Your Job Can Be Good For You – Backing Business to Revolutionise Ways of Working in the UK

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The world of work continues to evolve at speed. The UK’s mental health is getting worse (1) and work is a significant factor with 36% of employees experiencing work-related poor mental health in the past year. (2) The leading causes are excessive pressure, workload and not taking annual leave. Poor mental health has been cited as the reason for 61% of employees leaving their jobs. (3) 

There has been a shift in power between employers and employees. Employees have re-evaluated what’s important to them based on whole-life horizons, with 65% of people seeking a better work-life balance. (4) With more job vacancies than candidates, job seekers are more discerning and demanding about what they want from a ‘good’ job, which is now reflected in the new expression, ‘employer on probation.’ 

With the fall-out from the COVID-19 pandemic, traditional models of working have imploded. This is causing unprecedented challenges, requiring urgent action from business leaders to not just change, but to revolutionise ways of working. 

We now have the opportunity to action a post-pandemic reset of ways of working that promote wellbeing.

A tailored, personalised approach to flexible ways of working

Business in the Community (BITC)’s new Your Job Can Be Good For You report makes the compelling business, social and economic case for taking an individualised approach to enabling all employees to co-create ways of working that benefit both individuals and businesses. 

BITC’s 2022 YouGov research identified that just over half of the UK workforce are able to co-create their version of a ‘good job’ which is a promising start.(5)

However, with co-creating ways of working comes the risk of creating a two-tier system with those having board level roles (72%) and higher salaries (57% of those earning more than £20k per year), being more likely to achieve flexibility. Research shows that those who would most benefit from individualised ways of working are least likely to be able to action them.(6)

The opportunity to take a tailored approach to personalising ways of working will differ across sectors and roles. However, job co-creation in some form can be applied to nearly every role, at every level. For example, an estates and facilities manager might not be able to regularly complete their work from home but might benefit from having the choice of flexible shift patterns. An entry-level office worker might have less autonomy over their tasks than the company CEO, but both would gain wellbeing benefits from a culture that supports them to be physically active during the working day.

Actions that underpin the co-creation of ways of working

Long gone are the days when people only look at salaries. They now look at the culture, purpose and social value of the organisation too. Everything that BITC campaigns for is reflected in our Responsible Business Map, which is aligned with the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals

The report looks at ways of working through multiple intersectional lenses from across the responsible business agenda. This includes health and wellbeing, equity and inclusion, employment and skills and the environment.

The report outlines six immediate actions, aligned to the acronym, THRIVE, that business leaders should take to begin their post-pandemic reset of their employee wellbeing agenda:

  • Tackle inequalities to achieve an inclusive and equitable wellbeing strategy
  • Harness organisational purpose and values to attract and retain the best talent
  • Recognise and balance business and employee needs by providing flexibility in how, where and when people work  
  • Innovate, integrate and pilot new approaches  
  • Value the wellbeing benefits of the natural environment as a key strand of your wellbeing strategy
  • Enable employees to switch off outside their agreed working hours

Your job must be good for you

Otherwise, employees will leave and find another job. It is critical that businesses take a clear leadership role and back their narrative with measurable, tangible, well-evidenced action to put thriving people, thriving businesses, thriving communities and a healthier planet at the core of all we do.

References:

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  1. 2010 to 2015 government policy: long term health conditions: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/2010-to-2015-government-policy-long-term-health-conditions/2010-to-2015-government-policy-long-term-health-conditions 
  2. BITC’s YouGov Survey 2022
  3. Deloitte. 2022. Mental health and employers: the case for investment – pandemic and beyond. https://www2.deloitte.com/content/dam/Deloitte/uk/Documents/consultancy/deloitte-uk-mental-health-report-2022.pdf
  4. BITC’s YouGov Survey 2022
  5. BITC’s YouGov Survey 2022
  6. BITC’s YouGov Survey 2022

About the author

Louise Aston is Wellbeing Director, Business in the Community, the Prince’s Responsible Business Network

She is a multi-award-winning workplace health and wellbeing campaigner recognised by the Institute of Directors, the Society of Occupational Medicine and the Reward and Employee Benefits Association. 

Her background is creative and she started her career as a fashion buyer at Marks & Spencer before transitioning into campaigning by taking health into fashion. She was creative director at the government’s communications agency and led campaigns including World Mental Health Day, Five A Day and FRANK (drug education).

At Business in the Community, Louise has campaigned to establish employee mental health as a strategic boardroom issue, on a parity with physical health. 

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