Is it time to stamp out e-cigarettes in your workplace?

Share Button

e-cigarettes at workElectronic cigarettes, love them or hate them, they are here, but are they here to stay? Since 1 July 2007, smoking in enclosed or substantially enclosed public places and workplaces in the UK has been prohibited. E-cigarettes however emit water vapour rather than smoke and therefore could be legally used in public places and workplaces. But there is increasing debate about the use of e-cigarettes in public places, as concern grows about their potential harmful effects. It’s been alleged that e-cigarettes contain chemicals that could make them as harmful as normal tobacco. The World Health Organisation (WHO) calls the devices safety “illusive”, noting that the chemicals they contain are often not disclosed and have not been properly tested, while a report commissioned by Public Health England said e-cigarettes required “appropriate regulation, careful monitoring and risk management” if their benefits were to be maximised. More →

Employers may need to take a disciplined approach to the World Cup

Share Button

Employers taking a discipline approach to the World CupWith the World Cup now underway, many football fans will be gripped with football fever over the next month, but employers could face HR headaches as a result. Given the time difference in Brazil, games at this year’s World Cup will take place during the late afternoon and evenings in the UK. England’s opening game against Italy at 11pm this Saturday night is unlikely to cause most employers much disruption, but the next England game against Costa Rica which kicks off at 5pm on Tuesday 24 June could result in employees wanting to leave before the end of their working day. Late kick off times also have the potential to result in employees being absent the following day as they recover from the excesses of the night before. On most match days the final whistle of the last game of the day will not be blown until around 1am UK time. More →

Queen’s Speech was light on employment legislation, but don’t forget flexible work changes

Share Button

Queen's Speech light on legislation, with flexible working biggest change aheadThis year’s Queen’s Speech was the last before the 2015 general election and included a relatively light legislative programme of just 11 new bills. Some of the key employment changes being proposed include changes to childcare, the national minimum wage, and zero-hours contracts. But in fact a key development which was not included in the Queen’s Speech, and yet could have the most pronounced effect on employers is the extension of the right to request flexible working. From 30 June 2014, employees with at least 26 weeks’ continuous employment will be able to make a request for flexible working for any reason under the new statutory scheme. The procedure to be followed will be far less prescriptive than that currently in force and will place more onuson the employer to consider the request and any alternatives to the proposed request. More →

Record uptake of flexible working masks what is really changing about the way we work

Share Button

Flexible workingThis week the Office for National Statistics has released new figures which show that flexible working is at a record high in the UK. The headline figure from the ONS is that 14 percent of the UK workforce now either work at home full time (5 percent) or use their home as a base (8.9 percent). This represents a 1.3 million increase over the six years since the onset of the recession. The report shows that those working from home are typically skilled, older (half between the age of 25 and 49 with 40 percent of over 65s classed as homeworkers) and better paid than the average worker (30 percent higher than the national average). The Government is claiming it as a victory for the promotion of flexible working through legislation and the TUC as a sign of the increasingly enlightened approach of bosses in helping employees find a better work life balance. And they’re both wrong.

More →

What is expense management costing you and your business?

Share Button

Brown envelope cashTime is money.  That’s why organisations are placing an ever-growing emphasis on improving productivity and streamlining administrative processes to encourage employees to focus on value-added activities. So I’m staggered by how many otherwise forward-thinking companies are still reliant on old-fashioned, paper-based expense management processes.  Expenses are an obvious time-sink for claimants themselves and  is often portrayed as a dull task; but badly managed expense processing costs employees and businesses money. A survey conducted by Access aCloud has discovered that employees are losing £45 a year owing to interest charges due to the waiting period of reimbursement – with a collective £2.1 billion lost by 46 million workers each year. In the UK, the average waiting time for expenses to be paid is 3.3 weeks. However, the survey revealed that over 20 per cent of people spend 6.3 weeks chasing their employer for their claims to be paid. More →

Money alone isn’t enough to attract and hold on to Gen Y employees

Share Button

Gen YThe retention of Gen Y employees is key for all organisations. No organisation wants to invest in their next generation of management only to find that they leave, and someone new needs to be trained. But the 20-30 year old workers of Gen Y exhibit a new-found job mobility. Which makes for a ticking time-bomb of potential cost and disruption to their employers. The iOpener Institute has gathered and studied questionnaire responses from over 30,000 professionals across the world, gaining insights into how employers can retain their Gen Y talent. The research clearly shows that while pay and financial rewards are important to Gen Y (i.e. they are not prepared to be under-paid for their work), there is no significant correlation between increased levels of pay and greater talent retention.

