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Workers want their managers to have leadership skills

New research by LMS provider Digits into skills in the workplace has revealed a list of the most important skills that workers expect a manager to possess, with leadership right at the top of what they want.

Around half (51% of men and 45% of women) of the 2,048 working-age adults polled thought leadership skills were the most essential.

Verbal communication and teamwork skills ranked joint second for over a third (35%) of people, closely followed by empathy and problem-solving skills (30% and 29% respectively).

Surprisingly, written communication skills came last on the list (8%) – proving to be less popular than a strong work ethic (21%), good time management (18%), and conflict resolution (15%).

Just one in 10 of those surveyed reported having no specific skill requirements of a manager, suggesting that most people do have pre-existing ideas around what makes a good or competent manager to them. Whether their actual managers meet their expectations, on the other hand, is a matter for another survey.

The most important skills needed by managers, ranked by popularity, are:

  • Leadership skills (48%)
  • Verbal communication skills (35%)
  • Teamwork skills (35%)
  • Empathy (30%)
  • Problem-solving skills (29%)
  • A strong work ethic (21%)
  • Good time management (18%)
  • Conflict resolution (15%)
  • Written communication skills (8%)

Of course, ‘leadership skills’ is an umbrella term that can mean different things to many people. And it can encompass a range of hard skills (job-related knowledge) and soft skills – transferable skills that help individuals work and interact with others – such as adaptability, flexibility, communication, teamwork, time management and problem-solving.

There is no one-size-fits-all, explains Bradley Burgoyne, head of talent at Digits: “We’ve got more generations in the workforce today than we’ve ever had. And, each group of workers prefers slightly different managerial styles and leadership qualities.

“Every individual has their own expectations about how they want their managers to lead them, coach them, support them, relate to them, and empower them. Those skills don’t just happen, even the best managers need to receive regular training and development from their employers.”

He adds: “The challenge for HR and L&D teams is to ensure that their training strategy is broad enough to cater to all levels of employees in the organisation because, I think, everyone benefits from leadership or management development.

“It’s important that employers actively listen to their workforce and find out where the skills gaps are – what training do employees think they need? What training do employees think their managers need and what leadership qualities do they respond best to? They can then utilise the data to create training courses or a series of engaging development activities in their learning management system, that are really relevant to the people within the organisation rather than something that could, potentially, be seen as just a tick-box exercise.”

According to Burgoyne, some of the core leadership skills of a modern manager include:

  • Vision setting – having clear business goals for the team and being able to influence and gain buy-in from team members to work towards that vision. This also includes some change management skills, as setting a vision and taking a team on a journey to reach it, inevitably involves helping people work through change.
  • Empathy and listening – builds trust and connection between individuals and their managers. Managers need to be mindful and show their team that they understand and relate to them as human beings, that they recognise that each person has different needs, different skills, and a different perspective on how they approach different situations at work.
  • Inclusive leadership – managers that want to create a high performing team need to be able to provide high levels of psychological safety within their teams, where feedback is welcome and encouraged. An environment where everyone feels included and safe enough to provide feedback, feels that the feedback that they provide is valid, and that action will happen as a result, helps to build a team with a sense of purpose in what they’re doing and a growth mindset.
  • Coaching skills – rather than always telling people what to do, good managers trust and empower their teams to use their skills and knowledge to find the answers and achieve an outcome. A quality coaching conversation will help someone to realise that they knew the answer all along or feel empowered to go and find the answer. This can support an employee’s sense of purpose and self-validation and create a far more autonomous team.
  • Self-awareness – to lead others successfully requires managers to reflect inwards and understand their management style and learn how to adapt it for different situations. There are multiple challenges facing managers today, many that they may not have experienced before, so it’s important to be really agile, adaptable, and constantly thinking about the wider world and how that might need to change your approach.
  • Collaboration skills – managers don’t need to have the answers to every question. The world of work is too complex and fast-moving for one person to be able to come up with all the solutions all the time. Encouraging collaboration – with other individuals, other teams and other departments – to find answers by working together or reaching a shared goal through a collaborative process, will help improve the performance of the entire organisation.

