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Government publishes its State of the Estate Report for 2014

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Home-office-001Yesterday, the Government published its State of the Estate report for 2014 detailing the size and cost, efficiency of use and sustainability of central government buildings. The report covers all central government property with the exception of the military estate, prisons, NHS, Defra rural estate, Foreign & Commonwealth Office and Home Office and overseas estate. The current Government has laid great store on its ability to rationalise and improve the estate and the report focuses on its achievements in this regard. The report claims that since 2010, the changes have resulted in the estate divesting some 2,000 properties (28 percent of the total), reduced the footprint of the estate by 2 million sq. m. (a 20 percent reduction).  It claims that this has been achieved by “identifying underused properties and modernising buildings to make better use of a smaller number of properties and the space within them.”

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Guidance published for SMEs on management and wellbeing of older workers

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Guidance published on supporting older workers wellnessSince the the Default Retirement Age (DRA) was abolished in 2011, there’s been a growing awareness that the UK population is ageing at a rapid rate. One in six people in Britain are now over 65, with eight million workers aged 50 and over. But what is often overlooked is that the majority of older workers work for small and medium sized businesses. Of the 8 million workers who are 50 and over, 5.2 million work for businesses with less than 250 employees. Now in the first of its kind to specifically target smaller employers, new guidance published by Healthy Working Lives, part of NHS Health Scotland, aims to provide advice on hiring and managing older employees. Managing Healthy Ageing Workforces has been written by Dr Matt Flynn, Director of Newcastle University’s Centre for Research into the Older Workforce, and Kathleen Houston, Development Manager for Healthy Working Lives.

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Winners announced for first ever employee engagement awards

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Winners announced for first ever employee engagement awards Hotel management company The Dorchester Collection has picked up The Investors in People Company of the Year Award, in the inaugural Employee Engagement Awards. Although awards programmes are as much about marketing and revenue as recognising talent and achievement, it’s clear that the launch of the first ever awards that recognise employee engagement reflects a growing realisation by employers that it’s an area to be taken seriously. As the economy improves, the labour market grows more competitive and businesses have to offer and be seen to be doing things differently, to create an engaging and rewarding working environment. Other notable winners include The University of Sheffield, which won the Wellness Award and Transport for London, for Project of the Year Award (Public sector).

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Vital role of FM in success of an organisation illustrated in latest RICS case studies

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Vital role of FM in success of an organisation illustrated in latest RICS case studiesThe utilisation of Building Information Modelling (BIM) to innovate FM within a business, and the way in which strategic FM can help boost the wellbeing of employees are two of the latest case studies launched by the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) aimed at illustrating the vital role played by FM in the success of an organisation. The case studies, produced by International Workplace, and available to download here, outline how businesses, large and small, can utilise strategic FM to enhance their business’ output. Through organisations as varied as The Royal BAM Group and the Hong Kong Jockey Club, the theme of professionalising FM is brought to life and explained using tangible, real life examples. Speaking at the launch of the case studies, held at KPMG, featured for its living wage initiative, Neil Murray, Managing Director at Sodexo UK talked about the contribution FMs can make to an organisation by making it a better place to work. More →

The myths and the memes of public sector purchasing waste

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There has always been a certain degree of skepticism within the UK’s business community about the way the public sector goes about buying goods and services. Some of it is justified but some is unfair. The efforts of successive governments to address the problem demonstrates that there is always a will to improve things. So while a recent BBC Panorama documentary highlighted claims from one report that the NHS loses billions each year thanks to a range of errors and fraud in its procurement processes, we might also ask whether an equivalent private sector organisation with an annual budget of £109 billion would not also be open to a wide range of eye-wateringly expensive failures and inefficiencies. Unfortunately there is a tendency in the media to want to expose ‘waste’ in public sector purchasing, which can politicise what are perfectly reasonable decisions, when you examine them.

