Category Archives: Hybrid Working

Remote Resistance: Despite Company Mandates, British Employees Seek Flexibility

Morgan McKinley Survey Reveals Demand for Hybrid Work

Four years after the pandemic, the British workforce is still debating the merits and downfalls of hybrid work patterns. Insights by global talent services company: Morgan McKinley as part of its Global Workplace Guide found that:

  • Preference for Hybrid or Remote Work: 93% of respondents in the UK express a strong preference for continuing in a hybrid or remote work model
  • Employee Satisfaction: Professionals working in hybrid models express the highest contentment with their work patterns, with 51% willing to forego pay raises for desired flexibility
  • Remote Rewind: Despite employee preferences, 40% of companies are urging staff to return to the office more regularly
  • Employee Dissatisfaction: Onsite workers show higher rates of actively seeking new employment opportunities compared to hybrid and remote workers
  • Impact on Talent Attraction: Flexible working arrangements emerge as a crucial factor in talent attraction and retention, with 75% of hiring managers highlighting its importance

The survey found that in the UK, 1-2 days in the office is the favoured weekly working pattern for 52% of professionals, with a further 22% selecting 3-4 days. Only 3% are happy to be in the office for the full 5 working days. The survey also revealed that half of employees would even skip a pay raise if it meant they got their desired flexibility.

Despite employee preferences, 56% of companies globally – 60% of British companies are urging staff to increase their in-office presence, indicating a disconnect between employer and employee expectations. Our research also showed the potential attrition of employees with 56% of respondents who work onsite five days a week are the ones most actively looking for a new job in the next six months compared to hybrid employees (41%) and fully remote employees (44%).

The survey also found regional differences from companies mandating for employees to return to the office with Hong Kong (91%), Australia (65%), Japan (62%), Singapore (61%), and China (59%) exhibiting higher rates of return-to-office mandates compared to 40% in the UK, 40% in Canada and 42% in Ireland.

David Leithead, COO,, Morgan McKinley, commented: “Four years post-pandemic, the global workforce is still grappling with the ongoing debate surrounding hybrid work models. Simply mandating a five-day-a-week office presence would likely encounter resistance and productivity dips. Our research underscores the resounding preference for flexibility, with 86% advocating for continued adoption of hybrid arrangements.”

“Companies, therefore, need to implement a strategic and mindful approach to this remote rewind. Striking the balance between flexibility and practicality calls for close collaboration through open communication channels and understanding the motivations driving employees’ desires for flexible work arrangements. 2024 will be a pivotal year to see if organisations see flexibility as not just a perk but a fundamental aspect of workplace cultures creating a more inclusive, productive, and resilient workforce.

The Morgan McKinley Global Workplace Study gathered insights about various hiring and workplace trends by surveying over 3400 professionals and 650 employers/hiring managers globally.

 

About Morgan McKinley

Morgan McKinley is a global talent services expert, offering the full spectrum of solutions to meet employers’ and jobseekers’ needs. With 19 offices in 10 countries and nearly 1000 employees, it provides 3 distinct solutions for customers. Morgan McKinley Recruitment Solutions encompassing deep expertise across 10 professional disciplines offering temporary, contract and permanent recruitment; Morgan McKinley Executive Search for targeted C-Suite talent searches; and Morgan McKinley Talent Solutions including RPO, MSP, Project Recruitment and more.

Morgan McKinley is part of Org, a more human kind of professional services company that harnesses the power of talent to bring better business outcomes for clients across the world through advisory, managed services and talent services.

https://www.morganmckinley.com

Payroll teams prepare for new status nuances resulting from the Flexible Working Act

The Employment Relations (Flexible Working) Act 2023 successfully passed through Parliament and received Royal Assent in late July. While workers in the UK always had the ability to request flexible working conditions from their employers, the Act enshrines their rights into law, expected to go into effect at some point next year.

Employers in the UK will now have to contend with the repercussions of this law, and perhaps the biggest impact will land on payroll processing, an area already on the path to becoming more complex in the UK.

Changes to conditions of employment

Employees in the UK can now legally ask their employers for changes to working conditions after having been employed for 26 consecutive weeks. Employees can file two requests every 12 months, and employers must provide a valid reason if they deny the request.

