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Hours and pay are not key factors for work-life balance finds survey

Hours or pay not crucial to work-life balance

The key to a better work-life balance is not simply to work shorter hours or earn more money and working shorter hours does not necessarily make people happier. According to a new survey by recruiter Randstad those in the South East and Yorkshire & The Humber are most happy with their work-life balance, with 64 per cent saying they are content, despite those in the South East having one of the longest average working weeks in the UK. The survey also found that those working in property and construction (88%) were amongst the happiest with their work-life balance, coming third after the utilities and insurance sectors. Those least happy with their work-life balance were the East of England (51 per cent) and South West (55 per cent) – yet those in the South West have a shorter average working week than most of the UK. More →

Younger workers’ CSR ethics don’t necessarily extend to older generation

Younger workers' CSR ethics don't extend to the older generation

Is ageism one of the last bastions of accepted prejudice in the UK? Take the Daily Mail’s “night of the living dead” coverage of the Stones’ Glastonbury performance – deemed acceptable where jokes regarding gender, race or disability are not. A new survey illustrates this attitude. Nearly half of younger workers in a recent poll think older colleagues are in danger of stifling their career prospects by retiring later, that their prolonged presence could damage productivity and that they have very little to teach the younger generation. Yet over half (55 per cent) of Generation Y workers questioned in the poll say the ethical credentials of a company would influence their choice of employer. Since the scrapping of the Default Retirement Age (DRA) the number of over-65s in the labour force has exceeded one million, and the survey, carried out for KPMG by OnePoll warns that tensions could rise as the need for employees to stay in the labour force for longer growing due to social and financial pressures. More →

Designs unveiled for new Google London headquarters in King’s Cross

Detailed plans have been submitted for the design of the new Google London headquarters building in King’s Cross. The 1 million sq. ft scheme designed by architects Allford Hall Monaghan Morris does not exceed 11 storeys at any point and will be home to up to 4,500 employees, double the company’s current London workforce and potentially making it the largest Google operation outside of New York.  The scheme is part of a wider development of Kings Cross and will incorporate 750,000 sq. ft. of office space with 50,000 sq. ft. of shops and cafes.  Current employees will relocate from three existing buildings in the capital.  Subject to approval for the detailed design from Camden Council, who have already granted planning permission,  work will begin on the site next year with completion set for 2016-2017.

Google is evidently keen to emphasise its investment in the UK, following weeks of criticism of its tax affairs from the media and politicians. Dan Cobley, Google UK’s managing director, in announcing the details of the development said: ‘Building our new headquarters in King’s Cross is good for Google and good for London.’ Certainly the deal is one of the biggest in recent years in the UK property industry, worth around £650 million and is expected by the developers to create 1,500 construction jobs and 35,000 new employment opportunities over all.

Some of the more interesting aspects of the proposed design are:

  • The primary way for workers to move between floors will be stairs rather than lifts as the firm looks to challenge the sedentary workstyles of staff. No news yet on any wretched slides.
  • The building is designed as a ‘groundscraper’ eschewing London’s recent trend for tall buildings, but is larger than the Shard at 1,083 ft long compared with the Shard’s 1,016 ft height.
  • Over two thirds (71 percent) of the office space are designated for workstations with the remainder set aside for meeting and breakout spaces, cafes and lobbies. Nearly half of the roof of the building will be landscaped.
  • The intention is to achieve a BREEAM outstanding accreditation.
  • The architects claims the design is inspired by the Victorian industrial heritage of the area and will act as a theatre in which the drama of Google’s business will unfold, but with stage settings that can change quickly and easily.

Commenting on the development, Simon Allford, of Allford Hall Monaghan Morris, said: ‘This building is underpinned by cutting edge design intelligence and technologies to provide a sophisticated twenty first century working environment for Google’s staff. The architectural approach, which has taken inspiration from King’s Cross and St Pancras International railway stations, complements the local area’s strong industrial heritage and will be a building London can be proud of.’

Under a quarter of US staff enjoy optimal working environment, claims report

American flag cakeArchitecture firm Gensler has released the results of its 2013 US Workplace Survey. The report claims that under a quarter (24 percent) of US workers work  in an optimised working environment with the remainder suffering from unnecessary lost productivity and a lack of innovation and engagement. The survey of more than 2,000 knowledge workers from across the US examined specific design factors across four work modes defined by Gensler: focus, collaboration, learning and socialising. The report concludes that the modern workplace has a  number of new and increasingly important drivers including new technology, globalisation, generation Y and so on which define where, when and how workers perform their jobs and concludes that the ability to balance focus and collaboration with strategic workplace design is essential.

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What Jeremy Clarkson can’t teach us about workforce productivity

In 2011, one of Top Gear’s regular bits of lazy casual racism caused a bit more fuss than the rolling of eyes it typically deserves. The presenters had mocked a Mexican sports car with Richard Hammond – who has never said anything interesting or funny in his life – claiming  that ‘cars reflect national characteristics. A Mexican car’s just going to be a lazy, feckless, flatulent oaf with a moustache, leaning against a fence asleep, looking at a cactus with a blanket with a hole in the middle on as a coat.’ There was a bit more of this kind of stuff with Jeremy Clarkson suggesting that the Mexican ambassador to Britain would be too lazy to make any kind of complaint. He was wrong about that (he did) and they were all wrong about Mexicans anyway because according to a new report into global productivity,  Mexico has the world’s most productive workforce.

