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.”