Currently, employers must choose from one of eight statutory reasons for rejecting a request, and respond to their employee within two months of filing the request. While the Government hasn’t installed an appeal process, employers can offer one.

Workplace arrangements have been changing following the COVID-19 pandemic, and the Employment Relations Act reflects the realities of this evolution. It also stresses the importance of employee data management and electronification, another trend that gained pace during the pandemic.

Compliance errors cause needless expenses, and the change in worker statuses this Act creates might result in a wave of non-compliant filings. The biggest reason? Failing to account for and assign the right worker statuses.

Flexible work therefore makes payroll data management critical, and fast-growing companies that do not use automated payroll solutions will find this new law creating significant challenges. Pento, for example, is leading the way among UK payroll software solutions, with its new functionalities to support employers with flex workers and less conventional pay schedules.

Worker status implications

The Government has currently outlined eight types of flexible working situations. These are job sharing, working from home, part-time working, compressed hours, flexible hours, annualised hours, staggered hours, and phased retirement.

A worker switching from full-time to any of these roles will likely create significant tax implications for their employer. “If an employee requests flexible working but remains an employee, from a tax compliance perspective, it shouldn’t be an issue,” says Seb Maley, CEO of contractor insurance provider Qdos.

“But if a self-employed individual starts working in a manner akin to an employee, it can have a bearing on employment status compliance. In this scenario, businesses are on the hook for missing employment taxes.”

 

One way companies can mitigate this risk is by using the Government’s employment status for tax tool. While this tool will simplify employee tax filing codes, companies with growing workforces cannot manually enter information and transfer it.

The right move is to electronify and automate payroll management to account for these changes. Pento’s solution removes the chances of manual error creeping into the process by syncing with HR information systems and automating status filings at the click of a button.

 

Typically, companies outsource their payroll services when small, and those service providers are a good fit for companies that choose to remain small. However, growing companies face rapidly changing payroll landscapes and need flexibility.

For instance, a company may face a rapidly growing number of employees switching statuses, creating a need for HR to constantly reach out to the third-party provider. In this scenario, constant back-and-forth removes HR from offering salary and compensation data as inputs to the firm’s growth operations team, leading to an incomplete growth plan.

Adjusting to changes

Companies that approve the bare minimum do risk losing worker trust and damaging their chances of attracting top-tier talent. Offering flexible work is now a competitive advantage, with companies that accommodate such requests attracting better talent.

Pento’s solution seamlessly scales with growing companies, removing payroll complexity while ensuring all filing deadlines are met. Companies can create custom payroll workflows to account for all employee demands. By integrating with different platforms in a company, HR can offer payroll data insights, and companies can model the impact of changing payroll costs.

Moreover, HR managers can quickly assess the financial impact of an employee’s flexible work request by modelling the changes to the payroll structure and offering data-backed reasons for denying a request.

For instance, transforming workers in a department into compressed hour workers might offer the company tax advantages. Alternatively, accepting those requests might turn the department into a major cost centre. Either way, Pento can offer payroll data insights that give finance and HR teams data-backed reasons to approve or deny requests.

Flexible work is the future

Flexible work arrangements are here to stay, and companies must react proactively to the Act. Those that electronify their payroll workflows will generally have an easier time dealing with these changes.

Given its position as a significant business expense, increasing payroll efficiency certainly helps to keep companies compliant and ahead of the curve in the competitive marketplace.

 

 

Modern Brits are resorting to parenting and working at the same time, due to the cost-of-living

Researchers polled home (and hybrid) working parents, and discovered as many as 87 percent now regularly look after their children while still trying to do their day job, with 85 percent even having to work in the same room as their kids.

Nine in ten (91 percent) of the parents, polled by Capital One UK say they find it stressful juggling work and parenting duties, with one in three (37 percent) saying working full time in the office meant they were able to concentrate more on their work.

Yet two thirds (64 percent) agree that childcare costs have become more difficult since the cost-of-living crisis began and as a result over a quarter (28 percent) have had to cut back on childcare.

Over a third (37 percent) have taken holiday leave to look after their children, while half (49 percent) say they are arguing more with their other half as a result of working and parenting in the same house.