Generational divides

Further analysis of Digits’ survey results showed clear generational divides between what people at the start of their career considered to be important managerial attributes compared to those who have been in the workforce for a decade (or two). Almost twice as many people over-55 (who’ve probably experienced a few different managers during their working life) than those aged 16-to-24-years-old think leadership skills are a must-have for managers (56% vs 28%).

Although leadership skills are ranked the highest across all age groups, what comes next varies. A strong work ethic is popular with a quarter (25%) of 16 to 24 year-olds, verbal communication skills are preferred by 24 to 34 year-olds and the over-55s (36% and 44% respectively), while teamwork skills are highly rated by over a third (36%) of those aged 35 to 54 years old.

Digits’ soft skills report, including the latest soft skills training statistics for 2022, is available to view at https://www.digits.co.uk/soft-skills-statistics. The results include a survey of 2,048 people in the UK, conducted by Censuswide for Digits, in March 2022.

FM market set for £3bn sales boost in 2022

A new report on the UK’s facilities management market from MTW Research has found that whilst the cost of Covid-19 will exceed £11 billion in lost revenue by 2026, prospects for the market are positive with a £3 billion sales uplift in 2022.

The 100 page report reviews the legacy of Covid-19, highlighting near term labour, profitability and other operational challenges but places this into context within wider positive FM market trends and opportunities, forecasting double digit growth over the next 4 years.

Proptech represents a key positive FM market trend in 2022 according to MTW, with growth in disruptive technology boosting healthy sales opportunities. Discussing this trend, MTW’s director Mark Waddy said: “Trends in FM technology and process innovation are enabling FM providers to develop an ‘empathic response’ to service provision, boosting added value by more closely integrating with the client and anticipating their needs.”

Public sector FM grew share of the FM market in 2020/21 as commercial demand slowed in response to the pandemic.  MTW identify that this trend is now reversing in 2022 though public spending plans published in March 2022 were further revised upward by 2.8%, on top of a real terms increase of £150bn announced in 2021.  This growth, coupled with a steadily strengthening private FM outsourcing sector underlines a fundamental strength in the FM market for the medium to longer term with MTW forecasting the market will reach 98% of pre-Covid sales in 2022.

Despite high inflation, real term growth is set to return in H2 2022 with full year 2023 growth expected to outpace inflation as international and domestic inflationary pressures steadily ease.  However, MTW also identify a number of issues dampening growth prospects.  One example is the trend of insourcing, with caterers, cleaners, security and maintenance contractors having become so well integrated that they are viewed as the ‘lifeblood’ of the organisation and so are adopted as employees.  This trend is often also supported by unions and so has gained further traction as a result.

The report also highlights growing challenges in the TFM market, with a growing trend of FM contractors focusing on specialism rather than broad spectrum service delivery in order to develop more defined brands and enhance margin opportunities.  More selective tender submissions and enhanced margin protection continue to become increasingly evident across the FM market in 2022 as the quality of service rather than volume of contracts grows in significance.  Nevertheless, bundled FM services continue to dominate the market in 2022, rising by more than 13% over the entire review period.

Best performing sectors in recent years according to MTW include the contract cleaning market and security sectors whilst the property maintenance and catering markets performed generally in line with the overall FM market.  By 2026, sales from these 4 sectors alone will generate more than £55 billion of sales in cash terms.

The report also identifies some of the more recent mergers and acquisitions and forecasts M&A will grow rapidly in 2022, underpinned by private equity which continues to price trade buyers out of the market.  As private equity continues to grow share of the FM market, M&A activity is set to rise by some 35% in 2022 compared to 2019 levels.

Global FM market hit $43.4 billion in 2021

The facility management market is growing at a high CAGR because of the rising investments towards infrastructure development and increasing construction activities across different parts of the world.

That’s according to a study conducted by BlueWeave Consulting, which reveals that the global facility management market was worth $43.4 billion in 2021, and is forecast to grow at a CAGR of 12.2% to reach revenues of around $94.1 billion by 2028.

The growth is attributed to rising investment towards infrastructure development and increasing construction activities along with flourishing tourism in different parts of the world.

