Half of all UK tech workers are worried about their mental health
It’s World Mental Health Day, an opportunity for all of us to help raise awareness of mental health issues and work to eliminate the social stigma attached to them. Reach out to friends, family and loved ones today, but also keep doing it. We're all going to need more than one day of sensitivity and concern a year if we want to cut down on the terrible toll that mental health issues take on our society.
Suffering in silence can feel impossibly hard, so if you’re going through something that feels like has no answers or happy ending, please reach out. If you’re not suffering from mental health issues, reach out to those who may be, get informed and get involved.
Every year, almost 800,000 people globally take their own life, and many more people attempt suicide. Every suicide is a tragedy that affects families, communities and has long-lasting effects on the people left behind. It's the leading cause of death among young people aged 20-34 years in the UK and is the second leading cause of death among 15-29 year-olds globally, according to Time to Change.
In the UK’s tech industry, mental health is increasingly being revealed as a major issue. Half of the UK’s tech professionals have been concerned about their mental health due to work, either in the past or right now, according to The Harvey Nash Tech Survey, which surveyed over 2,000 tech professionals.
This is equivalent to over 600,000 UK tech professionals having had mental health concerns as a result of their work.
“No one would pretend that working in the tech sector is a walk in the park, but for it to be pushing over half its workers into a state of mental health concern is a real issue for the sector, and in particular, for those very small companies where a greater proportion of workers report that they are currently affected by stress,” said Albert Ellis, CEO of Harvey Nash.
While the survey found that companies are relatively supportive when it comes to mental health issues, with three-quarters (77%) having at least some kind of support in place, it also found that those companies who are ‘unsupportive’ have almost three times as many workers concerned about their mental health right now as ‘very supportive’ ones.
A similar trend emerged regarding how flexible an employer is on working arrangements: very inflexible businesses are three times more likely than highly flexible ones to have workers with mental health issues (31% versus 9%).
The single highest cause of stress is being short of staff. This has become a major issue as recently revealed by the Harvey Nash/KPMG CIO Survey which found that the UK’s tech industry is experiencing the highest skills shortage for more than a decade, with almost two thirds of CIOs (64%) reporting a shortfall of talent. It seems that the existing tech team are the ones being stretched to breaking point to make up for this.
Hours worked has a direct impact on stress levels, with the tipping point at over 50 hours a week. Tech professionals working these hours are twice as likely to be affected by stress to a great extent - and see their work suffer as a result - than those that work under 50 hours a week.
“It was once said we spend a third of our time in bed (so buy a good bed); a third at home (so keep work time at home to a minimum); and a third at work. In supporting colleagues, where do we look for the source of a problem and where do we look for their safe place?” asks Ed Hutt, Group CIO at SIG, when asked about the impact of company culture on employee mental unwellness, and how to support a staff member with mental health problems. “It does not have to be that work is the root of all evil. It may be a source of relief. Pain is nature’s way of telling us to slow down and mental health problems require the same type of wound recovery support. We might use paid leave of absence to give a colleague the downtime they need to recover before gently supporting them back slowly into the workplace. But always remember to ‘immobilise the injured limb’ and immobilise their email account so they do have a genuine rest.”
Good luck, stay safe and, from the team here at Gigabit, if you need to talk, visit Anxiety UK, Bipolar UK, CALM, Men's Health Forum, The Mental Health Foundation, Mind, No Panic, OCD Action, the Samaritans, or you can email me at [email protected] or call/text on 0743 20 88 051. I know a lot less than the other folks, but I'm always happy to talk.
Start-ups receive $60 billion investment, smash 2020 record
Start-ups on the continent have raised a massive 43.8 billion euros ($60.9 billion) in just the first six months of 2021, according to figures from Dealroom, surpassing the record 38.5 billion euros invested last year..
This is despite the fact that the number of venture deals signed so far is around half the amount agreed in 2020. Only about 2,700 funding rounds have been raised so far this year, compared to 5,200 last year.
Prime examples in times of change
Examples are Swedish buy-now-pay-later firm Klarna which has raised more than $1.6 billion in two financing rounds, the German stock trading app Trade Republic received $900 million in May and British payments provider Checkout.com snapped up $450 million at the start of the year.
The figures suggest that European tech firms are pulling in far larger sums of money per investment than in previous years, which defies the economic uncertainty of the pandemic and boosted online services enormously.
The CEO of Checkout.com, Guillaume Pousaz, said start-ups have often been created in times of crisis, citing the emergence of several new financial technology companies in the wake of the 2008 global financial crisis.
He added that big transformational change was often the time when there is the emergence of a lot of new start-ups, sometimes when people are losing their jobs for associated reasons.
UK leading the charge
Scale-Up Europe, a group that includes the founders of UiPath and Wise, proposed 21 recommendations to help the region build “the next generation of tech giants.” Among the suggestions are tax credits to corporates for investing in start-ups and regulatory changes that adapt to new innovations.
Sebastian Siemiatkowski, CEO of Klarna, said the U.K. leads Europe when it comes to tech policy, and that there were a number of regulatory issues needing to be addressed before the European Union can produce tech giants of its own.
Siemiatkowski highlighted EU regulation of web cookies as an example of “poor regulation.” Yet, as the number of $1 billion start-ups in Europe continues to grow, the number of exits in the continent is also increasing.
This year has already seen some notable acquisitions, including Etsy’s $1.6 billion purchase of U.K. fashion resale app Depop and JPMorgan’s takeover of London robo-advisor Nutmeg.
As for stock market listings, a number of notable debuts have taken place in London in particular, including food delivery app Deliveroo, cybersecurity firm Darktrace and reviews site Trustpilot. Money transfer giant Wise, formerly known as TransferWise, plans to go public in the U.K. capital soon.