In addition to working, parents also say they are juggling cleaning (56 percent), cooking (55 percent), sorting out family mealtimes (53 percent), helping with homework (44 percent) and doing the weekly food shop (44 percent), when working from home.

Three quarters (73 percent) admit that they find the school holidays and half terms especially difficult, with 84 percent confessing that they find it financially challenging. 41 percent have turned to friends and family for help financially.

While 69 percent have been forced to cut back on certain areas to help cover the cost of school holidays, with meals out (74 percent), new clothes (60 percent), beauty treatments (48 percent) and days out (48 percent) all off the table.

Parents expect to spend an extra £645 throughout the half-term, with £230 allocated to additional childcare, £169 on the weekly shop and a staggering £246 on entertaining the kids. October is the half-term parents struggle with the most financially (39 percent), closely followed by February (38 percent). The May half-term is not only a warmer, lighter holiday but less damaging to wallets, with less than a quarter of parents (23 percent) citing it as the most financially challenging half-term.

Michelle Robb, Head of Research and Insights at Capital One UK said: “Our data shows us that half-term can be a busy, stressful and expensive time for a lot of people, especially working parents. We’re on a mission to drive positive change in the industry, putting the best interests of our customers first, by doing one small, good thing at a time.

“Our Budget Planner is one tool that can help parents manage their spend, preparing them for the increased costs of school holidays and the period leading up to Christmas. We’d encourage parents to monitor their spending and only spend what they can afford during the October half-term. By ensuring they budget accordingly, it will make it easier to navigate and prepare for the times of the year when spending tends to be at its highest. ”

The same study analysed the true cost of the October half-term to understand the rationale behind the increased expense. With parents admitting to still recovering from a £609 ‘financial hangover’ after the summer holidays, as they move towards October half-term.

This research of 2,000 hybrid and home-working parents was commissioned by Capital One UK and conducted by Perspectus Global in September 2023.

Hybrid Working: The Youngest People in the Workforce Value Time in an Office

The youngest employees in the workforce are leading the charge towards hybrid work. A recent study by Boundless found that only 19% of workers aged 16 to 24 want to work from home exclusively, while 62% opt for hybrid work.

The study polled over 2,000 people over the age 16 in the UK. Amongst the many findings, Boundless discovered that of those who have jobs where working from home is very practical and possible, little over a quarter (27%) would actually choose to work from home all the time. At the same time just 17% said they would choose to work from an office the whole week.

But a majority cited some sort of hybrid approach as their preferred working option – coupling time in the office with time spent working remotely each week.

It was when the study delved into age groups that we got real insight into how important an office location is for younger workers.

Working from home exclusively was most unpopular with those aged 16 to 24, of whom just 19% would want to work from home exclusively – the lowest proportion of any age group.

In that age group, 62% of study participants opted for hybrid working.

Again, this makes the youngest employees the ones who are most likely to want this flexibility:

At the other end of the scale, of those aged 55 and over, a third would choose to work from home the whole week, highlighting the need for flexibility and the ability for your workforce to be location flexible. The results of the survey pitch a real argument for hybrid by default in businesses where workers do not physically need to be on the premises to do their job. By allowing employees to choose their working location and to switch between home and office, you cater to the needs and wants of a diverse workforce.

 

Productivity boosted by hybrid working says UK’s finance professionals

ACCA’s UK Talent Trends in Finance 2023 uncovers the key issues facing the sector, including concerns over inflation, burnout and technology

A significant research report, UK Talent Trends in Finance 2023, published today lifts the lid on the world of work and how it impacts employees and employers. One of the most startling findings is how finance professionals have embraced flexible working methods post-pandemic – and the beneficial impact on the workforce.

UK financial professionals are leading the globe in making hybrid working work. The research – based on a global survey of over 8,000 finance professionals – found that the UK is one of the most advanced regions in the world in terms of high levels of remote and hybrid working, with Scotland the global leader. The data also suggests that, across a range of work satisfaction metrics, hybrid workers are significantly happier than those working full-time in the office.

 

Jamie Lyon, head of Skills, Sectors and Technology at ACCA, said: “Only one-fifth of respondents in the UK identified as fully office based, with the remaining 80% either adopting a hybrid approach to work or being fully remote. However, globally, the picture is notably different, with over half of respondents being fully office based. And 77% of respondents in the UK feel they are more productive when working remotely.”

