UK CEOs lead the way on employee wellbeing

The current pandemic has shone a light on the importance of employee wellbeing, as numerous studies and research has highlighted how lockdown and working from home has taken its toll on individuals.

In fact, a recent survey of 1,000 UK employees by Glassdoor found that two in five employees are suffering from anxiety, 34% from sleeplessness and 22% from depression. It went on to discover that since the start of lockdown in the UK, 42% of employees claimed that they have experienced a lack of motivation, while 40% stated that they lacked energy.

Elsewhere, one in five revealed that they had had feelings of helplessness, nine per cent had suffered from physical illness and eight per cent had experienced suicidal thoughts.

Despite these findings, a new study has found that business leaders around the world have focused on protecting their employees in their immediate COVID-19 response, with UK CEOs leading the way when it comes to mental wellbeing support.

This is according to a PwC survey of CEOs that has taken an in-depth look into how business leaders have responded to the global pandemic.

It discovered that some 93% of UK CEOs (92% globally) prioritised protecting employee health and safety over everything else. However, it revealed that UK CEOs were significantly more focussed on their employees’ mental wellbeing compared to their global counterparts, with 90% providing wellbeing support and initiatives, compared with 61% of CEOs globally.

On top of this, almost a quarter of CEOs globally provided staff with financial support, a proportion that was also the same in the UK.

‘Ahead of the pack’

 Kevin Ellis, Chairman and Senior Partner at PwC UK, stated that UK businesses were ‘ahead of the pack’ when it came to understanding the toll the pandemic had had on employees in the UK. This is echoed further in additional findings, which discovered that almost half of CEOs based in the UK contributed resources, such as financial resources, volunteers to essential goods to response efforts compared with 42% of CEOs on a global scale.

“Alongside the devastating humanitarian impact, COVID-19 has created some of the greatest challenges faced by businesses for generations,” Ellis explained. “Against this backdrop, our survey suggests that UK businesses are ahead of the pack in recognising the toll the pandemic is having on their workforce. We have a challenging road to recovery, and few businesses can survive without a healthy and motivated workforce. While there are many difficult decisions for businesses to make in the short and medium-term, it’s critical we continue to invest in health and wellbeing to protect the workforce of the future.”

In addition, 15% of UK business leaders sourced and/or manufactured medical supplies for health care providers, compared with 13% globally.

How will the workplace evolve?

Certainly, the pandemic has placed an increased emphasis on the use of tech, which will likely alter the workplace for the foreseeable future, but these changes are also driving significant changes to business models, many of which CEOs expect to become the new normal. This is echoed in the research as 86% cited that they expect to see a shift towards more remote working, while over three-quarters of UK business leaders believe COVID-19 has sped up the shift from traditional human labour to more automation.

“While a large majority of UK and global CEOs believe COVID-19 has accelerated a long-term shift to more remote working, a blend of office and home working is most likely to be the future norm. There are many benefits of people coming together face-to-face, particularly when it comes to learning and innovation,” Ellis continued.

“Automation will continue, but the pandemic has highlighted the inherently human skills that AI cannot mimic, such as resilience, adaptability, empathy, creativity and critical thinking. By enhancing skills, we can circumvent job losses and help businesses build back from the pandemic. Our findings further reinforce the need to ensure that Government, business, local enterprise bodies, trade groups, schools and colleges work together to deal with the acute skills challenge.”


Original Source, Jade Burke – Executive Grapevine.

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