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July 31st 2015
31 Jul

5 Things The Employee Benefits World Taught Us This Week – July 31st

July 31st 2015

This week in our employee benefits round-up, we look at 5 recent benefits news stories that Human Resources Directors will want to know.

1. Employees working from home lose two full days’s worth of productivity year

Employees who work from home are losing an average of two days a year, according to a new report. A study of 2,000 office workers looking into the supposed benefits of remote working, specifically working from the comfort of your own home, has found that people are too easily distracted. One in four participants confessed that they never quite manage to get into “work mode”, losing track of the task at hand up to four times a day. 25% of people admitted that they don’t bother getting dressed, with a shocking 16% claiming they don’t even shower. One in ten workers said that they find their home-work set up too relaxed, often involving a make shift desk made of out sofa cushions. Over one fifth of respondents cited playing with their pets as a top distractions, with others claiming it was social media, unexpected visits and even household chores.

2. The rise of the office cats

An animal rescue shelter is dispatching cats to small businesses in an effort to rehome the abandoned felines. ‘Office Cats’ is a new program out of the Humane Society of Broward County (HSBC), in Florida. The organisation aims to educate employees on pet-adoption, whilst offering a furry new colleague to fledgling companies. The shelter provides all the necessities needed for making the kittens on-boarding process run as smoothly as possible. Each business is given food, a litter tray, toys and veterinary care, and cats may either sleep in the office or be taken home by one of their co-workers. Adam Goldberg, spokesperson for HSBC, explained the multi-layered benefits of taking part in the scheme during an interview with The Huffington Post. He said: "It provides more exposure for the cats to help them find a permanent home faster, and gives them more freedom, space, comfort and enrichment outside of a shelter environment. "Finding pets a permanent home is our top priority and fostering pets outside of the shelter has proven to be a very successful way of doing so." It is free to sign up to ‘Office Cats’, so long as the business can provide a safe, enclosed working environment and the cats can stay as long as they are requested to, or until they get adopted. It seems that cat adoption in the workplace is becoming something of a trend. In the County Officials Office in Las Cruces, New Mexico employees installed a “kitten library”. The idea is to allow staff to get a temporary “fur fix” during a stressful workday. Officials add that the initiative boosts employee morale as well as providing a home for abandoned animals.

3. CV of failures trumps CV of successes

Jeff Scardino, Professor at the Miami Ad School in Brooklyn and former Senior Creative at Ogilvy & Mather developed the relevant resume, which aims to attract recruiters by listing his missed honours, bad references and non-skills. Scardino admits to poor punctuality, having trouble remembering names and doodling during meetings instead of note taking. To test the theory, he distributed the relevant resume and a more traditional CV to ten companies, both under different names. He received eight responses, including five meeting requests for his CV of failures, compared to just one response from the traditional approach. One company replied applauding him for his unique approach adding that having passed the CV around the office everyone was ‘dying to meet him’. Another informed him that the position had been filled, but added: “I would love to learn more about your project. This is the kind of thinking we love here.”

However, he said the best responses in his mind were from initially sceptical business. Speaking to Business Insider he said: "To me, those two proved my hypothesis more than the people who were really interested by it. Even though they thought it was a joke, they still responded to me, and I was able to open that conversation and explain myself. And they got it."

4. Pay increases become ever more scarce 

Although pay freezes are becoming less frequent, employers are still only awarding modest pay increases, according to the latest analysis from XpertHR. Covering the pay awards of almost 2.5 million employees, XpertHR research released today reveals that the median pay award in the three months to the end of June 2015 was worth just 2%, and it has been stuck at this level since April 2014. Although pay freezes only account for 6.9% of all pay awards during this period, half are worth between 1.5% and 2.5%, with just one award in six worth 3% or more. The public sector seems to be faring worst, with pay awards in the year to June 2015 standing at 1.5%. Manufacturing and production and private-sector services are seeing slightly higher increases of 2%. With the the national minimum wage due to increase by 3.1% from October, and the new living wage set to be introduced from April 2016, it remains to be seen if this will positively affect pay awards.

5. Want to boost you employee performance? Redesign the office!

A redesign of National Grid’s offices has boosted staff performance by 8%, the organisation has reported. This extra productivity could generate £20 million per annum according to an impact assessment. Other benefits include a 250% increase in support space, office capacity boosted by 27% and desk utilisation improved by 15%. Simon Carter, head of corporate property at National Grid, said that “providing an inspiring work environment is not just a ‘nice to have’, it is fundamental to our culture. “Our study has objectively proven that giving our colleagues spaces to collaborate and work together has enhanced productivity by 8% and enabled people to flex the way they work, making it easier to act as a team,” he said.

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