 

While the overwhelming majority of professionals in the UK say they understand how technology adds value, there are nevertheless concerns about the scale and pace of change, with younger generations most concerned that their roles might be replaced by technology. Similarly, 63% say they want more training from employers, pointing to a significant technology skills gap.

Despite these concerns the report paints a picture of a highly ambitious and mobile accountancy profession, suggesting a talent crunch exists for the sector. Indeed, over a third (36%) of UK respondents expect to move to their next role within 12 months, rising to 58% within the next two years.

The report also uncovers key concerns for those working across accountancy and finance. Unsurprisingly, the top work concern in the UK was the impact of inflation with satisfaction about remuneration lagging. The second top concern in the UK was mental health and wellbeing. Over half (54%) of respondents report that their mental health suffers because of work pressures, while almost three-quarters (72%) state they would like a better work–life balance and 41% state they would like more support from their organisation in managing mental health.

 

Lloyd Powell, head of ACCA Cymru/Wales, said: “This report demonstrates that our workforce sees accountancy as a smart and empowering career choice, offering opportunity, flexibility and security. While we see the UK embracing new ways of working, nevertheless, the findings about cost-of-living and mental health are stark.

“Undoubtedly the report provides food for thought for employers and all those with an interest in recruitment and retention. ACCA remains committed to offering everyone everywhere the opportunity for a rewarding career in accountancy, finance and management and this report reminds us all that there are concerns to be addressed and more to do to fully open up access to our profession.”

 

Read the full report here.

 

Global Work from Home Day: 6 Ways to Keep Remote Workers Engaged

Written by Elise Carmichael, Chief Technology Officer, Lakeside Software

April 10 is Global work from home day, so here are a few IT strategies to help your employees become more productive and satisfied while working from anywhere

It’s been three years since companies across the globe took an unplanned shift to a remote workforce. There was much scrambling under the IT hood, so to speak, back then to ensure that enterprise IT networks could handle essentially thousands of distributed “offices” as employees, students, and even primary school children Zoomed, Googled, Slacked, and Teamed their way toward being as productive as possible.

Today, while a few major companies are boomeranging to in-person office requirements, most enterprises have retained either remote or hybrid workforces — and, accordingly, now rely on flexible IT networks and security infrastructure to support these work-from-home setups. Although fully remote workforces may start to decline (from 56% in 2021 to 19% in 2024), per an AT&T study, the hybrid work model likely will grow from 42% in 2021 to 81% in 2024.

Personally, the hybrid model seems like a win-win for many large enterprises and their employees, who have more options than ever to create a working structure suited to their individual needs. So at a time when many employers need to retain and attract the best talent — and also to celebrate Global Work from Home Day coming up on April 10 — here are six tips to ensure a healthy and productive remote workforce supported by a satisfying digital employee experience.

1. Understand what digital employee experience really is.

Since virtual workers are 100% dependent on technology and require the right hardware and software for their given roles, digital employee engagement is crucial for employee productivity, satisfaction, and overall well-being. Anyone who has endured a poor computer experience knows there is little more frustrating than when technology gets in the way of what you’re trying to do. In fact, even enterprises with on-site employees must be mindful of whether the “digital employee experience” (DEX) is a healthy one.

But what does digital employee experience really mean? For years during the heyday of pre-pandemic digital transformation, the digital experience often meant the customer’s experience with end-user-facing services, such as a seamless and intuitive experience within a banking app or a quick, frictionless e-commerce transaction.

Now we know what’s happening inside the enterprise is just as crucial. Enter the digital employee experience, which Forrester’s Senior Analyst Andrew Hewitt and Principal Analyst Cheryl McKinnon define as “the sum of all the perceptions that employees have about working with the technology they use to complete their daily work and manage their relationship with their employer across the lifecycle of their employment.”1

For enterprise employees who work from home, the experience with technology can have a direct impact on both their productivity and job satisfaction — not to mention a trickle-down effect on the service they provide customers (directly or indirectly). How many times have you been on a support call with someone, such as an airline, and the help desk employee complains about their computer being slow?

