Search Results for: society

This isn’t a golden era for small business; it’s more interesting than that

small businessesYesterday, the Prime Minister’s Enterprise Advisor Lord Young produced a report into the key trends experienced by the UK’s small businesses over the past five years. According to the headline figures presented by the report, this is a ‘golden era’ for small businesses in the UK, with a record number of small firms in the country. The reported 5.2 million small firms represents an increase of 760,000 over the five year period covered by the study. The report concludes that the main drivers of this upsurge are the growing belief people have in their own ideas and abilities coupled with the technological wherewithal to make them a commercial reality. Lord Young also claims the Government deserves some credit for providing the business landscape for this to happen. But is it really that simple?

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Nearly two-thirds of over 50s say flexible working is best route to retirement

Nearly two-thirds of over 50s say part time working is the best way to retireAround half of over 50s would like to carry on working part time after 65, while 39 per cent of feel that working part time or flexible hours before stopping work altogether would be the best way to retire. According to new research, one in four over 50s said they would be interested in taking a few months off and then returning to work as an alternative to retirement. Meanwhile 36 percent of retirees say their advice to others would be to consider switching to flexible or part time work for a period first before retiring and 33 per cent of over 70s still working said they did so because they enjoyed it. However the poll also reveals some discrimination, with 23 percent of over 50s believing they are viewed ‘less favourably than younger workers’ and 15 per cent experiencing age-based discrimination in the workplace.

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Connecting to the workplace out of office hours can damage wellbeing

Out of office hours workplace connectivity damages employees' wellbeingThe use of tech outside of office hours can have a detrimental effects on workers’ wellbeing according to a paper presented this week at the British Psychological Society’s Division of Occupational Psychology conference in Glasgow. A meta-analysis by Svenja Schlachter and colleagues from the University of Surrey sought to determine the effects of being constantly “switched on” for work and found a blurring of boundaries between work and private life. The research showed that employees use a number of devices outside of office hours in the hope that staying “switched on” will increase flexibility and efficiency and because they believe there is a strong expectation to be available 24/7. This often has a negative effect on their work-life balance and increases stress.

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Wearable tech will change the workplace in unexpected ways

diceThe idea that we are all about to be supplanted by a new generation of artificially intelligent robot overlords has been in the news a great deal recently, partly as a result of Stephen Hawking’s recent pessimistic intervention on the subject. Whatever the truth of this apocalyptic musing, a more imminent generation of tech products means we are already testing the law of unintended consequences with regard to the stuff we create to help us. As technology firms clamber over each other in their attempts to be the first to open up the lucrative frontiers of wearable tech, a range of understandable concerns have been raised about some of the more obvious potential problems of security and privacy. But if we have learned one thing about our relationship with technology over many years, it is that whatever we expect from it will usually be wrong, sometimes spectacularly so.

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Half of women would consider remaining childless rather than risk career

half of women would consider remaining childless for their careersThe expansion of flexible working rights was not only intended to improve workplace wellbeing and productivity, but encourage mothers to remain in the workforce. But it seems there is much work to be done to convince women that work and motherhood can mix. New research from the Association of Accounting Technicians (AAT) has found that half of women believe that having a baby poses such a risk to their career that they would consider remaining childless. The survey among women of childbearing age also found that two-thirds of women (67%) are concerned about the impact that having children might have on their career and half of the women who don’t currently have children (49%) feel their current career doesn’t offer them the flexibility they would need to care for a family. Over half of mothers (55%) admitted that balancing childcare and work has been a barrier to staying in work, with one in five (20%) stating that a lack of support from their employer has made life as a working mum more difficult. More →

Increasing numbers of over-65s will require flexible working rights

Increasing number of over-65s will require flexible working rightsWe can get so preoccupied with meeting the younger generation’s more flexible approach to work, that we miss the fact that a much greater challenge for employers is in managing the needs of the older workforce. Figures released by the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) show that nearly a quarter of a million more people aged 65 and over have remained at work since the default retirement age was abolished three years ago. This means that more than a million (103,000) over 65s now choose to stay in work, compared to 874,000 in the quarter October to December 2011 – an increase of 229,000. There are now 9.1 million people aged 50 plus at work, accounting for 29.7 per cent of all those in work aged 16 plus in the UK (30.6 million). This means employers not only need to accommodate an increasingly diverse range of ages but must enable older workers to work more flexibly as they wind down from working life. More →

