Archive for February, 2009

Jeff Grout – speaking showreel, touching on recruitment and staff retention

February 26, 2009

Richard Reid is the founder of Pinnacle Proactive, Specialising in the Employee Assistance ProgramStress ManagementStaff Retention & Absenteeism. Take a Proactive Approach to Growing Your Organisation & its People. For more info visit http://www.pinnacleproactive.com

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New workforce absenteeism (US) study offers insights on who is calling in sick and why.

February 25, 2009

Richard Reid is the founder of Pinnacle Proactive, Specialising in the Employee Assistance ProgramStress ManagementStaff Retention & Absenteeism. Take a Proactive Approach to Growing Your Organisation & its People. For more info visit http://www.pinnacleproactive.com

Reduce Costs of Absenteeism & Work-Related Stress to UK Companys

February 24, 2009

Richard Reid is the founder of Pinnacle Proactive, Specialising in the Employee Assistance ProgramStress ManagementStaff Retention & Absenteeism. Take a Proactive Approach to Growing Your Organisation & its People. For more info visit http://www.pinnacleproactive.com

45% expect pay rise in Gulf despite credit crunch

February 23, 2009

Forty-five percent of employees in the Gulf region are expecting to receive a pay rise in the next six months, despite the impact of the global economic crisis, an Arabian Business survey reveals.

The Salary Survey 2009, the full details of which will go online in early March, also shows that people working in Bahrain are the most optimistic about salaries with 57 percent expecting an increase in their salary.

By contrast, employees in Kuwait and the UAE are more pessimistic with 54 percent and 56 percent respectively saying they do not expect any added rewards in the next six months.

And if you work in the oil and gas or the cargo/freight industry, your expectations are much higher than those working in real estate or hospitality.

Only 27 percent of people working in the region’s struggling property sector expect a pay rise, according to our data which was collected from more than 3,000 respondents across the Gulf states during January.

The Salary Survey 2009 will also reveal which countries are paying the best and worst salaries and which industries rank top and bottom for job security.

It will also show which countries and industries and best and worst for staff retention.

The results of the Salary Survey 2009, which were based on more than 3,000 respondents from across the GCC region, come just a day after a survey by Middle East jobs website Bayt.com in conjunction with YouGov which said there was widespread dissatisfaction about the level of salaries.

And last week a poll of Gulf companies by ORC Worldwide (Middle East) showed that 40 percent of them had already implemented or were in the process of implementing a pay freeze for some or all of their staff while 11 percent had gone a stage further and cut pay rates.

Salary satisfaction running low across Mideast
New survey reveals widespread unhappiness among workers regarding pay levels.

(source: http://www.arabianbusiness.com/547399-45-expect-pay-rise-in-gulf-despite-credit-crunch)

Richard Reid is the founder of Pinnacle Proactive, Specialising in the Employee Assistance ProgramStress ManagementStaff Retention & Absenteeism. Take a Proactive Approach to Growing Your Organisation & its People. For more info visit http://www.pinnacleproactive.com

Reduce Workplace Absence

February 17, 2009

Workplace absence is a big problem in the UK. It costs the economy £12bn pounds every year. According to the 2007 survey from the Institute for Personnel and Development (CIPD) industries are implementing well-being schemes as a response to the rising rate of employee absenteeism. The solution needs to be preventative and curative. Encouraging well-being and providing health insurance for employees should they fall ill provides both companies and their staff with all round greater security.

CIPD questioned over 800 organisations and identified that different employment sectors have specific health problems associated with them.

Solicitors
-stress (a quarter of solicitors wanted to leave the industry due to stress and poor work/life balance), repetitive strain injury

Aggregate
-highest injury rate and mortality of any industry
-falls from heights, manual handling, transport, musculoskeletal injury, trips and slips

Engineering
-exposure to chemicals and fumes, hearing, hand/arm vibrations, electric shocks, explosions, being confined in small spaces

Health
Musculoskeletal injuries, trips and slips, violence, stress

Measures to improve wellbeing are one way in which this problem can be tackled and there are many options in this area. On the 9th September James Purnell, Secretary of State for Work and Pensions outlined the importance of workplaces rewarding staff not just with money and time off and job security but also with good prospects and development schemes. He also highlighted the significance of good relationships as a factor in wellbeing in the workplace with emphasis being placed on ‘strong, trusting and respectful relationships.’