As someone who has been a tech leader for 15 years while working from home myself, I know the importance of technology in my day-to-day productivity. In fact, more than half of employees surveyed last year on behalf of Lakeside Software indicated that they believe that DEX should be a top priority for management.

As a company that has been using data for more than 25 years to ensure the digital workplace is a productive one, Lakeside discovered in the global survey behind our Digital Workplace Productivity Report 2022that about 36% of employees admit that they’ve considered leaving their employer because of poor digital experience — and 14% actually have. Lakeside works with more than 4,000 customers globally, including 40% of the world’s largest banks, to make sure that doesn’t happen. After all, just recruiting and onboarding an employee can cost $7,000-$28,000, and possibly even more at larger enterprises. No company wants to throw that investment out the window.

2. Know the health of the enterprise IT environment.

A better digital employee experience starts with gaining detailed and accurate insight into the precise health of the enterprise IT environment. Guesswork doesn’t take the IT team or those they report to very far — especially when an app or system goes down at a crucial moment for the employee.

If IT leaders cannot see exactly what employees are experiencing from a technical standpoint and how their devices are performing, they won’t know when and how to take steps to improve digital experiences. With full IT visibility of how well (or not well) endpoint devices such as desktops, mobile devices, or servers are operating, organizations can stave off IT-related downtime for employees before they even realize there might be a problem.

Consider the last time your own desktop, laptop, or app used for work gave you the “spinning wheel of death,” blue screened, crashed, or just became so slow it was unusable. Frustrating? I thought so. I can visualize employees wanting to throw their computers out the window.

3. Gather and use the trove of anonymized data from IT endpoints.

Endpoints — from laptops and desktops to virtual machines, servers, Android and iOS devices — hold an incredible amount of data that can yield insights about the real-time health of devices. Being proactive about monitoring and measuring endpoint performance is the best way to get data-backed analysis of how well employees can use their digital tools at any given time. Once IT has that level of understanding about the digital environment, you can take steps to improve employee experience and satisfaction. Lakeside specializes in taking volumes of raw endpoint telemetry data (in other words, not “big brother” data) and making it accessible in one pane of glass so the IT team can walk away with actionable insights, which can bubble up to executive dashboards as well.

Imagine the power of this visibility across your enterprise’s entire IT estate. This data can also help IT develop specific, actionable plans for optimizing the digital workplace at large, and it can give IT the perspective it needs to provide tailored service and support on a continuous — and even proactive — basis. Employee satisfaction is compounded across the digital workforce.

4. Make sure each employee has the right digital tools, right-sized for their job responsibilities.

The endpoint is the remote employee’s lifeline to their digital devices and apps, so it gives IT the ability to anticipate whether employees have what they need to be productive. Once data has been gathered to understand how an employee is using their digital devices and apps, employers can undertake any changes to ensure productivity. For example, knowing that a certain user frequently switches between browser windows could suggest that they’d be more productive with a second or third monitor in their home office. Proactively giving them that additional monitor before they need to ask for it could make them immensely more productive as well as more satisfied.

Right-sizing means giving users the correct resources and the exact type of devices and apps they need to do their particular jobs without disruption. This digital employee strategy guarantees better productivity and better morale. Where employees are more dependent on their technology than ever before, right-sizing technology can make a significant impact on employee morale as well as productivity.

It goes without saying that the right tools at the right time go a long way for employee satisfaction.

5. Streamline the IT support process.

Of course, not everything works perfectly all the time. Technical issues are bound to happen in even the most well-maintained digital environments. But getting service desk support shouldn’t be a difficult or dreaded task for users. And it shouldn’t take multiple tickets or long-winded calls with technicians and/or bots to finally get problems resolved.

For many organizations, the typical process for reporting issues starts with a bit of cursing, a few reboots, and then a phone call or email from a user to the service desk with something basic, like “my computer is running slowly” or “this app keeps crashing.” Then it’s up to a Level 1 technician to spend time asking questions and investigating the wide range of workplace technologies that could possibly cause the problem.

Depending on the issue, the process can quickly escalate and require even more technicians and troubleshooting. Not only does this have a negative impact on that employee and their digital employee experience, but it also might be affecting dozens of other end users, and IT needs to notice this trend before it can fix the root causes. It will end up costing organizations resources and valuable productivity time.

