The parent trap!

How much time does the average working parent get to spend with their children? Plus does having a baby truly affect your career?

This post explores two separate news items from the HR News website. The first investigates how the ‘always on’ business culture impacts parents’ free time…

1) How much time do parents get to spend with their children?

  • British professionals are currently getting less than 30 minutes a day of quality time to spend with their kids, according to Trades Union Congress.
  • It appears that the nation’s working hours, commuting patterns and low energy levels are all contributing to this trend.
  • Parents and non-parents are also struggling to ‘disconnect from work’ at the end of each day, due to the ‘always on’ nature of the modern workplace.
  • Myers-Briggs deems quality time spent with family and friends to be a core contributor to employee wellbeing, highlighting how important this issue is to employers as well as team members.

2) Most Mums believe that having a baby has ‘hindered their career’

  • Sadly, 89% of Mums say that they’ve faced ‘career regression’ on return from maternity leave. They also believe that they are ‘overlooked for career progression’ opportunities.
  • 51% plan to leave their roles if they are unsupported by their bosses.
  • This problem is increasing levels of depression and anxiety among working mothers. 91% of the group used phrases such as ‘anxious, isolated, worried, overwhelmed, lost, stressed and guilt’, etc.
  • Mothers have shared many of the concerning conversations they’ve had with their employers, ranging from those being told ‘the team shouldn’t be punished for their lifestyle choice’ to the business leaders who ‘think maternity leave is a break’.

Are you worried about being (or becoming) a working parent?

  • It appears that many employed parents are facing somewhat of a trap – feeling they’re neither at the career stage they should be or getting to spend enough time with their children when out of work.
  • Employers should look to use effective and supportive strategies to attract and retain this key workforce during such competitive business times. After all, the nation’s skills shortage remains in full swing.
  • Flexible working is one such attractive employee offering, as discussed in the first of the featured posts. However, even taking the time to understand working parents’ ongoing concerns would be a great starting point.
  • Working parents should not need to fear their career opportunities. Where possible, discuss your concerns and/or needs with a trusted party. This could be a manager, business owner or HR professional. If you really feel unsupported, there may be better employers out there for you.
  • Always discuss your career priorities with your Recruitment Consultant. The best agencies don’t just want to submit your CV to a position that suits your experience, yet one that also provides a culture match.

You can apply for the latest vacancies via the jobs pageCV upload, or by email. Here’s what to include in your cover email if you’re emailing a Recruitment Consultant.



Improving your workplace wellness

Wish you felt happier at work but have no idea what contributes to your workplace wellness? New findings from The Myers-Briggs Company could help.

We recently discussed the fact workplace wellbeing appears to increase with age. The article cited a Myers-Briggs study that we’ll be returning to today. According to their findings…

Your workplace wellness is most affected by:

  1. Your relationships with colleagues (7.85/10)
  2. A sense of ‘meaning’ (7.69/10)
  3. Your workplace accomplishments (7.66/10)
  4. A feeling of engagement (7.43/10)
  5. Experiencing positive emotions (7.19/10)

There is also a strong relationship between high wellbeing and reporting the following:

  • High job satisfaction
  • A strong interest in your day-to-day job activities
  • Greater commitment to the company
  • ‘Citizenship behaviours’, including a willingness to assist your colleagues and/or reach business objectives
  • A lower likelihood to look for an alternative job.

You’ll find more information regarding the correlations with gender, occupation, and location here.

How to use these findings to your benefit:

If you’ve already been looking for alternative jobs for the past few weeks (or months!), you’ll know that there is something that’s encouraging you to look elsewhere.

Yet have you had the chance to identify what this is? It could simply be the case that you’re ready for a new challenge. Or it could be that one or more of the above factors are missing.

  • Take a look at both of the above lists. Which elements ring true to you? Then, taking a closer look at the first list, which elements matter most to you?
  • Perhaps it’s more important that you enjoy working with your colleagues and you’re interested in your work than to feel as if you’re achieving certain accomplishments. There are no wrong answers!

How to use your findings to support your job search:

  1. Watch out for key words on job advertisements and company websites. For example, if you’re looking for a sense of meaning, you could research your prospective responsibilities, company mission statements, and how the industry benefits communities or society as a whole.
  2. Share your priorities with your Recruitment Consultant and ask more about these elements in your interviews. For instance, if you’re guided by a sense of accomplishment, you could enquire about the sorts of projects you would work on, whether there is the chance to work to targets, etc.
  3. Add more depth to your applications and interviews. Use your personal motivations to engage prospective employers and stand out. For example, when asked why you applied for an opening, you could discuss your core motivations (e.g. being a part of a community-driven organisation) and what it was about the job spec and website that attracted you to the role (e.g. the fact you’d be supporting others, the community projects discussed, and/or a specific shared mission).

