Research reveals UK workers’ top communication blunders

In a new study, UK workers’ reveal what they consider to be their top communication frustrations and preferences at work, as well as admitting to some of their biggest workplace communication blunders. click here to read more…

Employers urged to measure socio-economic diversity within their workforce

The Civil Service has committed to the development of an inclusive culture that will attract and retain employees based on merit, including individuals from ‘less privileged’ backgrounds. click here to read more…

Research finds that many employers fail to live up to their recruitment ‘hype’

Research from pre-hire assessment firm ThriveMap has shown that 48% of employees have left a role because it wasn’t what they expected it to be. click here to read more…

Research finds younger workers more likely to suffer poor mental health in winter

Whilst spring seems to have arrived, new research from Canada Life Group Insurance suggests that the effects of the winter months on mental wellbeing – especially in younger workers – could have a lasting impact for the rest of the year. click here to read more…

Judge finds policy on ‘restricted duties’ discriminates against pregnant women

A Judge has ruled that an employee of Devon and Cornwall Police, who had been moved from her position on the Response Team to a desk-based role at the Police’s Crime Management Hub after disclosing her pregnancy had been discriminated against by her employer. click here to read more…

Consultation underway on proposals to control the use of NDAs and confidentiality clauses

Confidentiality clauses or non-disclosure agreements (‘NDA’s) can serve a useful and legitimate purpose in the workplace to protect trade secrets or purchase negotiations, for example, or as part of settlement agreements which allow both sides of an employment dispute to move on with a clean break.  However their use by employers has become an increasingly contentious issue. click here to read more…

New guidance to employers on how to manage the menopause at work

Research undertaken by the CIPD found that three out of five working women between the ages of 45 and 55 believe their menopause symptoms are having a negative impact on them at work. click here to read more…

Singing at work can improve staff wellbeing

Whilst not advocating allowing karaoke sessions to take place in the middle of the office, research by the University of Leicester found that people who participated in workplace choirs felt less stressed by their work and more supported by their colleagues. click here to read more…

 


Research reveals UK workers’ top communication blunders

In a new study, UK workers’ reveal what they consider to be their top communication frustrations and preferences at work, as well as admitting to some of their biggest workplace communication blunders.

The research conducted by 247meeting found that holding meetings over lunchtime caused  significant frustration, particularly for men, with 42% of male workers getting annoyed about them, compared to only a third of female workers. Over a third (36%) of senior managers said they found it frustrating when colleagues email them when they are based in the same building, demonstrating that face-to-face interaction is still the preferred communication at work, especially for more senior staff. Surprisingly, a phone call is the second most preferred form of communication, above email. However, junior staff would still far prefer to send an email than phone colleagues.  When it comes to social media, the study found that 18-24-year olds often use direct messages on various platforms to communicate with work friends but surprisingly, the use of Snapchat or other photo message platforms is more popular with people aged 55 than those in the 18-24 age group.

Those taking part in the survey also admitted to some of the communication mishaps they have experienced during office hours. Here are their top 10 blunders:

  1. I sent my CV to my manager looking for another job
  2. Confirming to my boss I wasn’t ill but at a job interview instead of to my best mate
  3. Accidentally sending a message to the wrong person at head office when complaining about someone, not realising I had sent it to the person I was complaining about
  4. I did once complain about a colleague to another colleague when I made a phone call to them. What I didn’t know was that call was on loud speaker and it was overheard by that person who was present in the room.
  5. I didn’t realize I was on speaker phone when I called a colleague and was rather casual saying WASUUUP! And my managers heard!
  6. I sent an instant message on Lync to my colleague that was joking about some biscuits. He was presenting in a meeting and my message came up on the big screen and everyone saw
  7. I was on the telephone to someone and thought she had put me on hold and I said to my colleague, ‘she has just repeated everything I said to her’ and she hadn’t put me on hold and said ‘are you talking about me’!
  8. I texted my new boss saying “changed your Dublin flight” but it autocorrected to “changed your f***ing flight”
  9. I said ‘love you too’ in an interview, I meant to say ‘lovely to meet you’ but added the ‘ you too’ because my interviewer said the same thing at the same time (lovely to meet you!)
  10. Emailed a client ‘Please don’t get in touch if you have any questions’

back to top.