Real-time data, as well as auto-detection and remedial automations, can eliminate a lot of questioning and guesswork right from the start. And the quicker technicians can dive right into root cause analysis, the shorter the mean time to resolution (MTTR) and the less impact on digital experiences.

6. Be proactive — focus on prevention, not just a cure.

What provides an even better employee experience than a speedy service desk response? Resolving issues before they even become problems.
That’s where proactive IT services and even a self-healing help desk can come into play. A strategic proactive support approach would be to utilize artificial intelligence for IT operations (AIOps).

Using the data collected through the Lakeside’s digital experience management platform, powered by SysTrack, enables the implementation of automated remediations using sensors that can immediately analyze and identify issues, and then automations that can quickly resolve those issues remotely before they affect the experience of the employee. Not only does this Level 0 support free up technicians, and possibly other resources, it also greatly improves digital employee experience.

As a provider of a digital employee experience platform, Lakeside wants to make sure that on Global Work from Home Day — and every day — is smooth sailing for remote, hybrid, and on-site employees alike. Where there’s an endpoint, there’s a way to ensure it enriches the digital employee experience. A proactive approach to device health allows employees to do their job — without having to manage frustrating tech issues.

  1. Forrester blog, “Digital Employee Experience Is Not A Tool — It’s A Perception,” Andrew Hewitt and Cheryl McKinnon, May 24, 2022: https://bit.ly/3UcbvVX.

 

About the author: Elise Carmichael

As Lakeside’s Chief Technology Officer, Elise is responsible for building and delivering the next generation of digital employee experience solutions. She has more than 20 years of experience working with enterprise organizations on high-tech, big data, and machine learning-based products. Before joining Lakeside, Elise held senior technology and product leadership roles at Functionize, Tricentis, QASymphony, and Mobiquity.

Why Hybrid Work Supports Mental Wellbeing for Employees

Introduction

Even though the real threat of illness, death, losing a loved one or isolation due to COVID-19, is now over, the lingering impact of the pandemic is still very much persistent. The COVID-19 pandemic has especially led to a significant shift in the way we all work and do our jobs today.

The trend of permanent remote work or work from home (WFH) was one of the most adopted interventions, not just in the corporate culture but also across all types of professions. It also became a very popular intervention by leaders as a way to address mental health in the workplace. While it served a purpose and helped in damage control on the impact of the economy, it also came with its own cons. For some it became overwhelmingly lonely, and for others it triggered stress and burnout.

In a recent survey from 2022 of over 1,000 UK employees, it was reported that 1 in 3 UK employees suffer symptoms of depression and anxiety and 52% of them have not yet spoken to a doctor or healthcare professional. The people tasked with keeping the economy on a path to growth are clearly still not getting the help they need.

4 ways hybrid work supports employee mental wellbeing:

1. Work life balance

The hybrid work model allows an employee to spend part of their work week in the office and the rest working remotely. There are now many tools for remote teams available to make this happen. This flexibility allows employees to separate their work from personal life. It also gives them the opportunity to figure out what kind of time and space they need to be working both efficiently and effectively. Additionally, this also allows them to tune out of work at their convenience and take time to recuperate and re-energize for the next day which is much needed for good mental health.

2. Flexibility and autonomy to choose

The flexibility to have the option of choice leaves one feeling much more in control of their schedules and how, where and when they work. An employee would no longer have to plan around their work hours to figure out when to visit the doctor or spend time with their parents. The hybrid work model gives the flexibility to plan around these important events.This helps not only the employee but also the employer as they can expect optimum productivity and in turn increased quality of work.

3. Less burnout and fatigue

Having the pressure of being at a certain place and time and expected behavior to adhere to the culture of a workplace can sometimes be overwhelming and is capable of making one feel mentally exhausted in addition to work pressure. Having the space to take personal time in between work through a hybrid work model, can make one feel a lot less stressed and can help reduce work fatigue and improves employee performance.

4. More efficient use of time

Productivity is not measured by the number of hours one gives to the work, but by the effectiveness and quality of work one is able to achieve. One employee might be more productive and efficient with their work between the early morning hours of 8 am – 10 am, while another employee might be more productive after 6pm. So instead of being bound by the 9 – 5 weekly schedule, and working in a constricted amount of time, employees have much more flexibility in a hybrid work model, allowing them to use their time more efficiently for the benefit of the company.

