Britain's workforce has little optimism for employment post-Brexit

21 March 2019

Following two heavy defeats for the Government’s Brexit deal, and a third being ruled out by Parliamentary convention, Theresa May has requested a short extension of Article 50. While this offers a brief reprieve for those anxious of Brexit’s impact on the economy, it is likely to see the nation in the same situation in three months’ time. In this uncertainty, more than a third of UK residents believe that Brexit will negatively affect their current employment.

With the Brexit process having stalled, less than two weeks before the two-year deadline set out in Article 50 is set to pass, confidence in the UK economy sits at a low-point. Recent studies of both large and small businesses have found that British capital is facing a turbulent 12 months. Small and mid-sized enterprise leaders in Britain and Ireland in particular harbour serious reservations about the performance of the nations’ economies in the coming year, while more than 9 in 10 think that economic conditions have worsened in the last 12 months.

Brexit is expected to have a major impact on employment too. While the UK’s unemployment rate currently stands at its lowest since 1971, this seems be partly aided by lax employment laws that incent companies to hire large numbers of staff rather than invest in things like plant machinery, since it's easier to reverse in the event of needing to make a swift exit from the UK. With many firms still waiting to see the outcome of Brexit, a large number of jobs could soon exit the country.

Britain’s workforce has little optimism for employment post-Brexit

Meanwhile, Britain’s BAME community is increasingly afraid that leaving the EU is going to impact society’s views on racism, and their future employability. According to a recent survey, 52% of BAME citizens fear their career progression will be impacted by Brexit, while 62% anticipate it will have a negative impact on UK society more broadly.

In this environment, it is perhaps easy to see why a new survey from professional services organisation Personal Group has found that more than a third of UK residents now believe they will see Brexit hit their current employment in a negative way. Personal Group surveyed 1551 people in February 2019, and found that 34.25% of UK residents believe that Brexit would negatively impact their current employment, an increase of around 4% when compared to survey results from 2018. Only a negligible 3% of respondents think that Brexit will positively affect their current employment.

Interestingly, those operating in the gig economy feel even more vulnerable than their directly employed counterparts. Without any permanent contract to secure rights to benefits – including a redundancy package – contractors and those who are self-employed feel much more negative about Brexit this year than in 2018. When asked ‘How do you think Brexit will affect your current employment?’ the results captured just last month showed an increase of more than 50% amongst contractors expecting a negative impact than in 2018, and a 33% increase in those who are self-employed expecting a negative impact.

At the same time, the data also revealed that it is not just traditionally marginalised members of the workforce who expect that their jobs will face the axe in any future reckoning brought on by Brexit. In 2019, the number of men who believe Brexit will affect their employment negatively increased on last year’s figures by almost 8%, in stark contrast to a less than 1% rise for women. This is hardly a vote of confidence in Brexit from women, however, and may simply be the result of many female professionals – who still face institutional discrimination in the workplace – feeling things are already bad, with or without Brexit.

Commenting on the findings, Deborah Frost, CEO at Personal Group commented, “The results of our research clearly show that the current political environment has created an added level of uncertainty amongst UK workers around their employment prospects. Employers want to retain the confidence and enthusiasm of their employees. Offering recognition and being able to communicate directly with employees, wherever they are based, is key in building motivation and engagement, and emerging from this tricky period with the employee team’s morale intact.”


Despite industry disruption televised sport still draws audiences

24 April 2019

Despite the disruption wrought on most areas of traditional broadcasting by streaming challengers, sports remains a major draw for audiences of television networks. This is particularly true of viewers who bet money on sporting events, with those that have skin in the game considerably more likely to follow the event on a television screen.

Arguably the true opiate of the masses, for centuries organised sports have been a major draw for hordes of fanatical spectators, from the grand coliseums of Ancient Rome to the more understated greens of local cricket grounds. The advent of television in the 20th century took this to a new level, allowing for widespread visual access to major sporting events, and sowing the seeds of a multi-billion industry in the process. Yet while watching sport remains a key pastime for many, changing consumer preferences and new technologies are affecting the traditional sport distribution channel of TV.

To better understand trends in the sporting broadcast market, Deloitte recently released an article titled ‘Does TV Sports have a Future?’ as part of its wider ‘Technology, Media, and Telecommunications Predictions 2019’ report into telecommunications trends. The conclusions in the piece are based on the firm’s own survey of 1,062 US-based respondents.

More men than women watch sport

Traditional television has in recent years begun to lose out to streaming and on demand services, resulting in a generation that is watching considerably less television. The shift in consumer sentiment has caused traditional TV companies consternation as well as shifts in business models. The average Millennial now watches 42% fewer minutes per week of TV in 2018 than they did in 2010. Yet not all areas of the traditional television market have been as hard hit by the shift, and sport is one of them. This contradicts previous studies which may have suggested that Millennials were abandoning ‘old’ media for their sport viewing.

One reason for this could well be sports betting, which means that many of the people watching the event are keen to see how their punt is faring, in play. According to Deloitte, 78% of male sport viewers, and 64% of their female counterparts would be more likely to tune in to a live event if they had bet on it.

The study found that sport gambling remains a key fixture in the gambling industry as a whole in the UK. In the United Kingdom in 2017, sports betting had £14 billion in turnover. In the four Nordic countries, meanwhile legal gambling of all kinds was an approximate €6 billion industry in 2015. In the US, meanwhile, the industry as a whole is worth around a quarter of a trillion dollars – with sports betting figuring at around 40% of that total. The industry is projected to see growth of 9% over the coming three years.

Betting on sports is associated with watching sports on TV for more than five hours on a typical weekday

However, while the gambling industry does indeed seem to have some impact on television engagement, it would be dangerous to overstate this as a positive, and such a conclusion might also put the cart before the horse. Deloitte’s study found that ‘super-superfans’ – those who watched more than five hours on a typical weekday – were more likely to gamble than average viewers.

Of those who watch more than five hours of sport per day, only 4% do not bet. Of those, 2% do not currently bet, or have never bet, respectively. Again, it could be asserted that these people are engaging with televised sport, and thus keeping the advertising-based industry afloat, due to the betting they participate in. However, it could equally be argued that they are exhibiting compulsive behaviour in spending such a large amount of time viewing sport in the first place – behaviour which would leave them as easy prey for gambling firms, who can now milk them for profit.

But where is all this set to lead? According author Duncan Stewart, the potential profitability of this model means it is likely to be exported from the UK in the coming years.

Steward concluded, “As a thought experiment, one can imagine a 30-year-old American man in the year 2025… watching a football game on the TV set, smartphone in hand. He can bet on the match at any point, modify his wager, buy back a losing wager, bet on the outcome of individual plays or individual stats such as the number of passing yards by the quarterback—all in real time, and all tailored to him. Ads could be served that are customised for him, informed by his betting and attention, and watching would have to be 100% live. The broadcaster or betting site could not only charge more for ads seen by such an involved viewer, but even have a share in (or own outright) the profits from the betting/video stream … at margins much higher than the usual for TV broadcasting. To an American, this sounds like science fiction, but in the United Kingdom, these solutions (or variations of them) are available today.”