March 6, 2017
Younger workers are less and less loyal to employers, which is driving firms to place greater emphasis on benefits, empowerment and a better working environment, according to a study from ReportLinker. The small scale online study of 500 people found that Millennials are less likely than older generations to say they’re highly committed to their employer, with just 40 percent saying they somewhat agree with this statement compared to 66 percent of older workers say they’re highly committed to their organisation. The report concludes that this is encouraging employers to introduce new ways of winning the loyalty of employees. For example, 87 percent of employees who are more involved in decision-making are also more likely to say they are committed to their employers although, as always, we should be wary of the distinction between correlation and causation.
March 6, 2017
Over two thirds of people in developed markets worldwide now own a smartphone, according to a study of 625,000 people by Google and researchers Kantar. But sales in major markets fell 2 percent last year as the market reached full maturity with consumers reluctant to change brands and vendors increasingly focussed on selling upgrades and replacing existing devices. The five-year study found that 70 percent now use a smartphone, up from 51 percent in 2012. Dependence on the devices is also growing with 54 percent preferring to carry out a task digitally, two-thirds (65 percent) use the smartphone to go online ‘at least as much’ as a computer, and 76 percent using their smartphones or other connected devices while watching TV.
March 3, 2017
The Institute for Employment Studies (IES) has published its annual collection of articles addressing today’s pressing issues for organisations. In acknowledgement of current turbulent times, the team of researchers and consultants have pulled together existing research and their own insights from working with organisations, offering their reflections on how leaders and HR practitioners can successfully navigate the imminent challenges. The collection, Darkening Skies? IES Perspectives on HR 2017, reflects the current sense of uncertainty around what future awaits. The shift towards new and more precarious forms of work, made possible by the growth in digital platforms and solutions, is a recurring topic appearing in many of the articles. They also explore the possible effects and mitigations of known issues such as the ageing workforce and its associated health implications; the growing need to support employee financial wellbeing; and the dangers of ignoring the employee voice.
March 2, 2017
The ethical, practical and philosophical implications of how we live alongside robots is something we will have to address very soon. It is a point well made in this conversation between Kate Darling of MIT and the neuroscientist Sam Harris. But we’ve had parts of this conversation before. For example, while most people will not have read the book from which it came, those with an interest in work, workplaces and their links with our happiness (or perceived lack of it) will know that the British philosopher Bertrand Russell once famously said that “one of the symptoms of approaching nervous breakdown is the belief that one’s work is terribly important”. This famous quote is taken from a short book he wrote in 1930 called The Conquest of Happiness. It’s worth going beyond that quote and reading the whole thing to see it in context and remind ourselves that a preoccupation with finding happiness is not current, but eternal. In fact, large passages could have been written today, especially those which consider our relationship with work, the time and energy we expend on it and the importance each of us attributes to what we do.
March 2, 2017
Fostering behavioural change among employees to encourage them to make healthier lifestyle choices could deliver both productivity gains and economic growth, a new report claims. According to Human-Centric Health: Behaviour Change and the Prevention of Non-Communicable Diseases, by the World Economic Forum in collaboration with Willis Towers Watson, behavioural economics will be critical to encourage healthier lifestyles and reduce the burden of non-communicable diseases (cardiovascular disease, mental illness, cancer, chronic respiratory disease and diabetes) that account for approximately 16 million premature deaths annually and will cost an estimated cumulative loss of $47 trillion in economic activity worldwide over the next two decades. According to the analysis, technology such as mobile phones with accelerometers that make activity challenges easier and engage individuals in a community of supportive peers will improve people’s understanding of health-related knowledge and encourage them to reshape their behaviour. Linking individuals to ‘commitment contracts’ to exercise, quit smoking, or adhere to medicine prescription schedules will also be easier to monitor using sensors and mobile technology.
March 1, 2017
Entrepreneur and inventor Sir James Dyson is to create a 517 acre campus in the Cotswolds as part of a £2.5 billion investment to establish a robotics and artificial intelligence firm capable of taking on the likes of Google, Amazon and Facebook. Although Dyson has previously come under fire for his decision to site parts of his operation overseas, the creation of the facility is the biggest investment in the UK’s technology since the Brexit vote. The firm has consistently increased its headcount in the UK in recent years and now employs around 3,500 people in its home market. The latest announcement is expected to see that increase that to 14,000, many of them highly skilled engineers and scientists. The location is a former RAF base in Hullavington, Wiltshire, and will aim to significantly shift the perception of the firm as primarily a vendor of vacuum cleaners to become a pioneer of AI, robotics and high density power systems.
