The stress of taking time off

Why is it so stressful to take time off work – both before and after your holiday? Advice included for employers and employees alike…

We’re all encouraged to book breaks from work and with good reason. Holidays (whether spent at home or away) are necessary to help us unwind and restore our productivity and focus. However, what do you do when the act of taking a break proves stress-inducing?

  • An astonishing 91% of UK employees feel ‘more stressed’ in the days before their break, according to research by Wrike. 92% of German employees feel the same.
  • 43% of the UK group reports feeling ‘very stressed.’
  • This is compared to 42% of French workers who only attest to being ‘slightly stressed’.
  • As for returning from a break, 84% of UK professionals experience stress at this stage.
  • Only 30% of French employees and 29% of Germans report the same.

Why is it so stressful to take time off?

The article discusses the ‘disruptive’ nature of work holidays and how challenging it can be to step away from – or finish – projects to go on leave. This can also leave you worrying about those tasks you’ve got to return to.

These sentiments are supported by ‘‘No time for a holiday?‘, in which we hear that being ‘too busy’ to book time off is the leading reason for people not using their full holiday entitlement.

Advice for employees on minimising your pre- and post-holiday stress:

As we’ve said, breaks are an essential part of your work-life balance.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has now officially recognised burnout as a real condition. It’s defined as: ‘energy depletion, exhaustion, and negativity resulting from chronic workplace stress.’ So you need to take time off, but you need to know how to do it well.

Harvard Business Review has some excellent tips, some of which are summarised below…

  • Build relaxation into daily life, rather than leaving it until your holiday.
  • If you can, prioritise all tasks a few weeks before you go and ask your manager’s opinion on your list. Focus on this list.
  • Let all necessary parties know that you’ll be away (and, where possible, that you won’t be contactable during this time).
  • Handover tasks to anyone who is covering your absence and let your manager/boss know who this will be.
  • Tidy your desk to reduce clutter-associated stress.
  • Prepare your out-of-office.

As for your return, TIME recommends

  • Allocating some space to catch up on emails as soon as possible.
  • Where suitable, asking to work from home on your first day back.
  • And phasing into a ‘manageable work pace and workload’ to reduce overwhelm.
  • Mind additionally suggests: preparing a healthy dinner and breakfast ready for your return.
  • Using your lunch breaks and leaving on time throughout your first week.
  • Prioritising and setting goals for your upcoming tasks.
  • Decluttering your desk (if you missed that from the above list!).
  • Organising a catch-up with whoever took care of your tasks.
  • Focusing your mind on the most enjoyable aspects of your job.

If these tips don’t help, it could be time to look for a new opportunity.

Advice for employers and managers…

The evidence is clear. All businesses need to support their employees to minimise the risk of burnout (and benefit from healthy and productive teams).

  • Keep an eye on the holiday diary. Make sure that people feel able to book breaks and help employees prep for their time off.
  • Reading the above tips will help.
  • As will booking one or more temps to provide cover support. This is especially essential for small and/or highly busy teams where nobody else is available to receive additional tasks.

Please call the office on 01225 313130 to book a temp or email us for support. 



Parents & the success versus happiness debate

Why do some parents crave success over happiness for their children? Is there any science supporting their approach – and which careers do they want their children to pursue?

The parents prioritising success

Earlier this year (and as reported by the Independent), a survey of UK parents revealed that…

  • More than 1/5 of parents would like their child to seek success over happiness, kindness or honesty
  • 1/6 currently have a ‘career in mind’ for their kids
  • And a 1/4 confess they actively discuss this career more frequently than others
  • Over 1/2 try to steer their children towards particular subjects, with the intention of helping them to secure these jobs in future

The parental divide:

When it comes to the jobs themselves, mothers’ and fathers’ opinions commonly differ.

  • Mothers most want their children to pursue ‘engineering and manufacturing’ roles (27% vs. 21% of fathers).
  • Conversely, dads most want their children to enter the world of ‘computing or coding’ (33% vs. 13% of mums).

Why would any parent pick success over happiness?