Employers urged to measure socio-economic diversity within their workforce

The Civil Service has committed to the development of an inclusive culture that will attract and retain employees based on merit, including individuals from ‘less privileged’ backgrounds. In order to do this, the government recognises that they will need to monitor and measure socio-economic diversity to ensure they can identify where action is needed to encourage diversity.  Increasing diversity is recognised as bringing distinct advantages through encouraging new ideas, increasing retention and assisting employees to reach their full potential.

As well as making this internal commitment, the Civil Service is encouraging other organisations to do the same and have recommended that organisations begin by collecting information about the socio-economic background of their staff, including:

  • the occupation of their employees’ parent, guardian or carer
  • the highest qualification of their parent, guardian or carer
  • the secondary school type attended by the employee
  • whether the employee was eligible for free school meals.

It considers that asking these questions will allow organisations to assess their socio-economic diversity ie whether too many employees from a certain social-economic background are being recruited.

For those who wish to go further, it advises organisations to:

  • use measure descriptors that are not overly wide or too narrow
  • consider using individual role models who are willing to talk about their personal career journey within the organisation
  • remind staff that the monitoring exercise is voluntary and strictly anonymised
  • ensure that monitoring exercises are not influencing recruitment, promotion or other internal decision-making processes as these should remain based on objective factors.

As well as ensuring buy-in from senior leaders, the importance of effective communication with current and new employees is emphasized, so as to ensure they understand why the monitoring exercise is being undertaken, how this will be carried out and how information collected will be used. Once the information has been collected and reviewed, organisations should then introduce an action plan to address any lack, or gaps, in diversity. This may be through, for example, changing how and where jobs  are advertsised, removing certain pieces of information from job applications such as the applicant’s name or secondary school name, and ensuring internal decision-makers have received training on inclusivity.

back to top.

Research finds that many employers fail to live up to their recruitment ‘hype’

Research from pre-hire assessment firm ThriveMap has shown that 48% of employees have left a role because it wasn’t what they expected it to be.  When asked about the difference between the reality and their expectations, 59% cited job responsibilities, 42% pointed to the working environment and 35% mentioned working hours or shift patterns. Among generation Z employees – those aged 18 to 24 – three quarters (73%) said they had left a role because the responsibilities weren’t what they expected them to be following the interview process.

The research also found that 31% of people left a job because company culture wasn’t what they expected. Of these, 56% said this was because of the approach of senior leader, 53% said it was the behaviour of colleagues, while 52% said it was “everyday management”. Chris Platts, CEO of ThriveMap, said “The current recruitment process is failing many employees, leading them to accept roles that weren’t what they expected. This situation is also harmful for employers, costing them valuable time and resources through increased employee churn.

Employers are, therefore, urged to take a fresh look at their recruitment processes to ensure, for example, that they are testing for the skills that are actually required for the role, rather than ones assumed to be important. They also need to present both the job and their organisation in an honest way, so that applicants understand what they will be required to do in the role and have more realistic expectations as to what it would be like to work there.

back to top.


Research finds younger workers more likely to suffer poor mental health in winter

Whilst spring seems to have arrived, new research from Canada Life Group Insurance suggests that the effects of the winter months on mental wellbeing – especially in younger workers – could have a lasting impact for the rest of the year.

The research found that over half (55%) of workers under 30 are more stressed than usual during the winter months, compared to half (49%) of all employees. One in three (29%) younger workers are also more likely to be depressed at this time of the year, compared to 22% of all employees.  In total, one in five (22%) employees say their workplace environment is more stressful during winter, rising to over a third (35%) among the under 30s.

Paul Avis, Marketing Director of Canada Life Group Insurance, comments: “Getting up in the dark, going home in the dark, a longer commute, and the bad weather all play a part in reducing people’s feel-good factors, and so at this particular time of year organisations need to be ever more diligent when considering employee welfare, especially for younger workers”.  However, he also warns that “The heightened levels of stress and depression experienced during the winter months will not disappear with the first flush of spring. The knock-on effect it could have to employee wellbeing throughout the rest of the year is likely to be highly detrimental”.

