July 8, 2014
Making places of work mental health friendly with government leading the way as an employer is one of the key recommendations of a landmark study on the state of mental health in England published today. Concluding the 12 month study on the state of wellbeing in England the CentreForum Mental Health Commission report reveals that mental health related sickness absence and lost productivity costs business up to £23.5 billion annually, and says that government must take the lead in tackling this problem by ensuring all public sector enterprises become mental health friendly employers. It also urges organisations with more than 500 employees to work towards that status. The Commission says the “pursuit of happiness” must become an explicit and measurable goal of government if the £105 billion annual cost of mental illness in England is to be reduced and identifies five key priorities between now and 2020. more…
July 7, 2014
A sustainable recovery and successful future economic performance depends on future governments adopting policies that address fundamental skills and productivity issues, as well as looking at other agendas which will actively shape the future of work. This is according to the CIPD ‘Manifesto for Work,’ published today, which calls on the UK’s political parties to focus on the key issues facing employers and the workforce in the run up to the General Election 2015. Amongst a set of proposals, the HR body is calling on the Government to take a “good practice” approach to employment regulation and policy by supporting the creation of a Workplace Commission, with the aim of helping employers raise standards of people management. CIPD chief executive Peter Cheese, says a better focus and understanding of the changing nature of work, the requirements and needs of the workforce, and the changing workplace will be needed to meet the future challenges. more…
July 7, 2014
As we have seen, the implementation of new flexible working legislation in the UK at the end of June has already shone a spotlight into some intriguing corners of the nation’s workplace. The latest revelation, according to a new survey from recruitment firm Kelly Services, is that men and women have markedly different attitudes towards the idea. While just over half (51 percent)of the UK’s female workers believe that the chance of flexible working would make an organisation a more attractive employer, just over a third of their male counterparts (36 percent) feel the same way. Similarly, a fifth of women surveyed (20 percent) would consider moving job in search of flexible working arrangements compared 15 percent of men and nearly two thirds of women (62 percent) believe their ideal working environment would include flexible working arrangements compared to under half of men (49 percent).
July 3, 2014
One in three British workers admit to having pulled a ‘sickie’ – according to new research by PwC – and it’s costing UK business £9bn a year. As part of the research PwC surveyed over 2,000 UK adults and found that the most popular reasons for why people pulled a ‘sickie’ are hangovers (32%), to watch a sporting event (8%), being bored with your job (26%), interviews (26%) and Mondays (11%). One in 10 people said they have lied to take time off work due to good weather. A flexible working approach by employers is the measure that would most likely put people off from pulling a ‘sickie’, followed by initiatives such as ‘duvet mornings’ (where employees are allowed to take a couple of last minute lie ins a year). One in ten employees said that having to report the reason for their absence over the phone to their manager would put them off lying.Illness is by far the most common excuse used, but the research has revealed that some employees go to very creative lengths to cover up why they are taking off unauthorised time from work, including I was attacked by ants, my dog has eaten my keys, I got a rash from eating too many strawberries, and a male employee who told his boss that he had started the menopause.
July 2, 2014
An Enhanced Code of Conduct for executive search firms to support more women appointments to FTSE 350 boards has been announced by Business Secretary Vince Cable. Over 70 firms signed up to the original voluntary code of conduct launched in 2011. In response to the independent Sweeney review in February 2014, the search industry has now developed a new Enhanced Voluntary Code of Conduct, which builds on the terms of the standard voluntary code and is intended to recognise the efforts of search firms working to build the pipeline of FTSE board directors of the future. The Code was drawn up by the search firms themselves working with the Davies Steering Group. It contains 10 new provisions, from launching initiatives to support aspiring women to sharing of best practice and running awareness programmes within their own firms. more…
July 1, 2014
A new report from the Institute for Fiscal Studies challenges some of the most commonly held misconceptions about the UK’s older workers, their health, income and status. The Changing Face of Retirement has been produced by the IFS in partnership with the Joseph Rowntree Foundation and the Economic and Social Research Council. Over the next ten years, it claims that changes to the pension provision, a rise in the retirement age, improving levels of long term health and the fact that many more people will remain in relationships as the life expectancy of men improves will mean more and more older people will supplement their pension incomes with paid work. The report also suggests that there will be more women between the ages of 65 and 69 in work than men by 2021 but both groups will see significant increases as the proportion of the total population aged over 65 increases by over a fifth.
