Kronos Volunteering – Dinton we do well!

The Kronos Volunteering Programme is in full swing. One of the beneficiaries for November was Dinton Pastures Country Park, near Reading.

Set in over 335 acres Dinton Pastures Country Park was opened to the public in 1979 after 14 years of gravel extraction, on a site which was previously farmland. Today the Park is enjoyed by several hundred thousand visitors annually and is a haven for wildlife. The Park offers a variety of habitats including 7 lakes, 2 rivers, and meadows. Three public bird hides provide secret viewing of the waterfowl, with one specially adapted for wheelchair users.

Dinton Pastures
The team getting stuck in!

This particular project was to assist with the much needed clearance work around the park at the end of the growing seasons. The task for the team of Kronites was cutting down/cutting back trees to clear fence lines – a major task.

In the days running up to the event it looked like it was going to be a wet and muddy affair, having suffered relentless rain. Fortunately the high spirits of the team were further bolstered by a welcome break in the weather, a sight for not only sore eyes, but soon to be sore arms, legs, backs….

At first sight, the scale of the task looked daunting. Trees and brambles had overgrown a very long fence row by many feet. Although keen and eager the team questioned their ability to make a significant impact in the day. An inquisitive herd of cows, though clearly keen to help, added another element of challenge to the project.

However, it was fantastic to see what a great team we made when we got stuck in.  Everyone worked extremely hard and with vigor, enthusiasm and determination. By lunchtime we had made a huge difference, having cleared nearly half the length of the field. I suspect a few of the team may have added a sharp saw to their Christmas list, such was the enthusiasm!

Feedback from Daniel Grimes, one of our IT team members, summed the day up very nicely:

“It was a very enjoyable day, I’m surprised they were so willing to let me loose with a saw, so I thought I’d take full advantage. The fact that that it was for a good cause made it much more worthwhile!”

I did think we might flag after lunch but everyone returned with renewed energy. By the end of the day we had reached the full length of the field, built two large bonfires and made a huge impact on the area.

This was such a rewarding experience. Not only are we giving something back to the community, we also get the privileged to work with a great team of people on a project different to our usual work.

I would highly recommend more organisations giving their staff a couple of paid time-off days during the year to work on community projects like this. The rewards for the employees, the community and the business are huge.

Bring on the next project!

 

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Are You Ready For The 4G workplace?

multi-generational-workplace-300x199The recent UKCES (UK Commission for Employment and Skills) report ‘The Future of Work’ takes a look at the workplace of the future and whether the emerging multi-generational workplace will be a good or a bad thing for employers and employees and the CIPD’s study of nearly 3000 employees and over 900 employers points strongly to the latter. It also highlights the fact that few employers are actually planning for this phenomenon.

  •          31% of employers say that they react to issues relating to the ageing population as they arise rather than having a strategy in place.
  •          34% of employers say their organisation does nothing to ensure it has access to enough skilled and diverse people of all ages.
  •          22% of employers say their organisation has no provisions in place to ensure employees of all ages develop and keep their skills up to date.
  •          46% of employers said that line managers are not trained in managing teams of different generations and that their organisation has no plans to change this.

Almost a third of employees saw no challenges whatsoever in working with colleagues from different generations, with employers and employees in agreement that knowledge sharing and greater innovation are by far the leading benefit which is very reassuring to know but, as can be seen from the statistics above, if employers aren’t ready to meet the differing needs of all their employees the benefits of the 4G workplace may not be gained.

With this huge increase in 4 Generation (4G) workers, the workplace of the future has to be more flexible about where, when and the number of hours people will be working. So how are employers going to manage this greater need for flexibility and ensure that workloads are spread appropriately according to skills and capabilities? One thing seems clear to me – without the workforce management technology in place to support this flexibility – employers will struggle.

CIPD Report

UKCES Report

Why Employers Should Care About The Health & Wellbeing Of Their Employees

imagesCA091RLFHow should employers feel about their employees’ health and wellbeing and how responsible are we for our own health?

According to a recent article in HRGrapevine, a new survey by Investors in People shows that over 50% of their respondents felt employers have no regard for their health and of those employees almost 50% say it has led to them feeling less motivated with a third indicating they may look for a new job as a result. The report made me realise that there are a couple of serious questions that need to be considered before we can say that employers don’t care about their employees.

