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Over half of UK and US workers still go into work when they are sick

Over half of UK and US workers still go into work when they are sick Over half of UK and US workers still go into work when they’re sick, according to separate surveys from either side of the Atlantic. The US study by Kimberly-Clark Professional found that 59 per cent of people go to work even when they feel ill; with three in 10 saying it was because they were too important to the business operation. In the UK, new YouGov research on behalf of Westfield Health found that exactly the same percentage (59%) of workers turned up despite being unwell because of work commitments; 82 per cent of employees had worked over their contractual hours in the last 12 months and 64 per cent admitted to feeling stressed at work. More →

Don’t let the sofas fool you; work can still be red in tooth and claw

Herbert James Draper: Ulysses and the sirens

Herbert James Draper: Ulysses and the sirens

We keep filling our workplaces with sofas, coffee shops and other lifestyle touches while our homes are being slowly eroded by the trappings of work. First it was the fax machine. Then the mobile phone. Then working from home. The places available for us to work is seemingly more diverse than ever. But does this acknowledged trend towards domesticity make the workplace a kinder, gentler place? Maybe on the surface but beware to those who dare succumb to the siren song of these things. Using them could mean the end of your career.A recent conversation I had with an executive highlighted the problems inherent in the mixed messages this “softening” of the work environment brings.

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What’s wrong with adopting a more positive approach to work and workplaces?

What’s wrong with adopting a more positive approach to work and workplaces?

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Has there ever been a UK government more interested in the workplace than this one? Most of it has been about cutting costs of course, so the majority of announcements emanating from the Cabinet Office have been about procurement, design and environmental performance. David Cameron even at one point announced that he wanted to measure people’s happiness. The questions needed to work out how happy we are proposed by the Office for National Statistics as a result would have had a very familiar feel for anybody who has ever completed a workplace satisfaction survey even if they miss the most blindingly obvious point that when you’re skint and in mortal fear of losing your job, most other things about work lose their lustre.

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National work-life week 2013 aims to promote better work-life balance

National work-life week 2013 to promote the importance of work-life balanceEncouraging a healthy work-life balance is one of the keystones of employee wellness programmes. Yet, while most employers would claim they continually address issues such as stress and overwork, the fact that 40 per cent of workplace absences in this country are stress-related tells a different story. According to a new survey by Adecco, a third (34%) of employers are even prepared to cancel someone’s holiday if there is too much work to do in the office. Such practices are being challenged by a week of events dedicated to the promotion of work-life balance. National Work-Life Week 2013 is organised by the charity Working Families and will include a conference ‘Smart Work, Agile Work, Flexible Work’ on Tuesday 24 September. More →

UK staff showing higher levels of happiness – except those in finance sector

Happiness at work in increasingFresh evidence that those working within the financial sector must be in it for the money as, following the news earlier this week that they get the least amount of sleep, they’re also the most unhappy with their work. A third (32%) describe themselves as unhappy at work compared to the 78 per cent of those working in sales, media, and marketing who class themselves as happy. Overall, the number of British workers who are happy at work has jumped by a fifth (20%) compared to this time last year according to Office Angels’ ‘Happiness at Work’ study. More than half (56%) of workers stated they were happy at work during quarter two 2013, compared to just a third (36%) during quarter two 2012.  More →

Leave it out. UK workers are skipping their break from the office

Leave it out. UK workers are skipping their break from the office

The problem with the UK holiday season is that you never know where you are with your contacts. While one chunk of the population is away on leave, the other half is beavering away, and carry on sending out tons of emails, which the other half are forced to plough through when they return to the office. Maybe we need to follow the example of the Italian office furniture manufacturer which emails out an annual reminder during the last week of July that its offices will be shut for the whole of August, when traditionally, most of Italy takes a break. Not so the Brits, where, according to new research, even workers entitled to a break, are reluctant to take time off. More →

UK construction and manufacturing buoyant but mixed picture in global property market

Construction savingsThere are signs that the UK’s faltering economy is on the road to recovery.  Construction activity in the UK jumped sharply in July to hit its highest level in over three years, according to the latest Markit/CIPS  survey of purchasing managers. This may have been driven primarily by a surge in house building, but even the recently moribund commercial construction sector saw an increase in activity. However a new report from the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors has highlighted that while the UK may have reason to smile, the picture of global commercial property markets is very patchy.

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Work pressures mean over half of managers plan to work on holiday

Work pressures mean over half of managers plan to work on holiday

BYOD are either an aide to productivity or fuel unhealthy levels of presenteeism, depending on which piece of research you believe.  In a survey (by mobile comms supplier) Citrix, 24 per cent of managers think that using BYOD while away from the office is the best way to avoid the average 25 per cent drop in productivity suffered by smaller businesses during the holiday period. This is borne out by data from the Institute of Leadership & Management (ILM) which found an overwhelming 80 per cent of managers check their Blackberries or smartphone on holiday, a third (33%) checking in every day, and 54 per cent feel compelled to work while on leave. More →

Fall in sickness absence rates, but mental ill health still major cause

 Sickness absence falls but mental ill health and stress still a problem

Mental health conditions are the single most widespread cause of long-term absence, with more than half (54 per cent) of employers citing non-work related stress, anxiety and depression as a cause of long-term absence. On a more positive note, according to the latest CBI/Pfizer Absence and Workplace Health Survey out today, overall absence from work in the UK has dropped to a new record low. The thirty-year survey found the average absence rate was 5.3 days in 2012, down from 6.5 days in 2010 – saving business £3 billion. However, the report, Fit for Purpose, found overall absences still cost the economy £14 billion a year, according to the ONS. Almost £1.8 billion was lost from an estimated one-in-eight sick days taken for non-genuine reasons, with one in five employers believing employees take “sickies” as an occasional perk. While absence rates in both the public and private sector were down to 6.9 (from 8.1) and 4.9 (from 5.9) days respectively, the report argues more than £1.2 billion a year could be saved if public sector absence levels were brought in line with the private sector average – on top of the £700 million saved from the fall since 2010.

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UK workers mistrust more contented home-based colleagues

UK workers mistrust more contented home-working colleagues

The debate which ensued following the Yahoo ban on home working earlier this year was as much as about the level of trust felt towards home workers as it was about the importance of collaboration within the workplace. The fact is that for the majority of home workers, day to day life is easier. No commuting, work where you please, no irritating colleagues and the freedom to nip out to the dentist, doctors or parents meeting without having to book a half day off. As a result, while home workers enjoy the best mental health and wellbeing of four groups in a survey of contact centre workers, office workers, home workers and mobile professional workers, their distance from the office-based working population breeds suspicion between them and everybody else. More →

“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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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 →

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