NEWS25 October 2021

Research on flexible work suggests mental health and minority groups overlooked

Inclusion News Trends UK Wellbeing

UK – Research conducted by programmatic research technology company Lucid and market research and data consultancy Vitreous World has uncovered feelings of anxiety, inequality and a lack of employee support across underrepresented communities. 

woman sitting at a desk, over her laptop, looking stressed and rubbing the top of her nose

The survey has recorded feelings of anxiety, mounting pressure, and hesitancy to transition back to the physical workplace among employees, with many feeling that the work environment is not welcoming, supportive or positive.

The research surveyed more than 1,600 adult respondents in the UK, who are currently holding a full-time job with regular income. 

According to the research, more than half ( 57%) of respondents feel anxious about returning to the workplace, while one in four people ( 26%) feel pressure from their employer to return. Some 69% of employees surveyed feel their employers could have done more to ease the transition and 65% of respondents feel that workplaces today are still not welcoming, inclusive, or positive spaces for all employees. Moreover, the majority of those with a physical disability or a mental health condition think their workplace is not doing enough to support them. 

Ben Hogg, managing director for EMEA and Asia at Lucid, said: “The findings from this research are a stark reminder to businesses of all sizes across the country that, despite feeling as if we are returning to business as usual, the current working environment is extremely delicate.

“UK businesses must do better to support the differing needs of the workforce, particularly as it relates to individuals across multiple diverse communities –we have really only just begun to scratch the surface in planning for an inclusive and welcoming workplace post-pandemic.”

Respondents with physical and mental health conditions suggest their employers are not catering for the differing needs of the workforce. A third of respondents experience some form of disability and 39% of them state that this would have an impact on their ability to commute.

In addition, 31% of respondents stated that they have some form of emotional or mental health condition and of these, half believe this would have an impact on their mental health if working on-site.

Bex Grove, associate director at Vitreous World, said: “There is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach to improving the workplace in today’s post-pandemic business world. What may seem inclusive and welcoming to some will not be considered so by others.

“Yet, if employers listen and react appropriately to all of their staff, they will be able to develop and implement policies and processes that address the needs of all employees, thus ensuring a safe, positive, and equal environment. Simply put – today’s employers have a responsibility to care about their people and ensure everyone is on an equal footing.”

The research also asked respondents how employers could help ease the transition back to the workplace, which found that 33% would prefer a flexible, hybrid working approach rather than an immediate full-time return to the office, with 32% stating clearer communication on mask wearing and social distancing policies would help.

An additional 32% would like their employer to provide clear policies on how they will manage situations like Covid-19 in the future, particularly with regards to policies on self-isolation and quarantining. 

In addition, respondents stated that employers should prioritise certain elements to make the workplace more inclusive, with 26% requesting flexible start and end times to the working day, another 26% asking for employees to be recognised and rewarded equally and 19% calling for company-wide meetings to be held in order to improve communication to all staff.

Graham Idehen, director of customer success at Lucid and co-founder of CORe (Colour of Research), said: “This research highlights the reality of employee sentiment in the wake of not just the global pandemic, but also the changing emotions we are seeing towards creating a more inclusive society as a whole.

“While there’s been more conversation on the topic, many businesses in the UK today are still simply paying lip service to initiatives that support diversity, inclusion, and the physical and mental wellbeing support of their employees – it’s time we change that across all businesses in all industry sectors.”