Report claims workplace fails to support employees with musculoskeletal disorders

musculoskeletal disordersWhen determining what constitutes a well-designed office, it’s easy to overlook the overriding need to ensure a workplace is designed first and foremost to be inclusive. Given the fact that musculoskeletal disorders remain the largest single cause of days of work lost due to sickness absence, it’s worrying to discover that many organisations fail to meet the needs of those dealing with such conditions. The new report ‘Self-management of chronic musculoskeletal disorders and employment’ from the Fit for Work UK Coalition and The Work Foundation found that despite sufferers’ efforts to remain at work, many are forced to ‘self-manage’ their condition without adequate support; with for instance an employee being forced to partake in a hot desk policy when they required their own, fixed workspace. As the report states, this lack of help is ‘all the more perverse’ when you take into consideration the role that work can play in helping to contribute to mental and physical wellbeing. More →

The collaboration between BIFM and CIPD unites the workplace tribes

workplace tribesThe world of work and the workplace is always changing. We know it. You know it. In fact, there are a whole host of people that know it, but depending on what side of the professional fence you sit on, you might approach it in different ways, looking through a different lens or with a specific focus. Or are you already bridging the professional gap? Workplace change and the numerous ramifications of it are well documented. In a world that is changing, at frightening pace, it is strange to think that many of the ways in which we work are so entrenched in 20th century thinking. We need to break away from this and outline what the future is going to look like and how we should adapt. Or do we already have the answers? This ground is well trodden. However, it could be time to reassess our thinking and the way we approach this challenge, ensuring it becomes the norm for organisations around the world.

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Corporate social reponsibility remains a vital part of the business armoury

Corporate Social responsibilityThere is now an unstoppable energy for radical change in the way that companies of all sizes conduct their Corporate Social Responsibility duties. There are compelling economic and social reasons for companies to construct new ways of thinking and practice around CSR that go way beyond just doing something worthy or nice, from building effective partnerships to attracting top employees. Some companies prefer terms like ‘corporate responsibility’, ‘corporate conscience’, ‘corporate citizenship’, ‘social performance’, ‘sustainability’ or even ‘future-proofing’ over CSR. But the core CSR principles are that a business voluntarily commits to embracing responsibility for its actions and to impacting positively on the environment, on society and on consumers, employees and other stakeholders. More →

BIFM survey reveals lukewarm approach to sustainable facilities management

Sustainable facilities managementA new report from the British Institute of Facilities Management reveals the lukewarm approach many UK organisations have to sustainable business practices generally and sustainable FM in particular. The study, based on online research carried out in the Spring with the University of Reading found that, while an overall majority (60 percent) of facilities managers think sustainability is effectively integrated in to their businesses, most operate on the ‘border of compliancy’. The report makes this conclusion based on the fact that its survey showed that over three quarters of respondents (78 percent) claimed that the main driver for the development of sustainability policies is corporate image and a similar proportion (77 percent). The report concludes that this ‘suggests a ‘box-ticking’ approach to sustainability instead of businesses embracing and investing in longer-term practices and the advantages of spending to save’.

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Older workers’ employment champion appointed to challenge age perceptions

Following the Government’s publication last month of Fuller Working Lives – A Framework For Action, which set out the benefits to individuals, business and the economy as a whole of people aged over 50 staying in work; economist, policy expert and consumer champion Dr Ros Altmann CBE has been appointed by the Government as its new Business Champion for Older Workers. Dr Altmann – a former director-general of Saga and independent expert on later life issues – will be tasked with making the case for older workers within the business community and challenging outdated perceptions. In the next 10 years, there will be 700,000 fewer people aged 16-49 in the UK labour market but 3.7m more people aged between 50 and state pension age. The Government believes employers need to harness the benefits of taking on older staff, as too many continue to believe they can rely solely on a young workforce. More →

Smithfield mixed use development plans thrown out by Communities Secretary

SmithfieldThe UK’s Communities secretary Eric Pickles has – in no uncertain terms – thrown out the controversial £160m plans to redevelop London’s historic Smithfield Market. The development, which would have been located in the heart of London’s creative and office design communities, was rejected with a strongly worded statement that concluded: ‘the extent of damage that the application would cause to the important heritage assets at Smithfield runs entirely counter to national and policy objectives intended to protect such assets from harm and that this would seriously undermine any economic, social or environmental benefits otherwise arising from the development, such that the proposal would not represent sustainable development.’ Objections to  the plans had been led by the Victorian Society and Save Britain’s Heritage and enjoyed the backing of high profile public figures such as Alan Bennett, Kristin Scott Thomas and RIBA Journal editor Hugh Pearman.

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