Furthermore, the rising adoption of advanced technologies such as cloud computing, SaaS, IoT, artificial intelligence (AI), etc., is also offering lucrative growth opportunities.

Increased Tourism

Growing tourism is emerging as the major driving factor for the growth of the facility management market across the globe, with governments, along with private players, significantly investing post-pandemic in developing commercial spaces such as hotels, public houses, restaurants, etc., along with the management of historical sites, which is fuelling the demand for facility management services.

Rising Business Collaborations and Partnerships

With the increasing potential of facility management, several players are adopting various competitive strategies to exploit the growth potential of the market. Strategies such as partnerships, mergers, collaborations, etc., are increasingly becoming common. For instance, Dexterra Group Inc. recently announced the acquisition of the privately-owned TRICOM Facility Services group of companies. This acquisition is aimed at expanding the integrated facility management business unit of the Dexterra Group.

Facility Management Market – By End-User

Based on end-user, the global facility management market is segmented into commercial and retail, manufacturing and industrial, government, infrastructure, public entities, institutional, and others. The commercial segment accounts for the largest market share owing to the rising number of commercial spaces such as offices, hospitals, hotels, airports, sports facilities, restaurants, etc., in different parts of the world. These commercial facilities are opting for in-house facility management services to comply with regulatory guidelines regarding safety and hygiene. However, the manufacturing and industrial segment are projected to witness the highest growth rate during the forecast period.

Facility Management Market – Regional Insights

Geographically, the Asia-Pacific region dominates the facility management market. However, the Middle East & Africa is also growing at a substantial rate during the forecast period. The economic diversification in Middle Eastern countries such as Saudi Arabia, Israel, Iran, Turkey, etc., and the rising establishment of commercial facilities such as offices, manufacturing plants, hotels, etc., is significantly propelling the growth of the facility management market.

Impact of COVID-19 on Facility Management Market

The facility management market was among the worst affected industries due to the COVID-19 pandemic outbreak. The rapidly escalating COVID-19 cases around the world prompted the government of various countries to impose strict lockdown and social distancing measures. This resulted in the operations of different end users industries of facility management including construction, manufacturing, retail, commercial, etc. The commercial spaces including offices, hotels, airports, etc., were forced to close to prevent the community transmission of the virus. Due to this, the demand for facility management services witnessed a significant drop during the COVID-19 period.

Competitive Landscape

According to the report, the leading market players are Archibus Inc., Trimble Navigation Ltd, Broadcom Inc., Satnav Technologies, FM System Inc., SAP SE, IBM Corporation, Planon Corporation, iOffice Corporation, Oracle Corporation, CB Richard Ellis, Veolia Environment, Colliers International, Planon Corporation, Compass Group, Cushman & Wakefield, Jones Lang LaSalle Incorporated, GDI Integrated Facility Services, Inc., EMCOR Group, Inc., and others.

Office occupiers told to expect higher fit out and servicing costs globally

Savills analysis of Q1 22 Prime Office Costs (SPOC) in global markets around the world has shown that higher fit-out costs, reflecting material and labour cost inflation, are beginning to creep through in some office markets.

While overall there has been no movement in the position of cities in the rankings since the end of 2021, says Savills, some markets are experiencing rising costs in fitting out space and increased service charges.

According to Savills this trend is most evident in Chinese cities, Kuala Lumpur, and in North American cities at the moment, but other markets across the globe are set to follow suit in the coming quarters.

Jeremy Bates, head of EMEA occupational markets at Savills, said: “From higher prices for raw materials to increasing labour costs to keep up with rising inflation, it’s likely that most office occupiers will have to pay more to rent and fit-out their space in global cities this year.

“Whilst rent is the usual indicator of increasing cost, service charge rises and higher capital expenditure will represent the largest contributions towards increased occupier costs in the coming quarters. Even in markets where landlords tend to pay for fit-outs, these costs will eventually be passed on to occupiers later in the form of higher rents. Nonetheless, for many office occupiers the expense is unlikely to deter them from selecting top quality spaces in prime central business districts to attract and retain talent, although they are carrying out extensive data gathering exercises on how employees are using space before making decisions on exactly how much to take.”