5. Reduced commute time

Depending on where you live or where your office is located, commuting to and from work can be a huge hindrance to working effectively. An employee can lose out on hours of work due to traffic, road accidents, bad weather etc. Instead, having the option to work from home could save both employees and companies a lot of time and money.

Conclusion

It is undeniable that giving choice and autonomy is an influential factor in determining an employee’s mental wellbeing. And mental wellbeing indeed impacts the way one performs at work. If we consider the wellbeing of the employees as a priority, a hybrid work model can be one of the perks to begin with, in addition to others that makes the space flexible, equitable and inclusive. One size does not always fit all and a hybrid work model allows employees to figure out what works best for them.

ACCA calls on employers to continue to progress flexible working on International Women’s Day

As employers around the world today mark International Women’s Day, ACCA is emphasising the importance of flexible working and training in accelerating diversity.

Remote and hybrid work, education and training are proving invaluable in extending access to opportunity and ACCA is calling on employers to maintain the momentum.

Following the completion of a major piece of research surveying 8,000 finance professionals around the world, ACCA has found most people want hybrid working, believing it makes them more productive, with additional benefits reported by women.

ACCA’s 2023 Global Talent Trends report found that while men and women valued hybrid working almost equally (at 88% and 86% respectively), women felt the benefits of remote working more significantly, with 73% of women saying they felt they were more productive when they worked remotely, in comparison to 66% of male respondents.

Findings of the research suggest hybrid working also leads to better outcomes overall in terms of mental health and retention, with hybrid workers less likely to leave their organisations. But employers are still working through the potential impact on teamwork and collaboration.

Women felt better able to manage the impact of remote working on collaboration and engagement, with a lower percentage reporting they found collaboration harder when working remotely (43% in comparison to 52% of male respondents), or that they felt more disengaged.

 

ACCA Chief Executive, Helen Brand OBE, said: “Flexible approaches to working are bringing significant benefits to all, but can be particularly helpful to those where geographical, financial or additional commitments create restrictions that can impact on working location or hours.

“The cultural changes brought about by the pandemic, along with evolving technology, mean remote work and study is now an option for a greater diversity of people. As employers consider the culture of their organisations, it’s important this inclusivity benefit is kept front of mind.”

 

While not all work and study can be undertaken remotely, such as in the healthcare and construction sectors, increasing flexibility and access where it is an option can increase diversity. ACCA is committed to enhancing inclusivity for its members, and future members, and remote learning and exams also plays a part in extending the opportunity of professional careers to many more people.

 

Lloyd Powell, Head of ACCA Wales, said: “E-learning has brought extra flexibility to study, giving people who live in more remote areas, or with challenging commitments outside of study, the scope to build education into their lives. It opens up the promise of a profession to many who might have been excluded until now.”

 

Download the full ACCA Talent Trends report here.

 

Find out more about ACCA’s International Women’s Day activities here.

5 Skills Every Accountant Should Possess

The accounting field is sometimes misunderstood by students with no knowledge of the subject. To the outside world, accountants seem like supporting staff who just crunch the numbers for everyone else.

But, the accounting field is one of the most important ones in the business world. Accountants and other finance professionals do much more than just bookkeeping. They are managing risks, making big decisions, digitalizing companies, and creating internal controls, among so much more.

Whether you’re still studying or you’re a young accounting professional, here are some skills that you need to develop to have a successful career.

 

Tech Savvy

Accounting is one of the fields where technology has had a massive impact over the years. Not only has it created more jobs and allowed accountants to freelance, but technology has also allowed professionals to reduce errors, provide more efficient reports, and work more easily.

You should develop Microsoft Excel skills, knowledge of QuickBooks, one of the major ERP systems, and big-data analysis, among others, to get ahead with the major programs used in this field.

 

Business Acumen

Accountants need to have knowledge of the industry in which they work. That’s because they will have to interact with other departments and participate in the functioning of the organisation. For that, they will need to have strategic thinking and decision-making skills, among others.

Business acumen is basically a combination of business knowledge and skills combined with your experience in the company. Having business acumen can allow accountants to have more value within the organisation, and perform a bigger role.

