half of qualified accountants, only 18% of FTSE350 companies have a female Chief Financial Officer. There are also significant variation across sectors, with transport, health and insurance having over 40% female representation on executive committees, while IT, automobile, mining and private equity have a female representation of below 20%.

For the first time, the report includes insights from over 200 executive women. 47% identify workplace environment and culture-related issues as the primary obstacle to their leadership development. 44% believe their organisations aren’t prioritising enough support for women to achieve career progression and 48% highlight flexibility and career advancement support as pivotal to empowering women.

Read more here.

Unite highlights lack of access to toilets at work

Over one in 10 women workers only occasionally have access to toilets at work, according to a survey by the union Unite.

Its survey of more than 12,000 women found 14 per cent only sometimes or occasionally have access to toilets at work. One per cent said they never have access to a toilet in the workplace.

Asked about whether toilets are clean with hot and cold running water, soap and toilet paper, 17 per cent said occasionally or sometimes and two per cent said never.

Nearly half of female bus workers (44 per cent) reported only sometimes or occasionally having access to a toilet. Four per cent said they never have access to a toilet. Just under half of female bus drivers (40 per cent) also reported that the toilets they have access to are sometimes or occasionally clean with hot and cold water, soap and toilet paper. Five per cent said they never have access to such toilets.

27 per cent of civil air transport workers reported that they only sometimes or occasionally have access to clean and properly stocked toilets. Four per cent said they never do.

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: “It is shameful that so many female workers still do not have decent toilets within the workplace. This is a very serious industrial issue.”

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