June 30, 2014
New legislation that encourages flexible working practices comes into force today (30 June). From today, all employees who have worked for their employer for 26 weeks or more will have the right to ask if they can work flexibly. This right previously only applied to the parents with children under the age of 17 (or 18 if the child is disabled) and certain carers. To help guide employers through the process, workplace expert Acas has published a new Code of Practice and guidance on the right to request flexible working. The new Code and practical guidance is designed to help employers consider any requests in a reasonable manner and stay within the law. “Many employers recognise that they can retain talented staff by offering a flexible approach to work and a healthy work life balance can help business success and growth, said Acas Chair Brendan Barber. “Our new guide has practical examples to help businesses or employers manage flexible working requests in a reasonable way and avoid any pitfalls. more…
June 27, 2014
In these post-recession times, companies are investing heavily in their operations and the UK business community definitely has more of a spring in its step. Now, more than ever, it is important to have the right team on board and employers are now finding that their biggest challenge is how to attract and keep high quality personnel. It is becoming increasingly clear that an attractive salary package alone is simply not enough, even with benefits. More than ever before, workers are thinking about the quality of life which a job can provide and an intrinsic part of this is a working environment which will provide a sense of wellbeing. If companies are going to attract and retain the very best staff, they are going to have to think about how to provide this, because the physical workplace can be a powerful means of providing an environment in which people can thrive. Research has shown that there are six dimensions to be taken into consideration when striving to create a workspace which will provide a sense of wellbeing.
June 26, 2014
The incessant debate about open plan offices is informed by a number of assumptions that can lead us to misunderstand the issues involved. Nigel Oseland eviscerates several of them excellently here, making it plain that a great deal is lost in translation somewhere over the mid-Atlantic. In truth, the European and US experiences of the open plan are very different and while we in the UK could always laugh along with our US counterparts at the organisational insanity of Dilbert, the cubicles themselves were largely alien to us. Another red herring in the debate is the idea that the open plan office is for extroverts and its alternatives for introverts. There is something in this but it’s too simplistic an idea and is often built around the stereotypes associated with sectors such as TMT, the age of workers (especially Gen Y) and supposed national characteristics, not least the reserve of Brits and the brashness of Yanks.
June 25, 2014
The new copy of Insight is now available to view online. It’s been a busy few weeks for sure and this edition certainly reflects that. We introduce the new issue of Work&Place, the journal we publish in partnership with Occupiers Journal, with contributors that include Professor Franklin Becker of Cornell University, Chris Kane CEO of commercial projects at the BBC, Andrew Laing of AECOM, Simon Allford of architects AHMM Allford Hall Monaghan Morris, designer and workplace strategist Ziona Strelitz and Ian Ellison of Sheffield Hallam University. Elsewhere, Sara Bean reports on key structural changes in the UK property market, Mark Eltringham ponders what we have learned in the build-up to new flexible working regs, Simon Heath casts a jaundiced eye over a mixed bag of RIBA Workplace Award winners and Justin Miller pays tribute to a product that 20 years ago first radicalised then permanently transformed the way we viewed ergonomics and workplace design.
June 25, 2014
The inability of employees to follow computer access policies is the greatest threat to an organization’s data security, just slightly ahead of professional hackers. Yet, as a new report reveals, the majority of IT managers still believe it is ‘easy’ to protect their organisation’s security and defences against a data breach. The research, commissioned by Courion, found that 43 percent of respondents felt they could have better relations with Human Resources in managing staff access rights, with a majority (59 percent) not feeling confident they had enough help to make dealing with insider threats easier. This follows a recent separate study into staff attitudes to IT security that found staff could be ambivalent about how they use their access rights – for example, 39 percent share work login details with colleagues and 1 in 5 of UK professionals said they would snoop on sensitive personal data if they had access to it.
June 24, 2014
You can’t help but notice that surveys about flexible working have been pretty thick on the ground over the last few weeks and months. The reason is that – as well as the usual ongoing fascination with the subject – the UK Government is extending the right to request regulations at the end of this month, allowing all staff to ask their employers for flexible working after six months in a job. As well as the numerous studies that firms have commissioned to explore the issue, there has been even more commentary and guidance, often from law firms. While we should always view each of these in context, adding however much salt we deem necessary to season their findings, what is always interesting when you have a media pile-in like this is to sift through it all to look for patterns, common themes and contrasts. Here are just five:
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