A study commissioned by Peoplesafe, has revealed that the majority of people who work in the professional services sector fear for their safety on a daily basis.
The professional services sector employs 21.4% of workers in the UK, the highest percentage within any single occupation. They include lawyers, architects, accountants, financial advisers, engineers, and consultants, among others.
While these largely office-based, or hybrid, workers may not be necessarily regarded high-risk, many of them work alone, outside of traditional office hours, or travel regularly. Such is the culture of the sector, working late is often expected and/or unavoidable where there are tight deadlines to be met.
According to the Peoplesafe survey, 78% in the Professional Services sector work late at least occasionally and 30% work late at least once a week. Yet these new figures show that 50% of women feel discouraged from doing so due to personal safety fears, compared to 42% of men.
The research also suggests that these fears are not unfounded. Just under half (44%) of people employed in the sector reported incidents in the last year that made them fear for their safety and 1 in 4 employees reported incidents directly involving violent or threatening behaviour.
The survey found that negative incidents impact productivity and have implications on business practices, where new changes must be found and implemented quickly. For 1 in 4 employees, incidents affected their productivity and wellbeing and where they occurred, 71% of employers had to implement new, costly changes.
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Suzy Lamplugh Trust CEO, Suky Bhaker, said: “These latest stats demonstrate that the safety threat to professional services workers continues to be underestimated. Employees, for whom anti-social hours and frequent travel are part of the job description, should not have to work in fear for their safety and we support any research that highlights this issue.
“Thirty-seven years after the disappearance of Suzy Lamplugh on, what was for her, just an ordinary day at work, we continue to campaign for a society in which people are safer – and feel safer – from violence and aggression.”
Peoplesafe chief executive, Naz Dossa, commented: “Professional Service companies are failing their people and the stats strongly suggest they will pay a high price in productivity and lost talent if they don’t wake up and turn their attention to employee safety. It is clear that they are not delivering the basics to keep their people safe.
“Safety concerns are very real for the employees working in this sector and there must be better awareness and conversation around this issue. We need to shift the dial on the importance of employee personal safety by supporting businesses to act in the best way possible, and by giving employees greater peace of mind through recognised standards.
“We can make a genuine difference this way and continue to call on employers and Government to work together to achieve a step change in how all workers, across all sectors, are being protected.”