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Employees less focused on their careers Aviva

COVID changed our career priorities – study

Almost half of employees in the UK have become less focused on their careers as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, while women are more likely to experience negative impact on work/life balance, according to new research by Aviva.

The report ‘Thriving in the Age of Ambiguity’ draws on findings from the last 18 months, beginning in February 2020 before Covid-19 struck, to explore the impact on working life – from wellbeing and work-life balance to employee-employer relationships.

Research shows that new patterns of living and working due to the pandemic have prompted many Britons to reassess their relationship with the workplace. Almost half of surveyed employees (47%) said they care less about climbing the corporate ladder, with 21% reporting a negative impact on how they feel about their job.

Aviva’s report reveals that more than one in three (35%) employees feel their work/life balance has improved during the pandemic, although one in five (20%) have been negatively impacted.

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. One result of this always-on, ever-present culture is that 40% of employees are concerned about work-related burnout.


While research found that both men and women are equally likely (52%) to feel the boundaries between work and home are “increasingly blurred”, the impact of that has disproportionately affected women.

Aviva’s findings show women are:

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


As employees throughout the UK are facing the prospect of returning to the office, Aviva warns that employers must “carefully examine how they bring people back into the workplace to avoid deepening the gender divide”.

Aviva’s findings show the working population has diverse preferences when it comes to designing the optimal working week. 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%).

The report also found that 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.

Meanwhile, 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, 69% of 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.

Debbie Bullock, wellbeing lead at Aviva, said: “Employees will look for something in return to encourage [staff] back to the office, and employers must ensure offices become a destination for collaborating, mentoring and socialising to rebuild relationships.

“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.”


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