Another option is to provide employees with medical health insurance which has many benefits and in particular it makes employees feel looked after and valued and enables sick employees to return to work faster. Additionally, some health cover schemes include 24 hour counselling services which may also work as a preventative health measure.

It is in the best interests of the country, employers and employees to increase wellbeing and deal with physical and mental ill health as quickly as possible, particularly in the light of the current economic climate.

(source: http://www.healthinsurancenews.co.uk/2009/02/reduce-workplace-absence.html)

Richard Reid is the founder of Pinnacle Proactive, Specialising in the Employee Assistance ProgramStress ManagementStaff Retention & Absenteeism. Take a Proactive Approach to Growing Your Organisation & its People. For more info visit http://www.pinnacleproactive.com

Downturn ‘may contribute to mental health issues’

February 17, 2009

The onset of the credit crunch may result in more people experiencing mental health problems and taking time off work, a new report has claimed.

Two-thirds of the population feel more stressed, prone to sickness and less fit compared to three years ago, according to a study by Friends Provident.

It revealed that 37 per cent of people now worry more and 19 per cent are sleeping less, something that could lead to further issues such as stress-related conditions, clinical depression and headaches.

The Monday of this week was dubbed National Sickie Day by the organisation as it is the worst day for employee absenteeism.

“People need to make more effort to protect and care for themselves, otherwise National Sickie Day could be the start of a long-term national health issue,” commented head of protection Mark Jones.

It comes after Gill Trevelyan, the head of good practice services for the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service, warned that absent workers must not be made to feel guilty for taking time off by employers.

(source: http://www.efd.org.uk/media-centre/news/3919/downturn-may-contribute-mental-health-issues)

Richard Reid is the founder of Pinnacle Proactive, Specialising in the Employee Assistance ProgramStress ManagementStaff Retention & Absenteeism. Take a Proactive Approach to Growing Your Organisation & its People. For more info visit http://www.pinnacleproactive.com

Why Flexi-Work Works

February 13, 2009

The Government’s decision to press ahead with legislation extending flexible working rights, despite a looming recession, was greeted with dismay in many quarters. However, there is strong evidence that, far from imposing another unwelcome burden on businesses at the same time as they are having to deal with a sharp economic downturn, the widening of flexible working – as envisaged in the last Queen’s Speech – could prove to be a boon.

Businesses that allow their staff to work from home at least some of the time, encourage desk sharing and adopt other forms of flexible working can see significant cost savings. Work Wise UK, a not-for-profit organisation set up by the information technology industry to promote changes in working practices through smarter working, calculates that, when the cost of property, heating, lighting and associated overheads are added up, providing an employee with a desk averages about £7,000 a year across the UK. In London, the cost is closer to £10,000.

Phil Flaxton, chief executive of the organisation, says: “If you’re a small business and you do away with five desks because people are not coming in five days a week or are sharing desks, you can potentially save £35,000 a year. To a small business, that is significant. If you scale that up to a big organisation in London, you could save more than £3m-4m by cutting 100 desks.”

Nor are the benefits limited to cost savings. Flaxton points to research showing that, in many organisations, home workers and other flexible workers are more productive. And the message is starting to get across to a range of businesses. According to figures from the TUC, nearly 3.5 million people in the UK currently work from home. This is an increase of 600,000 on the figure in 1997 and amounts to more than 12 per cent of the population. The highest proportions of home workers are found in the South-west (15.7 per cent of the total), and Eastern England (14.4 per cent), while the North-east (9.3 per cent) and Scotland (9.4 per cent) have the lowest proportions.

However, home working is just one aspect of the new forms of working that Work Wise calls “smarter working”. Others include flexible working (which takes in condensed hours, nine-day fortnights and travelling to work outside traditional commuting times) and mobile and remote working. The organisation, which has among its partners the TUC, the Confederation of British Industry, the British Chambers of Commerce, BT and Transport for London, wants half the working population, or 14 million people, to be offered smarter working by 2011.

Support for the campaign could be boosted by growing disgruntlement among commuters. With train fares on many commuter routes rising by well over the inflation rate and congestion on the roads so serious, it is hardly surprising that Work Wise reports that 41 per cent of workers spend more than 40 minutes travelling to work each day, with the average UK worker spending 360 hours, or 45 working days, each year travelling to work.

In the meantime, one of those in the vanguard of flexible working is BT. While this is understandable given the company’s interest in promoting the use of the telecommunications and related equipment that in many ways enables flexible working, the company is seeing the benefits far beyond the promotion of its services.

