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UK workers prioritise company culture

Company culture is more important than financial reward for 85 percent of UK workers, according to interim analysis of new research commissioned by Berwick Partners.

Not only do people vote culture the top and most key factor for good wellbeing at work and more important than salary and bonuses, they also place it above career progression, an organisation’s purpose, and flexible working.

Analysis of the research findings to date also finds that two-thirds (60%) of people feel they are yet to experience ‘excellent’ wellbeing provision in the workplace, with the same number admitting that workplace stress is affecting their personal life.

Executive search and recruitment firm Berwick Partners launched its Wellbeing and Mental Health survey in March, aiming to gain insights into UK workers' experiences and perceptions of workplace wellbeing, in a bid to help employers better understand how they can better support employees with their mental and physical wellbeing.

Commenting on the study and its initial findings, Tahira Raja, an associate partner at Berwick Partners who is leading the research, said: “The majority of organisations are still on the wellbeing and mental health at work ‘journey’. This new research is designed to measure the impact of wellbeing strategies so far in place, to inform any necessary fine-tuning, as well as support and guide organisations that are still developing a wellbeing at work strategy for their staff.

“Halfway into the survey period and six weeks since its launch, we have analysed the initial results. This has confirmed that the overwhelming majority of respondents believe that company culture is a key aspect of work wellbeing, with 85% ranking this as more important than even financial reward. Disappointingly, a further 50% say their company culture is unsupportive.

“These initial findings clearly signal a need for organisations to increase the pace of implementation of wellbeing strategies and improve provisions as a matter of urgency.

“We spend much of our time at work, or working, and want to feel good about that. How we feel at and about work is significant, and a positive, supportive culture is vital - arguably now more than ever with so many people working in lockdown from home during the Coronavirus pandemic. This type of agile working is likely to continue as the future way in which work is set to change.”

The survey’s interim findings indicate a slow uptake in implementing wellbeing provision at an organisational level, despite an increase in awareness around wellbeing and mental health.

“This demonstrates a real opportunity for forward-thinking, agile businesses that can respond to what the workforce wants,” says Tahira. “Tech sector businesses are frequently cited as providing excellent wellbeing provision but surprisingly, so too are the food manufacturing and petrochemicals industries which have also scored highly in our study.”

For people working for an organisation that already has wellbeing strategies in place, many say they feel uncomfortable about using them: “It would seem the perceptions and stigmas associated with mental health and wellbeing still exist, with people saying that to use the support offered by employers would show ‘weakness’,” Tahira explains.

“Our research suggests that fewer than 50% of managers feel they have been adequately trained in creating a positive culture around wellbeing and mental health. So perhaps it is less a lack of ‘will’ but rather a lack of ‘skill’, which can – and should – be solved as a priority.

“The survey is open until the end of April, so responses will span pre and during Coronavirus which will make the findings particularly interesting and reveal whether there has been any prevailing shift in attitudes towards wellbeing at work in light of the pandemic and the measures and response to contain it.”

Berwick Partners is running the survey with DLA Piper’s employment law team and the workplace mental health consultants InsideOut to investigate the role of corporate wellbeing and mental health provision in employee retention. To take part, visit: https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/MentalHealthWellbeingSurvey2020x

A report of the full findings and analysis will be published in October to coincide with World Mental Health Day.

Tahira Raja is an associate partner within Berwick Partners’ Financial Leadership Practice, which specialises in delivering senior leadership appointments across all sectors, helping businesses to secure financial talent ranging from finance directors and controllers, through to specialist roles in audit, treasury, tax and financial transformation. The team works with businesses of all sizes from SMEs to blue-chip multinationals. 

Pictured: Tahira Raja from Berwick Partners in Birmingham

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