BME workers far more likely to be trapped in insecure work

Black and minority ethnic workers are far more likely to be trapped in temporary and insecure work, according to new analysis published by the TUC at the start of its annual Black Workers Conference.

The analysis shows how BME workers are faring worse than white workers in the jobs market.

Stuck in temporary and insecure work

There are 3.9 million BME working people in the UK. They are:

  • More than twice as likely to be stuck on agency contracts than white workers
  • Much more likely to be on zero-hours contracts – 1 in 24 BME workers are on zero-hours contracts, compared to 1 in 42 white workers
  • 1 in 13 BME workers (264,000) are in temporary work, compared to 1 in 19 white workers

Underemployment and low pay

The analysis shows that many BME workers are experiencing the double hit of underemployment and low pay.

BME working people are twice as likely to report not having enough hours to make ends meet.

And many are working in temporary and zero-hours jobs where pay is typically a third less an hour than for those on permanent contracts.

This financial insecurity places many BME workers and their families under significant financial stress and is a result of widespread institutional racism in the labour market, says the TUC. 

TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said: “Far too many BME workers are stuck in low-paid, insecure and temporary work. 

“This has a huge impact on their living standards and life chances.  

“This problem isn’t simply going to disappear over time. We need a co-ordinated approach led by government to confront inequality and racism in the labour market – and wider society.”  

A third of expats in the UK are worried about domestic politics

Research from AXA – Global Healthcare has revealed that a third (31%) of expats living in the UK are concerned about domestic politics. It proved to be such a concern, that expats currently living and working in the UK reported feeling more worried by domestic politics than those in any other country surveyed; France (22%),  Canada (11%), the UAE (10%) and Hong Kong (7%).

By comparison, with just a fifth (18%) claiming to feel worried about global politics, UK-based expats seemed to be considerably more concerned about domestic politics than those on the world stage. They were also more worried by domestic politics than terrorism (18%).

Those expats who were most concerned by the local political landscape were aged 41-50 (36%), with residents aged 24-30 (29%) and 31-40 (28%) much less worried.

Tom Wilkinson, CEO, AXA – Global Healthcare commented: “There’s no denying that, with Brexit looming, we are in the midst of an incredibly turbulent political period. For months now, it has felt almost impossible to read or listen to the news without the UK’s political situation making the headlines. It’s understandable, therefore, that the impact of the local political landscape on their daily lives would worry expats who have made their home in the UK more than those in other parts of the world.”

Looking to the future, the research also found that expats living in the UK are more likely than any other surveyed to consider returning to their home countries for political reasons. The research revealed that 14% would consider leaving, compared with 12% in France, 6% in Hong Kong, 5% in the UAE and 3% in Canada.

Despite the current political uncertainty, it seems expats have more reason to come to the UK than they do to leave. While 14% would consider leaving for political reasons, a third (32%) of expats have moved to the UK for career opportunities and a fifth (20%) did so for better pay and benefits.

Tom Wilkinson concluded: “Speculation is rife over how Brexit will affect both British citizens who are living abroad and expats who have chosen to make their home here, in the UK. Whatever the future holds though, the skills, experience and investment that expats from all corners of the globe bring to the UK cannot be underestimated. It’s hugely encouraging, therefore, to see that large numbers of expats are still choosing to make their home here, in the UK. Likewise, it’s reassuring that the number of expats who would consider returning to their home country for political reasons remains relatively low.”

3 key tips to public speaking

Many people don’t realise that public speaking is indeed a skill. To some, it comes naturally. But for others, they must battle an array of factors, such as stage fright, in order to be a successful and engaging speaker. Here, industry expert Katrina Percy offers some hints and tips to help you become the best pubic speaker you can be, and discusses why such skills are important.

Why is public speaking important?

Regardless of your industry, you’re likely to be required to speak to a group — this could be either peers, clients or experts in your field. For this reason, public speaking skills are among some of the most important skills you can have in your professional career. If you can speak confidently in front of an audience or group, then you are showing those people an element of confidence. This trait is highly sought after in business, as it provides the listener with the reassurance that you know what you are doing. Confident people can speak freely in front of one or 100 people and are more likely to secure professional opportunities than those who steer clear from public speaking.

Of course, not everyone feels comfortable doing so straight away. So, what can be done to nurture and develop these skills?

Speech writing

It’s crucial that your speech is engaging, interesting and has an end goal. You certainly shouldn’t try to ‘wing it’. Make sure that you’ve properly prepared what it is you intend to say and be sure that it’s in a style you’d be comfortable presenting. You may find it helpful to write down your full speech and practice it. However, there are occasions where it can be more beneficial to write down an introduction and key points, so you know that you will cover all the important points in your speech.