The clearest gain has been in the company’s running costs, which have been reduced from about £1.2bn a year to about £800m a year in the approximately eight years since the company began to introduce flexible working. About 80 per cent of the company’s 112,000 employees now work flexibly in some way.

The biggest contributor to lower running costs is the reduction in, or more efficient use, of office space. BT Centre in London, for example, has just 1,600 work stations, but about 8,000 BT people use it each day. Dave Dunbar, head of BT Workstyle, which uses BT’s experience to help other organisations adopt flexible working, says that the company is increasingly seeing advantages in other areas, such as staff retention, productivity and in the company’s ability to be more project-based. He points out that BT’s homeworkers are 20 per cent more efficient than office-based counterparts, while absenteeism is down by 60 per cent.

Flexible working can also help companies satisfy customers who demand 24-hour service, as well as those who have workforces spread across the globe. At the pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca, Nigel Legg, a clinical information sharing manager based at one of the company’s main research sites at Macclesfield, Cheshire, is one of many employees at all levels of the company opting to work flexibly. He works closely with colleagues in Sweden and the US, and if he could only work in his office, the time differences between the various locations would make for very long days. But by doing some of his work at home he can improve his family life by seeing his young children before they go to bed and then resuming work using a secure computer link between his home and office.

Some observers worry that the prevalence of increasingly sophisticated technology means that workers might be spending less time in their offices but are working longer hours overall because they can always be contacted. But Legg maintains he is “not working longer, just working differently”.

Even if some people are working longer, many employees put enough value on the opportunity to split their time between work and home, or even some other activity, that they feel the sacrifice is worth it.

Modern employees and employers are increasingly moving away from the idea of a fixed working day. Thanks to devices such as the Blackberry and other more powerful, smaller or cheaper devices, there is a blurring of the boundary between work and personal life that seems to suit the technology-savvy generation that has either recently entered the workforce or is about to do so.

Nor is this revolution restricted to office work. There is nothing technically to stop any organisation gaining from using various forms of smart or flexible working. For example, AA and RAC servicemen tend to be remote workers who take their vehicles home and work from there, while engineers with energy companies work similarly.

What does have to change, though, is the approach to management in organisations. Mary Mercer, principal consultant at the Institute for Employment Studies, says: “There’s still a focus on hours. Getting managers to focus on outputs is one of the greatest challenges.”

With “presenteeism” still the norm in many businesses, there needs to be more trust for the true gains from flexible working to appear. Managers also need to realise that the issues are complex, with employees valuing the ability to spend time at home or on other activities beside work but also often enjoying the social side of their jobs.

Flexible working may have started out as a “soft” human resources issue that organisations offered in good times as part of the desire to be “an employer of choice” or to help them retain staff in the “war for talent”. But the business case has become so robust that it is now a vital aid for businesses struggling to stay afloat. Smart working employees can more efficiently meet customer needs while cutting overheads. It looks like a winning combination.

(source: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/business/sustainit/why-flexiwork-works-1605551.html)

Richard Reid is the founder of Pinnacle Proactive, Specialising in the Employee Assistance ProgramStress ManagementStaff Retention & Absenteeism. Take a Proactive Approach to Growing Your Organisation & its People. For more info visit http://www.pinnacleproactive.com

Analysis: US trends in corporate healthcare

February 12, 2009

What happens in the US no longer waits ten years to cross the Atlantic and manifest itself as a surprising new trend in the 51st state.

Global business, global economics and global corporations have led to global ideas and global business practices. Trends in the US are reaching us ever faster and healthcare is no exception.

In the US, cost control is the accepted mantra with ever more inventive ideas being tried to control what, for US business, is a sizeable millstone around the necks of almost all corporations. At this point, we cannot just sit back, think fondly of the NHS and lurch towards “ostrich time”.

A survey from the US Duke University in December 2007 found that obesity is placing an increasingly heavy burden on workplace productivity and company finances. This in turn is fuelling the cost of workers compensation (the US equivalent of employers’ liability) claims and expanding the risk of traumatic workforce injuries. It found that obese workers filed twice as many compensation claims, lost 13 times more working time from work-related illness or injury than their slimmer co-workers and generated seven times the medical cost.

The traditional background to the picture is cost control via brokers and insurers and elaborate cost containment systems to enable employers to monitor their spend on drugs, hospitals, procedures etc in the hope of achieving better value for money.

But, and it truly is a big but, is this all that can be done? This fundamental question has been asked in the US with some results which will impact the UK.

