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How is PM’s return to work announcement being interpreted?

James Tarbit, Managing Director at Karian and Box

With restrictions in the UK remaining tight, a groundbreaking report reveals that a third of UK workers do not have confidence in their leaders to navigate the Covid-19 crisis.

While many businesses have been effective in keeping employees informed and providing the systems and processes required for the change in working practices, there is a support gap which needs addressing to avoid further impact on productivity.

Employees need more help from their leaders to find balance while adjusting to new pressures such as homeschooling. Three in 104 workers say they are unable to juggle their work and personal lives, and 27% feel their organisation is not supporting their health and wellbeing.

Conducted by leading employee research and analytics business Karian and Box, the report is based on 76,558 responses to employee surveys between 9 March and 6 May 2020. It is the largest of its kind to date.

Experts warn that left ignored, the gap in support could have an adverse effect on the workforce, and long-term productivity. Almost half of workers currently lack motivation and 42% feel anxious, which is testing the resilience of workforce morale.

The data shows that businesses driving greater positivity are: taking a proactive approach to supporting employee health; donating time, money and resource to the NHS and other social causes; and ensuring their CEOs and wider leadership teams are regularly seen and heard.

James Tarbit, Managing Director at Karian and Box comments: “The crisis has created an unprecedented leadership challenge. Like everyone else, business leaders are adjusting to challenges they’ve never faced before.

“While we should definitely acknowledge the work being done to communicate and conduct business remotely, employers need to ensure they keep the needs of their workforce front of mind. By listening to their employees, leaders can ensure their teams enter this next phase focused, energised and determined to help their businesses through the recovery.

“People are already rethinking business-as-usual working patterns with one in four keen to explore remote working as a new normal. This was highlighted in our research as one of the top 10 questions UK employees want answered in the wake of Covid-19.”

Other areas of concern include practicalities of work in both the short and long-term, worry around job security and the safeguarding of physical and mental wellbeing.

Entitled ‘UK PLC: How the workforce is feeling during the coronavirus crisis’, the report represents businesses across the UK, employing 5,000 to over 100,000 staff members. Participation includes employees from the banking, financial services, insurance, retail, telecomms, FMCG, manufacturing, energy and mining sectors.

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