January 9, 2015
Almost two thirds of UK staff are not able to take their legally required minimum break. In a Bupa study of 2,000 full-time workers – 64 per cent claimed they are not always able to take their legally required 20-minute break when working six hours or more. Less than a third (29%) of employees are taking a full hour for lunch every day and worryingly, over a quarter (28%) of workers never take a breather of any kind during their working day. The main reason UK workers are not taking a break is the weight of their workload. The research shows that two in five (43%) employees believe they have too much work to pause for a few minutes. Managers are also setting a bad example as a quarter (24%) of employees see their boss not taking lunch and feel pressure to do the same.
January 8, 2015
The use of tech outside of office hours can have a detrimental effects on workers’ wellbeing according to a paper presented this week at the British Psychological Society’s Division of Occupational Psychology conference in Glasgow. A meta-analysis by Svenja Schlachter and colleagues from the University of Surrey sought to determine the effects of being constantly “switched on” for work and found a blurring of boundaries between work and private life. The research showed that employees use a number of devices outside of office hours in the hope that staying “switched on” will increase flexibility and efficiency and because they believe there is a strong expectation to be available 24/7. This often has a negative effect on their work-life balance and increases stress.
January 8, 2015
The back to work blues following the festive holidays are a challenge for businesses and their employees. However, new research from office furniture maker Steelcase claims that prioritising employees’ wellbeing at work is one way to help employers and staff overcome their annual seasonal hurdle. The study of the link between workers’ wellbeing and the business’s bottom line claims that employees who are in a positive frame of mind are not only healthier, but more productive at work and better able to deal with workplace challenges. Steelcase has also produced a list of measures that the firm claims can help to create a working environment that looks after the wellbeing of employees and helps them to become more productive.
January 5, 2015
We may be finding out a lot more about the way smartphones shape our behaviour, but a new study from Swiss researchers at the University of Zürich and Fribourg claims that any changes may go a little deeper than the obsessive need to peer at them. It suggests that while repeated and regular use of smartphones improves how quickly and dextrously we use screens and keystrokes, the cortex of our brains is also adapting to cope with the new demands we place on it. Touchscreen usage appears to actually change the way our fingers, thumbs and brains work, according to the report published in the journal Current Biology. The study appears to show that the increased use of touchscreens in the recent past has resulted in an instinctive increase in brain activity when our fingertips are touched.
December 15, 2014
One in four UK employees feel disengaged, with an “excessive amount of change” cited as one of the top causes of work-related stress. According to the 2014 Towers Watson Global Workforce Study under half of employees (48%) feel that leaders are inspiring them to give their best at work and as a consequence, they are not as productive as possible. The research suggests that senior managers are not successfully managing and communicating change, with less than a third (30%) of employees saying that changes are well-implemented at their organisation. Effective leadership is also vital to a company’s ability to retain its top talent as a lack of trust in leadership was named by workers as one of the top reason to consider leaving a job. And worryingly, only half (49%) of employees actually believe the information they receive from the senior leadership team.
December 9, 2014
Two in five (40%) of UK employees say their employer offers no health or wellbeing benefits, a new study on workplace health has revealed. Although the research, conducted by Bupa, found that two thirds (64%) of UK employers agreed that a healthy workforce is a more productive one, two in five (40%) employees said their employer offers no health or wellbeing benefits. Three in ten (28%) employees went as far as saying that when it comes to wellbeing, their company is all talk but no action. UK employers lag behind many other countries on the importance they place on workplace health. Just 57 per cent of UK employers agreed that good health makes good business sense compared to 85 per cent in Australia and 82 per cent in Poland. Meanwhile just over half (58%) of UK employers think that an unhealthy workforce is a risk to business performance compared to 81 per cent in New Zealand and 80 per cent in Spain.
December 3, 2014
If you ask a typical corporation about their real estate strategy you will most probably hear a lot about rationalisation, minimising cost and synergy. Real estate strategy should include all these but a cost-cutting approach can be very short-sighted. Staff costs usually account to about 90 per cent of the business operating cost, while any improvement in staff’s productivity will have a stronger and more positive outcome than any cost saving on a building. The recently released World Green Building Council (WGBC) report Health, Wellbeing & Productivity in Offices developed with the support of JLL, Lend Lease and Skanska, clearly shows that the design of an office has a strong impact on the health, wellbeing and productivity of its occupants. It describes the impact of acoustics, interior layout, look & feel, amenities, air quality, thermal comfort, location, daylight and user control on occupants. But it doesn’t stop there.
