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4 in 10 would take unpaid leave to get more time off

New research shows Brits are increasingly willing to take measures to achieve better work-life balance, as over 4 in 10 (43%) of UK employees would take unpaid leave to get more time off – the second highest amount of all European countries surveyed after Sweden.

The research from European HR and Payroll solutions provider, SD Worx, found that while Brits want to prioritise taking time off, the struggle is disconnecting from the working world. Findings show that almost a third (32%) of UK employees check their work while they should be offline, and 34% say that it’s difficult to let go of workload when on holiday.

The new research also shows the UK could be filled with ‘workaholics’. When British employees were asked about the amount of time off they think they need to recharge their batteries, respondents say 8.5 days on average. This is the shortest of all European workers surveyed, showing that even taking a week away from the office to disconnect can leave someone refreshed on their return.

The research also found UK employees like routine when it comes to holidays, with 34% preferring to take time off during the same periods each year.

When it comes to booking time off, despite increasing digitalisation in the workplace, surprisingly only slightly more than half (52%) of European survey respondents said they could easily request leave via their desktop, and even less (38%) via their smartphone.

UK employees also said they have to book time off around 27 days in advance – the lower end of the European spectrum compared to countries like Germany (75 days), Spain (61 days) and the Netherlands (55 days) who must really plan ahead of time.

“People work to live, not live to work, and that’s why it’s so important businesses create a culture where personal time and annual leave is respected, and team members are encouraged to completely disconnect,” said Colette Philp UK HR Country Lead at SD Worx.

“This type of culture shows a company prioritises individual wellbeing, and it can help prevent staff burnout in the lead up to a break and limit any anxious feeling about returning to work after. Instead, it helps team members ensure they take essential time off to re-set, and that they come back refreshed, re-energised, and ultimately more productive.”

Poor connectivity impacting business productivity – Report

Almost two thirds (63%) of US and European enterprises suffer reduced productivity and efficiency at the hands of weak and unreliable connectivity.

This is according to results of new research commissioned by Quortus and carried out by Sapio Research, which probed enterprises on their current pain points related to connectivity. The results highlight the growing awareness, interest in, and appetite for private networks among enterprise IT decision makers.

The study surveyed 260 execs in the US, UK, Germany and France, in companies with between 1,000 and 10,000 employees and revenue of more than $1 million a year, operating in the manufacturing/industrial, retail, healthcare, automotive, defense/security, shipping, logistics and local government sectors.

The survey findings, published in a report entitledBuild, don’t buy: the road to private networks,’ highlight the perceived inadequacies of public fixed and mobile networks:-

·        91% of enterprise respondents believe the limitations of their existing connectivity is squarely tied to the limitations of macro public networks

·        The major limitations of public networks frustrating enterprises include weak security, restricted network speeds and limited available network capacity limiting innovation

·        97% of organizations are ready to invest more money to ensure better connectivity, and almost half (47%) would increase current budgets by 10% if it reduced existing fears and limitations and helped drive operational efficiency

·        A fifth of enterprises do not believe the quality of their existing connectivity will support the achievement of their future digital ambitions

The Quortus study revealed that many global enterprises are taking the safeguarding of high-quality connectivity into their own hands by building and operating private cellular networks:-

·        Almost a quarter (23%) of enterprises surveyed currently operate their own network

·        A third (33%) would prefer to build their own network with the help of specialist partners, rather than buy it directly from a public operator

·        The top perceived enterprise benefits of private networks include greater security, increased performance and tighter network control.

“Enterprises, until recently, have had to rely on public macro networks for broadband connectivity,” said Neil Dunham, VP Sales, Quortus. “Our study reveals significant levels of frustration with the inherent limitations of macro networks. Too often global enterprises are finding that the quality of connectivity they receive is decided by an enterprise’s location, relative to network sites, and the number of users relying on them. As this study shows, strong and reliable connectivity is a significant enabler to greater operational efficiency, enhanced service innovation and better productivity. It is therefore no surprise that enterprises are evaluating their future needs so closely and evaluating alternative means of supply.

“This burgeoning excitement towards private networks is seeing enterprises consider their options when it comes to build, design, and deployment. The key areas of motivation amongst enterprise IT decision makers include a willingness to benefit from specialist vertical knowledge and expertise, not being limited by a public operator’s footprint or service capability and need for bespoke requirements now and in the future. Only private networks can offer a truly bespoke connectivity solution to guarantee appropriate levels of performance, reliability, security and control for all global enterprises.”

FM must digitalise to increase productivity, says JLL…

A recent report from the professional services and investment management company, JLL predicts that companies will continue to implement and embrace a digital facilities management approach; with new technologies changing how businesses handle workforce and facility operations becoming more available.

As workplaces progress to deliver additional flexibility, the ‘Reinventing Facilities Management for the Digital World report warns the FM sector must become a ‘digital business’ to meet rising expectations and demands – focusing on employees as ‘end-users of space’ and distributing an experience that is consistent to increase productivity and attract and retain the best talent.
To find out more and access the full report, click here

Workplace experience report published by Interserve…

According to a recent report developed by the international support services and construction group, Interserve, the noise, smell and temperature of the workplace are among some of the main indicators that greatly influence an employee’s working experience.

