More than half of UK workers are anxious about returning to the workplace, and businesses must cater to differing needs, according to a research.
A survey by programmatic research technology company Lucid and data consultancy Vitreous World aimed to highlight employee sentiment and the impact of flexible work as a direct result of the pandemic.
According to the study:
- 57 per cent of respondents felt anxious about returning to the workplace;
- 26 per cent said they felt pressured by their employer to return to the workplace;
- 69 per cent felt their employers could have done more to ease the transition back to the workplace; and
- 65 per cent said they felt that workplaces were not welcoming, inclusive or positive spaces for all employees.
A third of respondents experienced some form of disability and 39 per cent of them stated that this would have an impact on their ability to commute. Also, 31 per cent of respondents said they had some form of emotional or mental health condition, and half of this number believed that working on site would have an impact on their mental health.
In addition, the majority of those surveyed with a physical disability or a mental health condition thought their workplace was not doing enough to support them.
Respondents with physical and mental health conditions also suggested their employers were not catering for the differing needs of the workforce.
Ben Hogg, MD EMEA and Asia at Lucid, said the research was a reminder to businesses that despite feeling as if we are returning to business as usual, the current working environment is extremely delicate.
“UK businesses must do better to support the differing needs of the workforce, particularly as it relates to individuals across multiple diverse communities,” he said. “We have really only just begun to scratch the surface in planning for an inclusive and welcoming workplace post-pandemic.”
Demand for flexibility
The research also asked respondents how employers could help ease the transition back to the workplace.
- 33 per cent) said they would prefer a flexible, hybrid working approach rather than an immediate full-time return to the office;
- 32 per cent said clearer communication on mask wearing and social distancing policies would help; and
- 32 per cent said they would like their employer to provide clear policies on how they would manage situations like Covid-19 in the future, particularly with regards to policies on self-isolation and quarantining.
In terms of making the workplace more inclusive, 26 per cent of respondents said employers should prioritise allowing for flexible start and end times to the work day. Another 26 per cent said recognising and rewarding employees for performance equally should be a priority, while 19 per cent wanted company-wide meetings to improve communication with all employees.
Bex Grove, associate director at Vitreous World, said: “What may seem inclusive and welcoming to some, will not be considered so by others. Yet, if employers listen and react appropriately to all of their staff, they will be able to develop and implement policies and processes that address the needs of all employees. Thus ensuring a safe, positive, and equal environment. Simply put, today’s employers have a responsibility to care about their people and ensure everyone is on an equal footing.”