From the looming retirement crisis to the fastest ever fall in the number of EU workers, we look at the top 10 scariest facts and statistics about HR that are likely to impact the world of work in the near future.

1. Employee mental health & wellbeing

A staggering 70 million workdays are lost each year due to mental health problems in the UK, costing employers approximately £2.4 billion per year. Mental health is a business imperative. People are the most important resource, yet one in four will have a mental health issue. Mental health issues are the number one cause of sickness absence in the UK. Around half of all long-term sick leave in the UK is due to stress, depression, and anxiety.

The statistics are concerning, not just for the pandemic but the predictions beyond it. Over the past year we have seen companies doing great things to support employee wellbeing during the tough times of the pandemic, but employers need to be looking at what additional wellbeing initiatives and support they can offer their employees.

2. Alcohol dependency among staff

There are 31,767,000 workers in the UK. And a recent survey has found that 85% of 2,600 people surveyed have been drunk in the workplace in the last year. 31% of them admitted to being drunk at work or being unable to work as well due to alcohol, at least once a week.

Based on that 31% sample. This means that 9.8 million of the British workforce in any one week is drunk at work or has impaired capacity to work. That is a massive 1 in 4 British businesses that have, on average, at least one worker per week at work who is drunk. Or incapable of carrying out their job properly because of alcohol.

It is estimated that £7.3 billion is lost each year in business productivity due to alcohol-related issues in the workplace. And 17 million working days are lost each year due to alcohol-related sickness! And a staggering 200,000 workers turn up to work hungover on any given working day.

3. Company car drivers’ accidents

Did you know that company car and van drivers are involved in a staggering one in every four serious accidents on the road? And sadly, every week around 200 serious injuries and, even worse, road deaths occur that involve fleet drivers.

The cost of these accidents does not only ruin people’s lives, but it also has a huge impact on the companies who employee the fleet drivers that are involved in the road accidents, more often than not costing them hundreds of thousands of pounds (sometimes even millions) on fleet repairs, insurance, time off work for drivers and court cases, etc.

4. Cost of recruitment

On average, the cost to employers of replacing a single member of staff is more than £30,000, according to a recent report. The analysis from Oxford Economics found that by far the greatest expense (more than £25,000) comes from loss of productivity caused by the time it takes (28 weeks on average) for a new recruit to get up to speed.

The remaining costs arise from the logistics of finding a replacement, it said. This includes agency fees, advertising costs, HR and management time, and the possibility of hiring temps before the new role started.

The analysis was based on figures drawn from five different sectors: retail, legal, accountancy, advertising, and IT and technology. Over a year, the report said the total costs for the sectors combined would amount to £4.13 billion.

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5. Engagement

According to the 2020 Global Culture Report, compiled by O.C. Tanner Institute, as much as 50% of employees in the UK feel underappreciated at work. Added to this, social distancing measures mean that as much as half of the employed population are still working remotely, further adding to the likelihood of them beginning to feel detached and neglected.

Work-life balance is the top driver of engagement at work, but it is not traditionally an aspect that many employers ask their employees about. Businesses tend to focus on standard elements like pay or traditional career progression, but recent studies show factors like showing support for your employees’ work-life balance and giving them a chance to try more lateral things in their role have a greater impact on engagement.

6. Employment tribunal statistics

The employment tribunal quarterly statistics for the period from April to June 2020 published by the Ministry of Justice, reveal:

Single claim receipts and caseload outstanding rose by 18% and 31% respectively in this period, while disposals decreased by 21% to 4,496 compared to the same period in 2019.  Multiple claim receipts and disposals dropped by 43% and 47% respectively, while outstanding caseloads increased by 6%.

Annual compensation and costs awards figures have also been published for the employment tribunals and the EAT.  A total of 160 discrimination cases were awarded compensation in 2019/20.  The highest award, amounting to nearly £266,000 was for disability discrimination, while age discrimination cases received the largest mean average award (£39,000) compared to other discrimination jurisdictions.  Unfair dismissal means average awards decreased to £10,812 from £13,704 in the previous annual figures.

The Ministry of Justice commented that the increase in single claim receipts was likely to be due to rising levels of unemployment and changes to working conditions during the pandemic.  It noted that this was “the highest level of single employment tribunal claims since 2012/13”.  Caseload outstanding has surpassed its peak levels recorded in 2009/10.

7. The majority of workers over 50 want flexible working

Currently, in the UK, there are 10.2 million people over the age of 50 in employment. The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) arranged for a large-scale survey of over 12,000 workers over 50 and found that nearly 80% wanted more flexible hours and 73% wanted to see more part-time positions offered. 63% said that they wanted training schemes to help them gain new skills and to deal with technology.

8. Fastest ever fall in number of EU workers

Figures released by the Office for National Statistics have shown that the number of EU workers in the UK has taken the sharpest fall since records were first taken back in 1997. In the period between July and September 2018, numbers fell by 4.5% compared to the same period in 2017, which equates to 107,000 people.

The CIPD recently advised that employers are finding vacancies harder to fill due to the decline in migrants coming to the UK since the vote to leave the EU. More than two in five employers have reported finding it “more difficult” to fill vacancies over the past 12 months.

9. Retirement

In the UK today, there are approximately 12 workers for every retired person. By 2050 that is expected to reduce to four workers per pensioner. That is a third as many workers to fund a bill that is going to be three times as large. Or, in other words, nine times as much tax that somebody is going to have to pay.

Excluding those still lucky enough to be in a final salary scheme, the average UK worker today retires with a pension pot of £40,000. With annuity rates around 5% that will buy a pension of £800 a year – or about £15.50 a week.

According to one online pension calculator, an 18-year-old on the new living wage who puts away 8% of their pay for their whole working life would end up with a pension of roughly £3,700 per year at age 68. That is assuming their employer puts in the current requirement of a 3% contribution.

It is fairly evident that there is a huge crisis looming and somebody, sometime soon, is going to have to do something about it.

10. Apprenticeships

Recently published apprenticeship and traineeship statistics for final year-end data for 2019/20 reveal:

Total apprenticeship starts are down 18%. The number of apprenticeships starting for the whole of 2018/19 totalled 393,400, but this dropped to 322,500 in 2019/20. Of those who started in 2019/20, 47% were from apprentices aged over 25, while 25% were for higher apprenticeships.

Starts for both level 2 apprenticeships and under 19 apprentices dropped.

Traineeship starts were also down 18%. Starts on traineeships took another dip in 2019/20, falling to just 12,100 from 14,900 the year before.

Take-up of the pre-employment programme, introduced in 2013, hit a high of 24,100 in 2015/16 but have been dropping since.

From August until 12 November 2020, the number of apprenticeship redundancies reported so far was 1,190. Of these, 22% were under 19s, 35% were aged 19 to 24, while 43% were for 25s and over.

The Government hopes to triple traineeship starts to over 40,000 for this academic year, with a higher funding rate for 19 to 24-year-olds, employer incentives and a tender to find extra providers among new measures.