Writing down your content allows you to organise your mind. Doing this will help your speech follow a proper structure, which in turn should make it more successful. Like a book, it’s important that your speech is clearly segregated into sections, so that there’s a clear start, middle and end. By maintaining a structured speech which flows well, your audience is likely to stay engaged, thus meaning they are more likely to buy into your thoughts — and product, if you’re end goal is to sell.

Writing your speech down allows you to follow this pattern more easily, and this will help you gain credibility from the audience — so long as the information is relevant, of course! It will also allow you to pick out points which you need to flesh out your idea and topic. You can do this by adding supporting materials, such as statistics and examples that back up your points. Again, this builds credibility. For example, did you known that the first 15 seconds are crucial, so a strong start is required if your speech is to be successful?

Dealing with stage fright

Of course, even the best written speech needs to be delivered correctly. You can’t simply write down the perfect presentation and then stutter through it, hoping your audience stays focused. While the words may be powerful and informative, not presenting them in an engaging manner can see the whole point of the speech missed.

Stage fright can be a major factor in losing the audience’s attention. In fact, three quarters of us have suffered from speech anxiety prior to public speaking. It’s natural to be a little apprehensive about presenting your speech. However, it is something you can manage with the right tips.

Be sure you practice your presentation, both individually and in front of friends or family. Why not try videoing your presentation and watching it back, asking yourself if you would be engaged if you were in the audience.

Practicing in front of people you are comfortable around will also help you to relax and limit your feelings of worry and doubt. Once you have to present your work, you should greet each person on a personal level — if this is possible. This is because you are naturally more at ease talking to people you’ve already interacted with.

It’s important to feel at ease too, so be sure to take a deep breath and relax. Don’t try to rush through your presentation. Going at a steady and natural pace will not only help you feel better, but it will provide a better experience for your audience.

So, what are the main points to remember when it comes to public speaking? You should:

  • Find your own style. Everyone is different. Be sure to play to your strengths. Being natural will help you win over a crowd and build a rapport with the audience.
  • Be prepared. Write a speech and practice, practice, practice.
  • Stay calm. Relax. Panicking will come across as if you don’t know why you’re there and aren’t confident in the message you’re trying to portray. Confidence is key.

Absenteeism vs. presenteeism – which is worse?

When someone is absent from work, the remaining staff may take on the extra load. But when they come in to work sick, everyone is at risk of catching a cold – which is worse?

It will not come as a surprise to any business owners that an employee’s absence from work can be a disruption.

According to a report by ERS Research and Consultancy, sickness absence costs UK businesses an estimated £29bn annually with the average worker taking 6.6 days off each year.

It can cause a range of problems: work doesn’t get done or remaining employees can get over-worked, there can be a drop-off in productivity, things can fall through the cracks.

Despite the severity of the problem, only 91 per cent of firms track staff absences, with 39 per cent logging them on paper or in a spreadsheet, leaving it open to human error, according research commissioned by HR and payroll specialist Moorepay.

This means businesses are failing to track the true picture of absenteeism. In addition, absences due to training, compassionate leave, medical appointments, sabbaticals and duvet days are only reviewed by 55 per cent, 51 per cent, 50 per cent, 28 per cent and 20 per cent respectively.

Presenteeism isn’t any better

Meanwhile, presenteeism can be almost as bad. This is when an employee comes in to work despite being too ill to be productive – this often goes hand in hand with high-pressure workplaces where employees are stressed and feel obligated to come in.

More than three-in-ten organisations reported an increase in people coming in to work ill in the past 12 months, according to ERS.

Those who had noticed an increase in presenteeism are nearly twice as likely to report an increase in stress-related absence than those who hadn’t (64 per cent versus 35 per cent).

Presenteeism is also much more likely to happen when workloads are piled high or if job security is threatened, and can be cut down with improved management practices.

This can be bad news for the remaining employees as well – even though they may not be asked to take on an extra share of the workload. Working in close conditions can mean your office becomes a petri dish for disease if the illness is contagious – before you know if, half you staff could be struck ill.

To make matters worse, presenteeism denies the employee time to recover, meaning the period of ill-health is generally stretched out.

Working conditions can even exacerbate illnesses; according to research from Fellowes, UK employees are regularly suffering from backache (34 per cent), neck ache (25 per cent) and headaches (23 per cent) as a direct result of how they are working.

Productivity takes a hit

Overall, due to ill health, it is estimated that UK employers are losing 27.5 days of productive work per employee each health, according to research from Britain’s Healthiest Workplace (BHW).

Commenting on the findings, Adrian Lewis, director of Activ Absence said: “In our experience, absenteeism is exacerbated by poor absence management practices, and too many companies are still failing to track absence management and in the dark about the extent of their absence issues, unable to identity and address issues early on.”

“People spend a great deal of time at work and employers are in a unique position to tackle these risk factors and develop appropriate wellbeing strategies that will encourage employees to become healthier, happier and more engaged.”