Savills says that overall headline rents have, on average, remained flat in local currencies and the increasing additional costs have yet to appear across many markets, according to the international real estate advisor, with fluctuating exchange rates due to increased uncertainty producing the appearance of declining costs for many markets in Dollar terms during the first quarter of 2022, while in local currencies they have broadly remained consistent with Q4 2021.

Read the Q1 2022 edition of Savills Prime Office Costs (SPOC)

Renewable Energy

Renewables drove global power additions in 2021

The International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) says renewable energy continued to grow and gain momentum despite global uncertainties. By the end of 2021, global renewable generation capacity amounted to 3,064 Gigawatt (GW), increasing the stock of renewable power by 9.1 per cent.

Although hydropower accounted for the largest share of the global total renewable generation capacity with 1 230 GW, IRENA’s Renewable Capacity Statistics 2022 shows that solar and wind continued to dominate new generating capacity. Together, both technologies contributed 88 per cent to the share of all new renewable capacity in 2021. Solar capacity led with 19 per cent increase, followed by wind energy, which increased its generating capacity by 13 per cent.

IRENA Director-General, Francesco La Camera said: “This continued progress is another testament of renewable energy’s resilience. Its strong performance last year represents more opportunities for countries to reap renewables’ multiple socio-economic benefits. However, despite the encouraging global trend, our new World Energy Transitions Outlook shows that the energy transition is far from being fast or widespread enough to avert the dire consequences of climate change.”

“Our current energy crisis also adds to the evidence that the world can no longer rely on fossil fuels to meet its energy demand. Money directed to fossil fuel power plants yields unrewarding results, both for the survival of a nation and the planet. Renewable power should become the norm across the globe. We must mobilise the political will to accelerate the 1.5°C pathway.”

To achieve climate goals, renewables must grow at a faster pace than energy demand. However, many countries have not reached this point yet, despite significantly increasing the use of renewables for electricity generation.

Sixty per cent of the new capacity in 2021 was added in Asia, resulting in a total of 1.46 Terawatt (TW) of renewable capacity by 2021. China was the biggest contributor, adding 121 GW to the continent’s new capacity. Europe and North America—led by the USA—took second and third places respectively, with the former adding 39 GW, and the latter 38 GW. Renewable energy capacity grew by 3.9 per cent in Africa and 3.3 per cent in Central America and the Caribbean. Despite representing steady growth, the pace in both regions is much slower than the global average, indicating the need for stronger international cooperation to optimise electricity markets and drive massive investments in those regions.

Highlights by technology:

  • Hydropower: Growth in hydro increased steadily in 2021 with the commissioning of several large projects delayed through 2021.
  • Wind energy: Wind expansion continued at a lower rate in 2021 compared to 2020 (+93 GW compared to +111 GW last year).
  • Solar energy: With an increase in new capacity in all major world regions in previous years, total global solar capacity has now outgrown wind energy capacity.
  • Bioenergy: Net capacity expansion increased in 2021 (+10.3 GW compared to +9.1 GW in 2020).
  • Geothermal energy: Geothermal capacity had an exceptional growth in 2021, with 1.6 GW added.
  • Off-grid electricity: Off-grid capacity grew by 466 MW in 2021 (+4%) to reach 11.2 GW.

Please read the full Renewable Capacity Statistics 2022 including the highlights, here.

Three quarters of UK businesses unaware of Plastic Packaging Tax

Research conducted by YouGov, on behalf of Veolia, explored the views of British-based senior decision makers across retail and manufacturing businesses on the incoming Plastic Packaging Tax.

The tax places a £200 per tonne levy on producers or importers of plastic packaging if they do not include 30% recycled content and will come into force from 1 April 2022.

The survey found that only a fifth (22%) of the manufacturing and retail businesses asked had already opted for recycled content in their packaging. To reach the UK’s Net Zero goals, far more businesses must reduce their reliance on virgin materials. The majority of British retail and manufacturing businesses also support an escalator in percentage of recycled content threshold (63%) and cost charge (50%) as an incentive to use recycled content.