November 19, 2014
The variety of ways in which technology can help us thrive at work was one of the key themes of the first day of Worktech 14, which also provided yet more evidence that the workplace is no longer based in any one place. There were some interesting ruminations on the changing values of the workplace, which included the challenges of managing mobile working and its wider effects on our wellbeing; a topic that merited a whole series of sessions, including, how office design can aide brain function; analysing the psychological effects of the ‘always on’ culture and the role of the employer in combating the rise in western obesity. Meeting room no-shows run at around 35% for most companies and in an illuminating co-presentation on estates utilisation with Condeco, Bruce Everest of Vodafone described how the mobile giant has transformed its offices into collaborative space. There were also some thought provoking sessions that peered into the future, including the statement by a speaker from none other than Intel that ‘technology alone is not our salvation’ and a fascinating glimpse into the workplace of 2040 provided by Marie Puybaraud of Johnson Controls. more…
November 12, 2014
UK businesses are suffering massive losses in company performance due to ‘disengaged’ employees who complain of working conditions that result in constant distraction and disruption and a lack of privacy, according to a new report published by office furniture maker Steelcase. Research by the Centre for Mental Health claims that presenteeism (at work physically but unproductive mentally) costs UK businesses £15bn per year and that includes the cost of disengaged employees. A new IPSOS survey commissioned by Steelcase, claims to highlights this and related issues. The survey of 10,500 employees working in open plan offices across 14 different countries and found that only 11 percent of workers are engaged and inspired at work, 63 percent lack engagement and are unmotivated and 37 percent describe their workplace as ‘stressful’. more…
November 6, 2014
In the same week Mind revealed that many workers are reluctant to admit to feeling stressed, comes data which shows high levels of unethical behaviour in Britain’s workplaces. And the two pieces of research are not unrelated. In a survey of over 1,600 managers by the Institute of Leadership & Management (ILM), almost three quarters (72%) had witnessed employees lying to cover their mistakes, with the same number reporting their colleagues cut corners and delivered substandard work. A further 68% had seen people badmouthing team members behind their backs. The fault lies in workplaces that foster a blame culture, where staff are worried about owning up to mistakes. This causes undue stress and people taking a combative, rather than collaborative approach. The findings formed part of ILM’s ‘The truth about trust’ report into trust and integrity in the UK workplace, which highlights the business benefits of high-trust high-integrity working environments. more…
November 5, 2014
New research by Mind to mark today’s National Stress Awareness Day has found more than half of workers (56%) say they find work very or fairly stressful; citing excessive workloads (52%), frustration with poor management (54%), not enough support from managers (47%), threat of redundancy (27%) and unrealistic targets (45%) as key stressors. The YouGov survey of over 1,250 people in Britain found that workplace stress is impacting on other areas of people’s lives, more so than debt or financial problems (38%), health (29%) or relationships (20%). One in five (20%) said it had put a strain on their marriage or relationship with significant other, while 11 per cent had missed important events such as birthdays or weddings. Stress was also having a physical impact, with 53 per cent agreeing that it affected their sleep, 22 per cent their appetite and 27 per cent their physical health. The research also revealed that mental health at work is still a taboo. Nearly a third (30%) of respondents said they wouldn’t be able to talk openly with their line manager if they were stressed.
November 4, 2014
While the UK remains one of the safest places to work in Europe, work related ill health continues to rise for British employees according to the latest data from the Health and Safety Executive. The HSE claims that there were some 28 million days lost over the last year, costing the economy over £14 billion. While the most dangerous professions continue to be construction, agriculture and manufacturing, the report found that over two thirds of days lost (20 million) and some £9 billion can be attributed to a number of well defined causes rooted in the modern workplace; musculoskeletal disorders, stress, anxiety and depression. The HSE study claims that around 80 per cent of new work-related illnesses were attributable to these conditions. Of the 535,000 new illnesses reported in 2013/14, 184,000 were musculoskeletal disorders and 244,000 were related to stress and depression. There are now over half a million (526,000) people with self-reported cases of musculoskeletal disorders in the UK, up by 20 percent since figures were last reported in 2011/12.