Appearances do matter: Brits fear they’re not taken seriously

New research found that UK employees are fearful of how they’re viewed in the workplace – both by managers and peers alike.

Twenty one per cent of employees are worried they’re not taken seriously due to their age, with women notably more concerned than men. This was particularly a concern for 16-24 year olds, with 43 per cent stating they weren’t taken seriously due to their youthful age. This was also true for 21 per cent of 55-64 year olds, who feared judgement due to their age.

The research flagged that gender was a concern for workers.  Women were notably more anxious of not being taken seriously due to their sex, with almost one in five women worried that their gender holds them back. Sixteen – 24 year olds were most troubled by this, with almost a quarter worrying they were not taken seriously due to their gender. Appearance was another concern for employees, with 19 per cent saying they felt judged based on how they looked. This was a particular concern for 16-24 year olds, with 29 per cent conscious of how their appearance was perceived.

Kelly Feehan, Services Director for CABA commented: ‘It’s clear that despite legislation and initiatives to make the workplace fair and equal, some employees still feel discriminated against – due to their age, gender or how they look. We’re in the most open and accepting eras, yet some people still worry they’re hampered by their sex, age, or how they choose to express themselves. Following the BBC pay-gap story, it’s clear there’s still a problem in the UK and whilst we’re making progress, more clearly needs to be done.’

The data also highlighted how employees felt under pressure to show how dedicated they are to their employers. Thirty-five per cent of workers said they were scared to call in sick, with 14 per cent agreeing they often don’t take a lunch break in order to power through their workloads. Seventeen per cent of employees said they don’t want to leave the office first due to the fear of being judged, with 21 per cent terrified to arrive late, even if there is a legitimate reason. Interestingly, 13 per cent of employees were even too scared to talk to colleagues, due to how it would look and reflect upon them.

Kelly Feehan concluded: ‘No business is going to be successful by promoting a culture of fear, and the fact 13 per cent of employees are scared to talk is astonishing. For employees to do their best and flourish, they need to be themselves, and feel confident to express their views, sexuality or beliefs, in an open and honest environment. Employers need to take heed and see that making employees feel comfortable will be healthier than concentrating on their output, as this way we can address the productivity gap and start resolving these underlying fears employees hold.’