The British retail and manufacturing businesses who had made changes to their plastic packaging reported:

  • Two thirds (66%) have reduced the amount of unnecessary or avoidable plastic packaging
  • Over half (58%) now use recycled content
  • 54% have changed the packaging design to make it more recyclable
  • 39% have chosen alternative materials to plastic for their packaging

“The UK’s Plastic Packaging Tax is the right way to start getting businesses to push sustainability up the agenda, but it needs to go further. A tax escalator would make choosing to incorporate recycled content in packaging both economically and environmentally preferable to using virgin materials,” said Gavin Graveson, Veolia’s Northern Europe Zone Senior EVP. “Not only could the UK save up to 2.89 million tonnes of carbon emissions every year if all plastic packaging included 30% recycled content, it would also incentivise investment in domestic infrastructure which could make the UK a world leader in plastics recycling.”

M&A activity drives EMEA corporate real estate market to new highs

Corporate real estate sales across EMEA leapt above EUR 29 billion for the first time on record last year – buoyed by frenetic levels of merger and acquisition activity and the increasing demand for industrial and logistic portfolios.

The latest issue of JLL’s annual – ‘Raising Capital from Corporate Real Estate’ report – reveals 2021 was another bumper year for occupier sales despite the pandemic with corporates generating EUR 29.2 billion across more than 670 disposals.

It marks the third consecutive year in which the total value of corporate disposals exceeded EUR 25 billion. And it came as the sale of industrial and logistics properties raised more than office disposals for the first time.

JLL said growing volumes of capital were targeting long-term income from more specialised, ‘mission critical’ properties such as complex logistics portfolios, research and development facilities and manufacturing centres.

Corporate disposals of industrial and logistics properties raised a record EUR 11.1 billion in 2021 – well ahead of 2020’s previous record high of EUR 7.9 billion.

Notable transactions in 2021 included UK supermarket chain Asda’s EUR 2 billion sale of its distribution network to Blackstone. And in July, In July, real estate investor Hines acquired 11 logistics properties from French retail group Auchan for EUR 286 million.

Nick Compton, Head of Corporate Capital Markets EMEA commented: “Corporates continue to monetise a wide range of property assets, with another record year for sale and leasebacks in 2021 despite the headwinds from the pandemic and the economic uncertainty.

“The growing volumes of capital targeting specialised properties has opened up further routes to monetisation for owner occupiers, with supermarkets looking to raise income from their stores and supply chains, and firms in sectors like energy, life sciences and technology reviewing their asset portfolios.”

Matthew Richards, Capital Markets CEO, EMEA, JLL, added: “We expect another strong year for sale and leasebacks in 2022, with investors taking an increasingly sophisticated approach to transactions – looking beyond corporate credit profiles, focusing on defensive industry sectors and asset criticality as well as the wider context that may impact the value of individual properties.

“Expect to see more capital deployed in sectors such as complex manufacturing, energy repositioning, grocery and non-discretionary retail as they are likely to perform well in the face of rising inflation and higher interest rates.”

Meeting sustainability goals

JLL said that as the market moves into 2022, corporate owner occupiers and potential investors, are being increasingly driven by ESG factors and the adoption of post-Covid hybrid working patterns. The report remarks that corporates are looking to divest older offices that are often too big for their occupational needs, and too energy inefficient to support their sustainability goals.

Firms are also rethinking the types of space they need in light of the pandemic and reviewing where their offices should be located to support employee aspirations about flexible working patterns. An increasing number of corporates are also partnering with investors to forward fund new state of the art facilities to better meet their environmental ambitions.

Mark Caskey, Work Dynamics CEO EMEA, JLL, said: “Without doubt, 2022 is the year where corporates will have to act on ESG and net zero targets. An increased focus on sustainability and the adoption of hybrid working patterns is driving occupiers to divest older office buildings that are too energy inefficient or big for their needs.

“Corporates are working with investors to fund new state-or the art facilities that better meet their business and environmental ambitions – as well as the evolving needs and aspirations of their staff.”

Office sales totalled EUR 8.4 billion in 2021, with British motorsport firm McLaren selling its global headquarters for EUR 197 million to sale and leaseback specialist Global Net Lease. Dutch bank ABN Amro sold its headquarters for EUR 765 million to Victory Group.

