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First HP Work Relationship Index Shows Majority of UK Knowledge Workers Have an Unhealthy Relationship with Work


Sep 20, 2023 #hybrid work, #Work

HP Inc. (NYSE: HPQ) unveiled groundbreaking findings from its first HP Work Relationship Index, a comprehensive study that explores employees’ relationships with work around the world.* The study, which surveyed more than 15,600 respondents across various industries in 12 countries, reveals the world’s relationship with work is at a breaking point – and its effects are pervasive.


“This research highlights the opportunity business leaders have to strengthen the world’s relationship with work – in ways that are good for both people and business,” said Neil MacDonald, UK&I Channel Director, HP Inc. “It is our role as leaders to demonstrate and encourage workers to find the balance between productivity and happiness. The most successful organisations have healthy cultures that enable employees to excel in their careers and thrive outside of work.”

The study analysed 50+ aspects of people’s relationships with work, including the role of work in their lives, their skills, abilities, tools and workspaces, and their expectations of leadership. The study also examined the impact work has on employee well-being, productivity, engagement and culture. Through this, HP developed its Work Relationship Index, which is a measure of the world’s relationship with work to be tracked over time. It found that just 25% of knowledge workers currently have a healthy relationship with work; more details on the Index can be found here.


Unhealthy Relationships with Work are Impacting Employees’ Mental, Emotional, and Physical Well-being

In this first-of-its-kind study, HP engaged with business leaders, IT decision makers, and knowledge workers to gain insights into the factors that drive meaningful, productive, and purposeful work experiences. The findings spotlight the negative impacts an unhealthy relationship with work has on an employee’s life and an employer’s business.

When employees are not happy with their relationship with work, it takes a toll on business:

  • Morale and Engagement: UK knowledge workers report more disengagement at work (47%) and greater feelings of disconnection (49%).
  • Retention: Even when employees feel neutral about their relationship with work, more than 71% consider leaving the company. When they’re not happy at all, that number rises to 91%.

Unhealthy relationships with work can impact UK employees’ well-being:

  • Mental: More than half (57%) of these employees struggle with their self-worth and mental health, reporting low self-esteem and feeling like they are a failure.
  • Emotional: These issues naturally affect other aspects of their lives, with 45% noting that their personal relationships with friends and family suffer, and more than half (57%) are too drained to pursue their personal passions.
  • Physical: Mental and emotional health can make it harder to maintain physical well-being. 65% of employees report trouble with maintaining healthy eating, working out and getting sufficient sleep.


Identifying the Drivers Behind a Healthy Relationship with Work

Employees’ expectations of work have changed significantly, particularly over the past two years, according to nearly 47% of respondents. Fifty percent surveyed noted their expectations of how they are treated at work and in the workplace also have increased.

The research examined more than 50 factors contributing to a healthy relationship with work, identifying six core drivers that represent critical focus areas – and key imperatives – for business leaders, and comprise the Index that will be tracked over time.

  1. Fulfilment: Employees yearn for purpose, empowerment, and genuine connection to their work, but just 24% of knowledge workers currently experience these aspects consistently. To adapt to evolving workforce expectations, businesses must prioritise employee fulfilment through increased voice and agency.
  1. Leadership: New ways of working demand new leadership styles, according to 66% of business leaders; yet only one in five workers feel leaders have evolved their leadership styles accordingly.  Cultivating emotional intelligence and transparent, empathetic leadership is crucial for today’s workplace.


  1. People-centricity: Only 25% of knowledge workers consistently receive the respect and value they feel they deserve, and even fewer are experiencing the flexibility, autonomy, and work-life balance they seek. To address this, leaders must put visible emphasis on putting people first and placing their teams at the centre of decision-making.
  1. Skills: While 77% of knowledge workers value strong power and technical skills, only 32% feel consistently confident in their proficiency in either. ‘Best-practice’ businesses have an opportunity to gain a vital skills-development and employee engagement edge by investing in holistic training and support.
  1. Tools: Today’s workers want a say in the technology and tools their employer provides – and want that technology to be inclusive. However, confidence that companies will implement the right tools to support hybrid work is low, at just one in five. No longer just a utility, the technology portfolio is emerging as an important driver of employee engagement, as well as connection and enablement.


  1. Workspace: Knowledge workers want a seamless experience as they move between work locations – and a choice in where they work each day. Effective hybrid workspaces, easy transitions, flexibility and autonomy will be pivotal in demonstrating trust in employees and fostering a positive work experience.


Trust and emotional connection are now key in attracting and retaining workers

The Work Relationship Index shows that this is a pivotal time to redefine the world’s relationships with work. Greater trust and emotional connection in the workplace were strong and recurring themes across the six core drivers.

Almost three in four business leaders acknowledge that emotionally intelligent leadership is the only way a leader can be successful going forward. Significantly, the study found that emotional intelligence – and increased trust and agency – hold considerable weight with employees: 74% say they’re willing to earn less money to find an employer that values these factors.

  • Strong workplace culture: UK knowledge workers would take an 6% pay cut to work somewhere with empathetic, emotionally intelligent leadership, and above-average employee engagement and fulfilment.
  • Flexibility: The same group would give up 8% of their salary to work somewhere that lets them work where or when they want.

For more information on the Work Relationship Index and to access the full report, please visit the HP Press Centre.


HP commissioned an online survey managed by Edelman Data & Intelligence (DxI) that fielded between June 9 – July 10, 2023, in 12 countries: the U.S., France, India, U.K., Germany, Spain, Australia, Japan, Mexico, Brazil, Canada, and Indonesia. HP surveyed 15,624 respondents in total – 12,012 knowledge workers (~1,000 in each market); 2,408 IT Decision Makers (~200 in each market); and 1,204 business leaders (~100 in each market).