- Aviva’s ‘Embracing the Age of Ambiguity’ report reveals how personality and age affect behaviour, mindset and personal outcomes at work in the context of widespread uncertainty caused by Covid-19
- Introverts are most concerned about their job security and a third of them miss face-to-face contact with colleagues, compared with a quarter of extroverts
- Younger workers are most in need of tailored support: under-25s are most likely to feel some degree of anxiety and rank their mental health as poor
- Aviva urges employers to avoid a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach and offer employees personalised mental health and wellbeing support
As the UK faces ongoing periods of Covid-19 lockdowns and tiered restrictions, Aviva’s ‘Embracing the Age of Ambiguity’ report explores the impact that a growing sense of ambiguity is having on key areas of working life, from wellbeing and work-life balance to employee-employer relationships.
Conducted in collaboration with business wellbeing specialists, Robertson Cooper, the research reveals that personality plays a key role in determining our preferences, behaviours and outcomes – at home and work – and predicts a third of our wellbeing levels and a quarter of our life satisfaction scores.
Against a backdrop of widespread ambiguity in our lives currently, those who are coping better across mental wellbeing, lifestyle, health and work satisfaction tend be more naturally emotionally resilient, conscientious, and optimistic. Those with lower emotional resilience are the most vulnerable and need the most support during this time.
Personality differences, along with age demographics and personal situations in the workplace, create a strong argument against a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach to supporting, managing and motivating employees in the ‘Age of Ambiguity’. Instead, a personalised approach is required to suit the very different experiences that employees have at work. Aviva’s research shows only one in six employees (15%) agrees their employer is trying really hard to understand what motivates them and just a quarter agree their employer is genuinely concerned about their wellbeing (26%).
Introverts vs. extroverts
of introverts are concerned about not having enough face-to-face contact with colleagues
Despite the stereotype that introverts are happy to work alone, and extroverts value socialising, Aviva and Robertson Cooper’s analysis reveals that introverts are the most concerned that their workplace will not be enjoyable in the future (44% vs. 32% of extroverts). Introverts are also most concerned about the security of their job (32% vs. 25%), as well as their ability to juggle childcare and other family commitments (40% vs. 28%).
A third of introverts (36%) are also concerned about not having enough face-to-face contact with colleagues, despite the rise of video conferencing calls.
The young are most in need of tailored support
The need for personalised support is also driven by different age groups in the workplace and is revealed to be the most valuable for younger workers. Personality aside, this age group is the most likely to feel some degree of anxiety (53% reported feeling anxious vs. a national figure of 34%) and are the most likely to rank their mental health as poor (17% vs. 11% across all age groups).
of younger workers agree that working from home makes them feel less connected
This age group also misses social interaction with colleagues, with almost a quarter (24%) agreeing that working from home makes them feel less connected.
Debbie Bullock, Wellbeing Lead at Aviva, comments: “A third of employee wellbeing and satisfaction levels are determined by personality types. Personality is fixed but resilience can be developed in employees, and managers are in a great position to ensure their colleagues have the right skills and confidence to grow in their careers during this continued uncertainty. A little insight, the right conversations and skill-building can go a long way to help identify when people may need more support.
"Wherever they are working, people remain a business’ number one asset, and by providing them with the right tailored support, their contribution will be more valuable than ever before."
“Wherever they are working, people remain a business’ number one asset, and by providing them with the right tailored support, their contribution will be more valuable than ever before. Whilst many employers rightly segment their workforce along demographic lines, it’s critical to include personality type as an additional dimension. This will enable far more targeted interventions and ensure that employers provide the best physical, mental or financial welfare for their employees. The strongest businesses will be those that lead by example and adopt new ways of providing employees with tailored support.
“We believe that employers can play a major role in guiding their employees through ‘The Age of Ambiguity’. By promoting healthier habits and incremental shifts in attitudes and actions, we can empower people to make informed, balanced and positive career and lifestyle choices, whatever 2021 throws at us.”