Firstly, there is a debate as to whether employers, outside the general health and safety of employees whilst carrying out their job, are actually responsible for their employee’s health and well-being. How much and what employees eat or drink, how often they exercise and how they deal with stress could be considered nothing to do with their employer unless it impacts their ability to do their job. At this point it is no longer a case of caring about an employee’s well-being and simply becomes a case of an employer managing decreased productivity, absence and even disciplinary procedures.

This then begs the question – can employers afford to ignore the general health and wellbeing of their employees if doing so leads to employee disengagement with the associated issues of decreased productivity, increased turnover and high absence and sickness costs?

Addressing the issues that arise around employee wellbeing and the broader issues of engagement and productivity could be down to a few simple measures that encourage employees to help take control of their own health and wellbeing. These could include offering free fruit, serving healthier food in a cafeteria, or providing yoga or massage sessions to help employees deal with stress or deal with muscular-skeletal issues. Other solutions employers may consider could be a full Employee Assistance Programme whilst others may need to take a closer look at their organisational culture and how well managers manage employees.

In fact there are multiple factors that influence how happy and engaged people are at work and if you are interested and want to know what does affect employee engagement take a look at our survey report on ‘The Forgotten Workforce’.

Women in the workforce – International Women’s Day

Each year International Women’s Day (IWD) is celebrated on March 8. The first International Women’s Day was held in 1911. Thousands of events occur to mark the economic, political and social achievements of women. Organisations, governments, charities, educational institutions, women’s groups, corporations and the media celebrate the day.

 This year Inspiring Change was theme for the internationalwomensday.com global hub, it encouraged advocacy for women’s advancement everywhere in every way. It calls for challenging the status quo for women’s equality and vigilance inspiring positive change.

Kronos and Xplane created this video in honour of International Women’s Day (March 8th). This video provides  viewers with a light-hearted look at several interesting facts and statistics about the changes and developments that have impacted women in the workforce. By fully engaging women in the workforce and making sure they are treated fairly, organisations can ensure they are have an inspired and productive workforce, and everyone benefits.

Five Alternative Ways To Reduce Staff Turnover – And Save Money

VacancyMany of you will be aware of the headlines this week about the recent rise in staff turnover. It would seem that businesses are now paying the price for the long period of time that employees, fearful of losing their jobs, have put up with wage restraints, lack of bonuses and some pretty tough management decisions that have been made during the economic downturn.

According to research it costs on average around £30,000 to replace a member of your staff that leaves. This figure includes the cost of employing a new member of staff and lost productivity whilst bringing your new employee up to speed in their role. That’s a big expenditure and if turnover suddenly accelerates, your organisation can find itself  in a very tight corner operationally and financially. So your organisation needs to make sure it retain’s key talent and keeps employees motivated and productive. And remember that retaining great employees isn’t always about hiking pay.

Here are 5 alternative ways that can help keep staff engaged, motivated and productive:

  • Create connections through self-service

As more people perform day-to-day activities such as shopping, reading the news, paying bills, and socialising with friends online, they want the same flexibility and instant access to up-to-date information on the job. For example, why would an employee prefer to wait days for the busy HR department to process a handwritten leave request, when he or she can submit it online in seconds using self-service? As more employees leverage self-service technology in their personal lives, they are increasingly willing to adopt it in the workplace too.

  • Let employees participate in the scheduling process

Scheduling automation also helps organisations find last-minute replacements so they can meet demand. When an employee calls in sick, some scheduling systems can automatically recommend replacement workers, prioritising them by wage, seniority, skills, or other company-defined criteria. Some scheduling systems can even notify qualified replacements via email, text, or a manager call list to speed the process and further minimise impact on production and fellow employees.

  • Empower employees to take ownership of performance

Workforce management systems can help your organisation gain control over processes such as compensation cycles and performance reviews by automatically letting managers know when preliminary budgets and employee evaluations are due. Automated alerts help organisations keep their compensation planning and performance review processes on schedule, so employees receive feedback and rewards in a timely manner

  • Foster career development and professional growth

Workforce management systems can also help organisations track employee certifications and licenses — automatically notifying managers when those critical qualifications are about to expire — to minimise compliance risk and maximise workforce safety.