Even in socially responsible companies, women make up less than a quarter of boardrooms

New research from the Directory of Social Change shows that the majority of UK company directors from a sample of companies with community investment programmes are shockingly still overwhelmingly male.

As part of its research for the Guide to UK Company Giving (12th edition) which has just been released, DSC analysed a sample of 3,334 directors from 388 companies and found the share of women on company boards was only 24%, whilst men represented 76%.

The theme for International Women’s Day 2019 was ‘Balance for Better’. But DSC’s new data adds to the wider body of evidence which shows that we are far from a gender-balanced world in UK company board rooms. In fact, at the current rate of progress we won’t be close to equal representation until 2030.

Since DSC began reporting on the female to male ratio on corporate boards in 2013 there has been only a gradual increase in female representation observable in regular analyses of a similar dataset of companies.

To put current figures in context, two years ago DSC looked at company CSR policies and annual reports of 406 companies and was able to determine the ratio between women and men for 399 corporate boards. That analysis showed that women were still shockingly underrepresented, making up just 22% of boards.

Although the government claims to value increasing female representation in senior leadership positions, the data shows extremely slow progress. The landmark Lord Davies review from 2015 looked at the issue of female representation on FTSE 350 boards. The report did not recommend implementing statutory quotas, instead asking the corporate world to voluntarily meet the challenge for gender parity at a senior level.

Building on the Davies review, the Hampton-Alexander reviews continue to track the number of women on FTSE 350 boards. The aim is to reach a 33% target for women on boards and in leadership teams of FTSE 350 companies by 2020. The latest review from November 2018 shows female representation on FTSE 100 boards at 27% and for FTSE 250 at 24.9% – some way off a hardly ambitious target

Almost half a decade since the Davies review, voluntary improvement of the female to male ratio on corporate boards is clearly not driving rapid progress. Worse, women were excluded entirely from boardrooms in 16% of companies analysed by DSC, a figure that has remained unchanged in over two years. DSC’s sample includes many companies outside the FTSE, showing that deep-rooted cultural and structural prejudice still side-lines women from company leadership positions.

DSC researcher Judith Turner says: “How many decades will it take to achieve gender parity in company leadership? The current rate of progress won’t even deliver on the low-bar of 33% female representation by 2020. The data shows that the current voluntary, business-led approach isn’t producing rapid or widespread progress. Despite legal requirements, government recommendations and changing workplace culture, companies are still evading gender equality in the UK. While most would prefer to avoid quotas, if real improvements are not made soon people will lose faith that companies can tackle gender inequality effectively and decisively.”

Creativity Hacks? Think ‘like a child’ at work

The Creative Thinking Handbook is a new guide to rediscovering creativity and developing great ideas in business. With the World Economic Forum listing creativity as one of the top three skills now needed in the workplace – it’s never been so important to maximise creative potential.

In a NASA creativity test, 98% of UK 5-year olds scored in the ‘highly creative’ range, yet this went down to just 2% in adults over the age of 25. In The Creative Thinking Handbook,expert Chris Griffiths reveals the secrets of unlocking innovative potential and enhancing creativity in the workplace. Packed with helpful ways of breaking down the creative process – the ‘Decision Radar’ gives professionals and teams the tools they need to understand their own thinking, and then provides useful steps to help them avoid the common thinking traps, which include ‘selective’ ‘reactive’ and ‘assumptive’ thinking.

Practical tips and exercises for enhancing creativity in real businesses

Brainteasers, tests and exercises help readers put their new creative skills into action, using tried and tested methods from the authors’ experiences with high-profile companies and clients – including Nobel Laureates, Pepsi, the BBC and the Dalai Lama.

The book breaks down traditional business creativity assumptions – that quickfire group brainstorming sessions are the most productive – and takes readers back to basics of creativity, by helping professionals understand their own mind through setting them up with an ‘ideation toolkit’, which gives them the skills they need to create their own great ideas.

Chris Griffiths is founder and CEO of OpenGenius, and world-leading expert on the application of innovation and Mind Mapping®. He has helped drive business growth for thousands worldwide, including teams and individuals from Fortune 500 and FTSE 100 companies, the United Nations and Nobel Laureates.

Chris is a bestselling author on creativity and innovative thinking skills, and promotes entrepreneurial thinking through the Inspire Genius Foundation. His software, iMindMap and Droptask, is used by millions of people worldwide to improve their creativity and productivity.

Melina Costi is a professional business writer with a background in marketing management. She is co-author of GRASP the Solution (with Chris Griffiths), which reached #2 on the Amazon UK business chart; and The Positive Leader (with Jan Mühlfeit, former Microsoft Europe Chairman).

