From work-life balance to anti-ageism: HR round-up

From new research by Ranstad on the continuing demand for more work life balance to a new anti-ageism campaign, rounds up the most significant family friendly and flexible working news this week.

women working at her latop


Anti-ageism campaign launched

The Centre for Ageing Better [CfAB] has launched a new anti-ageism campaign Age Without Limits which aims to change the way we all think about ageing, tackle prejudices and empower people to age with confidence.

To coincide with the launch, it is publishing poll results showing that those in their 50s and 60s who have experienced discrimination because of their age in the past 12 months most commonly experienced it in work (37%), followed by on social media and television, movies or news reports (32%), and as a consumer (32%).

For people aged over 70, age discrimination was most keenly felt on social media, television, movies or news reports (44%), as a consumer (43%) and in health or social care settings (29%).

Other areas of life where both age groups experienced age discrimination include social situations (highlighted by 22% of people in their 50s and 60s) and public transport (mentioned by 23% of people aged over 70).

Read more here.

Workers putting work life ahead of pay

Work-life balance, flexibility and equity are key for workers in 2024, according to a large survey by recruitment experts Ranstad, which found that, while they are ambitious to develop and learn new skills, over a third are less motivated by the promise of a more senior job title.

The international survey of 27,000 people in 34 markets found work-life balance now ranks as highly as pay on workers’ lists of priorities – more than any other considerations. When looking at their next career move, work-life balance is even more important (60%) than higher pay (59%). Over a third don’t want career progression because they are happy in their role (39%), and the long-term ambition for most respondents is a stable in-house role.

Moreover, employees still demand and seek flexibility to accommodate all of their priorities. Working from home is non-negotiable for more than half of workers. Even more (55%) would consider quitting if they were forced to spend more time in the office. However, wanting flexible working hours edges slightly ahead of the need to work from home (46% vs 44%). The need for workplace and working time flexibility was strongest among Millennials (42%).

Other themes include equity. Over a third say that they wouldn’t accept a job if they did not agree with the views of the organisation’s leadership (37%) and more than half cannot show their authentic selves fully at work (55%). The report identified ‘an overarching feeling’ that employers don’t understand their workforce, with Gen Z expressing this view most passionately (44%).

Despite more complex attitudes to career progression, there is a continued thirst for training and development in both current roles and for future career moves (72%). Around a quarter (24%) would even go as far as quitting a job that didn’t offer adequate learning and development (L&D) opportunities.

Workplace wellbeing programmes often don’t have much impact

Initiatives that promote mental well-being are formally recommended for all British workers generally fail to deal with workplace-based issues such as workload, according to a new study.

The study by Oxford University’s Wellbeing Research Centre looked at survey data involved over 46K workers to compare participants and nonparticipants in a range of common individual-level well-being interventions, including resilience training, mindfulness and well-being apps.

It says that across multiple subjective well-being indicators, participants appeared no better off as a result of the interventions. The study concludes that employer wellbeing initiatives would do better to target additional or appropriate resources to reducing workloads and job demands.

Report highlights childcare problems in London

Parents in London struggle to access childcare more than in other regions in England, particularly parents of a child who is disabled or has special educational needs or for parents who work atypical hours, according to a report.

The London Assembly Economy Committee says this is likely to get worse due to the underfunding of the Government’s childcare expansion plan. It wants the Government to review funding rates for early education entitlements in London.

An investigation by the Committee into early years childcare in London found that the capital has the highest childcare costs in the country, with childcare costing between 25 and 33 per cent more in London than in Great Britain as a whole.

The Committee heard that as well as costs, the availability of childcare places was another key issue for parents.

Read more here.

Wraparound childcare challenges for local authorities

Local authorities are facing significant challenges in making sure that parents have access to wraparound childcare that meets their needs due to significant funding pressures, the complexity of accurately mapping supply and demand and recruiting staff, according to a new study published by Coram Family and Childcare (CFC).

Insights into wraparound childcare, commissioned by the Local Government Association (LGA), explores the views of key stakeholders, including parents, sector experts and local authorities, on current provision of wraparound childcare (before and after school childcare).

The research follows the announcement in the Spring Budget in March 2023 of an investment of £289 million over two years from September 2024 to enable local authorities to support the expansion of wraparound childcare for all primary school-aged children.

Meanwhile, a survey by Pregnant Then Screwed shows widespread problems for parents trying to access the new extended childcare for two year olds.

Read more here.

Financial services sees falling numbers of women at board level

Appointments of female board directors to the UK’s largest financial services firms fell by 28% between 2022 and 2023, according to the latest EY European Financial Services Boardroom Monitor, which reports that just 33% of all appointments last year were of female directors, down from 61% in 2022.

A downward trend in female appointments was also seen across European financial boardrooms, albeit to a lesser degree, where female appointments declined seven percentage points.

While all UK financial services firms monitored have female representation at boardroom level, the current gender split across all firms stands at 57% male and 43% female – remaining unchanged from 2022.

The report shows that this year, of major European markets, the UK had the lowest proportion of female appointments to financial services boards (33%), falling behind France, where 64% of board directors appointed in 2023 were female, Germany (54%), Italy (45%) and Switzerland (43%). However, the UK has fewer financial services firms with less than 40% female representation in their boardroom.

Meanwhile, a new report by released next week suggests that working carers are being excluded from promotion because of their caring responsibilities, particularly mums.

Read more here.


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