UK Government announces new research programme into workplace wellbeing 0

workplace wellbeingThe UK Government’s interest in what makes us happy continues unabated with the news that it has officially launched its new What Works Centre for Wellbeing. The centre will commission researchers  to study ‘the impact that different interventions and services have on wellbeing’. It will focus initially on work and learning, communities, cultural and sporting activities. It claims that the results of the research will help the government, councils, health and wellbeing boards, charities and businesses make decisions on what ‘really matters for the wellbeing of people, communities and the nation as a whole’. The centre is the latest addition to the What Works Network, which was launched by the government last year to improve public services through evidence-based policy. It builds on the work of the Office for National Statistics which has been tasked with measuring national wellbeing, and of the Commission on Wellbeing and Policy.

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Report claims business ethics is linked to performance 0

business ethicsCompanies with well defined and consistent ethical policies are both more stable and more commercially successful, according to a new report published this week by the Chartered Management Institute. Based on a self-reporting survey of 2,500 CMI members the study found that over a third (37 percent) of managers in growing companies rate their own ethics as high, compared to just 19 percent in businesses that are contracting, which suggests a correlation if not causation. Just under a third (29 percent) of managers rate their organisation’s ethical standards as mediocre or poor. Senior managers also appear to have a more positive idea of their own organisation’s ethical standards than those in more junior and front line roles. Nearly half (48 percent) of senior managers believe their organisation has excellent ethical behaviour, compared to just a fifth (22 percent) of junior managers.

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Employee engagement and satisfaction levels increase, despite career concerns 0

Levels of employee engagement and satisfaction increase

Levels of job satisfaction and employee engagement are on the up, despite the fact that more than a quarter (28%) of employees report being either dissatisfied or very dissatisfied with the level of career training and development offered by their current employer. The latest CIPD/Halogen Employee Outlook survey found that one in three employees (33%) felt their career progression to date has failed to meet their expectations, however, levels of job satisfaction have increased over the last 12 months, rising by four percentage points to +44. The survey suggests that although employees might be satisfied in their current job role, there is a clear link between satisfaction with the level of career training and development and job-seeking intentions. Only 12 per cent of those satisfied with the level of career training and development are looking for a new job with another organisation, compared to almost a quarter (23%) of employees overall.  The proportion of engaged employees has also grown to reach 38 per cent from 35 per cent in spring 2014, now matching the levels of engagement a year ago. …more

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Prejudice against those with mental ill health still prevails in the workplace 0

Overwhelming lack of support for staff with mental ill healthThe overwhelming majority (94%) of business leaders admit there is a prejudice in their organisation towards people with mental health issues, and despite claims by 88 per cent of employers that they are trying to encourage an open culture of discussion around mental health – as many as seven in ten (70%) employees don’t feel they can speak candidly about such issues or concerns. These are the results of a new study, Breaking the Silence, from Bupa, which identifies a disconnect between what leaders think they are doing to support good mental health, and what employees say they are actually experiencing. While three quarters (76%) of business leaders know that creating a mentally healthy workforce makes good business sense, leaders are not as understanding as they believe. Employers admit to labelling employees with mental health conditions unpredictable (27%), erratic (22%) and weak (22%). Meanwhile, almost half (47%) report treading on eggshells around employees who have experienced a mental health condition and one in five leaders (22%) avoid talking to them altogether. …more

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The business case for green building widens to cover wellness and productivity 0

office designThe debate about the economic, commercial and social benefits of green building design continues to evolve rapidly. Where once it was primarily focussed on environmental issues and related cost savings, the world’s major champions of eco-building are now making the case for sophisticated building design that has a broader range of benefits for organisations and individuals. The most significant report in this regard for some years has just been published by the World Green Building Council (WorldGBC). Its study Health, Wellbeing and Productivity in Offices: The Next Chapter for Green Building offers “overwhelming evidence” for the ways in which office design significantly impacts the health, happiness, wellbeing and productivity of people.The report covers a wide range of that influence the wellness, job satisfaction and performance of office workers. It identifies the ways in which these undoubted benefits add a new layer of sophistication to the case for organisations to invest in better, healthier and greener buildings.

