Almost two thirds of UK workers hide an aspect of their lives at work

New data from Inclusive Employers reveals workers are most likely to hide family and mental health issues at work.

New research reveals nearly two thirds (61 per cent) of UK workers feel they keep an aspect of their lives hidden at work. The research from Inclusive Employers shows family difficulties (46 per cent) was the most likely hidden issue at work, followed by mental health (31 per cent). One in five also admit they would hide their sexual orientation while at work.

It also finds a generational divide, with 67 per cent of employees aged between 18 -24 years old keeping something secret compared to 55 per cent of those over aged 55 years or over.

The data, released for National Inclusion Week 2017, shows UK workers are still uncomfortable about having honest conversations at work. The research finds this lack of openness can have negative impacts on workers and employers, with more than a quarter of workers (26 per cent) admitting they would feel less connected to their workplace if they hid an aspect of themselves and 18 per cent saying their performance would suffer.

When asked what conversations employees found most difficult to have with their line manager, one in three (31 per cent) say having conversations about their family and personal life is the most challenging. Women are more likely to find this difficult, at 34 per cent, compared to 28 per cent of men. Salary negotiations were the next most cited difficult conversation, with 28 per cent of workers finding it hard to discuss with management.

Set up by Inclusive Employers, National Inclusion Week takes place annually to raise awareness and highlight the importance and benefits of a diverse and inclusive workforce. The theme for this fifth year is ‘Connect for Inclusion’, and is challenging organisations across the UK 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 inclusive workplace.

Richard McKenna, director of Inclusive Employers, says, ‘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 board room 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.’