A spokesman for Siemens (the study’s author), suggests that most parents truly ‘wish for their children to be happy’, yet some parents think ‘money can buy that happiness’.

Are these parents right? Let’s see what the science says…

Which comes first, success or happiness?

The London School of Economics and Political Science has a great piece on this topic.

  • They open by discussing the old adage that you ‘work hard, become successful, then you’ll be happy’. However, they go on to discuss multiple studies that suggest the opposite is true.
  • They conclude that ‘taken together, the hundreds of studies we reviewed…provide strong support for our hypothesis that happiness precedes and often leads to career success’.
  • Forbes also supports this notion, stating that ‘Neuroscience and studies of positive psychology prove that happiness is a key driver and precursor of success, with two decades of research backing this up’.

So, whether you’re at risk of becoming a pushy parent, think your parent steered you towards your career, or you’re just trying to work out the best job for you, it’s time to start asking what will make you and/or your children happiest!

Visit our jobs page for the latest openings. 



Choosing company culture over salary

Which is more important, your company culture or your salary? Why the former may mean more to job satisfaction…

Employers may think a competitive salary is all that’s needed to attract and retain talented team members. Yet, while salaries are clearly important, this way of thinking can be risky in times of skills shortage.

After all, the latest findings indicate that:

  • 57% of people believe their company culture has more of an effect on their job satisfaction than their salary level.
  • 75% would ‘consider’ an employer’s culture before even making a job application.
  • 63% think it’s one of the primary reasons they remain in their role.
  • And 70% of employees would start looking for a new job if their working culture ‘deteriorated’.
  • In addition, respondents favour businesses that represent a ‘clear mission and purpose’ (89%).

It’s not the first time we’ve read such stats. Back in the Spring, it was reported that employees would sacrifice their work-life balance in order to enjoy a positive environment.

Respondents even say they’d choose to work a 60-hour week rather than be a part of a business that ‘doesn’t value culture’.

What contributes to a positive company culture?

Business leaders will want to read this HR News post in full. In summary, there are many elements that contribute to a strong working culture. These include…

  • Respecting – and being fair to – the team
  • Displaying ‘trust and integrity’
  • A culture of teamwork
  • Being flexible/open to improvements
  • Using ‘pre-boarding’ strategies, such as workplace buddies and mentoring for soon-to-be employees
  • Providing continued support/guidance
  • Offering recognition and incentives
  • Flexible working opportunities
  • And strong working relationships (including those with management)

Recognition is also prioritised ahead of pay rises…

Once again, the above list calls to mind another research report.

  • More than 3/5 of employees would rather work for a company that expresses praise and thanks than to be paid 10% more without it.
  • Yet there’s a clear gap between hope and reality, as only 16% of managers think they’ve been given the tools and know-how to ‘recognise colleagues effectively’.

How do you learn more about an employer’s company culture?

Naturally, it can be hard to truly understand a business’s working culture until you’re actively a part of it. Yet there are some great clues to help you decide whether it’s the sort of place that you’d like to work…

  1. Have a really good look at the company’s website. This sounds obvious, but you’d be amazed at how many people just have a quick glance at the ‘about’ page. Take the time to really read what the business is highlighting about itself and its team.
  2. As well as reading the business’s latest news via their website and social feeds, see what others are saying about them. How do their employees talk about their work on Twitter, etc? Has anyone reviewed their experience of working for the company? The latter tends to be more common for larger regional/national employers. Of course, reviews can be subjective yet they can be helpful if you read them with a critical mind.
  3. Job advertisements can also provide some useful insights. Especially if there are mentions of team outings, company events, employee benefits, charity initiatives, etc.
  4. Search for the business in the actual news – whether local, national or industry publications.
  5. Use interviews as a chance to find out more about the working culture and environment.
  6. And, of course, don’t forget to ask your recruitment consultant for their insights. This is just one of the many benefits of working with an agency who specialises in your field.