The UK, Germany and France continued to be the most active markets for corporate disposals in 2021, accounting for 56 per cent of the total value of transactions, up from 52 per cent in 2020. The value of disposals in the UK alone jumped to EUR 6.6 billion, almost double the volume in France.

JLL’s report notes that despite the record year for sale and leaseback deals, some corporates are deciding to purchase the freehold of their leased properties, taking advantage of some temporary weakness in office pricing. American advertising group Omnicom bought their London headquarters for EUR 523 million (£440m) in November 2021.

UK ranks among most successful countries for CO2 reductions

The United Kingdom is one of the few countries that managed to actually reduce its CO2 emissions in the last 60 years.
The report by Utility Bidder analyses various countries’ emissions from 1959 and 2019, to reveal who has made the most cuts to their emissions, and predict who will be the worst offenders for co2 emissions in 2032.
Top five countries that have cut emissions the most

Rank

Country

1959 emissions (MtCO2)

2019 emissions (MtCO2)

Annual change

Estimated 2032 emissions (MtCO2)

1

Curaçao

11.0

3.7

-1.78%

2.8

2

Moldova

11.0

7.3

-0.66%

6.7

3

the United Kingdom

545.9

370.1

-0.64%

339.5

4

Ukraine

256.5

223.5

-0.23%

217.0

5

Germany

754.8

703.5

-0.12%

692.9

Only five of the 93 nations saw their emissions decrease in the last 60 years, with the Caribbean island of Curaçao achieving the biggest decrease at -1.78% per year.
Moldova’s emissions have fallen by an average of 0.66% over the last 60 years. if they continue to do so at the same rate, they’ll have fallen to 6.7 MtCO2 by 2032.
Whilst still being one of the countries with the highest emissions, the UK has seen its emissions fall in the last 60 years, from 545.9 MtCO2 in 1959 to 370.1 MtCO2 in 2019.
The countries with the biggest emissions increase 

Rank

Country

1959 emissions (MtCO2)

2019 emissions (MtCO2)

Annual change

Estimated 2032 emissions (MtCO2)

1

Saudi Arabia

3.7

582.6

8.66%

1,238.8

2

Thailand

3.7

289.5

7.43%

568.9

3

Malaysia

3.7

249.2

7.16%

481.1
Saudi Arabia’s emissions grew by  578.9 MtCO2 over the last 60 years, and the annual change is estimated at 8.66%. This increase is expected given the country’s role as the leader in the world’s petroleum industry.
Thailand Increased its emissions by 285.8 MtCO2 since 1959, so it could hit 568.9 MtCO2 by 2032. It is largely due to the simultaneous economy and population growth that the country experienced over the last 60 years.
Malaysia Increased its emissions by 245.5 MtCO2, meaning it could hit 481.1 MtCO2 by 2032.
Further findings: 
The countries with the lowest estimated 2032 emissions:
  • As well as being the country that has cut its emissions the most since 1959, Curaçao is also the nation that has the lowest predicted emissions by 2032, at just 2.8 MtCO2.

  • Democratic Republic of the Congo is at the second-lowest estimated emissions, reaching 3.7 MtCO2 by 2032. The DRC is also home to the second-largest tropical rainforest in the world, which acts as a carbon sink.

  • Moldova has the third-lowest estimated emissions for 2032, with 6.7 MtCO2.

Safest day of the week to be in the office is a Wednesday

Workers looking for the lowest virus transmission risk day of the week to go into the workplace should go in on a Wednesday according to findings from an Air Quality Index launched by smart building platform Infogrid. The findings show that only a quarter of working days in 2022 have had a ‘low’ virus transmission risk, showing the effects of winter on the spread of infections like COVID and the flu.

The Infogrid Air Quality Index is based on data points collected in office buildings and workplaces globally including temperature, humidity, office occupancy and CO2 levels and shows how indoor air quality changes over time.

The data, collected between September 2021 and February 2022 shows how virus transmission risk increases around Christmas time. Through September and October virus transmission risk remained ‘low’, however once temperature and humidity start to drop in November, the virus transmission risk doubled with 12 days registering ‘medium’ virus risk.

