May 21, 2014
We all know –or should – that we have a real problem with information. We are not only deluged with the stuff, we appear increasingly willing to wallow in it voluntarily, even when we know it’s bad for us. The full extent of the challenge we face managing information is laid bare in a new report from Microsoft called ‘Defying Digital Distraction’. The study is based on a survey carried out by YouGov which found that 55 per cent of 2,000 British office staff experience some form of information overload at work. A similar proportion feel they are distracted by information, just under half (43 per cent) experience stress as a result, a third (34 per cent) feel overwhelmed by it and 28 per cent believe it affects their personal wellbeing. The report is fronted by Dave Coplin, the Chief Envisioning Officer of Microsoft UK who we interviewed last year and coincides with the publication of Dave’s new book called The Rise of the Humans: how to outsmart the digital deluge.
May 19, 2014
Humans remain wedded to long-held ideas about the times and places in which we work best so if you want to get ahead in your career, you need to be in the office nice and early, regardless of any flexible working arrangements. That is the conclusion of new research from the University of Washington due to be published in full later this year in the Journal of Applied Psychology. The research is flagged up by its authors in the current issue of the Harvard Business Review. It shows that our attitudes to presence are so pervasive that workers who get an early start are rated as more effective by their line managers regardless of the number of hours they work and what they achieve in that time. Researchers conclude that managers have a profound morning bias that leads them to confuse conscientiousness with an early start.
May 16, 2014
Flexible working may be perceived as more advantageous to employees than employers, but there’s new evidence that it encourages presenteeism rather than promoting a better work/life balance. The Glassdoor UK Annual Leave Survey has discovered that 44 per cent of employees undertake some work while on holiday; 18 per cent report that a colleague and 13 per cent their boss, have contacted them about work related matters while on leave. And that’s just those who take their allocated holiday time. The average UK employee uses just 77 per cent of his or her annual leave, and only half (50%) of UK employees take their full annual leave. Given that the average annual leave in the UK is approximately 28 days per year, this means that employees could be losing 6.5 days every 12 months. more…
May 16, 2014
As 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
May 15, 2014
As we reported earlier this week, an employee wellness programme can be worth doing alone as an incentive and engagement tool. But for those employers who need some evidence of their impact on the bottom line comes a new CBI report, which shows the costs to employers who fail to address employee health and wellbeing. The direct costs of employee absence to the economy is estimated at over £14 billion per year and the average total cost to business for each absent employee is £975. These figures would be higher still if productivity lost due to presenteeism – staff attending work despite being unwell – was included as well. The new CBI report – Getting Better: Workplace health as a business issue – outlines exactly how businesses can improve the wellbeing of their staff and provides a practical support tool to support firms, based on the experience of CBI members. more…
May 15, 2014
Just 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.
May 14, 2014
One of the main themes at the ThinkFM conference yesterday was the acknowledgement that facilities management and HR need to break down the silos that often exist between the two disciplines. This was the message of Chris Kane, CEO of BBC Commercial Properties, who explained that the British Institute of Facilities Management will be collaborating with the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development on a number of projects to investigate how both communities of professionals are evolving and adapting to the changing workplace. It marked the end of a conference which began the day with a talk by Peter Cheese, the CEO of the CIPD, who remarked that both professions were in the business of getting the most of people in the working environment and why it is vital that those tasked with managing these key resources within organisations need to work together to maximise the value of its workforce. more…
May 13, 2014
Fresh evidence that the recession is over as the CIPD reports employment intentions are at the highest level for six and half years. However, pay continues to perform well below pre-recession levels, and the HR body warns that with the economy picking up, now is the time for employers to consider both the levels of pay and employment conditions they have to offer; and the reputation and branding of their organisation. Although CIPD’s quarterly Labour Market Outlook finds little evidence that the buoyant jobs market is feeding through into recruitment difficulties for the majority of employers in the short term, in some areas; such as engineering and management/executive there is already a struggle to fill high-skilled vacancies. The CIPD is therefore urging employers in all sectors to start planning ahead to mitigate the risk of widespread skills shortages in the longer term. more…
May 12, 2014
Measuring the impact of wellness initiatives at work is far from being an exact science. An examination of sickness absence figures for example, must take into account many variables; from the state of health of employees before the outset of a wellbeing programme, to the reasons behind each individual’s days off sick after a health programme has been put in place. There is though, a growing body of evidence that employers that bother to provide their workers with the tools to improve their level of health and wellbeing do benefit from a more engaged and more productive workforce. The latest bit of research by Unum and ICM finds that employees who feel that they have good workplace wellbeing are 27 per cent more likely to stay with their employer for over five years than those employees who feel they have only adequate or poor provision. more…
May 9, 2014
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…
May 8, 2014
Monitoring of employee engagement and wellbeing by FTSE 100 companies improved over the past year, but organisations are failing to measure or address the psychological health of employees. The latest Business in the Community (BITC) Workwell FTSE 100 benchmark showed an increase in the average company scores from 21 per cent to 25 per cent while reporting across the five identified areas of BITC’s Workwell Model; Better Work, Better Relationships, Better Specialist Support, Better Physical and Psychological Health and Working Well increased from 53 to 63. 86 per cent of companies now report on four or five of these themes. But despite this, there was almost no evidence that psychological health is being measured or addressed, and the provision of mental health support continues to be a low scoring area (11%). more…
May 7, 2014
In March a report from the British Council for Offices appeared to show that people are happier and more productive when working in green buildings. But the idea that staff find greater job satisfaction when they work in environmentally friendly surroundings is challenged by a new study from researchers at the University of Nottingham and the Centre for the Built Environment at the University of California, Berkeley. It found that, contrary to other research, people working in LEED certified buildings appear no more satisfied with the quality of their interior design and fit-out and may enjoy no more overall level of job satisfaction than those working in less green buildings. The research was carried out by Stefano Schiavon at Berkeley and Sergio Altomonte of the University of Nottingham and published in the April edition of Building and Environment.
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