The research indicates that employees see flexible working as the main solution (33%) to improving their wellbeing during the winter months.  On average, one in five are more likely to request part-working from home (17%) or more flexible working hours (20%) during winter. However, this proportion is much higher amongst workers under 30 (35% and 32% respectively).  Overall, the research seems to suggest that younger workers are more in tune with their mental health and the remedies to improve it; which is reinforced by the fact that younger workers are more likely to practice self-care. One in five (22%) under-30s employees say they are more likely to set time aside to practice self-care during winter, compared to just 8% of employees over the age of 30.

back to top.


Judge finds policy on ‘restricted duties’ discriminates against pregnant women

A Judge has ruled that an employee of Devon and Cornwall Police, who had been moved from her position on the Response Team to a desk-based role at the Police’s Crime Management Hub after disclosing her pregnancy had been discriminated against by her employer.

The employee had been moved because of a policy which instructed that a person on ‘restricted duties’ for longer than two weeks would be transferred to the Hub in the absence of ‘exceptional circumstances’. Although the employee had outlined adjustments to her working day that could have allowed her to remain on the Response Team, such as interviewing suspects and having reduced night shifts, such adjustments were not considered, despite a Risk Assessment supporting her claims. The employee felt forced to move to the Hub and took time off work for stress and anxiety. She later brought two claims to the employment tribunal (ET), arguing that she had suffered pregnancy discrimination and indirect discrimination on the basis of her gender, contrary to sections 18 and 19 of the Equality Act 2010 respectively.

The tribunal upheld both claims. The Judge ruled that although her pregnancy was not the main reason for the change in her role, the employee had received unfavourable treatment on the grounds of it. Despite the employer’s argument that all decisions made were due to ‘business need’, this did not change the fact that the context of all discussions surrounding the employee’s situation was her pregnancy. It was held that the decision to place the employee in the Hub had put her at a disadvantage due to being a pregnant woman and that the employer had failed to outline the ‘exceptional circumstances’ that would prevent employees being placed in the Hub.

This judgement is an important reminder to employers that pregnant employees have the right not to be unfairly treated as a result of their condition. Where a risk to a pregnant employee has been identified that cannot be avoided, organisations should consider making adjustments to their working conditions or hours of work, depending on what is reasonable in the circumstances.

back to top.


Consultation underway on proposals to control the use of NDAs and confidentiality clauses

Confidentiality clauses or non-disclosure agreements (‘NDA’s) can serve a useful and legitimate purpose in the workplace to protect trade secrets or purchase negotiations, for example, or as part of settlement agreements which allow both sides of an employment dispute to move on with a clean break.  However their use by employers has become an increasingly contentious issue, particularly  in light of the #MeToo movement, where many reports regarding the misuse of NDAs have emerged. These include reports that NDAs have been used to prevent victims of sexual harassment from speaking out, with the initial focus on the President’s Club scandal, where waitresses were required to sign an NDA before commencing their role, whereupon they were subjected to sexual harassment by attendees. Whilst, current employment legislation means that the use of confidentiality agreements or clauses cannot prohibit an employee or worker from blowing the whistle on unlawful behavior, it is considered that their use by employers often intimidates or deters victims from making such disclosures.

On 4 March 2019 the Government, therefore, commenced a consultation process to seek evidence and views upon the use of NDAs in the employment context and to propose further legislation to tackle misuse. The purpose of the consultation is to:

  1. Seek evidence of bad practice, for example the use of provisions that exclude or restrict the individual’s right to make protected disclosures, or those which over-state the limits of an NDA.
  2. Ensure that non-compliant NDAs in settlement agreements become void in their entirety.
  3. Require NDAs to provide clarification on the disclosures that they do not seek to prohibit, for example the making of a protected disclosure, or the reporting of a matter to the police.
  4. Preserve the unrestricted ability of the individual to report any matter to the police, whether or not it is the subject of a NDA.
  5. Extend the requirement, for individuals to take independent legal advice on any settlement agreement, to cover specifically the full meaning and effect of any NDAs contained within it.
  6. Extend the provisions of the Part I of the Employment Rights Act 1996 to require the inclusion of NDAs in the written statement of particulars of employment from the commencement of employment.

Whilst the scope of the consultation has been criticised by some as being inadequate, the proposals will require employers to review their approach to the imposition of NDAs, both in employment contacts and settlement agreements.  Proposed new legislation would also raise the profile of the issue and it is likely that those who fail to meet any new requirements will, in addition to being unable to enforce the restrictions, will face the consequences of reputational damage if they are seen to be inappropriately ‘gagging’ their staff.  For employees and workers, as well as providing greater protection, the proposals seeks to engender a broader understanding of the use of NDAs, making it less likely that individuals might be intimidated into agreeing to inappropriate restrictions.

