CIPD in the news: hybrid working, unhealthy working habits, racial inequality and skills and training

A round-up of the CIPD’s latest work to drive meaningful change in support of better work and working lives

Throughout the month of April, the CIPD has had a strong voice on a number of topical issues in the world of work.

Its insights and evidence on flexible working, health and wellbeing, racial inequality, and skills and training have all featured prominently in the UK media and across social media channels. The goal behind all of this work is to support the CIPD’s members, the wider people profession, and policy influencers to drive change that creates better work and working lives.

#Flexfrom1st campaign gathers pace and government taskforce reconvenes to review hybrid working arrangements

The CIPD’s #FlexFrom1st campaign gathered pace this month after it published new evidence on the productivity benefits of homeworking. It called on employers to make hybrid working a success, rather than rushing people back to their workplace when the risks of COVID-19 subside. In its report, the CIPD set out seven strategies to make hybrid working a success and stressed the need for employers to look at flexible options beyond homeworking, recognising that not all roles can be done from home.

Claire McCartney, the CIPD’s Senior Policy Adviser for Resourcing and Inclusion, said: ‘The pandemic has shown that ways of working that previously seemed impossible are actually possible’. The report attracted extensive media coverage, including, BBC News Online, BBC World News, BBC Radio Scotland, City AM, The Independent, ITV News, The Telegraph and Times Radio.

The CIPD is calling for organisations and the government to make the right to request flexible working a day-one right for all employees. The #FlexFrom1st campaign has already reached impressive numbers of employers via the CIPD’s social media channels (more than 267,000 impressions), and will continue with new awareness-raising activities on the first of every month. A CIPD webinar on preparing for and implementing a longer term move to hybrid working also proved hugely popular this month, with 714 live attendees, 96 questions asked, and more than 200 people tuning in to watch the webinar on demand after just one week.

The government taskforce on flexible working has also begun a review of hybrid working, which was covered by The Times and City AM. The task force, co-chaired by CIPD chief executive Peter Cheese, will consider how the government and businesses can support the change brought about by the pandemic, as well as whether more could be done to promote ad hoc flexible working arrangements.

With flexible working in mind, this month the CIPD also launched ParentWorks, an information hub providing guidance on supporting parents back to the workplace. Thousands of people visited the hub to get advice on how to best welcome these incredibly valuable employees back to work, including a new guide on implementing a flexible-focused strategy to aid their return. The Parent Zone area of the hub, with guidance for returning parents, was also welcomed, with many parents saying how useful it would be for their return to work.

Urging employers to address unhealthy work habits

In separate but related news, the CIPD is calling on employers to take action against unhealthy ‘always on’ work cultures, after the latest CIPD/Simplyhealth Health and Wellbeing at Work survey found worrying levels of ‘presenteeism’ (people working when unwell) and ‘leavism’ (using annual leave to work). Rachel Suff, Senior Policy Adviser, said organisations must ‘address any issues that could be creating a culture where staff feel they are expected to work when ill or feel it’s the only way they can stay on top of their workload. Employers need to ensure that line managers are aware of the risks of presenteeism and being always on’. The report was covered by The Telegraph, HR Magazine and Personnel Today.

Independent commission backs the CIPD’s calls for investment in skills and training

The CIPD’s call for an overhaul of the Apprenticeship Levy attracted renewed attention in the media this month thanks to the publication of the Covid Recovery Commission’s blueprint for a National Prosperity Plan to boost growth and living standards. The independent commission’s report cited the CIPD’s evidence for the case for replacing the Levy with a £10,000 lifelong training allowance for all over-25s.

A missed opportunity to improve racial equality in the workplace

In response to the controversial report released by the Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities last month, the CIPD has been re-emphasising its call for mandatory ethnicity pay reporting, which it first proposed to the UK’s Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) in January 2019. In a media statement that was covered earlier this month by the Financial Times (subscription required), Peter Cheese criticised the report for failing to acknowledge the need for more transparency, in order to highlight sectors in which racial inequalities are preventing people from minority ethnic backgrounds from progressing into more senior, higher paid roles.

In a blog post on the CIPD community site, Head of Policy, Ben Wilmott, and Inclusion and Diversity Adviser, Abdul Wahab, concluded that the report’s recommendations fall short of what is required to tackle racial inequality at work and its failure to call for greater transparency is a missed opportunity to improve racial equality in the workplace.

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