Why not get started on that research now by taking a look at the latest jobs!



Wellbeing is higher among older employees

There’s some good news ahead, as older employees experience greater workplace wellbeing…

One large-scale study – conducted on more than 10,000 people across 131 countries and over the course of three years! – shows that workplace wellbeing increases ‘progressively’ with age.

It’s the employees in the oldest category (workers aged over 65 years) who represent the greatest levels.

What’s contributing towards this?

Factors such as office culture and the participants’ gender appear to hold minimal influence on these findings.

Conversely, strong workplace relationships highly correlate with wellbeing outcomes. Individual personalities also make a difference.

Employers can benefit from these findings by introducing cross-generational mentorship programmes, according to the study’s authors at Myers-Briggs. It’s additionally argued such an approach could increase engagement and retention levels.

There’s still room for improvement:

Let’s not forget the rest of our workforce. As much as it’s great to hear that we could all grow increasingly happy and well at work over time, who wouldn’t like to feel better now?

Alongside considering introducing and/or participating in mentorship programmes, and building our relationships with our colleagues, we need to look at how else we can improve our wellbeing levels.

These 4 simple workplace wellbeing techniques taken from news reports offer a good starting point.

Returning to the Baby Boomers…

Alternative research finds that 49% of Baby Boomers (those with 1946 to 1965 birth dates) report ‘average to very poor’ work-life balance.

In this case, Gen Z workers (born post-1995) reflect the best levels with 63% selecting ‘good to very good’.

Respondents think flexible working options are the primary route towards increased work-life balance.

So, perhaps even the older employees’ wellbeing levels can receive a further boost through the promotion of such opportunities.

If your lack of job enjoyment is starting to impinge on your sense of workplace wellness, it’s an excellent time to review your options



A work stress & health special

Reviewing the latest news on work stress and mental health – including some tips to improve yours.

Understanding the research findings can help you make changes to benefit your working life, alongside the lives of those you manage… 

Work stress: who’s feeling it most?

  • Professionals aged 35-44 represent the most stressed employee group, with more than a 1/4 experiencing daily stress. ‘Work, family and children’ are the primary triggers for this age group.
  • HR appears to be the most stressed profession, with 78% of people reporting daily stress.
  • The article also cites the core stressors for the 16 to 24-year-olds and over-55s, alongside other stressed out professions, the effects of this stress, and relaxation strategies.

British adults aren’t sleeping enough

  • One clear stress-relieving strategy is that of obtaining enough sleep on a regular basis. Something that the average British worker fails to do.
  • It doesn’t help that 28% of respondents are kept awake due to the stress caused by their working day.

Poor managers cause a surge in stress-related absence

  • Research suggests that managers require additional training in order to ‘better support staff wellbeing’.
  • 37% of employers have observed higher levels of stress-related absence within the past 12 months – this has been attributed to ‘heavy workloads and poor management’.

Why even gym-goers live sedentary working lifestyles

  • Our sedentary working lives increase the risk of major health issues, including ‘Type 2 Diabetes, heart disease, and cancer.’
  • Being ‘extremely active’ for a short spell in your day, such as a 60-minute gym workout, does not override this risk.
  • Professionals are encouraged to get up every 30 minutes in order to do a ‘short burst of exercise’ such as a 2-minute walk.

Hot desking increases work stress

Managers are missing mental health problems

  • Research from Mind (the leading mental health charity) shows a need for managers to learn ‘how to spot and support colleagues who might be struggling with issues like stress, anxiety or depression‘.
  • More than 7 in 10 employees have encountered a mental health problem at some stage of their life. What’s more, over 1/2 of staff members are experiencing mental health issues right now.

Young professionals believe their commute harms their health

  • More than 2/5 of workers think their commute worsens their stress. However, this figure increases to almost 3/4 (73%) of 25 to 34-year-olds.
  • Despite this, younger employees are additionally most willing to undertake a longer commute in order to obtain a ‘nicer property’.

Let’s look at some positives…

Again, rather than becoming overwhelmed by the volume of work stress headlines, we can all use these findings to our advantage.

We can each look at those factors we have some control over. Whether it’s finding ways to get more sleep, move more during the working day, or reassess our commute. Employers and managers can also look at additional training to improve their understanding of their colleagues’ needs – and how to support them.

In addition, we’ve found a couple of promising headlines…

An extra tip to reduce your work stress

  • Harvard researchers have found one way to turn that commute around and reduce your daily stress levels.
  • Instead of using this time to engage in relaxing pursuits, they suggest commuters should “go through your plan for the day (visualise it), set your goals and priorities, and review the three most important tasks to accomplish.” Participants that achieve this report greater job satisfaction.

