A substantial amount of UK employees do not feel comfortable divulging information about themselves to their bosses
New research from Inclusive Employers has found that almost two thirds of UK workers hide an aspect of their lives at work. The research found family difficulties was the most likely issue to be hidden at work (46%), closely followed by mental health issues (31%) and one in five also admitted they felt the need to hide their sexual orientation at work.
The research was released concurrently with National Inclusion Week 2017 to show that UK workers still feel uncomfortable having open and honest conversations with their employers. The theme for its fifth year is ‘Connect for Inclusion’, which is challenging organisations to take the opportunity to meet new people that differ from their everyday inner work circle, gain new perspectives and ideas and understand how to build a more open and inclusive workplace.
There was also a clear generational divide as 67% of employees aged 18-24 were the least likely to open up about their lives compared to 55% of those aged 55 and over.
This lack of openness can have negative implications, as over a quarter of workers (26%) admit they would feel less connected to their workplace and 18% stating their performance would also suffer.
It seems employees have a level of mistrust towards their employers and therefore find it difficult to divulge sensitive information about themselves. When they were asked what conversations, they found most difficult to have with their line managers, one in three (31%) admitted conversations about their families and personal lives were the most difficult. Women, in particular, found this challenging at 34% compared to 28% of men. Conversations about salary closely followed with 28% of workers finding it difficult to bring up to management.
Richard McKenna, Director of Inclusive Employers, said: “It is worrying to see that even today, six out of 10 workers in the UK are keeping a part of their personality hidden at work. The fact that younger employees are more likely to hide things is in stark contrast to popular belief about Millennial Generation oversharing. In reality, they need to be supported around the complex conversations in the workplace and in how their manager will respond.”
“As a society we have come a long way, but this research highlights UK businesses need to do a lot more to make their workforce feel more included and comfortable. This is the responsibility and opportunity of management at every level, from boardroom culture and leadership to line manager interactions and knowledge about how to handle sensitive conversations.”
“We encourage all employers to connect with their staff and to provide the support and training that many of us will need to be able to have more open and honest discussions about the things that are worrying us.”
“The positive impact of a healthy and happy workforce on individuals and organisational performance has been well documented over the last few years. Employers now have an urgent need to ensure inclusion is understood as commercially critical rather than a charitable nice to have. If leadership teams do one things during National Inclusion Week they should step out from any in-group and meet colleagues that they don’t usually interact with – I think they may well be pleasantly surprised by what/who they find.”