Fear of being ‘left behind’ at work postpones parenthood.

‘Tech-lag’ troubles.

The report from CWJobs has suggested rapidly evolving workplace technology could be to blame for workers not taking time out of their careers. It seems many employees are worried the workplace will have ‘moved on’ in their absence.

The research discovered:


  • 79 per cent required tech training on returning to work but 20 per cent did not receive any at all
  • Over a third (38 per cent) felt left behind by their employer or did not have the support they required to get back up to speed
  • Over half (57 per cent) felt like it was their first day at work again upon their return. This is highest for those in the manufacturing industry (68 per cent).
  • Teachers and engineers are the most likely to return to work (92 per cent), where PR and marketing has the lowest rate of return (31 per cent)
  • Full report and insights available at:  https://www.cwjobs.co.uk/advice/returnship-report


Over a quarter (28 per cent) of UK workers have said that fears of being left behind by workplace technology are so severe, they have been put off having children a figure which rises to over a half (51 per cent) of workers in the IT and tech industry.

The Returnship Report indicated that while technology is undeniably helpful in our work lives, it also contributed to stress, anxiety and even family planning rethinks, as workers worried about ‘Tech-Lag Trauma’ – being ‘left behind’ while tech continually evolved in their absence.

The report looked at 2,000 workers who took a leave from work lasting over three months within the last 10 years. Of those who returned to work, nearly half (45 per cent) reported that their workplace technology had either changed or was totally overhauled – creating a plethora of emotionally charged issues for UK workers.

40 per cent of all workers confessed to feeling ‘left behind’ when they returned to work, over half (57 per cent) said that returning from leave felt like it was their first day again and over a third (36 per cent) struggled to operate the new technology that had arrived in their absence.

The impact of tech-lag trauma is so severe that it is taking a serious toll on the UK workforce’s mental health, productivity and even on our desire to have children. Over a third (38 per cent), stated that their return to work was so stressful they felt nervous or anxious when contemplating taking another break, while for some (28 per cent) – the returning experience was so negative it put them off parenthood.

The rapidly evolving technology within the workplace doesn’t just wreak havoc with emotions, but the nation’s productivity too. On average, it took UK workers the best part of a month (4.4 weeks) to feel like they had recaptured their pre-absence productivity, with technological advances one of the most prominent obstacles to overcome.

A third (33 per cent) said it took between one and six months to become fully accustomed to new technology that had been introduced while they were away and a further 38 per cent admitted to struggling with everyday processes and other day-to-day jobs that had been altered by the introduction of new technology.

“The Returnship Report from CWJobs is much-needed as it highlights how challenging returning to work can be for so many of us – this is not acceptable,” said Belinda Parmar, OBE, CEO of The Empathy Business and the former founder of Lady Geek. “We spend more than 50 years of our lives at work – that is more time than we spend with our families. We need companies to create programmes and ‘empathy nudges’ that help people return seamlessly into the workplace and feel that they belong again. These ‘nudges’ can be anything from creating spaces where parents can put up pictures of their children to giving people a tech re-education, so they are up-to-date with any advances from day one.”

Dominic Harvey Commercial Director of CWJobs also commented: “The Returnship Report is a vital piece of research that shows how daunting it can be going back to work after an absence. It reveals the stress and anxiety that employees often feel and that is something we need to combat. It is concerning it is acutely felt within the tech environment which can ill afford to haemorrhage existing talent in the UK. Workplaces need to do more to bridge the gap for their employees when returning to work and create a working environment where they feel continually supported.”


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