March 1, 2017
Very few organisations are ready to manage a workforce where the latest technologies and people work side by side. Just 13 percent of UK companies are ready to respond to digital disruption and create “the organisation of the future”; despite 88 per cent believing this has become a priority. This is according to the 2017 Deloitte Global Human Capital Trends survey, which tracks the top trends shaping the agenda for HR and business leaders. However, while UK companies believe they are ill-prepared for the change brought by digital disruption, this has not stopped many of them from embracing disruptive technologies. 42 per cent report that they have adopted robotics, cognitive and artificial intelligence (AI) technologies within all or parts of their workforce. Another 42 per cent are running pilots in certain areas of their organisation. But only 16 per cent say they are ready to manage a workforce with people, robots and AI working side by side.
February 28, 2017
The rise of the gig economy and social media platforms have pushed creative and design jobs up the salary ranks, according to the latest UK Job Market Report from Adzuna.co.uk. In January, average salaries in this sector saw an annual increase of 2.2 percent to £31,828, with its popularity being driven by factors such as the new digital age coupled with the expertise of graduates who step into the jobs market with a fresh outlook on social media channels such as Snapchat and Instagram, which are highly valuable to employees. Across the job market, the employment rate stands at 74.6 percent, the highest since comparable records began in 1971 according to the ONS. This has been helped by a record proportion of women in work, with so-called ‘returnships’ – a type of later-life work experience helping older people, predominantly women back into the workplace – boosting the figures. Immigration may have tailed off in the wake of Brexit, but this also previously helped stimulate the jobs market.
February 27, 2017
UK insurance firm Aviva has asked 16,000 of its employees whether they believe their jobs could be done better by robots. The consultation process will see those people who answer yes retrained for a new role within the business. Research by Oxford Martin School recently warned that 35 percent of jobs in the UK were in danger of automation over the next 20 years. Insurance underwriters were at the top of the list, rated 98.9 percent at risk. Despite frequent warnings that automation will disrupt a wide swath of industries, many workers believe that their own job is safe. This is in spite of warnings such as that from Mark Carney, governor of the Bank of England, who claimed recently that automation could put 15 million British jobs at risk, equivalent to nearly half of the 31.8 million people who work in the UK. Most recent research backs this up. A White House report from 2016 concluded that between 9 percent and 47 percent of all American jobs are vulnerable, including around 80 percent of jobs paying less than $20 an hour. Image: SoftBank Robotics
February 23, 2017
Implementing new technologies over the next 12 months is of primary importance for senior managers, with nearly two-fifths of finance directors saying digital transformation is one of their greatest priorities. Against a backdrop of economic uncertainty, chief financial officers (CFOs) are focusing on increasing profitability (41 percent) and driving overall company growth (39 percent) in the year ahead, according to research from, Robert Half Management Resources which claims that CFOs and finance directors (FDs) will assume more responsibility for balancing traditional financial responsibilities with developing business strategy. The use of temporary and interim professionals also looks set to continue with a third of CFOs and FDs planning to use temporary staff for business transformation projects to either fill vacated positions or support active expansion. In the long-term, 31 percent of finance executives plan to actively add new permanent positions to implement the company’s digitisation and automation efforts over the next 12 months.
February 22, 2017
University of Virginia Darden School of Business Professor Ed Hess and Katherine Ludwig have released a new book, Humility Is the New Smart: Rethinking Human Excellence in the Smart Machine Age (Berrett-Koehler, January 2017), where they wrestle with the defining workplace question of our era and offer workable solutions for employees to stay relevant. In the book, Hess and Ludwig argue that workers of the world stand at the brink of an unprecedented transformation, as a coming age of smart machines promises to eliminate tens of millions of jobs across the socioeconomic spectrum. The transition to an era of widespread automation will be tumultuous for both companies and employees, and its effects on the fabric of society have not yet been fully considered by workers, government entities or global corporations.
February 22, 2017
Most North Americans believe their employers and IT teams should be doing more to unleash their capacity for innovation, according to a new study by Softchoice, a North American provider of IT solutions and managed services. The study, Enabling Innovation: When Actions Speak Louder Than Buzzwords, found just 37 percent of employees believe their employers are very innovative, and even fewer felt their organisation did a good job with other leading innovation indicators, such as anticipating market trends, taking risks, and investing in technology that enables innovation. The study is based on a survey of 1,000 full-time employees and 250 IT decision-makers across the U.S. and Canada to uncover whether workplaces really walk the walk when it comes to having the right leadership, culture, processes and technology tools to drive innovation.