‘47% less career focused since the pandemic’

A survey from Aviva shows women are more worried than men about burnout and that many employees have become less career focused after Covid.

Mental Health - a women holding her head


Almost half of employees have become less career focused as a result of the pandemic, up from a third in August 2020 according to a survey by Aviva.

The  Thriving in the Age of Ambiguity’  survey of 2,000 employees at large companies also shows a division between those who have had a positive experience of pandemic working versus those who haven’t – with women more worried about burnout than men and less likely to want to work three days or more in the office after Covid.

Aviva’s findings come as the Health Secretary confirmed that the remaining legal Covid restrictions will be lifted next Monday, including the request to work from home if possible, to wear masks and to socially distance. Employers can decide to enforce their own rules and the Government is recommending that people wear masks in indoor places and that the return to the workplace is rolled out gradually.

Aviva’s research reveals that more than one in three (35%) workers feel their work/life balance has improved during the pandemic. However, one in five (20%) have been negatively impacted, while a similar percentage (21%) report a negative impact on how they feel about their job.

More than two in five (44%) employees feel they can never switch off from work, while nearly as many (39%) feel their employer does not encourage them to do so outside of their contracted hours. Forty per cent are concerned about work-related burnout, with women more affected by a blurring of lines between work and home life than men.

Women are more likely to report a negative impact on their work/life balance (24% vs. 16% of men) and more concerned about the risk of work-related burnout (46% vs. 35% of men). They are also more likely to feel life has become more challenging over the last six months (77% vs. 72% of men)and less likely to feel hard work entitles them to claim back  “me” time during work hours (64% vs.72% of men).

There is also a split on ways of working post Covid, with gender being a factor. Nearly as many people (14%) would prefer to work full time in the office as feel their most productive arrangement means working from home five days a week (15%).

While more than half of men (52%) feel the most productive ‘hybrid’ work arrangement for them would involve three or more days in the office,  only 44% of women agree. More than two in three women (67%) feel complete flexibility around which hours they work during the day (aside from in person/virtual meetings) would make them more productive. Among men, 62% feel the same.

Overall, nearly seven in 10 (69%) employees say flexible working will play a bigger role in future decisions about their job or career choices. Women are more likely than men (71% vs 67%) to say this is the case.

Generational impact

Aviva’s research, conducted in 2020 and in March 2021, also highlights generational differences in people’s priorities in their current jobs. When it comes to working patterns, adults in Gen X – aged 40-54 – are almost twice as likely to prefer full-time home working as those in Gen Z, aged 18-24 (15% vs. 8%).

More than one in three (34%) adults in Gen Z rank the social aspect of being with or around other people at work as their number one priority. This compares with just 20% across all age groups.

In contrast, adults in Gen X aged 40-54 cherish work-life balance more than any other age group, with nearly half (47%) stating this is their single biggest priority.

Gen Y – adults aged 25-39 – are the most likely age group to put a premium on peace of mind and good mental wellbeing: 33% make this their top priority, compared with 25% overall.

Debbie Bullock, Wellbeing Lead at Aviva, said: “It is also vitally important that people are treated as individuals, rather than employers trying to impose a one-size-fits-all approach. The pandemic may have been a collective experience, but the impact has been fragmented in so many ways, with women especially facing particularly acute stresses from the blurring of lines between home and work.

“An always-on, ever-present culture is guaranteed to end with people’s batteries depleted, and it is essential that employers recognise long-term productivity is only possible if you make space for wellbeing to flourish at work. Businesses who choose to plough on regardless will discover to their cost that if you can’t make time for staff wellness, you will be forced to make time for illness and live with the repercussions.”


Meanwhile, another survey from PwC says the majority of people expect to return to travelling as they did before the pandemic.

It shows seven in 10 of the 2,000 people across the UK that it surveyed in April said that they will travel in the same way as they did before the pandemic. This is an increase from five in 10 (55%) at the start of the pandemic in 2020.

More than half of respondents (57%) said they are most likely to use contactless payments followed by daily off-peak reduced priced tickets (35%) to get around, with traditional ticket types like monthly (20%) and annual (18%) passes being least favoured as some people move to more flexible patterns. The survey came before the Government’s announcement on flexible season tickets and before the latest news on easing of restrictions.

The survey shows younger people are more likely to seek roles where they can work remotely at least one day a week: this is true of six in 10 (59%) people aged 18-34 compared with four in 10 (41%) aged over 55. Over half (54%) of people want to work from home at least one day a week after the pandemic.

The survey also shows that half of people are willing to pay more in travel costs to maintain the environmental
improvements, such as reduced pollution, seen during the pandemic, with those on lower salaries more willing to pay more. Over half of people wanted increased cleaning and availability of hand sanitiser on transport post-Covid.

Grant Klein, PwC’s transport leader, said: “While people expect a significant shift back to normality after the pandemic, travel patterns and plans for greater flexibility have already changed because of Covid. Contactless payments and flexible part-time tickets will become more relevant to travellers as a hybrid of remote and on-site working becomes the norm.”

Stephanie Bloor, director in PwC’s hybrid workforce strategy and culture team, added:  “Some interesting data is emerging – for example, on the role of employee personality type in successful remote working and the level of intervention employees will invite to feel safe. These insights combined with technology that’s deployed over the next six months and beyond will bring further possibilities for evolving how, when, and where we work.”

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