September 26, 2017
UK workers are still uncomfortable about having honest conversations at work, with nearly two thirds (61 percent) feel they keep an aspect of their lives hidden in the workplace. The research from Inclusive Employers found family difficulties (46 percent) was the most likely hidden issue at work, followed by mental health (31 percent). One in five also admitted they would hide their sexual orientation while at work. It also found a generational divide, with 67 percent of employees aged between 18 -24 years old keeping something secret compared to 55 percent of those over aged 55 years or over. The data, released to mark National Inclusion Week 2017, found this lack of openness can have negative impacts on workers and employers, with over a quarter of workers (26 percent) admitting they would feel less connected to their workplace if they hid an aspect of themselves and 18 percent saying their performance would suffer.
When asked what conversations employees found most difficult to have with their line manager, one in three (31 percent) found having conversations about their family and personal life the most challenging. Women are more likely to find this difficult, at 34 percent, compared to 28 percent of men. Salary negotiations were the next most cited difficult conversation, with 28 percent of workers finding it hard to discuss with management.
Set up by Inclusive Employers, National Inclusion Week takes place annually to raise awareness and highlight the importance and benefits of a diverse and inclusive workforce. The theme for this fifth year is ‘Connect for Inclusion’, and is challenging organisations across the UK to take the opportunity to meet new people that differ from their everyday inner work circle, gain new perspectives and ideas and understand how to build a more inclusive workplace.
Richard McKenna, Director of Inclusive Employers, said: “It is worrying to see that even today, six out of 10 workers in the UK are keeping a part of their personality hidden at work. The fact that younger employees are more likely to hide things is in stark contrast to popular belief about Millennial Generation oversharing. In reality, they need to be supported around the complex conversations in the workplace and in how their manager will respond.
As a society we have come a long way, but this research highlights UK businesses need to do a lot more to make their workforce feel more included and comfortable. This is the responsibility and opportunity of management at every level, from board room culture and leadership to line manager interactions and knowledge about how to handle sensitive conversations.
We encourage all employers to connect with their staff and to provide the support and training that many of us will need to be able to have more open and honest discussions about the things that are worrying us.
The positive impact of a healthy and happy workforce on individuals and organisational performance has been well documented over the last few years. Employers now have an urgent need to ensure inclusion is understood as commercially critical rather than a charitable nice to have. If leadership teams do one things during National Inclusion Week they should step out from any in-group and meet colleagues that they don’t usually interact with – I think they may well be pleasantly surprised by what/who they find.”
Inclusive Employers works across a wide range of organisations to help build inclusive cultures, including the public, private and third sectors. Inclusive Employers offers a range of bespoke services from a one-off consultancy session, training packages or an on-going relationship through membership to help make inclusion at work an everyday reality.
National Inclusion Week takes place between 25th September and 1st October, 2017