Personality and age play a large role in staff behaviour and mindset at work, according to research, prompting calls for employers to adopt a more tailored approach to wellbeing for certain personality types and age brackets.
A survey of 2,000 UK workers by Aviva and Robertson Cooper found that introverts and young workers are the demographics most in need of tailored approaches to wellbeing.
Workers who described themselves as introverts were the most concerned that their workplace would not be enjoyable in the future (44 per cent), compared to just 32 per cent of extroverts. Similarly, a third (32 per cent) of introverts were concerned about job security in the wake of the pandemic, while only a quarter (25 per cent) of extroverts said the same.
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Self-reported introverts were also more concerned about their ability to juggle work, childcare and other family commitments while working from home (40 per cent, compared to only 28 per cent of extroverts).
Debbie Bullock, wellbeing lead at Aviva, said while personality was fixed, resilience could be developed in employees struggling to cope with the effects of the pandemic and long-term working from home. She added that managers were in a great position to ensure their colleagues have the right skills and confidence to grow in their careers during this continued uncertainty.
“While many employers rightly segment their workforce along demographic lines, it’s critical to include personality type as an additional dimension,” Bullock said. “This will enable far more targeted interventions and ensure that employers provide the best physical, mental or financial welfare for their employees.”
She said by promoting healthier habits and incremental shifts in attitudes and actions, employers could “empower people to make informed, balanced and positive career and lifestyle choices, whatever 2021 throws at us”.
Around one in six (15 per cent) of the employees surveyed felt their employer was trying really hard to understand what motivated them, and just a quarter (26 per cent) said their employer was genuinely concerned about their wellbeing. Similarly, 43 per cent of employees described their wellbeing as being ‘less than good’, and a majority (84 per cent) said they would carry on working even if they felt unwell.
Claire McCartney, senior resourcing and inclusion adviser at the CIPD, said employers should continue to put employee wellbeing front and centre as the UK enters this latest lockdown period. She stressed that businesses should make it clear to staff what organisational wellbeing support they have – such as occupational health, employee assistance programmes, wellbeing training or links to specialist charities and services – and how to access it.
"They should also be ensuring line managers are having regular catch-ups with all their employees, including their younger workers, to ensure they have the support they need to do their jobs and that they are prioritising their health and wellbeing,” McCartney said. “Supportive line managers will act as a strong connection to the organisation for those working remotely, as will regular opportunities to catch up with their teams and colleagues.”
Louise Aston, wellbeing director at Business in the Community, said it was no surprise employee mental health had suffered as Covid “ratcheted up the pressures on our working lives and blurred the boundaries with our personal spaces”.
“With a physical presence at work either impossible or fraught with anxiety, employers have seen more clearly than ever that success comes down to an employee’s ability to engage with the task at hand – and that poor mental health chips away at that ability,” Aston said. “Employers need to understand that no one employee is the same: a blanket approach or a very narrow one are both unlikely to work.”
The research found the need for personalised support was also driven by age. More than half (53 per cent) of workers aged 18 to 25 reported feeling some degree of anxiety during the pandemic, compared to a national figure of 34 per cent of workers across all age groups.
Additionally, young people were more likely to rate their mental health as poor (17 per cent compared to 11 per cent across all age groups). This age group also reported missing social interaction with work colleagues, with just under a quarter (24 per cent) agreeing that working from home makes them feel less connected to co-workers.