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Advisers told to prepare for shift in 'worker cultures'

Advisers told to prepare for shift in 'worker cultures'

Employers and advisers have been urged to accommodate evolving societal trends by an employee benefits provider, which predicted the emergence of four separate worker "cultures".

In its 31-page report The Future Workplace, out today (24 September), workplace protection provider Unum pointed to the impact of technology, flexible working and an ageing population on the future workforce.

Peter O’Donnell, chief executive at Unum, said the major societal trends of today would have a significant impact on the needs and expectations of the workforce over the next decade.

He said: "Employers will need to think ahead to ensure they attract and retain talent within this new landscape – be it through integration of new workplace technologies, clearly laying out their sustainability credentials or introducing role-sharing to enable greater flexibility."

Based on a survey of 3,000 UK workers, in partnership with independent researcher The Future Laboratory, Unum found 49 per cent of workers would be interested in harnessing technology to boost their workplace performance.

The insurer said such tech-enhanced workers would require workplace benefits that recognise and reward their commitment to heightened productivity.

Mr Farid said these products can offer indirect productivity boosts by revealing that companies care about their workers, their families and their finances.

The workplace report also found 77 per cent of employees valued flexible working to meet their life commitments, a demographic, Unum predicted, would develop into a financially and time-squeezed obligated workforce.

The report suggested the obligated workforce would rely on employee benefits that facilitate flexibility with benefits such as life insurance and income protection, and encouraged employers to consider splitting roles which may have traditionally been performed by one person.

Earlier this month, Unum launched a flexible workplace-provided benefits system allowing employees to choose additional benefits alongside those offered by their employer.

Unum’s report also identified a proportion of workers who are flexible by choice to pursue personal development - a group referred to as the self-fulfilled worker.

Unum found this demographic of workers were more likely to quit their current roles, with 30 per cent likely to do so in the next year compared with 5 per cent of the so-called obligated workers.

The report suggested an employer may increase the retention of this type of worker by offering benefits which encourage personal development such as options to purchase additional leave or grants to pursue external training.

Finally, Unum identified the socially-committed worker - with 61 per cent of employees feeling companies should make a positive contribution to society.

To encourage and support this culture, the insurer suggested employers build volunteering opportunities into employee benefit schemes and offer personal or team benefits to reward employees for sustainable activities.

Nadeem Farid, head of employee benefits at Drewberry, said while productivity was important, in reality the benefits could only go so far. 

He said: "In some cases, in driving towards improved productivity, companies can actually be making employees more stressed - while flexible working has brought enormous benefits to many, there is growing concern that it's encouraging employees to be 'always on' because they do not have a set 9-5 workday.