Creating Healthy Organizations
Graham's new book describes how to strengthen the links between people and performance.
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News from September 2003
- AARP study finds strong interest in working in retirement
(Sep. 30 '03)
The AAPR (American Association of Retired Persons) has published a new report, Staying Ahead of the Curve 2003: The AARP Working in Retirement Study, based on a survey of 2,001 workers between the ages of 50 and 70 years old. It explores their vision of retirement and the types of jobs that workers who plan to work in retirement imagine holding and the types of jobs currently held by today's working retirees. Among those still working, 68% plan to continue working after retirement or not retire. These older workers will be seeking work-life balance, and a healthy, vibrant work environment in which they can develop and use their skills. This finding challenges employers to address these needs as a way of re-engaging older workers.
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- Towers Perrin study finds high performing firms reward employees, but don't measure impact of employee investments
(Sep. 24 '03)
A new Towers Perrin survey of 240 decision makers in Canada and the United States shows that despite pervasive cost pressures, many high-performing companies - those with an average five-year total shareholder return that exceeds the Dow Jones market sector average for their industry - are continuing to recognize and reward their best employees. These organizations are using rewards programs that help them to differentiate high performers and simultaneously manage costs, unlike their lower-performing counterparts. The more successful companies are responding to the tough economic environment by focusing on cost as well as on how reward practices affect business performance over the longer term. Specific methods include balancing organization and individual performance in determining rewards and creating a broad mix of non-cash programs besides pay that encompass employee development opportunities and recognition. However, few companies, even among high performers, have a formal process for measuring their return on investment in employees and supporting programs.
The Towers Perrin report is entitled Managing Performance and Rewards in a Challenging Business Environment.
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- Excessive work demands a problem for Canadians, Statistics Canada reports
(Sep. 24 '03)
The fall 2003 issue of Statistic Canada's publication, Canadian Social Trends provides new evidence about the problem of job stress. Over 1 in 3 workers report a shortage of time and excessive workload . Commenting on these research findings in the Globe and Mail, Vancouver physician Gabor Mate offers a "Prescription for stress," beginning with a recommendation that business leaders and policy makers "re-examine the wisdom of shortsighted bottom-line economics as a primary goal."
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- With growing concern about job stress in the US, how will employers respond?
(Sep. 24 '03)
Several recent articles in US business publications highlight the growing concerns in American workplaces with job stress. While the costs of work-related stress is well documented, at roughly $300 billion annually, what is less clear is how American employers are dealing with this problem. There are some signs of progress, however. A Forbes.com article, "Stress busters", gives examples of firms that have introduced stress reduction initiatives. Yet while meditating may help soothe the mind for a few hours, it does not get at underlying causes of mounting work pressures. Another article, in MSNBC News, "Job stress - burnout on the rise," focuses on increased work hours and the lack of leisure and vacation time, quoting Professor Jeffrey Pfeffer, an organizational expert at Stanford University, that there is no evidence that working employees this hard actually provides a competitive advantage.
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- US Employment Policy Foundation predicts large labour and skills shortages in 10 years
(Sep. 10 '03)
The Employment Policy Foundation estimates a shortage of 6.7 million workers in 10 years in the U.S. This trend is driven by demographics, economic growth, and the expansion of managerial and professional occupations. Skill gaps also could be accute, especially in management. This has major implications for educational and training programs, which may give rise to new partnerships between industry and the educational sector.
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- Satisfied employees do great marketing, says advertising expert
(Sep. 10 '03)
Jonah Bloom, executive editor of Advertising Age, argues that from a marketing perspective, unless McDonald's employees aren't "lovin' it" at work, customer advertising will fall flat. Citing studies of employee engagement, and examples like FedEx and Southwest airlines, Bloom writes: "Those companies' efforts to put employees at the front and center of everything they do undoubtedly have something to do with the vaunted service their people offer."
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- UK campaign calls for HR policies to deal with mental health issues in the workplace
(Sep. 10 '03)
From an editorial in HR Gateway: As the Mind out for mental health campaign releases a resource pack for line managers in handling mental health issues in the workplace, HR departments should take a peek at a few statistics to prompt them into creating policies on the issue.
Although many feel that mental health covers only severe disorders such as schizophrenia, such illnesses are only the severe end of the scale. Stress is also a mental health issues and, as we are all aware, it is on the increase.
According to a recent Samaritans survey the workplace is the biggest cause of stress to people in the UK while the Centre for Economics of Mental Health suggests that half of all absences in the workplace are stress related.
The Confederation of British Industry (CBI) suggest that only one in 10 firms have an official policy on mental health, even with the rise of stress as a problem, while 98% of employees, according to the Department of Health (DoH) feel that stress is a company concern.
A recent poll from Croner suggested that 56% of employers see stress as the biggest hurdle to improving productivity, yet 47% of people with mental health issues in a Mental Health Foundation survey said they had experienced discrimination at work.
Nearly seven in ten (69%) people have been put off of applying for jobs because of fear of discrimination, according to the charity Mind, while 39% said they had been denied a job, with 34% having ‘been forced' to resign because of their problems.
If left unchecked, stress can develop into more problematic disorders, as Chris Scott of Scottish trainers Forth Sector told HR Gateway: ‘Stress expresses itself in many ways, even physical disorders, and the stats backing up our research are pretty scary.
We are trying to expand and raise awareness of some of the more obscure forms of mental health and what stress can create if left unchallenged, such as eating disorders, alcohol and drugs, self-harm, depression.
Potentially, a quarter of job applicants will have some form of mental health issue, and internally, almost a third of the workforce believes they are suffering some form of mental health issue. It is already a major dynamic in the workplace, and so policies are a necessity for the 'employer of choice'.
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