Friday, March 03, 2006

Is Pay Still Number One?

In a departure from surveys that tell us that pay has risen to the top of the employee "what I want" list, comes this story from the UK. According to the online edition of the Globe and Mail, in an article entitled "Workers Want More Flexible Arrangements," we hear the following findings from a study of more than 2,000 people from 32 countries by the Careerinnovation Group in England:

"Almost half said they would be willing to give up some pay to get a more flexible working arrangement"

I wonder if this is simply a manifestation of cultural differences (US and UK workers), or if we're starting to see a return to "work/life balance" issues that had faded from view a few years back.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Uh, I'm Really Feeling Sick Today

Our friends at Hudson report something that should not be a revelation for most of us . . . namely that 30% of those employed are "playing hooky" (taking a "mental health" day) at least once a year, often with their managers turning a blind eye to their behavior.

“With the busy pace of today’s working environment, employees are taking matters into their own hands to combat stress and take care of their families, often with the tacit approval of their manager,” says Alicia Barker, vice-president of human resources, Hudson North America. “While this practice may reduce employees’ concerns about breaking the rules, managers can also help by advocating a healthy work/life balance, time management training and stronger personal time policies.”

It should also come as no shock that younger workers in low-paying jobs are the worst offenders. Take a look at the Hudson survey results, and then look in the mirror. What's happening in your company? And why?

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Dull Work Can Kill You

According to a study conducted by Dr Harry Hemingway, of University College London Medical School, reported in the Business News section of, some workers may actually do themselves a favor by NOT showing up for work. Apparently dull jobs CAN kill you.

According to the report, "men with 'low-grade jobs', meaning they had little control over daily tasks, and men in low social positions had faster and less-variable heart rates." Dr. Hemingway goes on to say "This finding helps explain why men with low-paying jobs and less education have a higher risk for heart disease, a trend that has been evident for the last 30 years." In contrast, the healthy heart experiences variation in rate, which could come from a number of things - exercise, relaxation and, yes, some excitement at work where we spend most of our time.

Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Our Persistent Efforts to Create a Labour Shortage

We've all been hearing the "labor shortage" stories for some time. For example, a recent report from "down under" advises us that "Our future is no longer one of abundant labour supply; quite the opposite. Business will need to work harder to attract and retain staff."

Why then are we not surprised to see the following report of a potential labour surplus in the UK? According to Andrew Taylor at (Financial Times) in an article entitled Unemployment of over-50s costs economy up to £31bn a year

"The government needs to do more to increase job opportunities for unemployed workers aged over 50 to prevent a loss of skills and experience costing the economy billions of pounds, a parliamentary report says today.

The study by the public accounts committee said there were insufficient data to determine whether the government's New Deal 50 Plus programme was working effectively."

Is this supply/demand inbalance due to geography? I think not. There is a perception afoot in the marketplace that the "over-50" workforce does not have the currently needed skills to get ahead today, or that they simply won't fit in organizations with a predominantly younger workforce. All the skills training in the world won't overcome prejudice and pre-formed perceptions.

It's ironic that the portion of the workforce now being overlooked has been statistically shown to be the most loyal, most willing to put up with slow advancement and most likely to show up and be productive even when the work environment is less than supportive. Labour shortage? It may be one of our own creation.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Where Are They Really Taking Those Eight Days?

According to a new study conducted by the folks at Universal Orlando Resort and Bert Sperling, Americans are foregoing 8 days of earned vacation per year on average. This is particularly prevalent in the Northeast, and in areas recently hit by tech industry collapse or experiencing significant unemployment.

"Universal Orlando Resort and Bert Sperling, founder of Sperling’s BestPlaces, compiled “vacation crisis” scores based on the amount of vacation days people in the 51 largest U.S. metro areas earned on average, and what percentage of those people reported taking vacation the week before being surveyed."

What's interesting are the geographic distinctions. Cities reporting the greatest "all work - no play" inbalances are:

1. Newark, NJ
2. Miami, FL
3. Bergen-Passaic, NJ
4. San Antonio, TX
5. Atlanta, GA
6. Austin – San Marcos, TX
7. Charlotte – Gastonia – Rock Hill, NC
8. Philadelphia, PA
9. Houston, TX
10. New York, NY

At the opposite end of the spectrum, we look West to cities like:

1. Sacramento, CA
2. Nashville, TN
3. Seattle – Bellevue- Everett, WA
4. Oakland, CA
5. San Jose, CA
6. Riverside – San Bernardino, CA
7. Portland – Vancouver, OR
8. Salt Lake City – Ogden, UT
9. Columbus, OH
10. Denver, CO

According to the article, and most studies we've read, passing up vacation leads to more stress, higher incident of illness and an overall decrease in the quality of work. While productivity numbers may lead one to the opposite conclusion (after all, they are at work) we expect that the growth in presenteeism in the workplace is on the rise East of the Mississippi.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Sick Days (Away from Work) Appear to Be a Thing of the Past

Fears concerning job security keep people at the office or plant even when common sense dictates that a day at home might put them on the road to good health. Workspan Weekly, the online publication of WorldatWork (formerly the American Compensation Association) reported the following on March 15, 2005:

Working While Sick Continues to Pervade U.S. Workplace

March 15, 2005 – The majority of employees – 77% - report going to work while sick, according to a recent Tell It Now poll by ComPsych Corporation.
When asked whether they worked while sick, employees responded:

· 34 percent - Yes, because my workload makes it too difficult to take off

· 26 percent – Yes, because it feels "risky" to take off in the current work environment

· 17 percent – Yes, because I save my sick days for when my kids need me

· 23 percent – No, I put my health first.

“The percentage of employees who work while sick - and the reasons they do so - is virtually unchanged since 2004,” said Dr. Richard A. Chaifetz, chairman and CEO of ComPsych. “Employees' health continues to take a backseat as they succumb to the demands of work and caregiving.”

The survey was conducted from Feb. 5 to March 1, 2005, receiving responses from employees of more than 1,000 ComPsych client companies nationwide.

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Make Sure That Those Who Show Up Know They Count

There's been a lot of press recently claiming that the benefits of diversity management have been over-hyped. In fact, some have gone so far as to say that they can see no difference in the bottom lines of companies with strong diversity policies and practices and those which don't.

Mor Barak at USC has weighed in on this topic with a new book that deserves a look:

WorldatWork: "In Managing Diversity Toward a Globally Inclusive Workplace (SAGE Publications), Mor Barak, of the USC School of Social Work and Marshall School of Business, says many organizations pay lip service to a culture of acceptance, but few have adopted measures for a truly inclusive workplace. She suggests the organizations that ultimately will thrive are those prepared to divest themselves of their prejudicial attitudes and effectively unleash the potential embedded in a heterogeneous workforce.
Coined by Mor Barak, the term 'inclusive workplace' refers to a model work environment that welcomes diversity on all levels. She developed the concept after seven years of research that included interviewing corporate executives, business leaders and employees from around the globe. She also relied on findings from a Rockefeller Foundation-funded international think tank.
'Invariably, the employees who were more included in the organization's decision-making and information networks were more satisfied, more committed to the organization and felt more productive than those who were not,' Mor Barak said. 'After several interviews with women and members of ethnic and racial diverse groups repeatedly telling me how they felt, it finally dawned on me � inclusion was the key.'"

This makes good sense to us. As the war for talent picks back up in the next few years, it may also make sense to an even more important public - the people you are trying to hire.