The long-term perspective on employee development and well-being at work

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Here, Mark Creighton, CEO of Avado, talks about the urgent need to overhaul our skills system and focus on the young people of tomorrow, ensuring they have the capabilities to thrive as we enter a new hybrid work phase

In recent years, the country has made great strides in standardizing conversations about mental health and well-being in the workplace. Mental health is becoming an increasingly dominant part of the conversation in everyday life, with stigmas starting to disappear. At Avado, we were aware of the challenges businesses and employees faced during the pandemic. We were curious to find out more about what could be done to improve well-being and mental health at work, both because of the pandemic, but also the new environment it has created beyond the initial crisis.

By further exploring the state of skills gaps and the ways companies perceive and approach employee development, we commissioned research for a report titled Beyond Skills. We spoke with 500 executives and 500 HR managers across the UK to hear their perspectives. Not only has the skills gap widened so much that we are facing a capacity gap, it’s also evident that a lack of attention to employee development in 2020 has had major repercussions. Over 63% of our respondents expressed concern that a lack of workforce capacity could impact mental health. This means that the focus on the survival of the company last year came at the expense of the mental health of some employees.

There are tons of conversations surrounding the skills gap – the importance of learning and development, but many of these conversations ignore the connection between employee development and impact on mental health. Inevitably, skills development increases an individual’s confidence in his role and provides greater security in his ability to perform his job, when the organization can adapt to a new environment.

What does the capacity gap look like for the industry and how can we correct it to support employee well-being?

The pandemic has brought huge changes to government and the public sector. With many other sectors to close, this was simply not an option. Many public sector organizations have been reduced to the bare minimum and working with small teams has become standard practice. This has forced people to adapt quickly, moving heritage services online and taking on additional workloads. It is therefore not surprising that there has been an increase in training budgets within this sector.

Even though training budgets have increased in government and the public sector, our research found that 74% of those surveyed wished more had been invested in development. Another 72% said they wanted more time to implement sufficient and long-term training measures. In addition to this and the aforementioned mental health concerns, the lack of investment in employee development has led to an increased risk of layoffs. Over 55% of those surveyed agreed that a skills gap could lead to job losses.

These numbers should remind all leaders to listen to their employees, but also to understand that implementing effective and responsive training strategies can have a much broader impact on their employees and their operations. The link between personal well-being and lack of capacity in the workplace indicates that capacity can act as a protector against insecurity, worry and low self-esteem. Thus, the well-being of employees should be at the heart of the concerns of companies in all sectors, and continued investment in your people should be the optimal course of action.

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