Ergonomic update: Are you taking the tablets?

Tablet ergonomicsTwenty years ago the Health and Safety (Display Screen Equipment) Regulations 1992 came into force, introduced in response to a growing number of complaints of repetitive strain injury (RSI), or to use the broader term musculoskeletal disorders (MSD) amongst office workers. Although it took time for the disorder to be identified, the message gradually got through that sitting all day in the same position banging away at a keyboard was not conductive to sound ergonomics or good health. In the early 90s I was an early adopter of a laptop (or luggable PC) and had to take four months off work after developing pain and numbness in my arms and wrists.

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New research from China highlights benefits of working from home

CTripA new report from researchers at Stanford Graduate School of Business and the Guanghua Management School at Beijing University looking into the experience of working from home at one large Chinese firm has found that the practice led to a 13 per cent increase in productivity. The research also found that workers reported increased levels of job satisfaction and half elected to continue working from home when the choice was given to them at the end of the study period even though it was evident that their chances of promotion on the basis of performance had reduced as a result of the experiment.

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Survey reveals rising confidence of UK workers

JobsCompetitive pay and benefits are the most important requirements of a new employer, before job security, according to new research from recruiter Randstad. In 2012, 27 per cent of people said long-term job security was the most important factor in choosing to work for a specific company – more than any other issue, but this has now fallen to 16 per cent, the lowest it has been in three years. Mark Bull, Randstad’s UK CEO, said: “The UK’s workforce appears much more bullish. In 2011 and 2012 the number one priority for people was job security – now it is salaries and benefits.”

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Will an upturn spark a revival of interest in the idea of employer branding?

Employer brandingYou may recall that a few years ago there was a voguish interest in the idea of employer branding. This is the kind of thing that has always gone on but can always be defined and popularised,  in this case following the publication of a book on the subject in 2005. By 2008 Jackie Orme, the head of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, was calling it ‘an integral part of business strategy’. Still, it appears to have dropped off the radar a bit over the last few years, a fact we might put down to the effect of the recession. Firms certainly seem to have their mind on other things. Research published last year by PriceWaterhouseCoopers showed that  in 2009, 54 per cent of businesses said they placed a special focus on retaining talent. By 2012 that had dropped to 36 per cent.

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Video: one of the keys to a productive workplace: micro-organisms?

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The quest for the answer to what makes us productive at work is an endless one, of course. Partly this is due to misleading research claims from suppliers that the provision of a specific product will increase productivity by x per cent. But mostly it’s because the answers shift from case to case and over time because while we can identify the factors that make people more productive, it’s harder to pin down the effects of their interrelationships. Plant walls and better seating won’t by themselves improve the performance of somebody who hates their job. Nevertheless, it’s important to design all the productivity factors into a building, including at a bacterial level according to Jessica Green who here explores the impact of microbes in different areas of an office building.

Majority of employers intend to hire permanent staff

Jobs

More positive signs on the jobs front today with the news that despite continuing to face a challenging economic climate, the majority of employers are still planning to increase or maintain their permanent staff over the next three months. This is according to the Recruitment and Employment Confederation’s (REC) latest JobsOutlook survey. REC director of policy Tom Hadley said: “Our latest data shows the majority of employers are planning to increase or maintain their permanent headcount over the next quarter which suggests that the jobs market will continue to outperform the rest of the economy in the short term. Although the ONS reported a rise in unemployment last week, it is important to emphasise that the employment figures were also up.” More →

U.S. employers plan penalties to boost wellness participation

U.S. wellness

Following on from the revelation that wellness programmes are only as good as the willingness of staff to participate, comes a study from the U.S. which highlights the role incentives can play in employers’ efforts to improve workforce health and performance. Aon Hewitt’s survey of nearly 800 large and mid-size U.S. employers representing more than 7 million U.S. employees found that 83 per cent now offer employees incentives for participating in programmes, while 58 per cent plan to impose consequences on participants who do not take appropriate actions for improving their health.

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Survey: Raised levels of staff empowerment and engagement

Engagement

There has been a positive change in employees’ levels of engagement according to new research from recruiter hyphen. Nearly three fifths (58.6 per cent) of UK workers are proud to work for their current organisation, and over three quarters (76.1 per cent) believe their manager gives them the support and autonomy needed to aide their performance. Zain Wadee, managing director at hyphen, said: “Engaging workers is now becoming an integral part of employment and retention strategies; not least to ensure workers are happy but also to help them perform to the best of their ability.”

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Global wellness hampered by lack of staff participation

Fat worker1

The latest in a surfeit of surveys into employee wellness has found that wellness programmes may be firmly on the global business agenda, but there remains a major problem in persuading the most unfit and least healthy members of the workplace to participate.  A whopping 95 per cent of organizations say they are implementing a wellness strategy, but according to the 2013 Global Workplace Health & Wellness Report, by Global Corporate Challenge (GCC) employee participation is another matter, with wellness initiatives achieving less than 20 per cent participation on average, well short of organizations’ 60 per cent participation goals. More →

Video: Forget Yahoo – why telecommuting is good for your business

 

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Think you’ve seen every possible angle on the recent Yahoo-ha about flexible working? Maybe not because here’s a unique take on the subject courtesy of the guys at MinuteMBA. We’d like to invite somebody to animate the other side of the argument but while we can be certain that nearly everybody thinks they are a writer these days, the skill of animation is not so easily taken for granted.

The best Swedish workplaces for 2013 are announced

Stockholm

Stockholm

The Great Place to Work Institute has named its list of Sweden’s Best Workplaces for 2013. The list of 122 companies features some well known multinationals such as McDonald’s and Microsoft as well as many local business in the three categories for large, medium and small businesses. Construction industry supplies firm Hilti, which came in second in the large business category behind Microsoft, was identified as the firm which had climbed the most in the rankings.  The survey claims  to draw attention to those organisations which work actively for an exemplary workplace culture.

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The resistance to flexible working is entirely reasonable

Home workingIn recent media coverage of the decision by Yahoo to ban homeworking as well as a recent survey from Microsoft, the resistance to the idea that people work better when they are allowed to work flexibly has typically been put down to cultural inertia. Sometimes those who have resisted the uptake of flexible working have been portrayed as dinosaurs. While there’s no question that culture and management attitudes do create barriers to the uptake of flexible working, there is a growing recognition that certain flexible working practices may not be appropriate for many people and organisations and even specific sectors. The barriers may be there for a good reason.

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