Ready to discover a new company culture? Here are the latest jobs



The over-50s & 60s employment boom

How employees in their over-50s are changing our current and future employment landscape…

Did you know that…

  • Professionals in their 50s and 60s are largely driving the nation’s record employment?
  • 76% of ‘eligible’ job candidates are currently working.
  • More than 80% of new UK roles were filled by employees aged over 50 ‘in the past year up to April’.
  • The number of professionals aged over 65 also increased by 80,000 people within this period.
  • Furthermore, the over-50s group may become the largest working demographic by 2030. 1/3 of employees will already be a part of this group by 2025.
  • More than 8% of people in their 70s are still working, which is significantly more than a decade ago.

Are there enough opportunities for the over-50s employee?

Although the above all sounds highly positive, the demographic is still experiencing challenges.

  • 41% of people aged over 50 say there is a ‘lack of opportunity’ to progress with their current employer.
  • 34% do not know what is required of them to receive a promotion.
  • And 1/5 of this group attributes a ‘lack of training’ to their limited career growth.

These are concerning findings. Especially as both reports suggest older employees could help overcome the national skills shortage.

There are a number of industries that express increased confidence and greater opportunities for respondents.

Also in the news…

Looking for a role that better suits your skills and experience? Visit our jobs page. For further recruitment support, please call the office on 01225 313130. 



The most Googled jobs…

Which are the most Googled jobs of the past year?

There’s always something intriguing about the ‘most searched for’ lists and there’s something all the more intriguing about the most frequently searched for jobs. It’s not just because we’re recruitment specialists either! Rather, it’s that intrigue about the careers that other people want to pursue and how much these ambitions vary throughout the world.

It’s clear that there are some geographical differences. Yet there are also some common themes, as revealed by research from Brother UK.

The most Googled Jobs in the UK:

Starting with the UK findings, we see that the top Googled roles of the past year include…

  1. Teaching assistant
  2. Estate agent
  3. Project manager
  4. Prison officer
  5. Accountant
  6. Social worker
  7. Councillor
  8. Photographer
  9. And graphic designer

You can see the differences in search numbers via Recruiting Times. We’re interested to read that a number of these openings also appear on the UK’s ‘Shortage Occupation List’.

Elsewhere in Europe and beyond…

As mentioned, these findings differ by country. Spain sees the most results for translation roles, while visual merchandising proves popular in Germany.

Most people research mechanical engineering jobs in India, which also happen to top the global list.

The most Googled Jobs around the globe:

You’ll see that four of the seven roles also appear in the UK list…

  1. Mechanical engineer
  2. Accountant
  3. Teaching assistant
  4. Chemical engineer
  5. Civil engineer
  6. Graphic designer
  7. And social worker

Ready to search for a new job? Here are the latest local openings



Forced into side hustles

Why do employees opt to work in so-called side hustles? Is it by choice or is there something else forcing their decisions?

If you read our recent salary news roundup, you’ll know that more than 1/2 of professionals are finding it difficult to meet their financial needs on a monthly basis.

So, it’s of little wonder that the majority of people who undertake side jobs are motivated by the chance to earn more money.

The top motivations for side hustles are:

  1. To increase income (59.9%)
  2. For personal enjoyment (14.1%)
  3. To ‘improve a hobby’ (10.4%)
  4. For better job security (9.4%)
  5. Or to enter a new career (6.3%)

The fact that 67.7% of respondents could be willing to stop their side jobs if their employer increased their salary adds further proof of their financial incentive.

That said, the remaining 1/3 of respondents intend to eventually turn their side gig into their career role.

Should employees and/or their employers be concerned?

There are important considerations for all parties…

  • As the Onrec post suggests, employees should have a good look at their employment contracts before embarking on any side jobs. Many businesses place restrictions on work that can be completed out of office hours.
  • Naturally, employers need to promote productivity and will be concerned if their team members turn up unreasonably tired or distracted. There’s also the chance of competitive overlaps and even public relation problems.
  • Yet, as the piece also mentions, businesses need to do more to attract and retain their employees; particularly in a time of continued skills shortage. Where possible, increased salaries can help professionals to better balance their work and home needs.
  • Business leaders can consult their recruitment agencies for more guidance on achieving competitive and attractive salary packages. We’re delighted to assist local employers with their recruitment enquiries – please call the office on 01225 313130 for more information.
  • Employees who feel overwhelmed with balancing extra work alongside their careers should consider whether their day job is the right role for them. If they’re not able to negotiate a salary increase, they may find their earning potential is greater in a new role. Regularly reviewing local job opportunities can help you to gauge your salary potential.