The impact of Winter is clear as indoor virus transmission risk doubled from September to December 2021 and three quarters of the days in 2022 have been at medium virus transmission risk.

William Cowell de Gruchy, Infogrid CEO, said: “The virus transmission risk increased in November and has remained high through the winter months. While the virus transmission risk moved from ‘low’ to ‘medium’ risk, that increase was enough to cause an influx of covid cases and hospitalisations which led the government to issuing a work-from-home recommendation.”

Wednesday is the safest day 

Further findings from the Air Quality Index show that in the last 6 weeks, Wednesday has consistently recorded the lowest virus transmission risk reading of any day of the week. Wednesday was also the day of the week which recorded the fewest days at medium virus transmission risk, making it the ‘safest’ day to be in the workplace.

The most dangerous day in the last 6 months of was 29th November 2021 when virus transmission risk spiked, nearly hitting ‘high risk’ of virus transmission.

There is also a geographic divide in the UK, cities in the North have been found to have consistently higher virus transmission risk compared to towns and cities in the South. Infogrid also found that virus risk in London is no higher or lower than other cities in the UK.

De Gruchy, added: “It has been really interesting to see how indoor virus transmission risk is no worse in London, despite the capital’s well-known air quality issues. The findings would suggest that buildings in London are better ventilated than those in the rest of the country, reducing the risk of spreading the virus.

“Employers have a responsibility to ensure their staff are able to conduct their work safely. We know that going to the office or physical workplace bring benefits to employee mental health and productivity, and with restrictions lifting the responsibility of managing virus risk falls to the employer. With the right tech in place, it is possible to reduce the risk of the transmission of not only covid but other seasonal infections like the flu, which is a long-term gain too.”

Two-thirds of employers feel a greater responsibility for the mental wellbeing of staff

According to research from GRiD, the industry body for the group risk protection sector, employers feel a greater responsibility for supporting staff across the four key areas of mental, physical, social, and financial wellbeing as a result of Covid-19.

In research conducted from 14 – 26 January 2022 amongst 501 HR decision-makers, due to the pandemic:

  • 59% of employers felt an increased responsibility for supporting the mental wellbeing of staff
  • 57% felt the same increased responsibility for physical wellbeing
  • 56% of employers felt an increased responsibility for supporting the social wellbeing of staff
  • and 50% also felt the same increased responsibility for their employees’ financial wellbeing

In light of the pandemic, and this sentiment to take greater responsibility for employee wellbeing, two fifths (40%) of employers increased their communication about the support available to staff. Thirty-four per cent encouraged engagement and utilisation of support, and just over a quarter (27%) said that they had made it easier for employees to access support and benefits remotely, such as via apps and online. A quarter extended support beyond the individual employee to include family members, and 22% invested in new employee benefits to provide extra support.

Employees report deterioration in wellness

Further GRiD research, conducted amongst 1,212 UK workers between 14-18 January 2022, highlights the fact that employers were correct to take steps to provide and communicate support and benefits to staff. Thirty-eight percent of employees stated that their mental health had deteriorated as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, 27% saw their physical health deteriorate and a further 27% had concerns about their financial health.

Forty-two percent of employees expect more support from their employers to help them cope. This employee presumption means employers need to assess whether their current employee benefits are up to the task of getting the wellbeing of staff back on track. Many staff are anticipating that their employers will provide on this front, and employers would do well to deliver, particularly in light of how employees feel their health has deteriorated .

Katharine Moxham, spokesperson for GRiD, said: “As is evident in the research, employees feel most vulnerable in terms of their mental wellbeing, and employers have rightly assessed this as being an area in which they can step up and take more responsibility. However, employers should be wary of solely prioritising one area of wellbeing over another.

Mental, physical, social and financial wellbeing are inextricably linked and so employers must address all four areas when providing post-pandemic support for staff. Employer-sponsored life assurance, income protection and critical illness have proven really popular because they provide financial support when people have been directly affected by the pandemic, as well as extra embedded services designed to support health and wellbeing.

“As the UK adjusts to the new norms of working life, adopting this holistic approach to staff wellbeing will ensure that all employees are as well-looked after as possible, and this will have long-term benefits for the business too.”