Tag Archives: happiness

The like button for work

Breathe London

So far in this life I’ve worked in my dad’s hardware shop as well as a tile factory. I’ve worked on a farm, been an intern at a stockbroker, an auditor for an accountancy firm, a corporate financier, a removal man, a massage therapist, a manager of a therapy business, a yoga teacher, a writer and a speaker.

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Over twenty five years I’ve had fun at work, been lost, sometimes sad, often supported, sometimes excited. My mood shifts relentlessly. I’m lucky that I often find happiness and meaning at work. I’m fascinated by work. We spend so much time in it. The time we have and the health we are blessed with are our only assets so why do we sometimes squander these things?

Many employers are smart. They realise that if their staff are healthy, happy and engaged at work they are more likely to work harder, take less…

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Treat Your Employees Well……………………

Kindadukish's Blog - I am not a number, I am a free man (The Prisoner)

Bosses ‘don’t care about my health’

More than half of workers feel their employers do not care about their health and well-being, leading many to consider looking for a new job.

  • A study has found that 54% of employees believe their employer does not care about their health
    More than half of workers feel their employers do not care about their health and well-being, leading many to consider looking for a new job.

    Some resented their bosses because of their attitude to “simply getting the job done”, a survey of more than 3,000 employees found.

    The study, by Investors in People, showed that 54% of those polled believed their employer did not care about their health, leaving many feeling less motivated.

    Most sickness absence was genuine, although those unhappy in their job were more likely to feign illness, said the report.

    Paul Devoy, head of Investors in People, said: “Organisations need to see staff health and well-being as crucial to their business and staff retention.

    “Our…

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Are your employees engaged?

The Sunday Times “Best Companies to Work For survey”, which has now canvassed over a million workers since 2000, has identified eight factors that foster workplace engagement.

The factor with the strongest correlation is Leadership: employees must have faith and trust in their senior management team to be engaged.

To do that leaders must gain their trust, live the values, and inspire the team.

Their 2009 survey revealed, in answer to the statement “I have great confidence in the leadership skills of the SMT”, there was a 54% difference between engaged and disengaged employees. In answer to the statement; “senior management truly live the values of this organisation”, there was a 51% difference.

In the top 10% of companies there was a massive 94% confidence rating that the leader ran the company on moral principles.  Would that figure be so high today in the depths of a recession?

Giving something Back (GSB) is one way of engaging employees. Organisations with a good track record of this get higher scores from staff for leadership, pride in their company, and personal well-being.

There does seem to be a rash of books and articles on the new leadership approach needed since the recession. And values and principles are high up among the key factors which is maybe why organisations turn to women when they are in a crisis as they appear to be more trusted as CEOs even though, or maybe because, they  seem more willing to criticise their organisations.

Updated since first published 02/04/2010

Do family firms have more loyal employees?

Having once worked for a family owned business I was intrigued by the headlines about family firms having happier or more satisfied employees than other forms of enterprise.

When I read more on the research carried out by Stanley Siebert, a professor of labour economics at the University of Birmingham, it seemed to be measuring loyalty – but perhaps loyal employees are happier and more satisfied.

Anyway the survey of 20,00 employees in over 2,000 companies found that 28% of employees strongly agreed that they felt loyal compared with 22% in other organisations and 26% felt they had job security compared with 20% elsewhere.

This is apparently statistically significant. So whilst the figures are higher for family firms it’s still not a very encouraging picture overall is it? And doesn’t it also mean that 62% didn’t feel very loyal and 74% felt they didn’t have job security? 

So the headlines could have read: “Fewer than 1/3 of employees in family firms feel loyal”. And why should this be?

According to the survey staff employed in family firms:

  • have less job security and little protection from redundancies (only 7% of these companies have “no redundancy” policies)
  • work almost a day longer (5.5 hours) each week than employees in the public and private sectors (who average just under 33 hours a week)
  • aren’t paid any more than employees working elsewhere
  • have no or little Trades Union support (only 3% membership compared with 33% in private sector and 50% in public sector)
  • don’t receive much formal training (it’s mostly on-the-job)

Despite this the report claims that staff in family owned business are proud to say who they work for, feel more valued, are closer to the decision-making, and share the values of the company.

These companies are reported to have inclusive management practices and encourage the expectation of long-term employment (but don’t guarantee it – and job tenure is actually shorter than elsewhere).

Research at Warwick University demonstrated that happy workers are more productive so if companies can get employees better aligned with the company’s goals they will probably get more discretionary effort from them ie they will go the extra mile.

But note these are not your typical SMEs. The report was commissioned by the Unquoted Companies Group which includes companies such as Clarks shoes and JCB. Doubtless these are reputable companies but the group has lobbied parliament in the past opposing the growth of EU employment protection legislation and the working time directive.

Do you want a good work-life balance?

Then go and live in Denmark

That’s the place to work if you want to achieve work-life-balance (WLB) according to the OECD which has recently included it as a factor in its Better Life Initiative.

The OECD has used 3 indicators: the amount of time devoted to personal activities, the employment rate of women with children age 6 to 14, and the number of employees working over 50 hours a week. FYI research shows that 50 hours seems to be the point when work impacts on your health.