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Mental health friendly workplaces will lead to a state of wellbeing says report

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Make workplaces mental health friendly to create a state of wellbeingMaking places of work mental health friendly with government leading the way as an employer is one of the key recommendations of a landmark study on the state of mental health in England published today. Concluding the 12 month study on the state of wellbeing in England the CentreForum Mental Health Commission report reveals that mental health related sickness absence and lost productivity costs business up to £23.5 billion annually, and says that government must take the lead in tackling this problem by ensuring all public sector enterprises become mental health friendly employers. It also urges organisations with more than 500 employees to work towards that status. The Commission says the “pursuit of happiness” must become an explicit and measurable goal of government if the £105 billion annual cost of mental illness in England is to be reduced and identifies five key priorities between now and 2020. More →

CBI: Strong business case for investing in health and wellbeing

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Majority of workers would prefer sick colleagues to stay homeAs 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 →

Innovative public sector property scheme to be extended

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Hull GuildhallOne of the UK’s most innovative property strategies, the One Public Sector Estate programme is to be extended, the Government has announced. The initiative was established in June of last year in 12 pilot areas as a way for central and local government departments to share offices and other public sector property. The programme will now be extended to as many as 15 new authorities across the country with the Cabinet Office claiming that the pilot schemes have already  saved around £21m in under a year and that the sale of property freed up by the scheme will raise an additional £88 million. The strategy is jointly managed by the property arm of the Cabinet Office who are responsible for similar initiatives in central government, and the Local Government Association.

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The Wall Street Journal (and others) are wrong about human resources

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original_dustpan-and-brushEverybody ready? Great. Then it’s time for another round of HR bashing and a tipping point for more existential navel-gazing for everyone’s favourite corporate pantomime villain – the human resources department. Or is it? You can choose your own particular moment at which the crowd boos and hisses at the bad guys in HR, but hot on the heels of the Lucy Adams debacle at the Beeb and a report that finds human resources to be the profession with the most “can’t do” attitude comes an article from, of all places, the Wall Street Journal that looks at what it means to do away with your HR function altogether. The restrictions of the word count being what they are, coupled with the way sweeping generalisations provide the quickest way to guarantee a bump in readership, the WSJ takes the broadest of brushes to add another coat to the painting of HR as an ancillary function that, far from oiling the wheels of commerce, is often a distraction at best and, at worst, an active obstruction.

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Public sector purchasing doesn’t need this kind of lightbulb moment

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lightbulb1The latest of the weekly kickings reserved for the UK’s public sector purchasing community comes in the shape of a BBC Panorama documentary alleging that a range of frauds and cock-ups cost the National Health Service around £7 billion a year. The NHS denies these figures but there are clearly obvious and serious deficiencies in the way goods and services are procured across the public sector, as we have reported. Yet there is a flipside to such reports which tap in to (and sometimes pander to) a widespread scepticism of the way the public sector goes about its business. So we must first ask whether an equivalent private sector organisation with a budget of £109 billion a year would not also be open to a wide range of eye-wateringly expensive failures, inefficiencies and frauds. And secondly we must question whether the great British public, along with some businesses, are generally able to grasp the issues involved.

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Large and small firms demand greater transparency in government procurement

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WhitehallThe whole thorny issue of public sector procurement is never far from the news, but this week gained new prominence as one contractor walked out on a £1 billion contract because it felt the Ministry of Justice hadn’t grasped the idea of intellectual property amongst other things, while the Confederation of British Industry raised the stakes overall by claiming that a culture of secrecy in government purchasing continues to foster mistrust and waste taxpayers’ money. The CBI goes so far as to claim that even the most high profile botched contracts over recent years have not deterred the government from its move to inculcate a culture of opacity rather than transparency when procuring goods and services. It called on the Government to move to open book contracts so that all parties are aware of contract terms and margins.

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Keep up! new “megatrends” could have dramatic impacts on the world of work

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new megatrends could have dramatic impacts on the world of work

We are all aware to some extent or other of the ways in which work has changed significantly over the past few decades, but are employers sufficiently aware of, or prepared for, the future trends that will shape the way we work and the performance of our organisations and economies into the future? This is the question posed by HR body the CIPD in a major new discussion document Megatrends: The trends shaping work and working lives” as it launches a debate on the “megatrends” that are likely to shape the world of work, the workforce and the culture and organisation of workplaces over the next decade.

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