More →

A third of UK workers would welcome a digital assistant to free up their time

A third of UK workers would welcome a digital assistant to free up their time

Share Button
digital assistant

A vision of the present. © Pixar Studios

In the 2008 Pixar film WALL-E, humans have fled the planet they have destroyed in an orgy of garbage-generating mass-consumerism and been reduced to morbidly obese, sedentary lumps living vicariously through screens and whose every need is catered for by the machines around them. Well, they say the best science fiction is really about the present day and sure enough, it appears that many of us are perfectly happy with the idea of suckling at the galvanised teat of a robot overlord. A new survey carried out by ClickSoftware  claims that a third of UK employees would welcome the idea of having a personal digital assistant to help them carry out everyday tasks. Over half (58 percent) hope that intelligent apps will take on at least a tenth of their workload in the future, especially those tasks considered mundane and repetitive such as administration, work scheduling and planning journeys.

More →

We need to add another dimension to meet the stress management challenge

Share Button

The Eternal TriangleAs always, any discussion of stress starts with the headline figures. Work-related stress is evidently the UK’s biggest cause of lost working days. According to the HSE’s most recent data, around 10.4 million days were lost to it in 2012, the most significant cause of absenteeism and a massive 40 per cent of all work-related illnesses. The financial cost to the UK has been estimated at £60 billion, largely due to the psychological and physical harm stress does us. The reasons for this are clear in the minds of many: the demands made on us by employers and ourselves are intolerable. Our private time is eroded, we spend too much time at work in the first place, we’re under excessive pressure to perform when we are there and as a result we’re all knackered, unfulfilled, stressed, depressed and anxious. It’s no wonder we are so keen on stress management

More →

What Lord of the Flies teaches us about Pfizer’s approach to empowerment

Share Button

Pfizer CoinJust how detached some senior business people are from reality is evident whenever a light shines briefly into the recesses of their minds. For Ian Read, the CEO of Pfizer, a moment’s illumination arrived when he pulled a coin from his pocket as he testified to a parliamentary committee on the proposed takeover of Astra Zeneca.  The coin, he informed them, is given to every employee of Pfizer. On one side of each coin is the phrase ‘Own It’, and on the other ‘Straight Talk’. The idea is that the coin empowers staff to place the coin on the desk of a manager and offers the employee ‘the ability to straight-talk’ and ‘have a sense of ownership’. In effect, it performs the same function as the Conch in William Golding’s Lord of the Flies, bestowing upon whoever is wielding it a voice and a feeling they have control. That is until the person or people who are really in control decide otherwise.

Spending on office furniture becomes a US political football

Share Button

Uncle Sam MoneyWe’ve mentioned this before but when it comes to riling those who see public sector spending as inherently wasteful, nothing gets their backs up quite so much as the buying of lightbulbs and office furniture. You can come up with your own theories on why that might be (and I hope you do), but it’s been proved yet again as Fox News and other right wing commentators and media in the US have risen up in moral indignation at the news that the Internal Revenue Service has spent $96.5 million on office furniture and refurbishment during the last five years of the Obama administration. Now of course, this is just the touchstone for griping about government spending in general and Barack Obama in particular, but the US is clearly not alone in having an issue with office furniture purchases and you have to wonder exactly why this is.

More →

Workplace design, Facebook likes and the need of companies to be your friend

Share Button

Facebook_like_thumbCompanies put an awful lot of time and money into getting people to like them on social media these days. While it would be easy to see the like button on Facebook as the primary conduit for this corporate neediness, but it cuts across many aspects of the ways in which companies work, including their relationships with employees and the ways in which they develop new forms of workplace design and management. This is most evident in the tech palaces which are aimed at the same digital natives that firms habitually target with their online marketing, but the need to make customers and employees friends of the business cuts across a wide range of sectors. The workplace is yet another channel of communicating chumminess, and it offers many of the same challenges as social media.

More →

Flexible working benefits are undermined by short sighted employers

Share Button

Flexible work

There has been a growing perception that flexible working practices are now commonplace in the workplace. However a recent report from Working Families, a charity set up to help working parents and carers find a balance between their responsibilities at work and at home, suggests this is a myth. Their report reflects growing concerns based on experiences and queries from their helpline that employers are in fact, becoming more rigid. The report suggests that working parents are coming under increasing pressure to give up their flexible working arrangements. It highlights “a growing number of callers to the helpline reporting the family-friendly working pattern they have had in place for years being changed or withdrawn virtually overnight, with no opportunity for them to express their views”. Ironically, despite the Government’s championing of flexible working it seems the imposition of employment tribunal claim fees could be behind the backlash. More →

Translate >>