  • Increase employee engagement — and the bottom line

Workforce management technology can help organisations increase employee engagement. By providing employee self-service applications and automating processes such as time and attendance tracking, scheduling, human resources, and labour analytics, organisations can empower employees to take a more active role in HR and scheduling activities, take advantage of training and professional development opportunities, and get the continuous feedback on performance required to motivate and encourage innovation. For organisations looking to control costs and increase productivity, increasing employee engagement through the effective use of workforce management technology may be the answer.

Find out more and download the full white paper ‘Employee Engagement as a Competitive Differentiator’

Monitoring Absence At Work Does Not Increase It

AbsenceThere has been a lot of coverage recently about getting sick people back to work. It is a big issue for most businesses – and the Government takes the loss of productivity caused by absence, particularly long-term absence, very seriously. Around 960,000 workers in Britain were on sick leave for more than a month each year between October 2010 and September 2013. To address this issue The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) are launching a scheme where workers will be referred for health assessments if they are sick for more than four weeks in an effort to address the issue. It is planned that the assessments will be carried out by occupational specialists who will draw up a plan and timetable to get the patient back to work quickly. The DWP believes the scheme will save employers £70 million a year and cut the time people spend off work by 20% to 40%.

While this is good news for employers – I know from many years of discussing HR and workforce management with a wide variety of businesses that many employers really don’t know the extent of sickness absence in their organisation. Of course if it is a long term absence someone is usually missed, but believe it or not, occasionally that’s not the case and employees  are paid long after they have left the company or even this earth!  Short term, unscheduled absence is, however, frequently missed or not captured and costs employers dear in lost productivity, overtime payments and employee engagement.

When I speak to employers about tracking their absence it always surprises me that they often think real-time capture of attendance raises unscheduled absence rates.  But if they think about it – what it actually reveals is that they were unaware how bad it was in the first place!

If you don’t know to what extent absence is affecting your business and managers aren’t able to spot absence trends amongst their employees, it makes it almost impossible for them to take steps to reduce it – after all you can’t manage what you don’t measure. So next time you notice one of your employees is not at their post – ask yourself this – if you knew the true cost of employee absence to your organisation – what would you do differently?

Here’s the popular list of the Top 10 Tips to Reduce Absence

Defining Stress in the Workplace

imagesCAUWCGLJBritain has the highest rate of people with mental health issues in the developed world claiming disability or out of work benefits a recent report has revealed. Georgia Graham, writing for the Daily Telegraph claims that British workers are among the most stressed in the world and employees unable to work because of mental health issues are costing the UK economy over £70 billion a year. The main cause of work-related mental health issues, according to the report, was unemployment and the inability to find work. This seems slightly at odds with the commonly held belief that overwork and the long hours culture in the UK is the main cause of stress and stress–related absence.

Burn-out of workers who are swamped by their workload is, of course, a problem as pointed out in the article by the BBC earlier this week about Welsh Ambulance Services. The article highlights the fact that almost three times as many staff are being signed off for stress as for a common cold or flu due to what employees feel is an excessive workload. However, I believe that employers should also be aware of the danger of under-employment of staff in the workplace which can also raise stress levels. Employees who feel undervalued and who are underemployed often fear the loss of their jobs and can feel stressed and anxious over a long period of time – increasing the risk of mental health problems.

Managers who are responsible for managing the workload of their team need to ensure they are able to spread workloads equitably and fairly and ensure employees are not compromising their mental health. Deploying the right people, with the right skills to cover the workload is vital. Whether it is an ambulance team trying to save lives and meet their targets, a retailer who needs to make sure there’s enough coverage to meet the demands of customers at any given time, or a manufacturer or distribution organisation that needs to ensure skilled workers are available to ensure production and delivery targets are met; having the right tools to plan and deploy staff to business demands and track and monitor, attendance, productivity and compliance will help managers support their staff and meet those organisational objectives.

Download the Forgotten Workforce Report

Download CIPD Absence Report 2013