Wednesday, March 22, 2023

Life Satisfaction of Employees in Decline, Research Finds

Life Satisfaction of Employees in Decline, Research Finds

Life satisfaction has dropped sharply over the past year and most people are neglecting their physical health because of work demands.

About 58% of employees told researchers for insurance and finance giant Aviva that they had prioritized work over their physical health – up from 53% from the same survey in February last year. Researchers found 86% of respondents have been checking emails outside of working hours.

However, more employees (61%) agreed their employer was genuinely concerned about their wellbeing, compared with 57% before Covid struck. Employees were also now more likely to feel their employer understands what motivates them – 44% against 36% in August.

Meanwhile, the proportion of employees who were completely satisfied with life had dropped by 10 percentage points, falling from 67% in February 2020.

The central thrust of the report – called Thriving in the Age of Ambiguity – was that while the blurring of work-life boundaries has brought welcome flexibility for many, the “increasingly ambiguous relationship between employers and employees” was a powerful source of unease and uncertainty. This had seen growing strain develop on people’s balance between work and home life, employment, and retirement.

The number of employees who reported feeling anxious from day to day had increased from 22% in August 2020 to 27% in March 2021.

This was particularly the case among female workers (35% in March 2021 as opposed to a national figure of 20%). Aviva’s findings echo research from a variety of sources that have found lockdown has affected the young and women most significantly because they made up the majority of retail and hospitality staff.

Aviva has been tracking employees’ changing experiences of the modern workplace since before the pandemic first struck and has carried out research in February 2020, August 2020, and March this year, “as the pandemic has accelerated pre-existing changes in workplace culture.”

The research found that fewer employees agree they are going to have to work longer and longer until retirement – 70% in March 2021, as opposed to 78% in August. However, far fewer knew how much they needed to save for later life. In March this year, almost half (48%) said they don’t know how much to save, against 39% before the pandemic. This knowledge gap is more pertinent in females, who were significantly more likely to state that they don’t know how much they need to save (57% in March 2021 versus 41% of males).

Aviva said this represented “an important opportunity for employers to demonstrate they can provide much-needed guidance and flexibility to support an employee’s journey into later life, providing a supportive environment and offering guidance on preparation.”

Head of the wellbeing at Aviva, Debbie Bullock, said a sense of unease was now pervasive: “We are living through an ‘Age of Ambiguity’ that is impacting society and workplaces across the UK. Elements of our lives that were previously certain are overlapping and changing beyond recognition. The concept of ‘work’ itself is becoming increasingly fluid as the world evolves faster than ever before.”

“Our research reveals unpredictable futures are placing a significant strain on the balance between work and home life, with more employees reporting feelings of anxiety and dissatisfaction, as well as concern for their future due to a lack of clarity about their retirement prospects.”