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Stress and staff disengagement go hand in hand, claims new report

disengagementEmployees suffering from high stress levels have lower engagement, are less productive and have higher absentee levels than those not operating under excessive pressure, according to research from HR consultancy provider Towers Watson. According to the firm’s Global Benefits Attitudes survey of 22,000 employees worldwide, there appears to be a causal or coincidental link between stress levels and disengagement. The survey found that levels of workplace disengagement significantly increase when employees experience high levels of stress. The research shows that of those employees who claim to experience high stress levels, over half (57 percent) also reported that they were disengaged. In contrast, only one in ten (10 percent) employees claiming low stress levels said they were disengaged and half of this group claimed to be highly engaged. The reasons for high stress levels were also explored in the research. Inadequate staffing was the biggest cause cited by employees with over half (53 percent) naming it as a top cause of workplace stress.

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Workplace design is increasingly interwoven with the dynamics of the city

workplace designThe Workplace Strategy Summit, held near my adopted home town of Reading in June attracted some of the world’s most renowned experts on workplace design and management. As is the case these days, much of the talk focussed on urbanisation, both in its own right and in terms of its influence on the design of work and workplaces. One speaker, Andrew Laing of Aecom argued convincingly that the city is just as much a part of the modern workplace as the traditional office. ‘As we explore the future of work and place, we are beginning to see a shift towards an urban scale in how we frame the workplace problem,’ he said. ‘Our starting point is perhaps no longer the office but the city at large. And what we mean by the city may not be the bricks and mortar urbanism of the twentieth century, but a bricks and mortar urbanism imbued with digital information and connectivity: a powerful combination of the physical and digital.’

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Increased use of mobile devices give office workers space to move

Office workers now spend up to six hours a day working on mobile devices rather than using desk computers; with men generally working with three or more mobile devices while women choose to work with a maximum of two. This is according to the intermediate results of a Global Posture Study carried out by Steelcase to identify which type of work environment fits different workers best. It reveals that the Millennial generation, born between 1979 and 2000, change posture during the course of the day more than any other age group. Female workers tend to choose postures where they can withdraw from the environment, while men prefer open seating postures where they can lean back. The results of the posture study underlines the fact that employers must take an increasingly innovative approach to creating working environment which supports the various ways of working of the employees to guarantee their wellbeing and productivity. More →

Office planting improves workers’ quality of life and productivity finds study

Office planting improve office workers’ quality of life and productivity finds studyClaims by office designers and suppliers that office planting has wider health benefits for occupiers than just making the place look more attractive have been given a boost in a new academic study which provides some empirical evidence.  In the first field study of its kind, researchers found enriching a ‘lean’ office with plants could increase productivity by as much as 15 per cent. The study, which involved academics from the University of Exeter; the University of Groningen in The Netherlands, and the University of Queensland, Australia examined the impact of ‘lean’ and ‘green’ offices on staff’s perceptions of air quality, concentration, and workplace satisfaction, and monitored productivity levels over subsequent months in two large commercial offices in the UK and The Netherlands. It concludes that ‘green’ offices with plants make staff happier and more productive than ‘lean’ designs stripped of greenery. More →

Germany set to introduce evening email ban, but is it really needed?

email banIt seems likely that the much discussed German ban on out-of-hours emails is to be implemented. According to reports over the weekend,  the German Labour Minister Andrea Nahles has agreed to the implementation of new legislation that aims to end the culture of people dealing with messages outside of their normal working hours and could lead to a total free time email ban. The opportunity to herald the new legislation came with the publication of a new report she had commissioned into mental health and work, which led her to claim that ‘there is an undeniable link between being constantly available for work and mental illness’. However the new legislation has met with a degree of scepticism, especially in an article written over the weekend by Karl-Heinz Büschemann for Germany’s largest circulation national newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung.