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“Time-bomb” of British workers unhealthy and old before their time

"Time-bomb" of British workers unhealthy and old before their time

Bad lifestyle choices are shaving over four years off British employee’s lives, leaving them unhealthy and old before their time and creating a “time-bomb” for UK employers. According to the wellness survey of 10,000 employees in the UK, 86 per cent of British workers have an average Vitality (health) Age of 4.1 years older than their real age due to unhealthy lifestyles. Vitality Age gives an estimate of years of life lost or gained by taking into consideration the presence or absence of certain risk factors. Nearly a third (31.2 per cent) of employees have three or more risk factors, putting them at serious risk of ill health, and the biggest contributing factors for a higher Vitality Age are lack of physical activity and being overweight.

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UK and U.S. workers more likely to experience workplace bullying

The Coalition government has criticised “over-regulated” UK employment law, which it argues makes it difficult for employers to manage employees without risk of being sued for unfair treatment. Yet despite the perception that UK employees are overly-protected by employment regulations, a new global study of white collar bullying has revealed that workers are in fact more likely to experience bullying at the hands of their bosses if they work in the UK or the U.S. The country a company is based in has a direct effect on how much workplace bullying is accepted and the UK and the U.S. were among the countries with a “high performance orientation” valuing accomplishments, a sense of urgency and explicit communication. These countries, say the authors, may tolerate bullying if it is seen as a means to achieve better results. More →

Managing a work-life balance isn’t solely a women’s issue

Maintaining a work-life balance isn't solely a women's issue

Two reports published this week show that a cultural change is needed to stop employers assuming only female workers have families or other personal concerns that could impact on their workplace performance. A report into workplace equality by the Business, Innovation and Skills Committee (BIS) has called on the UK Government to do more to tackle female underrepresentation in sectors of the economy and to dispel the myth that any type of flexible working is a ‘women’s issue,’  problematic and cannot work. In the US a study by employee assistance providers Bensinger, DuPont and Associates (BDA) into stress has found that men are more than twice as likely to receive formal disciplinary action when the stress of a personal problem impacts on their work performance. More →

Employers struggling to recruit the right talent finds survey

Employers struggling to recruit the right talent

Employers are having to work harder than ever to find the right talent to fill vacancies, with the proportion of employers reporting an increase in competition for well-qualified talent increasing threefold from 20 per cent in 2009 to 62 per cent in 2013. The annual CIPD/Hays Resourcing and Talent Planning Survey 2013, which examines resourcing and talent planning strategies across private, public and voluntary sector organisations, reveals that six in ten organisations had experienced difficulties filling vacancies in the past year, and although more than half of organisations report that they make use of social media in resourcing, just two fifths have a dedicated strategy. More →

Five essential things to consider before you implement a BYOD policy

BYOD is far more than just allowing your staff to check their email on their personal mobile. It’s about the security of corporate information – we’re all demanding more flexible working to fit our lifestyles, but with flexibility comes personal responsibility. Are we rushing to join the BYOD party without realising some of the more serious considerations. A recent article on OfficeInsight considered a Gartner survey which suggested that BYOD would be prevalent by 2017. The article implied that companies should embrace this as an inevitable change. Before we get too excited, though, let’s explore some of the issues that BYOD should be raising for employers – including the technical demands that these policies make on IT departments and infrastructure, and the compliance IT departments will demand of staff.

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The democratisation of the workplace is changing how we work

Citizen Smith & why democratisation of the workplace is changing how we work

Work. We all, with some noticeable exceptions, are obliged to do some. If we are lucky we receive remuneration for our labour. This for me is at the heart of work. We are professionals. specialists, generalists, doers, thinkers, strategists or the people on the front line – but we all go to work. So, shouldn’t the people in charge – and just as importantly, the consultants they talk to about us workers – find out what makes us tick? Obviously, that is exactly the argument that many workplace consultants are making via Office Insight, via Twitter and in the property and FM media. Engaging with employees, via workshops forums or surveys such as Leesman or the more intelligently crafted employee surveys – I agree with all of it, but I think we might be missing something. We need to get back to what work is about.

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Sickness absence rates stall, despite employer and government efforts

 Progress in reducing sickness absence has stalled in the UK, despite a growing number of companies initiating return to work interviews, line manager training, setting stretching absence targets and providing employees with occupational health and wellness initiatives. The 2013 EEF/Westfield Health Sickness Absence survey, found that longer-term sickness absence is increasing (40 per cent) rather than decreasing (24 per cent) and that employers have lost faith the government’s flagship ‘fit note’ programme is getting people back to work.  The three most popular health and well-being employee benefits are health screening/health checks (56 per cent), access to counselling or employee assistance programmes (EAPs) (54 per cent) and subsidised private medical insurance (40 per cent). More →

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