I’m looking at Gallup’s newly published State of the Global Workplace report, which you can download here.
I’m analysing their key findings (with particular focus on the UK) and offering some thoughts of my own on what these mean for our businesses. In part one, I looked at engagement and job climate. Here, I will focus on wellbeing and trust.
Gallup asks their questionees to evaluate their lives on a sliding scale from zero (worst possible life scenario) to ten (best possible). From this, they deduced that 33% of employees are “thriving in their overall wellbeing”.
Europe saw a 5% decrease in overall wellbeing (to 47%) in the last year.
In the UK, 60% claim to be thriving, which isn’t bad on the world stage but is down slightly on previous years. And we can’t just blame Covid, given that Australia and New Zealand saw a 6% increase (to 63%) over the same period.
Gallup’s headline, quite rightly, is that “employee wellbeing is the new workplace imperative”.
We know that stress has a significant impact on our mental health and our wellbeing at work. Their new report shows that 44% of employees “experienced stress a lot of the previous day”. The figure was slightly lower, at 41%, in the UK. But that’s still a worrying two in every five employees “experiencing stress a lot”. According to Mental Health UK, 46% of UK workers feel “more prone to extreme levels of stress” than they did the previous year (March 2020), and only 23% said their employer “had a plan in place to spot the signs of chronic stress and prevent burnout”. This is despite 1 in 5 feeling “unable to manage pressure and stress levels at work”.
Post-pandemic, many people are re-evaluating their lives, their priorities, and their futures. Employers who want to retain their talent need to consider the overall wellbeing of their people more carefully and proactively. The blended working patterns that have emerged, with more people working from home more often, have offered some respite from daily commutes (a particular bonus given the spiralling price of fuel!) but have blurred the boundaries between home and work, with the demands and stresses of each crossing over into the other.
Elsewhere, data has shown that working hours are extending, work-life balance is suffering, and more people claim to have unmanageable workloads. The result is that our mental health is paying the price.
Sadly, a mistake made by too many small to medium-sized employers is that initiatives or programmes that enhance employee wellbeing are the exclusive realm of only the largest businesses. They think that employees of smaller firms do not expect such “luxuries”. Whether they expect it or not is almost irrelevant. Wellbeing activities and programmes can decrease absenteeism, boost productivity, spark creativity, and enhance collaboration and interpersonal relationships. It is, therefore, foolish to overlook these opportunities to attract the best talent, keep them, keep them happy, and get the very best from them.
Once again, communication is crucial in managing and maintaining our people’s wellbeing. A culture of open, two-way communication will result in teams with faith and trust in their leadership, confidence in the business, and an affinity to and understanding of the business’s purpose, strategy and values. Despite this, CIPD’s Good Work Index, which has been measuring the UK’s experiences at work since 2018, reported that a third of employees defined their manager as being poor at keeping them informed about management decisions. Nothing makes us feel less valued than being kept in the dark about the things that will ultimately affect our work lives. Similarly, feeling siloed or uninformed will only increase stress levels. And that’s never good for attendance or productivity.
An up-to-date, robust and detailed internal comms plan should address all of these pressure points and potential failings, to ensure that no employees feel left out, in the dark, uninformed or disengaged.
Trust in governance
60% of employees in Europe said that corruption is widespread in their country’s business. The global average is 74%. (There is no breakdown for this data by country.)
Can we just stop for a second to take that in? Worldwide, almost three-quarters of employees think corruption is widespread within the businesses in their country. I can’t be the only one who is horrified by that.
The Edelman’s Trust Barometer report, published in March did break down trust in business by country. They found only six countries (out of 28) had trust scores of under 50%. They were the UK, US, Germany, Japan, South Korea and Russia.
Also worth noting is that, globally, this year saw a record “trust gap” grow between high- and low-income earners. The UK had the third largest gap of the 28 countries that participated. This is even more cause for concern for our businesses and further reason to look closely at how we communicate with our people at every level.
This report shows that trust is as fragile as it is crucial. I won’t get political, but it is easy to see why trust in political organisations is crumbling with recent events both home and away. It is essential that we do everything we can, as managers, leaders, and communicators, not to let this happen within our organisations too. We must make sure we have robust and current comms strategies in place. If we are not 100% sure that they are fit for purpose, particularly in light of all that has changed in the past two years, we should health check them and employ any remedies required.
The Edelman report lists these as the four points for restoring the cycle of trust:
People want more business leadership, not less.
Demonstrate tangible progress
Focus on long-term thinking over short-term gain
Provide credible information
I wrote about five tips for building trust with employees through communication here. These are pointers that can be easily worked into our communications with our people. The price to be paid for not doing this is just too great to consider.