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Supervision, flexible working and the enduring love of the open plan 0

PanopticonIn the 18th Century the utilitarian philosopher Jeremy Bentham came up with his idea of the Panopticon, a building with a central observational tower encircled by cells so that each person in the cells knew they could be watched at any moment. Bentham called it ‘a new mode of obtaining power of mind over mind’ and while he focussed on its use as a prison, he was also aware of the idea’s usefulness for schools, asylums and hospitals. Bentham got the original idea following a visit to Belarus to see his who was managing sites for the royal family there and had used the idea of a circular building at the centre of an industrial compound to allow a small number of managers to oversee the activities of a large workforce. This is something of a precursor to the scientific management theories of Frederick Taylor that continue to influence the way we work and manage people. Indeed the layout of the Panopticon from Bentham’s original work bears more than a passing resemblance to a contemporary open plan office building and Bentham’s description of the benefits of the Panopticon is like a rallying call for the apparent benefits of the open plan. …more

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Four-building Hammersmith office development acquired by AXA 0

Four building office development acquired by AXAA 193,000 sq ft (17,930 sqm) office property based in Hammersmith West London has been acquired by AXA Real Estate. 77 Fulham Palace Road comprises four buildings: Hamlet, Horatio, Ophelia and Elsinore and is currently let to 19 tenants. It has a wide range of floor sizes across the four buildings and unusually for Central London has 221 parking spaces. Given a current lack in supply of Grade A office space in West London, AXA has indicated that it will increase the current floor space at the property by 18,900 sq ft (1,755 sqm), and transform it into Grade A office space. This expansion would be undertaken alongside a planned refurbishment of some of the buildings, to enhance their overall functionality and design, adding to the current facilities on offer. Huw Stephens, Head of UK Transactions at AXA said: “At 77 Fulham Palace Road we have identified an opportunity, through a number of asset management initiatives, to add value to a core, well located asset in London. By utilising the expertise of our local asset management teams, we will be able to improve the tenant mix, whilst delivering investment performance to our clients.”

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New BREEAM environmental standard launched for UK office refurbishment and fit-outs 0

Office refurbishmentThe Building Research Establishment (BRE) has launched the latest addition to its flagship sustainability accreditation scheme. Launched fully at MIPIM UK, the Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method (BREEAM) Refurbishment and Fit-Out 2014 standard has been in development for around  two years, a period which has included consultations with some of the UK’s largest commercial property occupiers, end users as well as a full assessment of a pilot project at BRE’s base near Watford. It joins existing BREEAM standards as a way of assessing the sustainability of office refurbishment and fit-out projects in the UK and overseas. The standards were tested on a simulated refurbishment project at the BRE site and achieved, in the words of the organisation,  “significant savings as well as many other positive learning outcomes”. Firms which took part in the two year development and consultation period included Lloyds, Boots, Legal & General and The Green Investment Bank.

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Great Place to Work Institute reveals world’s best multinational workplaces 0

Great PLace to Work

Google Offices in Amsterdam

The Great Place to Work Institute has released its latest list of the 25 multinational companies that it believes are “leading  the way into a more hopeful economic age”. The full list is available on the organisation’s convoluted and impenetrable website and as part of a new report, The Dawn of the Great Workplace Era, which describes a world in which “all people can expect to work for an organization where they trust their leaders, enjoy their colleagues and take pride in what they do”. This year’s list of firms has been chosen from 6,200 companies worldwide based on employee surveys and an assessment of each company’s policies. The Top Five for 2014 – Google, SAS Institute, NetApp, W L Gore and Associates and Belcorp – have been ranked as the top multinational workplaces, “for demonstrating rising levels of trust, camaraderie and pride.” These are the companies that “are taking steps to ensure that promotions go to those who best deserve them, to increase transparency, and to encourage employees to balance work and life,” according to China Gorman, CEO of Great Place to Work.

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EU’s targeted 2030 greenhouse gas cuts receive lukewarm welcome from industry 0

greenhouse gas renewable energyThe states of the European Union (EU) have reached an agreement to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 40 percent by 2030, compared with 1990 levels. The EU says it aims to meet the new target in the most cost-effective ways possible. The EU has also set itself the target of generating 27 percent of energy from renewable sources over the same period. The new target is set to remain independent of any more ambitious cuts set by individual member states suggesting that the EU sees the new targets as being a minimum ambition. The new targets will also take account of the EU’s internal energy markets and the degree of integration of members states. The EU, in its announcement, claims that the market for renewable energy is dependent on a well integrated internal energy market, co-ordinated at regional level. The new announcement has been broadly welcomed by industry sources albeit with some significant caveats.

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