Top most wanted trainee skills

Which trainee skills are employers on the lookout for?

Today’s stat source quotes the ACCA, which means the original research was exploring the accounting sector. But don’t disappear just yet! Even if you’re not looking to work in the finance field (which happens to be a prominent local employment sector), you’ll see just how many of these skills apply to other industries. All of them, really!

Even if you’re not a trainee, you should be developing these abilities. Especially if you’re looking to take your experience into a new line of work.

The 10 most wanted trainee skills include:

  1. ‘Strategic decision making’ abilities
  2. ‘Industry-specific knowledge’
  3. Technical confidence
  4. Communication abilities
  5. Demonstrating initiative
  6. Being open to change
  7. Able to meet deadlines
  8. Commitment and loyalty
  9. An eagerness to improve
  10. Excellent customer service

The original feature tells you a little more about how each skill relates to the accounting profession. So, it’s well worth a read if this is your target industry.

How to show employers you have these abilities…

As ever, you need to find ways to convey the link between these job skills and your work experience and achievements. Your CV and/or cover letters are just the place to highlight your core abilities.

It’s not good enough to simply say you can make strategic decisions. Give an example of when you’ve done this and its benefits – even if your example comes from a non-employment role, such as a voluntary position or university project.

As for the industry-specific knowledge, this is where you have to show you’ve done your research. Let interviewers know what you’ve learned about their sector and its challenges and how you can help overcome them. Remember, even trainees play a vital role in helping organisations reach their goals.

Work through the rest of the list and consider which skills you truly possess and how you can prove them. If there are any gaps in your skill-set see what you can do to build them.

Top tip: don’t forget to tailor your CV to any specific vacancies you’re applying for. Watch out for key phrases in job ads and apply the above technique to your application.

Ready to send your CV? Here’s what to include in your cover email to a recruitment agency. You can also register your CV and/or apply for jobs directly via our website. 



No time for a holiday?

Are you one of the many Brits that’s too overloaded at work to use your holiday entitlement this year? Or perhaps there’s another reason you won’t be booking much time off?

This is something of an annual issue. 44% of British professionals opted not to use their full holiday allowance in 2018 – and almost 1/4 (23%) had 6 or more unused days by the end of the year.

What’s more, a new national survey suggests 54% of people won’t benefit from their full entitlement this year either. So, why are so many employees reluctant to book a break from work?

Why many Brits aren’t using all their holiday allowance…

  • 1/4 of people report that they ‘feel guilty’ to use their contractual allowance, blaming their employer’s culture for this. In addition, respondents identified some more specific reasons that could be at the root of their reluctance…
  • Top of the list was being ‘too busy’ to book time off (38%), followed by:
  • Having ‘nowhere to go’ (23%)
  • Not needing as much allowance (19%)
  • Enjoying their job too much (8%)
  • A disapproving boss (7%)
  • And ‘peer pressure from colleagues’ (5%).

The article also explores some related issues. From the prevalence of unpaid overtime to being contacted by work while on leave.

But science says you need a holiday!

Research conducted on men found that those who took shorter holidays generally ‘worked more and slept less’. The post argues that this is perpetuating stress issues and the risk of burnout.

We’re assuming these findings would also apply to female employees, who last year missed out on even more paid leave than their male counterparts.

Perhaps it’s time to review your work-life balance and whether you’re happy with your current lifestyle. If you’re not, there may be better options for you.

Employers and managers should also look to create a culture that encourages everyone to use their holiday entitlement. Booking a temp to cover annual leave needs is a great place to start. Call us on 01225 313130 to discuss how this could work for your business.



The best work-life balance jobs (+ salary details!)

