Capita: Three in four employees experience work stress

20 July 2015 Consultancy.uk

Three in four UK employees are experiencing work related stress, with especially young employees affected, Capita’s latest employee survey shows. The research also shows that although there were slightly more people enjoying improved financial conditions compared to those finding themselves in worse conditions compared to 2014, pensions remain a financial concern. Many pension savers are confused by pensions schemes and nearly half believe private pension schemes should be mandatory.

Capita recently released its third annual Employee Insight Report. The report drew on 3,000 interviews from employees around the UK. The aim of the report was to identify the financial wellbeing of the nation, and looks at employees’ attitudes towards pensions, retirement, auto-enrolment, benefits, savings and health in the workplace.

Capita, UK Employee Insight Report

Improving work conditions
The report finds that, relative to last year’s survey, the financial wellbeing of employees has improved somewhat. In 2014, 38% of employees stated that they felt worse off in 2014 compared to 2013; while 27% said that they felt better off. In 2015, the results show that 28% feel better off while 26% say that they are worse off on 2014, a decrease of 12%. Particularly the younger generation is seeing improvement, with 42% of 16 to 34 year olds saying that their financial position has improved, compared to 19% of those 45 years and older.

In last year’s report, London was the only region in the UK that had more people feeling better off financially than worse. In this year’s report, London continues to show a strong positive sentiment with 33% saying they are better off compared to 2014, while South East (29%), South West (29%), East Midlands (30%), West Midlands (32%) and North West (27%) also have more people feeling better off than worse.

Prosperous life

For some employees, life remains relatively hard. Almost a quarter (22%) of those surveyed, says that day-to-day expenses remain a struggle. Particularly young employees have difficulty. 29% of those between 25 and 34 struggle, relative to 9% of over 65 year olds. For 31% of employees, financial concerns led to them losing sleep. Of the 25 to 34 year olds, 39% are concerned enough about their financial well-being to toss and turn, while ‘only’ 22% of those above 55 lose sleep from worry.

Job stress
The level of stress remains relatively high; 75% of employees state they felt stressed from work over the past twelve months. Females are more stressed (79%) than their male counterparts (71%). Again, especially younger employees are affected. Of those in the 16-24 band, 82% say they are stressed, relative to 68% the 55-64 band. Stress remains a serious concern for employees and a fifth (19%) of employees has taken time of work to deal with the stress.

Stress

Retirement
According to Capita, many pension savers might find that their financial planning may not yet be up to scratch. One issue that many employees face is that they are underestimating their life expectancy by as many as 15 years*. Of employees surveyed, only 2.3% expect to make it to 100, while the statistical likelihood rests at 13.7%. A third (33%) of employees are concerned that they won’t be able to support themselves come retirement, with the 25-44 age band toning the most concern.

The survey too finds that many people lack the epistemic grasp to make adequate pension planning, with at issue the general lack of clarity for many. Half (50%) say that confusing and complicated terminology is inhibiting them from investing in their future, while 45% say that they would be open to investing more if they had a better grasp of pensions. More than half (52%) say they don’t know how much they should be saving. In addition, private pension schemes should considered a mandatory requirement by 47% of employees surveyed, with only 15% disagreeing with such schemes.

* Hymans Robertson also recently highlighted this issue, saying that many people underestimate the consequences of being retiredwith some already accessing their pension at the age of 55.

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Why leaders must balance technical expertise with soft skills

17 April 2019 Consultancy.uk

Soft skills matter in the workplace just as much as technical expertise, writes Samantha Caine, Managing Director of Business Linked Teams.

For too long technical expertise has been seen as the marker of a strong candidate for development into a sales or leadership position. Sales and leadership candidates are tasked with demonstrating a diverse and wide-ranging set of technical skills, yet their aptitude in these technical skills or ‘hard skills’ cannot signify great leadership potential. This is why a healthy balance of soft skills and technical ability is required. 

So what exactly is the difference between technical skills and soft skills? In engineering, it’s crucial to demonstrate knowledge of physics as well as a strong grasp on mathematical equations. Yet, in any industry, it’s important for leaders to be able to interact with other people effectively with soft skills like communication, empathy and adaptability. 

Business Linked Team’s 2018 study into internal leadership development revealed that 69% of large organisations are prioritising the identification and development of future leaders from within the workforce. As more and more organisations begin to invest in sales or leadership development within their existing workforces, more focus needs to be placed on ensuring the right soft skills are in place. 

With those soft skills in place throughout the workforce, the business will benefit from a wider pool of potential leaders developing under their noses, and it should be the same where sales candidates are concerned. 

It’s not just about easier access to ideal candidates for these positions without the rigmarole of recruiting from outside of the organisation. The leadership development study also found that 89% of HR decision makers say succession planning has become a top priority. Those currently serving in leadership positions can’t lead forever and the same goes for those generating sales for the business.

Why leaders must balance technical expertise with soft skills

From people leaving for new opportunities or retirement, to people simply stepping aside to focus on other areas of the business, successful leaders and salespeople require experienced and capable successors that will be ready and able to confidently step into their shoes and pick up the mantle without the business experiencing any lapse in performance.

Soft skills make stronger candidates

When it comes to the soft skills required, a strong leader must be able to manage through clear communication and effective time management, coaching and goal setting. They must be able to demonstrate empathy and empower their teams to be successful, productive and fully engaged. And beyond simply giving direction, they must also be able to take direction from those above them and cascade the business strategy down through their teams. 

A strong sales candidate must possess the ability to communicate value to the customer, negotiate well and protect margin or the ability to increase the scope of a particular sales opportunity. 

With the relevant soft skills in place, the business will benefit from increased productivity, greater agility against changing market conditions and greater transparency. In turn, this will provide visibility on issues and inefficiencies while removing opportunity for miscommunication. All of this can transform the culture of a department, improving employee satisfaction and reducing staff turnover. 

Ultimately, developing leadership or sales candidates will require the business to strike the right balance between technical skills and soft skills, and this requires an effective and sustained learning journey.

A balanced learning journey

Facilitating and supporting the development of leadership and sales is best achieved by establishing training groups. By cultivating training groups, businesses are creating talent pools that will inspire and support each other on the learning journey. However, personal goals and learning objectives must be defined for each individual based on their own existing skillsets and the skills that each individual needs to develop. 

With the emergence of e-learning, businesses recognise the value of online-based learning activities, yet many make the mistake of opting for one-size-fits-all solutions which are solely focused on self-study. A development solution will only deliver true return on investment if it combines e-learning activities with group learning activities that provide opportunity for shared experiences and support.

A blended learning solution that combines self-study and face-to-face group learning activities will aid strong development of the talent pool through shared experiences. Through these shared experiences, those undergoing the training will organically develop a support network that supports the development of the group as much as it supports the development of each individual. 

The blended learning approach is supported by one of the seven principles of human learning that socially supported interactions aid the individual development of expertise, metacognitive skills, and formation of the learner’s sense of self. The strongest opportunities for development can be unlocked by blending workshops with online activities such as virtual sessions, peer coaching, self-study, online games and business simulations. But it’s crucial to provide a blend of one-to-one and group sessions too.

Beyond delivering a better learning outcome for the employee, the blended learning approach allows organisations to adapt their training quickly and easily to shifting business demands in an ever-changing landscape.