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Third-place workspaces as well as flexible hours are key to success, says workplace provider

Flexible people and place is key to success argues workplace providerAs the summer holidays draw to an end, many working parents will be appreciative of the benefits of flexible working. Now new research from Regus has highlighted the long-term benefits of agile working in helping employers to attract and retain staff. Prospective employees are increasingly demanding some form of flexi-working deal, while nine out of ten employers report that offering flexible working options – including flexi-location as well as flexi-hours – is proving a highly effective way of improving staff morale and helping them to achieve a better work-life balance. While the workplace provider is understandably in favour of the flexi-location concept, as a provider of ‘third-place’ workspaces, for instance at railway stations, this kind of multi-location working is undoubtably growing in popularity More →

Hotels allocating more public space to meet the needs of business travellers

Business TravellersPresenteeism isn’t restricted to the workplace. Growing demand from business travellers means hotels are increasing the amount of working and meeting space they provide in their facilities in cities across Europe and the rest of the world. Three quarters of British employees work while staying in a hotel according to the survey carried out by the Fraunhofer Institute on behalf of hotel business solutions firm HRS. Only Italians spend more time working in hotels (76 percent), followed the UK (75 percent), Poland and Switzerland (50 percent respectively), Germany (46 percent), China (45 percent), Russia (43 percent), Austria (42 percent) and France (25 percent). The firm has also identified a number of hotels around the world which it believes offers exemplars of the new working spaces available.

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Four year surge in the numbers of over-50s and over-65s in UK workforce

older UK workforceWe keep saying it but forget all the talk about Gen Y, the UK workforce is actually aging and becoming more diverse. New research from Saga shows that the number of employees over the age of 65 has increased by over a third over the last four years and the numbers of those between 50 and 64 has also increased – by nearly a tenth. The proportion of over 65s within the workforce is up from 3.4 percent to 3.6 percent over the same period but there have also been increases in employment in younger age groups meaning the workforce is more diverse. There are now 1.09 million over 65s still in work and around 8 million in the 50-64 age group. The Saga Monthly Employment report, published in partnership with the Centre for Economics and Business Research, also found that older age groups are now just as economically active as younger demographics

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Rise in staff social media profiling will transform the workplace

Digital monitoring of staff will transform the workplace claims surveyWhether or not the younger generation are in fact more technically astute is still open to debate, but one thing is clear, they’re far less perturbed at the idea of being digitally monitored than the older generation. New research reveals that the younger generation are more open to sharing their personal data with their employees, with 36 per cent of Generation Y workers saying they would be happy to do so. Nearly a third of people would be happy for their employer to have access to their personal data, such as social media profiles and this kind of data monitoring of employees will rise over the next decade as Generation Y enters the workforce. Given the fact that by 2020 this generation will form half of the global workforce – they’re set to bring with them their different attitudes to technology and personal data. More →

The CIPD is right to focus on the multi-generational workplace

Multi-generational workplaceAmongst all the talk about Generation Y and its impact on the world of work, it can be easy to miss the fact that the modern workplace is not defined by one particular generation, but a number of them. The multi-generational workplace has significant implications for the way we design and manage offices. While we must avoid the more obvious stereotypes about the needs of different age groups, we must still offer spaces that can meet a wide range of cultural, physical and technological needs if we are to create productive workplaces.The latest organisation to bang the drum for the multi-generational workplace is the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development. It has published new research together with the Scottish Centre for Healthy Working Lives into the experiences and attitudes of SMEs towards age diversity at work.

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Flexible work arrangements are leading component of wellness policies globally

Flexible working policies leading component of wellness policies globallyIn the midst of the August summer holidays; it’s now more than ever that flexible working policies can benefit both employees and employers, so that those who need to get stuff done can get on with it without having to sit in a near empty office for form’s sake. So it comes as little surprise that in a new global survey, polices related to flexible work arrangements and paid time off rank as the number one component of wellness programs globally. According to “Working Well: A Global Survey of Health Promotion and Workplace Wellness Strategies,” the concept of wellness at work has evolved over the last seven years, moving from a focus on basic health promotion activities to a culture where seventy-eight per cent of the world’s employers are strongly committed to creating a workplace culture of health, to boost individual engagement and organizational performance. More →

Small business has no problem with flexible working – it’s just sceptical of legislation

flexible working legislationAt the end of July, the UK Government introduced new legislation that allowed any employee with more than six months in a job to apply to their employer for some form of flexible working arrangements. Now, research from Sage claims that a third of small businesses are ignoring the legislation, a fact which might be interpreted as suggesting that the UK’s SMEs are not so keen on the idea. What other data suggests, however, is that they’re probably more likely to offer flexible working than larger firms. This can only mean that it’s the legislation that’s the problem, not the practice. Leaving aside the ten percent of SMEs who the Sage report claimed were unaware of the new rules, this still leaves a large number of smaller businesses open to litigation and industrial tribunals. But, as the Federation of Small Businesses warned ahead of the new law’s introduction, the right to request was always likely to lead to headaches for business owners anyway.

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