Exploring which jobs have the best work-life balance scores – and whether you’ll have to pick between your lifestyle or your salary…

As each Monday rolls around, you may find yourself wishing your weeks featured less work and more leisure. It’s a common wish and one that often appears to involve a level of financial sacrifice.

After all (and as Recruiting Times reports), this choice often entails a shorter working week and/or part-time hours, which often spells reduced pay.

Well, the latest research by Glassdoor has identified the 15 best roles for work-life balance, with 13 of these meeting or exceeding the national salary average.

The top 10 work-life balance jobs are…

Please note: the brackets indicate the standard national base salary for each role.

  1. Sales Development Representative (£27,000)
  2. Research fellow (£34,000)
  3. Customer Success Manager (£40,000)
  4. Marketing Assistant (£20,000)
  5. Engagement Manager (£48,000)
  6. Data Scientist (£46,000)
  7. Recruiter (£25,000)
  8. Copywriter (£29,000)
  9. Web Developer (£31,000)
  10. Audit Manager (£52,000)

The complete job list and associated ratings can be found in the original post.

Using these findings…

We agree with the positive sentiments expressed in the piece. These findings show that you don’t always have to sacrifice your salary level in order to achieve a more favourable working lifestyle.

What’s more, as Glassdoor suggests, the vast majority of the roles listed can be found in a variety of working sectors and industries.

As ever, we encourage you to do your research to gain more of an understanding of what’s realistic for you to achieve locally. Regularly visiting our jobs page will allow you to see the salaries offered in a variety of different roles.

Your career choices are also highly individual. One person’s ideal work-life balance may be quite different from another’s. Plus what suits you at one point in your career can change with time. Where possible, seek to understand what matters to you…and let your recruitment consultant know your job search priorities!



The latest salary news

Sharing four of the latest salary news findings. How many of these ongoing issues can you relate to?

1) The monthly money struggle

Source: onrec

  • The majority of people (64%) are working beyond their contractual hours. Yet more than half of employees (55.1%) are struggling to meet their financial needs at the end of each working month.
  • Respondents are working anywhere from £1,607.08 to £12,045.60 of unpaid overtime each year.
  • Still, most workers (61.8%) are entering their overdrafts before the month is out, while almost 1/3 of respondents (32.2%) are unable to clear their credit card on a monthly basis.
  • In addition, 74.9% of people think they’re currently underpaid for their job role.

2) Working in insecure, low-paid positions

Source: Personnel Today

  • It can’t help matters that 1 in 6 UK employees are undertaking ‘insecure, low-paid’ jobs.
  • This accounts for 5.1 million people; 2 million of which are working parents.
  • Younger workers are most affected. That said, 46% of those working insecure, low-paid roles are over the age of 35.
  • As a result, the Living Wage Foundation has launched a new campaign titled ‘Living Hours’. This calls for organisations to pay the ‘real Living Wage’ as well as committing to advance notice for shift workers, more accurate contracts, and minimum working hours.

3) The over-30s still require financial support

Source: HR News

  • With the above findings in mind, it’s little surprise that many employees aged over 30 are still asking for financial help from their parents.
  • This age group is the most likely to request financial support (45%).
  • 42% of parents also admit to diving into their ‘own savings and disposable income’ to provide support, even though this may affect their own financial security in the future.
  • We’re not talking small sums either. 1 in 5 parents has contributed more than £11,000, with 1 in 10 giving more than £21,000 to fund large purchases, such as cars and homes.
  • The top 10 purchases that are being funded by parents are listed here.

4) The fear of asking for a pay rise

Source: HR News

  • Despite the prevalence of financial concerns, more than 1/2 of employees are afraid to ask for a pay rise.
  • Some people don’t know how to phrase their requests (16%), others don’t want to appear greedy (15%),  or are ‘scared of asking the boss’ (12%) or simply worry they’ll be ‘turned down’ (12%).
  • Although, 37% of people feel so confident in requesting a pay rise that ‘nothing would stop them’ from doing so.

Salary tip: regularly researching local jobs in your sector will help you to gauge whether you’re receiving (and/or paying your team!) a competitive salary.