4 in 6 UK Employees Work an Average of 6.3 Unpaid Hours a Week

The proliferation of digital devices means that we’re constantly connected to the office wherever we might be, making it difficult to switch off from work and increase stress levels even more than it should. Last year, the Office of National Statistics released figures that revealed three million UK employees work more than 48 hours a week, a rise of a quarter of a million since 2001

Whether it’s a two-week holiday or a twenty-minute respite at lunch, Lucinda Pullinger, Global Head of HR atInstant Offices explains why it is important for workers to take steps on how to live healthily by disconnecting from all work-related screens and increase productivity and overall happiness.

The Importance of a Well-Rested Employee

Although it may seem like a good thing from a productivity point of view, having employees constantly working can do your business more harm than good.

In fact, a study by Glassdoor has shown the average number of UK employees taking their full annual leave is 62% with only 43% made use of 91-100% of their holiday entitlement. What’s more 13% reported only taking 20% of their allowance.

Further research found 23% of those on holiday regularly checked their emails and 15% admitted to doing some work out of fear of being behind on their return and missing targets. 20% of employees surveyed also reported that they were expected to be reachable and available to carry out some work if needed.

Continuing to work over their holiday means that workers don’t get a chance to fully recover from the stresses of office life, and in the end, productivity and creativity can suffer when drained employees come back to work.

This is, of course, not even taking into account the health benefits of a holiday – stress and exhaustion take an incredible toll on the body, and overworked employees may end up taking more sick leave throughout the year. Finally, allowing employees time off to relax can result in an all-around boost for office morale.

Tips for a Digital Disconnect

  • Respect other people’s schedules. Don’t bother them with emails or calls when they have taken time off unless the matter is extremely urgent.
  • Prioritise your workload. If you absolutely have to work on your holiday, spend time on the important tasks only, and leave less important matters for when you are back in the office.
  • Set up an auto-reply on your email. This way, people who send you messages are alerted to the fact that you are on holiday. Provide a contact number for someone else in the office, who can be contacted if the issue is urgent.
  • Tell your colleagues that you’ll be going away. This may seem obvious, but alert others in your office that you are going on holiday. Sort out the most important projects before you leave, and let colleagues know that you will be unlikely to reply to work communications while away.
  • Avoid constantly checking your devices while on holiday. If you absolutely have to remain connected to work while on holiday, allocate a specific day, or a certain time of day when you will check and reply to emails, text messages and missed calls.

Indeed, many holiday retreats all over the world are now offering “digital detoxes”, where there is no Wi-Fi signal and visitors are encouraged to hand over their electronic devices.

Daily Work Breaks

It’s not just time off work that’s important – taking a proper lunch break every day is also beneficial.  And by “proper” lunch break, we mean moving away from your desk or your office cubicle. According to Forbes, incorporating an hour or half hour break into your daily work schedule can boost one’s energy levels, improve your mood, and provide additional morning motivation as you work towards your break.

Personal financial worries are increasing workplace stress

Employers need to understand more about the impact of personal financial worries on workplace mental health, but are struggling to agree best practice standards to address the issue, new research from MetLife UK has found.

More than six out of 10 (61%) senior HR executives have seen a rise in financial wellbeing issues affecting employee mental health and work performance, the nationwide study from MetLife UK shows.

Senior managers agree that addressing financial wellbeing will have business benefits – nearly two out of three (64%) say that tackling financial stress will help boost productivity and engagement in their organisation and 58% say there is growing momentum to provide support.

But businesses are concerned they do not understand enough about financial wellbeing – 67% say they need to know more about the link between financial wellbeing and mental health issues, while 66% say there needs to be more clarity on best practice on tackling financial wellbeing at work.

MetLife UK defines financial wellbeing by a combination of key factors: being in control of your finances; having the capacity to withstand financial shocks; having confidence in the future; and having choices on how to spend and save.

Employee benefits such as Group Life and Group Income Protection support financial wellbeing by helping families and supporting staff who are unable to work due to illness. In addition they offer support to family members via an Employee Assistance Plan, if their loved ones are struggling.  Wider finanical wellbeing programmes also increase general financial literacy and improve financial  behaviour.

Adrian Matthews, Employee Benefits Director, MetLife UK said: “Financial wellbeing in the workplace is a growing issue for businesses, with organisations reporting a rise in concerns about the impact on mental health and company performance.

“Companies appreciate they need to understand more about the issue so they can provide support for employees, but at the same time there is concern that there are no agreed best practice standards on how to implement financial wellbeing programmes.

“There is no magic solution to improving financial wellbeing in the workplace, but a well-designed employee benefits programme is a good place to start. The potential business benefits  in terms of more productive employees are clear.”

MetLife’s research found 61% of HR managers believe financial wellbeing advice should be a part of Employee Assistance Programmes, aimed at helping address mental health issues.

It is established as the UK’s third largest Group Life provider by number of schemes it insures and the sixth largest Group Income Protection provider by in-force premium.