Knowledge workers have a particularly unhealthy relationship with work

Three quarters of UK knowledge workers say they have an unhealthy relationship with work and two thirds of those say that work has had a negative effect on their health and wellbeingThree quarters of UK knowledge workers say they have an unhealthy relationship with work and two thirds of those say that work has had a negative effect on their health and wellbeing. That is one of the headline findings from a new report into the working lives of 15,600 people worldwide from HP. The report also suggests that three quarters of respondents would take a pay cut to be happier at work or to work wherever they want.

The study analysed over fifty aspects of people’s relationships with work, including the role of work in their lives, their skills, abilities, tools and workspaces, and their expectations of leadership. The study also examined the impact work has on employee wellbeing, productivity, engagement and culture. Through this, HP developed its Work Relationship Index, which is a measure of the world’s relationship with work to be tracked over time.

According to the poll, knowledge workers report more disengagement at work (47 percent) and greater feelings of disconnection (49 percent). Even when employees feel neutral about their relationship with work, more than 71 percent consider leaving the company. When they’re not happy at all, that number rises to 91 percent.

Other findings:

  • Mental: More than half (57 percent) of these employees struggle with their self-worth and mental health, reporting low self-esteem and feeling like they are a failure.
  • Emotional: These issues naturally affect other aspects of their lives, with 45 percent noting that their personal relationships with friends and family suffer, and more than half (57 percent) are too drained to pursue their personal passions.
  • Physical: Mental and emotional health can make it harder to maintain physical well-being. 65 percent of employees report trouble with maintaining healthy eating, working out and getting sufficient sleep.
  • Employees’ expectations of work have changed significantly, particularly over the past two years, according to nearly 47 percent of respondents. Fifty percent surveyed noted their expectations of how they are treated at work and in the workplace also have increased.

The research claims that there are six core drivers of work for business leaders to consider:

  1. Fulfilment: Employees yearn for purpose, empowerment, and genuine connection to their work, but just 24 percent of knowledge workers currently experience these aspects consistently. To adapt to evolving workforce expectations, businesses must prioritise employee fulfilment through increased voice and agency.
  2. Leadership: New ways of working demand new leadership styles, according to 66 percent of business leaders; yet only one in five workers feel leaders have evolved their leadership styles accordingly.  Cultivating emotional intelligence and transparent, empathetic leadership is crucial for today’s workplace.
  3. People-centricity: Only 25 percent of knowledge workers consistently receive the respect and value they feel they deserve, and even fewer are experiencing the flexibility, autonomy, and work-life balance they seek. To address this, leaders must put visible emphasis on putting people first and placing their teams at the centre of decision-making.
  4. Skills: While 77 percent of knowledge workers value strong power and technical skills, only 32 percent feel consistently confident in their proficiency in either. ‘Best-practice’ businesses have an opportunity to gain a vital skills-development and employee engagement edge by investing in holistic training and support.
  5. Tools: Today’s workers want a say in the technology and tools their employer provides – and want that technology to be inclusive. However, confidence that companies will implement the right tools to support hybrid work is low, at just one in five. No longer just a utility, the technology portfolio is emerging as an important driver of employee engagement, as well as connection and enablement.
  6. Workspace: Knowledge workers want a seamless experience as they move between work locations – and a choice in where they work each day. Effective hybrid workspaces, easy transitions, flexibility and autonomy will be pivotal in demonstrating trust in employees and fostering a positive work experience.