Aviva recommends the following to help employers better support employees throughout 2021 and ‘The Age of Ambiguity’:
- Address individual mental health and wellbeing needs: Most workplaces have some form of mental health support in place for employees to find crucial care for their problems, but these services tend to focus on a ‘one-size-fits all’ solution. Aviva is calling on employers to take the time to uncover and address individual employee concerns and provide tailored support for workers where possible.
- Delivery on emerging flexibility needs: Unlike other important outcomes such as wellbeing, different personality types account for just 5% of preferences when it comes to flexible working. This means that flexibility these days is much more than a mere personal preference; it is a universally-desired coping mechanism in the face of unprecedented uncertainty. The law requires employers to consider all flexible working requests after six months’ service, and while this is an ongoing reality for many, it should be considered from day one to attract and retain valuable employees.
- Uncover employees’ sense of purpose and increase their autonomy in the workplace: Employee motivation can be increased by enabling greater ownership. When employees don’t feel they are an integral part of a programme, project or initiative, they lack a sense of purpose. Greater autonomy can be achieved by listening to what employees have to say. Providing employees with the opportunity to feed into and develop processes and communications can diminish frustration and disengagement.
To find out more about what employees feel about working life today – download Aviva’s Embracing the Age of Ambiguity report now.
Research of 2,000 UK employees working in organisations with over 1,000 employees was conducted on behalf of Aviva by Quadrangle in February 2020 and repeated in August 2020. Not all figures add up to 100% as figures have been rounded up throughout the report.
The personality data was collected using Robertson Cooper’s i-Resilience tool – a fully validated free online personality questionnaire that collects data on the ‘The Big 5’ Personality Traits: Extraversion, Agreeableness, Openness, Conscientiousness and Emotional Stability.
Notes to editors:
- For information on how Aviva is helping our people, customers and communities impacted by COVID-19 visit: www.aviva.com/covid-19-our-response/
- We exist to be with people when it really matters, throughout their lives. We have been taking care of people for more than 320 years, in line with our purpose of being ‘with you today, for a better tomorrow’. In 2020, we paid £30.6 billion in claims and benefits to our customers.
- Aviva is invested in our people, our customers, our communities and our planet. In 2021, we announced our plan to become a Net Zero carbon emissions company by 2040, the first major insurance company in the world to do so. This plan means Net Zero carbon emissions from our investments by 2040; setting out a clear pathway to get there with a cut of 25% in the carbon intensity of our investments by 2025 and of 60% by 2030; and Net Zero carbon emissions from our own operations and supply chain by 2030. Aviva has been leading this agenda for decades: Aviva was the first international insurer to go operationally carbon neutral in 2006 and we are champions of renewable energy and energy storage at our offices, allowing us to achieve our 2030 carbon reduction target (70% reduction on 2010 levels) 10 years early. Find out more about our climate goals at www.aviva.com/climate-goals and our sustainability ambition at www.aviva.com/sustainability.
- Aviva is a Living Wage and Living Hours employer and provides market-leading benefits for our people, including flexible working, paid carers leave and equal parental leave. Find out more at www.aviva.com/social-purpose
- We are focused on the UK, Ireland and Canada where we have leading market positions and significant potential. We will invest for growth in these markets. We will also transform our performance and improve our efficiency. Our transformation will be underpinned by managing our balance sheet prudently, reducing debt and increasing our financial resilience. We also have strategic investments in Singapore, China and India.
- At 30 June 2021, total Group assets under management at Aviva Group are £522 billion and our Solvency II shareholder capital surplus is £12 billion. Our shares are listed on the London Stock Exchange and we are a member of the FTSE 100 index.
- For more details on what we do, our business and how we help our customers, visit www.aviva.com/about-us
- The Aviva newsroom at www.aviva.com/newsroom includes links to our spokespeople images, podcasts, research reports and our news release archive. Sign up to get the latest news from Aviva by email.You can follow us on:
- Twitter: www.twitter.com/avivaplc/
- LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/company/aviva-plc
- Instagram: www.instagram.com/avivaplc
- For the latest corporate films from around our business, subscribe to our YouTube channel: www.youtube.com/user/aviva