Voice of the Employee

Over two thirds (67 per cent) of 18-26 year olds have admitted to ‘faking’ the extent of their workloads by staying late at the office beyond their contracted hours, according to a YouGov poll commissioned by global technology company Ricoh.

These findings are included in a new report – titled ‘Overhauling a culture of ‘presenteeism’ at workwhich examines the extent to which young professionals are truly being given the platform to build a successful career in the UK.

Polling 1,249 knowledge workers across the UK, the research also revealed that 39 per cent of 18-26 year-olds believe working away from the office could damage their career progression, while nearly half (41 per cent) feel their bosses favour staff that work over their contracted hours in the office.

Phil Keoghan, CEO of Ricoh UK & Ireland, said: “Britain cannot continue to allow these outdated and analogue working practices to triumph in the digital age. We should be equipping new generations of young professionals with the latest technologies and enabling them with personalised flexible working plans so they can bring new skills to businesses.

“Despite the government introducing new legislation to grant every employee the legal right to request flexible working almost two years ago, it seems that businesses are still rewarding the idea that employees who work the longest hours at their desks – not those producing the best work – will be favoured by management.”

The findings also reveal that young professionals are calling for the government to do more to support businesses as they implement a more tech-enabled working culture, with nearly one in three (30 per cent) saying that the government is performing poorly in its efforts to help people work flexibly.

The young workers have pinpointed education as a key way for the government and businesses to accelerate change in this area, with:

  • 58 per cent calling for the government to educate employers more about the benefits of flexible working
  • Nearly half (49 per cent) believing the government should ensure businesses are clear on their employer obligations to provide access to this style of work
  • Over one in three (39 per cent) calling for the government to educate businesses about their employees’ rights around tech-enabled working

Young workers also appreciate the relationship between digital skills and success, with nearly half (47 per cent) calling for the government to connect employers with technology experts, and a third (31 per cent) calling for it to provide grants and funding for the provision of new technologies to enable a more flexible workforce.

Keoghan added: “As digital natives naturally accustomed to using mobiles and tablet computers for work and pleasure, young British workers are hit hardest by the impact of this old-fashioned working etiquette.

“We cannot risk letting the UK’s digital economy stall by failing to enable the next generation to embrace their own workstyles through technology. Only by freeing the country’s future leaders from the shackles of a ‘presenteeist’ culture at work can we truly foster wider innovation and positive change.”

This research marks the launch of Ricoh’s Growth Through Workstyle Innovation campaign, highlighting the benefits for businesses that equip employees with technology to enable them to succeed in their careers.

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