The Future of Work – the UK

The UK working environment

Filter the map below to see how the mood of UK workers compares to those in other markets:

UK workers remain productive, despite anxieties

When asked how they have been feeling over the last three months, UK workers are most likely to report feeling okay (27%). This is closely followed by productive (25%) and content (22%).

However, while 21% say the feel calm, the same proportion (21%) say they feel exhausted and slightly more frustrated (22%).

A fifth (20%) of UK workers say they feel anxious which is higher than the European average (14%). Furthermore, while 18% say they feel motivated, the same proportion (18%) say they feel overwhelmed.

These negative emotions could be conducive of lack of support. Only 14% say they feel supported at work, and just 7% report feeling loved. Looking to the future, just 16% say they feel hopeful.

Reassuringly, only one in ten of the UK workers surveyed report feeling sad (10%) or angry (9%).

Workplace culture

Men and women feel equally as comfortable asking their boss for time off for mental health reasons, but not a pay rise

When it comes to their own, or someone else’s wellbeing, a sizeable minority of the UK workers surveyed feel comfortable talking to their boss.

Two fifths (38%) say they feel comfortable asking for time off work for mental health reasons, compared to 27% who feel uncomfortable. Encouragingly, this is consistent across both genders (39% of men and 37% of women). Similarly, half (50%) of all workers surveyed feel comfortable asking for time off to care for someone else compared to 19% who feel uncomfortable.

Despite this, UK workers still feel compelled to lie when it comes to their mental health; one in five (18%) reported that they have lied to their boss about taking time off work for mental health reasons.

Considering career-related discussions UK workers are equally as comfortable talking to their boss as they are uncomfortable. While just over a third (34%) say they feel comfortable asking their boss for a pay rise, the same proportion (34%) say they feel uncomfortable. Similarly, three in ten (30%) feel comfortable asking for a promotion, compared 28% who feel uncomfortable doing this.

While the gender gap might be closing on the topic of mental health, the same can’t be said for pay. Two in five (40%) male workers report feeling comfortable asking for a pay rise dropping to 28% of women. Male workers are also slightly more likely to say they feel comfortable talking about a promotion with their boss. A third (33%) say they feel comfortable doing this compared to 27% of women.

Do UK workers and employers share mutual respect?

Future of work

Three fifths say a 4-day working week would positively impact their wellbeing, but is it realistic?

There have been global conversations among governments and businesses about the possibility of reducing the 5-day working week to just 4 days, but do UK workers think it’s realistic?

Across the sample, three fifths (61%) say reducing their working week to 4 days would positively impact their wellbeing, which is felt consistently across all ages and genders. Furthermore, almost half (46%) think they’d be more productive working within 4 days, indicating that workers could be more engaged and produce better work if their week was shortened.

Almost three in ten (29%) would even go as far as saying they would relocate to another country that allowed the 4-day working week if theirs didn’t, indicating the impact it could have on staff retention if the initiative isn’t implemented.  

Nevertheless, despite a generally favourable view of the 4-day working week not all the UK respondents think it’s realistic. Almost two fifths (38%) say they don’t know how they’d fit their workload into 4 days and half (50%) don’t think their employer would ever go for it.

Digital transformation hopes and fears

In the last year, a rapid shift toward automation in the workplace has sparked conversations around the potential benefits and challenges for businesses and their workers. Simultaneously, businesses are increasingly confronted by a looming threat of a cyberattacks or security breaches.

Almost a quarter (23%) of UK workers are worried their role could be replaced by automation, in line with the European average (also 23%). One in five (19%) worry they’ll fall victim to a cyber-attack at also in line with the European average (21%).

Despite notable concerns among the UK workers, there are signs of optimism when it comes to advanced technologies. When thinking about how artificial intelligence will impact their organisation, one in four (26%) UK workers think it will be a good thing overall.

Click here to find out more about the Future of Work in other countries.