Forming part of the organisation’s ‘workplace experience science series’ – initially launched in July of this year alongside the work environment change professionals, Advanced Workplace Associates – this first report details how by improving employees’ physical and emotional response to their working environment – from the look and feel of a workplace to non-visual sensory inputs such as smell, noise and temperature – can significantly improve productivity and cognitive performance.

Managing director, Commercial at Interserve, Jeff Flanagan, commented: “The environment may be different in the workplace, but the way we process experiences and how this affects our behaviour is the same. By understanding employees’ physical and emotional responses to their working environment – which this report seeks to explain – workplace professionals can design and deliver positive workplace experiences that will contribute to improved productivity and performance for the organisation.”


You can download a full version of the report here

Industry Spotlight: EMCOR UK’s technology expansion and dynamic mentoring programme…

Since I started working for EMCOR UK as an apprentice 30 years ago, technology has radically changed the way EMCOR UK does things, directly benefiting the company’s employees and the work performed for clients. For example, in 2015 we introduced the EMCOR UK Mobile Management Application – a unique asset maintenance tool for engineers available on mobile phones. It’s an intelligent system that enables our engineers to be at customer sites quicker, work more efficiently, and assist in planning an engineer’s work day based on their location, availability, and skill-set. 

As one of the UK’s leading integrated facilities management service providers and with over 3,500 employees, EMCOR UK has a long-established, successful mentoring programme. However, after an extensive review, we recently introduced an innovative, two-way or “reverse” mentoring scheme to continue to improve performance, enhance the development of people, and enable two-way learning between generations of employees in recognition of the impact technology increasingly has on the workplace. This innovative mentoring approach enhances the more traditional mentoring practices. Additionally, EMCOR UK increasingly experienced that younger employees feel especially comfortable receiving instructions about job related projects via a handheld device as a result of them being born into the technological and smartphone age. This aptitude for technology has changed EMCOR UK’s approach towards training, especially within the mentoring programme.

The advantages for individuals of mentoring have long been established, and include improved levels of confidence and self-awareness, and better management of career goals; for mentors the advantages include recognition of their knowledge and satisfaction of developing their colleagues. For companies, and certainly EMCOR UK, benefits include noteworthy increases in employee retention rates, improvements in the ability of organisations to adapt to change, and enhanced productivity through better engagement and job satisfaction. In the old economy, mentoring was often regarded as the “long term passing on of support, guidance and advice. In the [traditional] workplace it has tended to describe a relationship in which a more experienced colleague uses their greater knowledge and understanding of the work or workplace to support the development of more junior or inexperienced members of staff.”

In the last five years EMCOR UK has experienced a significant and positive change in how younger employees interact with more seasoned colleagues. Previously there was an idea that younger people weren’t in a position to offer advice in the workplace, and this has now changed. It is a development we welcome and actively encourage at EMCOR UK. Our apprentices see that helping with the understanding and implementation of technology enables them to garner kudos with their more experienced peers, who recognise that they have inter-related dependencies.

Even the most experienced EMCOR UK employees are now benefitting from this approach. For example, Steven Mullen, a logistics manager in his fifties, is mentored by Simi Gandhi-Whitaker, a work winning director in her thirties. This shows that mentoring, no matter what stage of one’s career, means that you never need to stop learning.

One critical and primary area of focus that has significantly benefitted from and been positively impacted by reverse mentoring is EMCOR UK’s health and safety culture and compliance. Mentoring has given young employees a lot more confidence and has empowered them to report or act immediately when they see that something needs improvement in order to optimise workplace safety. This has enabled EMCOR UK to proactively address situations where safety was a concern, or resolve a possible issue before it becomes a problem.

Health and safety management is the number one priority for EMCOR UK, and the company is proud to have consistently achieved significant recognition for this focus –  from two of the most prestigious safety organisations in the UK – a total of 8 awards in 2016 alone; 25+ in the last 15 years. These include the Gold Medal Award in the respected annual scheme overseen by the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA), and six Gold Medal Awards for work for customers British Sugar, Atomic Weapons Establishment (AWE), Public Health England (PHE), RAF Coningsby, BAE Systems, and United Utilities. Further, EMCOR UK was awarded the International Safety Award with Merit from the British Safety Council

EMCOR UK has little doubt that mentoring and our skilled use of technology has played a key part in the achievement of these awards, a reflection of our focus on customer collaboration and excellence of performance delivery.


Words by David Parker, group executive director at EMCOR UK


David Parker has over 25 years of experience in the mechanical and electrical industry, operating within the facilities, construction, and electrical security sectors. After joining EMCOR UK in 1983 as an electrical engineer, he quickly progressed into contract management. In his current role as group executive director, his wider remit and responsibilities also include management of health and safety – a primary focus for EMCOR UK.