The consultation closes on 29 April 2019. Full details of the consultation can be found here.

back to top.


New guidance to employers on how to manage the menopause at work

Research undertaken by the CIPD found that three out of five working women between the ages of 45 and 55 believe their menopause symptoms are having a negative impact on them at work.  Almost two-thirds (65%) said it affected their ability to concentrate, more than half (58%) said they experienced more stress and 52% said it made them less patient with clients and colleagues.. In addition, more than half (56%) said they experienced psychological issues such as mood swings, anxiety and memory loss.

Another survey conducted by the BBC last year revealed that the majority (70%) of women did not tell their bosses they were experiencing menopause symptoms, yet nearly half of those surveyed said the menopause had affected their mental health and a quarter said it made them want to stay at home rather than work.  Privacy was the top reason for not disclosing menopausal symptoms, with a third (34%) saying they were too embarrassed and 32% reporting that their manager would not be supportive.

In light of such findings, the CIPD has launched a guide to support employers to  manage the menopause at work.  Claire McCartney, the CIPD associate research advisor behind The People Professional’s Guide to the Menopause at Work, said the guide aimed to “support women’s progression at work throughout their employment life cycle”.

“The new guidance is about understanding and supporting female employees so they can thrive in the workplace. We are thinking about it as a long-term fluctuating health condition which requires the same support as any other long-term health condition.”

McCartney added the menopause guide was an acknowledgement of the “huge gap” between how organisations addressed different areas of equality. “As gender equality and the gender pay gap are increasingly being discussed, the menopause is not. But it is part of a broader equality issue.”

The guide offers a number of tips for managers, including regular and informal one-to-ones with all employees so that they feel able to have conversations about changes to their health, particularly given that menopausal symptoms can fluctuate.  In terms of helping employees manage some of the physical symptoms such as sleep disruption or hot flushes, the guide suggests employers consider flexible or home working arrangements when appropriate, as well as looking into ways of cooling the working environment.

A Government Equalities Office spokesperson said it was vital for employers to support menopausal women “to feel comfortable and confident at work, for their own sake and for the sake of our economy.”

The guidance was also welcomed by Rachel Maclean, MP for Redditch, who has campaigned for greater awareness around the menopause and raised the topic in the House of Commons.

“The menopause is the ultimate taboo because it combines ageism and sexism, a toxic combination. By raising awareness and bringing this issue into the spotlight, employers will understand how important it is for their culture and retention, and that will drive change.  It will become as unacceptable to not have a menopause policy as an employer as it is to not have a diversity and inclusion culture.”

back to top.

Singing at work can improve staff wellbeing

Whilst not advocating allowing karaoke sessions to take place in the middle of the office, research by the University of Leicester found that people who participated in workplace choirs felt less stressed by their work and more supported by their colleagues.  The study, which was revealed at the annual conference of the British Psychological Society’s Division of Occupational Psychology, looked at 58 people working in a variety of organisations who attended choir sessions at work.

Participants completed questionnaires measuring their work-related demands and levels of control and support. The extent to which attending choir sessions was believed to influence levels of stress and support was also assessed.

Overall, there was a 96 per cent reduction in work-related stress and an 86 per cent reduction in feelings of social isolation among singers.

Researcher Joanna Foster said: “Previous research has found that group singing can improve health. We found that participants felt less stressed and more socially connected after singing. In fact, they gained more support from the choir than from other social interactions at work. Singing is fun and free, or relatively cheap if organised by a third-party provider.

“Organisations should consider encouraging their staff to regularly participate in singing groups to improve wellbeing, engagement and potentially job performance.”

back to top.

 

This newsletter was curated by Nicole Squires, MA, Chartered MCIPD, an Executive Consultant at People Based Solutions.People Based Solutions is an HR support company that specialises in supporting small and medium sized businesses meet all of their HR commitments. If you want to know how People Based solutions can help you meet your HR and Employment Law obligations click here for your free HR Health Check. Alternatively, you can call us on 01925 425 857, send an e-mail to enquries@peoplebasedsolutions.co.uk or Click Here to visit our website.