Insights

A fresh take on ideas and trends in Human Capital

Why now is the best time for HR to start caring about the planet

Call me crazy but I want the planet to be kept healthy, for possibly the selfish reason of it’

Call me crazy but I want the planet to be kept healthy, for possibly the selfish reason of it’s the one I live on. Of course the planet doesn’t mind, if humans decide to make it uninhabitable to the human race the world will keep spinning without a care. Often people that insist how Earth is doomed go on and on and can get lost in the noise because they’re not relatable to day to day life. Why should a 14 year old that deliverer newspapers care whether their paper gets recycled at the end of use?

This is where I think the issue is, the best agreement is when it’s win-win for everyone so why not try and make the case for this issue? Some people like to drag their feet on this or even feel that the investment isn’t worth it. To terminate that argument take Former Governor of California, Arnold Schwarzenegger, who makes the case that by having green policies it has actually improved the economy of the state dramatically. When you consider that in 2013 California alone was considered to have the 8th largest economy when compared to countries of the world it’s hard to argue that green policies aren’t worth investing in. This is something that is starting to go hand in hand as the UK Government has disbanded the Department of Energy and Climate Change, giving its responsibilities to the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy. The world is starting to see the significant relationship shared by business and the planet.

So the question is how we get the interest of the HR world, and I think the answer is with technology and the innovations that come from it. The key to this is becoming Paperless. Administration of any kind will always have difficulty in getting people to cooperate, by becoming as paperless as possible the list of difficulties start reducing and people start engaging with the process. In the past there has been great steps with this with e-mail and conference calls and now comes the Cloud technologies.

Not only is Cloud technology digital based to save on resources but it is also mobile. An online assessment could be sent from here to Australia within a minute and if I were waiting at an airport I can check up by just logging in through my tablet. This adds to the idea of being economical with resources, an alternative to driving to a meeting now with reports is to simply share it in a Dropbox. By investing in policies that use minimal resources means that the organisation is saving time and money while also helping to save the planet.

Every investment into greener policies will benefit an organisation because what it translates to is becoming more economic with the resources used. Having reports being displayed on a tablet is saving the paper and the printing costs involved as just a minimalist example. Particularly in HR is can take a step away from the “paper-pushing” stereotype that administrators receive. Making an engaging process that is quick and convenient to the employee’s life means they’re more likely to get involved. Once everyone is seeing the benefit then progress can be made for everyone and the planet. Win-Win.

Buying Up Sick Days

People take sick days, which is kind of a brilliant thing really. The concept of a sick day is a tes

People take sick days, which is kind of a brilliant thing really. The concept of a sick day is a testament to civilised society, common sense and our sense of humanity. It means we understand people aren’t invulnerable and sometimes rest is the best option for them, even if the organisation takes a bit of a hit for the day. It’s a wise move for the organisation as well, for one you don’t want the rest of the workforce getting sick but on top of that how long are you going to stick with a job that literally cares more about their work output than your health? But what is sick? Sometimes a raspy cough justifies it (or heaven forbid a hangover) while some solider on with missing limbs. This hasn’t been ignored by psychologists and they are very interested in investigating what it is that people perceive about themselves and the work they’re in that makes them call in sick.

Resent research produced has found that how the individual identifies themselves within the team is key to whether they feel they can call in sick. Starting with the individual they will assess how they fit in within the team they operate in, whether they see themselves as an integral piece to the puzzle that is the project they’re working on. Furthermore if they are they will be considering whether they actually care enough about the people in the team that will suffer without their presence, this comes down to a commitment they have to the job and the role they have within the team. Other factors will be things like whether they feel like they fit into the culture of the company and whether they feel like they deserve the holiday. If everyone else has been having their days off an individual can feel like maybe it’s their ‘turn’.

This isn’t to say that a valid sick day shouldn’t be used, but in cases where it’s a 50/50 on whether they can go in or call in sick these factors will start to take hold to edge that scale one way or the other. Of course there are always two sides to a story, while focusing on the individual calling in sick, is the deterring factor the work or the people at the office?

When working at a bar if I was finishing at 1 AM I would know for certain that the manager would ask me to do close up that would take it to 4 AM because “what else do you have to do at that time?”. Effectively trying to pressure me while in the situation that would make it difficult to say no. If I were feeling a bit funny, or even too tired, you’re too right I’d phone in sick because that exact kind of behaviour. With the US losing $200 Billion in their economy per year and other developed countries following similar trends it seems like time to take action to stop any cause of unnecessary absence.