 

Leadership

Nearly all organisations expect their employees to show the qualities of a leader. The employees that show these qualities usually have much better prospects with the company than the followers, because leaders rise through the ranks faster.

Depending on what the accountant’s capacity is in the organisation, they can contribute new insights, manage projects, motivate their teams, find solutions for bottlenecks, and improve the company’s methods to manage fraud risk, among other things.

There may be many times when other professionals will look towards the accountant to evaluate the profitability of projects and make tough financial decisions. Having leadership skills can give the confidence to address the stakeholders properly.

 

Analytical Thinking

If you want to be more than just a bookkeeper or a menial worker in the accounting department, then you need to have the ability to think analytically.

Accountants need to have the ability to read and interpret all kinds of data. This could help them perform their roles better, whether it may be relating to filing company taxes or managing the risks in the company.

By developing analytical skills, you can also have more career options, such as forensic accounting. The majority of the role of a forensic accountant is analytical thinking and following paper trails.

 

Specialized Skills

Some accountants tend to go above and beyond the basics of accounting to have a bigger role in an organisation or work in the consultancy business.

Among the ways to do that is to get certified by a chartered accounting association like the ACCA, ICAEW, or the AICPA. By being a chartered accountant, you open yourself up to much wider career potential.

Some accountants even go on to undertake an LLB and learn law – ultimately, whatever you choose, your goal should be to sharpen your business skills and become a better tax professional.

85% of UK staff are working overtime, as legacy software adds to skills gap pressure

A survey of more than 5,000 senior businesspeople across the UK has found that 85% are currently working more hours each week than they should be, with around 40% saying that they could not complete the amount of work they are given any other way. The same survey, from business software and services provider Advanced, found that only 30% of business leaders plan to prioritise recruitment in 2023.

Advanced’s 2022 annual business trends report indicates that with the boundaries between work and home life blurred by remote and hybrid working, and business leaders concerned about profitability and cashflow throughout the year ahead, the cost of living crisis is quickly becoming a wellbeing crisis for many. Despite this, the amount of businesses planning to prioritise staff wellbeing has fallen slightly since last year’s survey, down from 42% to 40%.

“Employees, managers, leaders and business owners are all feeling the pressure to make ends meet.” The report states. “This has been exacerbated by new post-Brexit trading experiences. UK businesses continue to navigate their way through the new rules and requirements of making deals with the EU from the outside, and are beginning to absorb the impact of new restrictions alongside reduced access to EU nationals in the workforce.

“Companies are doubling down on their key strategies to achieve growth and profit, and employees are at the heart of this. Staff shortages continue to be a challenge, with no sign that this will change any time soon.”

Part of the workload issue comes not from lack of staff, but from inefficiencies caused by legacy technology. Employers moving to hybrid and remote working during the pandemic have not always succeeded in ensuring that the systems and processes their teams are using are still fit for purpose now that the change has become permanent, with 60% of finance workers saying they regularly have trouble accessing work software from home, and just 20% of businesses in the finance sector having adopted Cloud-based solutions to fit with their new ways of working.

A tech skills shortage, however, is also to blame, with 41% of survey respondents across all industries saying that they currently have to outsource some or all of their IT requirements due to a lack of in-house expertise, and 87% of law firms reporting difficulties filling IT roles specifically. Interestingly, responses also showed that despite employee demand for flexible and remote working, only 21% of law firms are planning to attract better candidates by enabling flexible working.

 

“Employees are crying out for flexibility, about how and where they work. They want choice. They want to be empowered to be productive and to work in a way that best suits their personal preferences – however those preferences may change – while supporting the goals of the organisation.” Says Victoria Robinson, Hybrid Workforce Strategy & Culture Leader at PwC UK. “The winners in all of this will be those organisations able to take a human approach to understanding these challenges and opportunities. They can then apply the framework, technology and support needed for a more customised approach that works for different employees, while optimising their productivity and the productivity of their teams.”

 

Advanced’s report notes that “Technology can help with everyday timetabling challenges and support increased productivity, enabling people to get more done in their contracted working day so they don’t feel the pressure to work extra hours and risk burn-out. Businesses will need to invest in tools that support employees wherever they are based.”