The biggest change in US healthcare strategy for some time is the realisation that companies have a financial incentive in being proactive in encouraging their employees to change their behaviour and live a healthier life

The Willis EB Wellness Survey 2007 reported that “the expected return on investment is at least 3:1 in medical claims over a three-year period where a comprehensive wellness programme has been initiated. The return is much higher when savings from disability, absenteeism and presenteeism are included”‘

This fundamental shift from “people are our greatest asset” to “healthy people make healthy and profitable companies” has led to an array of initiatives both carrot and stick in nature.

Employers are gravitating towards initiatives which are aimed at increasing employee responsibility for their health and behaviour. This has become more of a consumer driven healthcare model. Employees are being expected to become more accepting of their individual responsibility for healthcare costs while employers are accepting their unique place in being able to influence their employees’ behaviours.

The effects of wellness have expanded into: healthcare and insurance plan design; communication; health initiatives; management responsibilities; and incentivisation.

HEALTHCARE AND PLAN DESIGN

From a pure cost containment point of view this has taken the form of involving the employees in the financial consequences of healthcare decisions. Where traditionally neither doctors nor patients have had much incentive to keep costs down, involving patients/consumers in the financial consequences of healthcare decisions is an increasingly popular and effective option for employees. Options being utilised include: higher excesses on health plans; discounted excesses on health plans where the employee is part of the company wellness initiative; flexible spending accounts; and specialist clinical reviews to validate treatment.

COMMUNICATION

There is a general trend towards technology solutions as a way of advertising the benefits of wellness, reinforcing the change of culture within the business and creating the wellness brand awareness.

Branded web portals, online programmes, personal health records and personal fitness programmes are just some of components of the “wellness page” applicable to each individual aimed at increasing visibility. Brokers and specialist software houses are providing off the shelf co-sponsored and white label solutions.

HEALTH INITIATIVES

Wellness programmes are becoming more focused as specific health improvement exercises rather than general fitness incentives such as gym membership, stop smoking campaigns, health fairs and healthy workplace food options.

The following options are becoming more widely available in addition to health coaching and disease management initiatives: cholesterol monitoring; blood pressure monitoring; diabetes and glucose monitoring; biometric screening; body mass index monitoring; colonoscopies; and mammograms.

MANAGEMENT RESPONSIBILITY

For wellness in its broadest sense to work, the consumers must know what its aims are, must have a stake in its success and know the fundamentals of what is available under the programme.

Companies in the US are going one step further than this by rewriting company policies to articulate the culture of optimal employee health and reinforcing the message using management commitment.

Incentives are being extended beyond the consumer to the managers and supervisors as required goals in their performance reviews. Giving management a financial stake in the success of the initiative is seen as a driver to success and also ensures that data collection / result evaluation is built in to the procedures of the business.

INCENTIVISATION

Most employees need to be incentivised to engage in a wellness programme. Incentives are accepted as being perhaps the most important driver for success for any wellness initiative.

The 2007 Willis EB Wellness Survey 2007 found that incentives around lower excesses and lower employee healthcare contributions were the most effective form of encouragement. Points to earn prizes and store discounts were also highly regarded by the respondents.

CONCLUSION

The return on investment of good health management has been quantified and we are in the position where we can learn from our US cousins and start to get the message across to our clients that employee health matters.

Looking into 2009/10, I can see that early adopters of the US trends will, in the long run, have a happier and more profitable business.

(source: http://www.hi-mag.com/healthinsurance/article.do?articleid=20001774933)

Richard Reid is the founder of Pinnacle Proactive, Specialising in the Employee Assistance ProgramStress ManagementStaff Retention & Absenteeism. Take a Proactive Approach to Growing Your Organisation & its People. For more info visit http://www.pinnacleproactive.com

Employee Assistance Programs Save Money For Companies

February 10, 2009

Richard Reid is the founder of Pinnacle Proactive, Specialising in the Employee Assistance Program, Stress Management, Staff Retention & Absenteeism. Take a Proactive Approach to Growing Your Organisation & its People. For more info visit http://www.pinnacleproactive.com

Stress in the workplace from an Australian perspective

February 9, 2009

Richard Reid is the founder of Pinnacle Proactive, Specialising in the Employee Assistance Program, Stress Management, Staff Retention & Absenteeism. Take a Proactive Approach to Growing Your Organisation & its People. For more info visit http://www.pinnacleproactive.com