At a glance: reward and benefits headlines this week 15-21 October 2021

Your quick-read round up of the reward and benefits stories appearing in the press in the past seven days.

Here are the headlines you might have missed between 15-21 October 2021.

Sharp rise in anxiety and unhappiness revealed by ONS
Personnel Today: Average ratings of wellbeing deteriorated across all indicators in the year ending March 2021, the Office for National Statistics has announced. HR specialist XpertHR described the findings as “bleak” but put the decline down to the enduring effects of the coronavirus crisis. Noelle Murphy, senior HR practice editor at XpertHR said the figures underlined how employers needed to factor in workers’ welfare and wellbeing for all business decisions or risk losing their most valued employees. Read Story.

Half of flexible working requests by working mums are denied, poll finds
People Management: Half of working mothers don’t receive the flexibility they ask for at work, while those who do work flexibly face discrimination, a study has found.  The poll of almost 13,000 working mums, conducted by the TUC and flexible working campaigner Mother Pukka, found that 50 per cent of respondents who made flexible working requests had them either partially or fully denied. Read Story.

Gen X needs £330,330 retire; adequacy concerns persist
Pensions Age: Individuals in 'Generation X' need to save around £330,330 to retire comfortably on an income of £23,595 per year, yet many are not on track to reach this goal, research from Blacktower Financial Management Group has suggested. Read Story.

Health & well-being support critical for remote workers
Corporate Adviser: Employees have emphasised the importance of health and well-being support from employers but have raised concerns about extended working hours despite flexible working models being essential for talent retention. Read Story.

46% of staff aged 35-54 are unaware of their retirement income
Employee Benefits: 44% of employers support staff at retirement. New data has revealed that almost half (46%) of employees aged 35-54 do not know how much income their pension will provide them with in retirement. Read Story.

Post-lockdown savings drop looms amid growing living cost
Corporate Adviser: A post-lockdown savings slump beckons as people fret about growing living costs, with people aged 45 to 64 suffering the brunt of the anxiety, predicts Aviva. According to research from Aviva, nearly three-quarters of UK adults (74 per cent) are concerned about rising inflation and living costs, with the sandwich generation suffering the most. Read Story.

Many UK workers more stressed since lockdown ended, poll shows
People Management:  More than a third of UK workers have felt more stressed since lockdown restrictions eased earlier this year, with many saying they are not ready to return to work, a poll has found. The survey of 2,000 people, conducted by Reassured, found 37 per cent of respondents reported higher levels of stress since coronavirus rules started to relax in July this year. Read Story.

Confusion among older savers on pension tax rules
Corporate Adviser: More than one in three DC savers at retirement planning age are unaware they can make tax-free withdrawals from their pension, according to research from Hymans Robertson. Read Story.

Leading companies champion neurodiversity in the workplace
Corporate Adviser: A number of leading companies have collaborated with Group for Autism, Insurance, and Neurodiversity (GAIN) to champion the benefits of neurodiversity in the insurance, investment, and financial services sectors. Read Story.

ESG and health policies ramped up amid large scale resignations
Corporate Adviser: Companies are changing benefit policies to reflect post-pandemic priorities and attract and retain staff, according to Gallagher’s 2021 benefits strategy benchmarking survey report. The report, which surveyed over 230 UK organisations, found that 46 per cent plan to change their current benefits offerings while 71 per cent will be enhancing their benefits. Read Story.

Govt urged to consider flat pensions tax relief rate as high earners leave £2.5bn unclaimed
Pensions Age: The government has been urged to “level the pensions playing field” by scrapping differential rates of pensions tax relief, after PensionBee found that around £2.5bn of tax relief for higher earners was going unclaimed. Read Story.

Quarter of women with serious menopause symptoms have left jobs, study finds
People Management:  Almost a quarter of women are leaving their jobs because of the menopause, according to new research, as organisations share data for World Menopause Day (18 October) about how serious symptoms affect employees. Read Story.

Workers doubt equality at work is achievable
HR Magazine: Over half (51%) of workers do not think people from all backgrounds will ever have equal opportunity to succeed within their organisation. Broken down into different disparities, the survey by recruitment company Hays found that a further 43% of professionals said they don’t believe ethnic minorities currently have equal opportunity to succeed within their organisation. Read Story.

26% of workplaces unaffected by the menopause
Employee Benefits: According to new research, 26% of employers believe their organisation is either not affected by any employee having menopause-related health conditions or does not have any staff of menopausal age. The findings, undertaken by Opinium on behalf of digital health and wellness platform Peppy, also highlighted that 32% of companies think absence and sickness is the workplace menopause issue that has affected their business the most. Read Story.

A quarter of workers judge colleagues on their appearance
HR Magazine: A quarter (25%) of workers ranked appearance as the most important factor when meeting someone for the first time at work, followed by personal hygiene (23%) and then someone’s job title (17%). Read Story.

64% of staff have experienced burnout or fatigue
Employee Benefits: 7 in 10 teaching professionals admit to feeling burnout at workNew data has found that almost two-thirds (64%) of employees have experienced burnout or fatigue. Research carried out for mental health clinic Pam Wellbeing’s Health at work report explored the issues most undermining employee health, as well as what they want and need to stay healthy. The nationwide survey found that mental health remains the biggest barrier to employee wellbeing. Read Story.

