Companies urged to do more to improve the wellbeing of junior staff

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Research into workplace happiness found junior staff members are the least happy within the workforce.

The survey, from Office Genie, found that at the beginning and end of the work day junior staff members felt more negative about work (24 per cent before work and 22 per cent after work) than any other level of seniority.

Unsurprisingly, and fittingly for Living Wage Week, pay plays a significant part in this: 62 per cent of junior staff feel they deserve to earn a higher wage and 75 per cent want a pay rise. An annual salary on the national minimum wage is as low as £12,649 – worryingly £455 under the national living wage.

Another issue for junior staff is the denial of flexible working privileges: 46 per cent believe working from home would improve their happiness but they are not allowed to. When nearly half of junior staff report feeling overworked, flexible working could provide a welcome solution. It may also help to prevent the presenteeism found among junior staff: 64 per cent admit to going into work when they are ill – compared to 47 per cent of senior management and 43 per cent of business owners.

Despite feeling overworked, junior staff admit to not feeling fulfilled (32 per cent) or challenged (29 per cent). They also appear to receive a lack of praise: after monetary rewards (e.g pay rises, bonuses, ‘flexible hours’ (and ‘a shorter working week’ , junior staff valued ‘more praise’ as a workplace motivator – more than any other level of seniority.

Peter Ames, Head of Strategy at Office Genie,said:

“The fact junior staff are the least happy is alarming but not surprising when you consider they appear to be underpaid, undervalued and denied basic rights such as flexible working.”

“Last year we discovered a very similar phenomenon, that young employees were being overworked, and it appears as if little has changed.”

“Living Wage Week gives employers the ideal impetus to ensure they are paying junior workers a fair wage. However ,perhaps most worrying is the denial of flexible working. While junior staff may expect a lack of experience to result in a slightly lower paycheque – flexible working is a fairly universal right.

“It comes down to trust, I’d suggest that the more you trust employees by allowing things such as flexible working, the more you will get out of them.”

If you’re interested in wellbeing and HR and how the two work together, take a look at the programme for our leading wellbeing and stress forum running in November.

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