People working in Northern European countries seem to manage their work hours the best with extremely few (0.001%) regularly working over 50 hours.

Denmark is best for working mothers with 78% returning to the workforce when their children reach school age (Turkey is the worst on this indicator with only 24%).

Belgians, those monastic beer and chocolate lovers, have more time off per day on average – 16.61 hours – than anyone else.

The top 10 countries with the best work-life balance are:

  1. Denmark
  2. Norway
  3. Netherlands
  4. Finland
  5. Belgium
  6. Switzerland
  7. Sweden
  8. Germany
  9. Portugal
  10. France

Denmark has come top of the list in other surveys for having more people satisfied with life and Finland was voted the best country to live in although Australia came top in the OECD survey for where to live for a better quality of life overall.

You’ll notice the UK is not on this list and neither is the USA. The UK came 17th and the USA 23rd. Worst for WLB were Turkey, Mexico , and Japan (which interestingly has a word for “death by overworking“).

Women are the winners at work

You’d have thought Guardian writers and readers would be pleased to learn that women had actually won the battle of the sexes at work according to an article in the Times (19/12/10).

The problem is the author of the article, Carol Hakim, a senior research fellow in sociology  at the London School of Economics is not necessarily seen as politically correct.

She was after all the author of the Erotic Report in which she suggested that women who lacked brains could always make up for it by using their Erotic Capital.This should come as no surprise as all the evidence is that more attractive people earn more anyway.

Now she is saying that women have won because they can make a choice whether to pursue their careers or settle down and have a family and passing tougher quality laws will not make any difference.

She says that many women in top jobs have only “nominal families” with whom they spend little time. Half of all women in senior positions are child-free and a lot more have only one child cared for by other people. A long article in the Times magazine (1/1/11) by Camilla Cavendish on extreme working with the title; “we don’t know how she does it – but they do” seems to bear this out.

“She” being one of the extreme workers, a partner with a well-known management consultancy, with a family of three putting in 100 hours a week across different time zones; “they” being the support team comprising parents, the handyman, a PA, and a nanny. And, in case you were wondering, her husband is a very senior civil servant.

In her new report – Feminist Myths and Magic Medicine – Hakim says: “Equal Opportunities policies have succeeded in giving women equal access in the labour market (but) people are confusing equal opportunities with equal outcomes and there is little popular support for the kind of social engineering being demanded by feminists and legislators”.

She believes that new government policies to promote equality are pointless and based on “feminist myths” and that maternity leave shouldn’t be extended as it makes female staff less attractive to employers. You can see why she is so unpopular with Harmanites and if you want to read a rant about this you should look up Tanya Gold’s article in the Guardian (8/1/11).

She’s also not happy with the idea of quotas for women on boards but neither is anyone else and the government aren’t going to pursue that anyway. There is still the issue of pay differentials but most of us would rather see an end to bankers’ bonuses and over-inflated pay at the top of the public sector.

Female CEOs are making a big impact in getting companies through the recession as employees seem to trust them more and think they are more understanding. But there is a price to pay for some women who try to have it all as there is evidence that women in senior roles are more prone to stress-related ill-health such as heart disease.

Updated 14 January 2011: The question of workplace rights and in particular maternity leave is centre stage at the moment.  Yesterday a long piece in the Times by Sylvia Ann Hewlett, an American academic and motherhood campaigner, explained why she thought women were paying too high a price career-wise for extended maternity breaks. She would have shorter breaks to allow the mother to get back to work provided she had a support team described in the Cavendish article.

Today in the Times Jill Kirby, director of the Centre for Policy Studies which published Hakim’s report,  joined the fray with: “More maternity rights are bad for mothers”. Referring to both Hewlett’s piece and the report by Carol Hakim she points out that for too long it’s been assumed that with enough workplace rights motherhood need not affect women’s lives but that the latest evidence proves that is not true – what Hakim referred to as the “feminist myth”.

Hakim’s research shows that those countries with the shortest statutory maternity leave, such as America, have more women in top jobs than other OECD countries. And in Sweden, where mothers get 14 months of maternity leave, women are more often found in low paid public sector work.

In the UK 12 months maternity leave regardless of how long you have worked for a company and even if you are part-time is bound to make employers think twice of appointing a “womb in waiting”.  Employers can’t even ask questions about family plans lest they are accused of discrimination and government plans to change maternity leave to parental leave are unlikely to make any difference if 30 years’ experience of that in Sweden is anything to go by.

The last labour government’s legacy on equal opportunities, and the idea of protected characteristics and indirect discrimination, spear-headed by Harriet Harperson is to say the least not business-friendly. Women who want careers and a family have tough decisions to make but at least they have that choice now they have more than matched men in higher education and achieved equal pay in most economic sectors.

Impression Management

Beauty may only be skin-deep but….(updated) How we look is important. To some people it’s everything. In America 1 in 3 women think the way they look is more important for their self-esteem than intelligence or job performance. Students said they would rather marry an embezzler, a shop lifter, or a drug smuggler than someone who was obese. And 11% of them would abort a foetus if they knew it was  genetically disposed to obesity. No surprise then that fat women are 20% less likely to get ma … Read More

via Mike the Psych’s Blog with permission