Half of employees think better inclusion is only possible with leadership change, research finds
People Management: Half of employees feel there needs to be a change in their organisation’s leadership before they see real progress in inclusion and diversity outcomes, research has found. A survey of 1,500 employees, conducted by Savanta, found that when asked, 54 per cent of respondents believed it was true that inclusion and diversity progress was only possible with leadership change. Read Story.

UK retirement system improving; gender pensions gap remains a global concern
Pensions Age: The UK has seen a “considerable increase” in its overall score in the annual Mercer CFA Institute Global Pension Index, jumping from 15th to ninth position in the global rankings, although the gender pensions gap remains a global concern. Read Story.

TPO issues guidance on member communication
Pensions Age: The Pensions Ombudsman (TPO) has issued guidance on best practice for communicating with pension scheme members to help the industry avoid ombudsman investigations. Read Story.

State pension to rise by 3.1pc under new ‘double’ lock
Corporate Adviser: The State Pension will be uprated by 3.1 per cent in April, following the publication of the inflation figures for September. Inflation, as measured by the Consumer Price Index, fell slightly between August and September (from 3.2 to 3.1 per cent). But this remains the third highest increase to the State Pension since the triple lock was introduced, despite the government removing a key plank of this protection for this year. Read Story.

Global firms worry about healthcare costs with mental health top priority – WTW
Healthcare & Protection: The majority of employers around the world are concerned about the rising price of healthcare or medical insurance premiums for their staff, with those in the Americas most worried. Read Story.

50% of HR directors use non-financial perks
Employee Benefits: New research has revealed that non-financial perks have overtaken pay rises as the number one incentive used by employers to attract new members of staff. Indeed Flex, the online marketplace for flexible workers, surveyed 402 HR directors and found that while 47% have increased staff salaries faster than usual in an effort to attract interest, 50% were focusing on non-financial rewards including employee benefits and flexible working hours. Read Story.

1 in 5 people would not increase pension contributions ‘no matter what’
Pensions Age: One in five people would not increase their pension contributions “no matter what”, research from Hargreaves Lansdown has found. When asked what would take them to contribute more, the most common response was if they received a pay rise, with 37 per cent giving this answer. Read Story.

Employee burnout has doubled since lockdown ended, research finds
People Management: Reports of burnout have more than doubled since the relaxing of lockdown restrictions earlier this year, research has found. Analysis of employee reviews by Glassdoor found that mentions of burnout increased 128 per cent since May 2021, around the time that lockdown restrictions started to ease. Read Story.

Skills gap risks locking young people out of jobs
HR Magazine: A surge in the number of young people in full-time education has slashed the number looking for work and is leaving them without the skills to join the workforce, according to a new study. A report by the Institute for Employment Studies (IES) and the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR), on behalf of Youth Futures Foundation and the Blagrave Trust, has found that there has been a significant contraction in the size of the youth labour market. Read Story.

37% of staff now have worse mental health
Employee Benefits: New data has revealed that more than one-third (37%) of employees from Great Britain are suffering from worse mental health now compared to pre-Covid-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic levels. The YouGov research, commissioned by wellbeing and performance company Push and mental health charity Solent Mind, involved surveying 1,000 working adults living in Great Britain. Findings suggest that perhaps many employees are struggling with the ever changing ‘new normal’ and the challenges that it brings. Read Story.

Under half of workers feel they are paid what they are worth
HR Review: A new survey suggests that most people don’t believe they’re being paid what they think ‘they are worth’ to do their current jobs. New research carried out by HR software provider CIPHR suggests less than half (41 per cent) of workers consider their salary to adequately reflect their job role and experience. Read Story.

One in five Brits left in dark over return-to-office plans
Workplace Insight: Millions of British workers face uncertainty as a snapshot of the nation’s work practices claims that one in five employees are unsure whether they’ll be expected to work remotely, onsite, or a mix of both in the future. Without having a clear decision from their employer, some employees are unsure about their organisations’ return-to-office plans. Read Story.

Toxic workplace cultures impacting employee productivity
HR Review: A new report analyses the detrimental effects that negative workplace cultures can have on employees, ranging from mental health issues to absenteeism.  New research conducted by Culture Shift highlights that two in five workers have experienced bullying, harassment or discrimination within the workplace. Read Story.

Virtual GP demand more than doubling as insurers expect surge to continue
Healthcare & Protection: Demand for virtual GP services is soaring despite in-person medical consultations opening up and insurers expect this trend to continue, with several seeing numbers more than doubling already. Read Story.

More Brits believe work is good for their health than before lockdown, research finds
People Management: British workers are generally more positive about the health benefits of paid work than before the pandemic, research has found, although younger employees are far less likely to share this sentiment. Read Story.

Tech firms lead the way in UK's best work/life balance
HR Magazine: Tech companies have dominated Glassdoor’s 2021 list for the highest rated UK companies for work/life balance. The Office for National Statistics (ONS), Softcat and Arm took the top three places, all ranking 4.47 and above for a positive work/life balance. Although the tech sector dominated the list, with five places in the top 10, finance, government and real estate also ranked highly. Read Story.

Government under pressure to reintroduce home working mandate
Personnel Today: With predictions that UK Covid-19 cases could hit 100,000 a day, HR professionals are being urged to prepare for the potential return of mass home working as the government comes under pressure to enact ‘plan B’. Read Story.

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