Is this the future of workplace health?

  • Perhaps you feel you’re more prone to stress than your colleagues. Well, personalised healthcare could help you identify your genetic challenges.
  • Discovering whether you’re more prone to stress and/or high blood pressure, or whether you’re likely to be triggered by your caffeine intake, could be a major boost to your stress reduction tactics. Could this really contribute towards the future of ‘healthy businesses?’

Of course, we can all reach that point where our work stress largely comes from the need to find a new challenge or fresh environment! You’ll find all the latest jobs listed here.



Workplace wellbeing: 4 ways to improve yours

How to improve your workplace wellbeing – whether you’re an employer, manager or employee…

There are multiple motivations for companies to increase their workplace wellbeing efforts. For many company owners, the productivity benefits will be of paramount importance. Yet it also provides yet another competitive advantage at a time when great job-seeking candidates prove more challenging to find!

Of course, if you’re reading this from an individual perspective you’ll need little convincing as to why it would be helpful for you to feel less stressed, more supported, and all-around healthier throughout your working weeks. With this in mind, let’s look at…

4 ways to increase your workplace wellbeing, according to recent news reports:

1. Use your lunch breaks!

Source: HR News

This topic crops up time and time again, which is why it’s less of a surprise to hear that British workers are giving up 19 million hours worth of lunch breaks per day!

10% of professionals are grabbing lunch at their desk on a daily basis and 22% will give themselves less than 10 minutes for lunch.

However, legally, all employees working more than six hours a day should receive 20-minutes of uninterrupted lunch-break. Lunch breaks also provide all sorts of health boosts – from lifting your mood to reducing stress and increasing your concentration.

  • Managers/employers: here’s yet another message to make sure all bosses are honouring this right! If you know your employees are regularly skipping their breaks, you need to act fast.
  • Employees: take your breaks! If there’s a major reason you don’t feel that you can, you should discuss this with your manager or HR contact.

2. Move more often.

Source: HR Review

81% of British office professionals spend somewhere between four and nine hours a day sitting at their desks. This tots up to 67 days per person annually!

Alongside this, few people feel comfortable in the chairs provided and many report daily aches as a result. Although, legally businesses must conduct regular ‘workstation risk assessments’.

Research conducted with ergonomic equipment and sit-stand desks across a four-week period led to increased workplace wellbeing, higher comfort and greater energy levels.

  • Managers/employers: let this be a nudge to conduct those risk assessments and find out how your team is feeling. Explore better desk and chair options. Encourage everyone to take short breaks to get up and move around.
  • Employees: we should all aim to stand up and move at least every half an hour. Even if that’s just to pop up and down a flight of stairs, take something over to a colleague, head to the loo or put the kettle on.

3. Introduce or become a Mental Health First Aider

Source: The Telegraph

About 1 in 6 of us will experience a mental health problem at work at some stage. Full-time working females are twice as likely to encounter something of this nature. That’s a lot of the working population and may contribute up to 12.7% of national sickness absence.

Younger workers can also experience additional challenges, including exam anxiety and social media pressures alongside workplace isolation.

  • Managers/employers: why not introduce a mental health first aid person or team, dependent on the size of your business? Visit Mental Health First Aid England or St. John’s Ambulance for training details and advice.
  • Employees: you could volunteer to be a mental health first aider at work. Share some of the research behind this, alongside some of the training course details and see whether this is of interest to your employer. Here’s a recent advice piece we shared on LinkedIn for workers experiencing anxiety or depression.

4. Watch your environment

Source: HR News

64% of HR professionals believe a poor workplace environment can have a ‘substantial’ impact on employee sickness rates.

Naturally, absenteeism is of national concern as it now amounts to a cost of £18 billion a year. Think it’s always been the case? Well, 59% of people now take more sick leave than they used to a decade ago.

A more positive workplace setting is believed to provide encouragement and a sense of purpose. Great news for workplace wellbeing levels!

  • Managers/employers: this may take a spot of anonymous surveying, but it’s important to find out how your team perceives your workplace. You should also watch out for any hints of staff bullying, chronic negativity and/or low spirits. Also monitor your own actions to make certain you’re leading in a positive manner.
  • Employees: this may feel out of your control, however, you can also start with your own actions. Watch that you’re not using every chat as an opportunity to grumble, say please and thanks to your colleagues and try to respond to new ideas in an open way. Where possible, speak to a trusted manager or HR colleague if you have any concerns regarding the atmosphere for yourself or your colleagues. Of course, sometimes a fresh environment is also the best solution!

Further reading:

Managers looking to do more to increase their workplace wellbeing rates may also be interested to read:

  1. The real reason employees are calling in sick via HR News.
  2. Job insecurities are hurting your employees on People Management.