Do you dread starting work every day? You’re not alone. A new report has found that 75 per cent of UK workers have an unhealthy relationship with work.
That’s just one finding from the 2023 HP Work Relationship Index, which surveyed 15,624 workers in June and July of this year across a dozen countries: the UK, the US, France, India, Germany, Spain, Australia, Japan, Mexico, Brazil, Canada and Indonesia.
Of the survey respondents, 12,012 were knowledge workers (allowing for around 1,000 in each participating country), 3,612 were IT decision makers (approx 300 in each country), and 1,204 were business leaders (approx 100 in each country). Some respondents qualified as both IT decision makers and business leaders.
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For those who cite unhealthy relationships with work, there are impacts personally and professionally. A staggering 65 per cent of UK workers say their physical health has taken a toll due to an unhealthy relationship with work, while 57 per cent cite effects on their mental well-being.
From eating poorly, less exercise, disrupted sleep, isolation and struggles with mental health, the negative effects on wellbeing are clear. While at work, productivity, morale, connection and engagement all diminish, as does employee retention.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, some 81 per cent of unhappy knowledge workers say they have contemplated leaving, and just 20 per cent would recommend their company as a great place to work.
Interestingly, 74 per cent of unhappy respondents in the UK say they are willing to earn less for a better relationship with work.
What can technology leaders do?
These figures are a wake-up call for employers and management. Especially as 79 per cent of respondents say their employer and senior leadership have a role to play in changing relationships for the better.
In response to the data, HP analysed more than 50 aspects of the workplace and identified six core drivers that lead to healthy relationships with work.
Here’s how UK workers scored the current performance of each driver out of 100: skills (30/100), fulfilment (24/100), tools (24/100), workspace (24/100), leadership (20/100) and people-centricity (20/100).
Clearly, there’s work to be done. Here’s where leaders can make improvements, starting with the lowest scoring.
Respect and consideration are at the heart of people-centricity. To improve this scoring, business leaders can make decisions with people and teams at the centre. Work-life balance and autonomy are key topics here, and company management should lead by example, always.
Gone are the days of dominating leadership that puts a huge emphasis on tasks and productivity and very little on people. Contemporary leaders must balance business objectives with demonstrating empathy and strong emotional intelligence to support and retain employees.
What each employee values in a workplace varies hugely from person-to-person. For some, fully remote is king, while other desk-based workers are seeking effective hybrid workspaces and flexibility in location when they are off-site. The only way to truly know is to ask.
There are few things more frustrating than having flow-state work interrupted by failing technology, hitting a pay wall or reaching a usability limit on a software plan. Technology is an important vehicle for employee engagement.
For cost-conscious reasons, it may be tempting to offer higher-spec tech based on seniority, but consider IT and network costs. If all employees work on a single brand or base level of quality, support knowledge and resources can be streamlined, and junior employees won’t feel fobbed off. Many job specs offer candidates their choice of tech stack, and this can be very appealing to engineers.
Today’s employees are looking for more than a pay cheque. There is a greater importance on purpose and empowerment than ever before, so a clear communication of values is key. Support employee fulfilment by facilitating channels for staff to have greater voice and agency, and welcome being challenged when the company isn’t living up to its values.
From learning on the job to formal upskilling with the support of their employers, IT staff are eager to progress in their career by gaining knowledge and qualifications. As skills-needs evolve and AI gets better and better, businesses can support IT staff in future-proofing their relevance, which in turn can lead the organisation into new directions and opportunities.
Amanda Kavanagh is a Dublin-based journalist and content writer with over a decade of experience writing and editing across digital, print and social
If your organisation isn’t willing to improve conditions for employees, it might be time to move on; the Information Age Job Board is the perfect first port of call for those seeing a new opportunity.
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