So really it comes down to the team, the individual needs to feel like they’re a key part as well as a valued team member if they want to go that extra mile. Even the most eager of us won’t be able to last if they’re met with constant resistance and will eventually buckle. If you want the flowers to grow strong the first thing you need to do is get the soil conditions in right. In the same way a team culture and the work environment must be welcoming and a right fit to allow the employees to develop to their potential.

Work Life Balance: Whose job is it?

Do you leave work at the office door as you lock up at 5 P.M or are you the type to keep an eye on t

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Do you leave work at the office door as you lock up at 5 P.M or are you the type to keep an eye on the e-mails through dinner at 8 o’clock? Well if we get really down to it it’s definitely a balance, there is no way if you just had a baby that you’d forget about it at work or alternatively if you were potentially getting a promotion you wouldn’t be a little nervous the night before. This has been backed up a million and one times by the research to show the balance is there for employees but what I want to ask is where do you fit on the scale?

For one it seems obvious to me that a work life balance would differ depending on the occupation and the career an individual wants to have. Some people see a job as their identify and clearly that would take up a lot of their time, alternatively some may just want that pay cheque to see them out the rest of their month and so they can get on with their life. Furthermore, this is a well-established concept in the 21st Century life how many examples can be thought up that addresses the work life balance? The main examples would be the great steps that were made for a work life balance in maternity and paternity leave/pay, however there are some developed countries such as the USA that still doesn’t offer pay. It seems that it is still very much an uphill battle when it comes to discussing how work truly fits in with a happy healthy life.

Of course it is unfair to simply leave it down to government policy to make the change, it’s not like there are legal barriers in place to stop a healthy work life balance being put in place. Last week I talked about how a company had put in place a policy to encourage their employees to get their 8 hours of sleep a night. It got me thinking, what responsibility does an organisation have to the wellbeing of its employees outside of the organisation? There is clear that when a company invests in its employees that they invest right back in several different ways, but what that is simply an organisational model and based on goals and preferences of the company. I would be interested in what is accountable to the organisation (non-legally) that a future employee would expect from the organisation, if anything at all. Should an organisation be accountable for how content their employees are with their work life balance? How much of it is down to the employee themselves? And finally at what point would an organisation’s involvement in an employee’s life become intrusive?

Once these questions start being debated and brought to the forefront of the HR discussion then the framework of the 21st Century workforce can be realised with all its potential.

Sleeping isn't a Hobby, it's a Requirement

I’ve always loved my sleep. It used to be the hardest challenge of my day to get out of bed, s

I’ve always loved my sleep. It used to be the hardest challenge of my day to get out of bed, still is sometimes to be honest. What’s not to love, it’s relaxing, it’s pressure free and it’s cosy. On top of all that everybody agrees a good night’s rest is needed in life to function.

The fact is, from a psychological perspective, a lot is still unknown about sleep itself, this even goes as far as to say we’re not exactly sure why we do sleep at all. However, in the pursuit of finding out we have become experts on what happens when you don’t get enough sleep. Each individual is different in their sleeping needs and we are different types of sleepers but what is important is that we get that required amount, whatever that is for the person.

That’s all well and good but what you’re saying is the same things I was told as a child, what are the facts? Well for a start there isn’t a fixed amount of time that people should be sleeping, it changes as you get older. The University of California San Francisco found that people that slept less than 6 hours were 4 times more vulnerable to catching a virus and The American Academy of Sleep Medicine in 2011 found that in the US the average worker was losing 11.3 days of productivity due to fatigue.

That last point is of a lot of interest to me and if you have anyone working for you it should be a lot of interest to you too. That 11.3 days of lost productivity resulted in an estimated loss of $63.2 billion in the US economy. That’s a lot, especially when you consider all that’s needed to correct it is encouraging people to do the most natural thing in the world. Can you think of a day you’ve just written off because you didn’t get enough shut eye? I bet you can and you’re not alone. If you don’t get to recharge your batteries you’re not going to be performing your best, it’s as simple as that.

But as hopeless optimised I am I ask what’s being done about it and what’s the steps being taken to fix it? Well the US insurance group Aetna is literally paying its employees to get a minimum of 7 hours sleep. $25 is being awarded for every 20 nights of 7 hours achieved by the employee, this is monitored through a bracelet that is linked to the organisation’s system or done on an honour system. Something I think is very commendable is the trust it has given to the employee, giving the opportunity for the employee to realise it’s because the organisation actually cares and isn’t just trying to get that extra half an hour of energy out of them. This organisation is taking great leaps in taking care of its workforce even when they aren’t working, that kind of investment is bound to benefit everyone involved in ways that might not even be realised yet.