Employees Call for More User-Friendly Workplace Technology

Employees Call for More User-Friendly Workplace Technology

The vast majority of employees consider the technology they use at work to be less powerful and less intelligent than their personal technology, and want their employer’s processes to be more user-friendly, according to the findings of a global study released on January 22 by The Workplace Institute at software provider Kronos.

The results of the analysis of the impact existing and emerging technologies have on the employee experience are based on data from a survey of 2,807 workers employed in a variety of industries in eight countries (Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Mexico, New Zealand, the U.K., and the U.S.) that was conducted between November 2017 and January 2018.

The survey found that workplace technology frequently fails to meet employee expectations, with nearly half of employees (48%) surveyed worldwide indicating they wish their workplace technology performed just like their personal technology, and only 18% saying they do not want their workplace technology and personal technology to function similarly. The results also showed less than one-quarter of the employees surveyed in Germany (24%), the U.S. (22%), Canada (20%), France (16%), Australia and New Zealand (13%), the U.K. (13%), and Mexico (8%) consider their workplace technology to be more user-friendly than their personal technology.

For example, among the U.S. respondents 51% of employees in the financial sector said they find shopping on Amazon easier than asking their manager to take off a sick day; 53% of contract and field service workers said they consider it easier to talk to personal digital assistants like Alexa, Cortana, and Siri than to their manager; and just under half (43%) of logistics and transportation workers indicated that they find it easier to book a ride through Lyft or Uber than to find out how many vacation days they have left.

The results further indicated than more than one-third of the employees surveyed worldwide (35%) believe their job is harder than it should be because of outdated processes and legacy technology. This attitude was most commonly expressed by respondents in Mexico (45%), France (43%), and the U.K. (40%). Across industry sectors in the U.S., respondents in state and local government (55%), public safety (53%), and finance (43%) were especially likely to say that outdated processes and technology make their job more difficult. Moreover, just 25% of employees surveyed worldwide disagreed with the notion that their workplace technology makes common activities more complicated by adding extra or unnecessary steps.

Not surprisingly, the survey found that in the U.S., younger workers are less accepting than older employees of inefficient workplace technology: while just 20% of boomers said they think outdated processes and technology make their job harder than it should be, this view was much more common among Gen Xers (34%), older millennials (38%), younger millennials (40%), and Generation Z (39%).

The information contained in this newsletter is for general use, and while we believe all information to be reliable and accurate, it is important to remember individual situations may be entirely different. The information provided is not written or intended as tax or legal advice and may not be relied on for purposes of avoiding any Federal tax penalties. Individuals are encouraged to seek advice from their own tax or legal counsel. This newsletter is written and published by Liberty Publishing, Inc., Beverly, MA. Copyright © 2019 Liberty Publishing, Inc. All rights reserved.

Employers Enhance Well-Being Benefits to Attract and Retain Talent

Employers Enhance Well-Being Benefits to Attract and Retain Talent

As the competition for talent intensifies, employers are stepping up their efforts to recruit, retain, and engage employees by adding or improving benefit programs that address their physical, emotional, professional, and financial well-being, according to the results of an annual survey conducted by Gallagher Benefit Services, Inc.

In the survey, 4,241 employers across the U.S. were asked between January and April 2018 about their benefits and compensation practices and strategies. Attracting and retaining talent was cited as the top operational priority by 60% of the employers surveyed in 2018, up two percentage points from 2017; while just 37% of respondents indicated that controlling benefit costs was their top operational priority, down six percentage points from 2017.

The survey also showed that employers are optimistic about their future business performance, with 95% saying they anticipate having stable or increased revenue growth through 2020, and 59% reporting that they anticipate having a higher headcount through 2020.

According to researchers, the survey findings suggest that employers are increasingly taking a holistic view of employee well-being, and are developing strategies that both engage and appeal to their employees. For example, they noted, 55% of respondents in 2018 said they provide access to telemedicine, up sharply from just 24% of respondents surveyed in 2016; and another 14% anticipate adopting telemedicine by 2020.

The survey also found that significant shares of employers are improving their health care benefits, with 22% of respondents indicating that they offer employees three medical insurance plans, and 13% reporting that they offer four or more options. The survey also found that the share of respondents who said they made health savings accounts (HSAs) available to employees rose to 24% in 2018, up two points from 2017.

However, the findings further showed that employers are looking for ways to reduce medical expenses by, for example, offering preventive care benefits such as flu shots, tobacco cessation programs, health risk assessments, and biometric screenings. Moreover, the share of respondents who indicated that they offer disease management programs designed to help employees with chronic conditions better control their health outcomes increased to 38% in 2018, up nine points from 2017; and another 17% said they plan to start offering these programs by 2020.

The survey also found that the share of employers who rated their health benefits as competitive within their industry or region increased in 2018 to 74%, up from 71% in 2017; but that employees’ satisfaction levels with their health options did not change. Researchers speculated that the expense of family health coverage might explain this pattern, as a much smaller percentage of respondents said they believe their family health coverage is affordable (53%) than said they think their individual coverage is affordable (81%).

Researchers observed that as employers are recognizing that financial stressors can negatively affect productivity in organizations, they are increasingly providing financial well-being programs that prepare employees to make better saving and spending decisions. In 2018, 62% of respondents reported offering employees access to financial advisors, and 47% indicated they provide financial literacy education. In addition, 43% of 2018 respondents reported that they are taking steps to measure employee retirement readiness, compared to just 33%
in 2016.

The survey results also indicated that employers are offering a broad range of benefits that go beyond health and retirement plans. For example, 46% of the employers surveyed in 2018 said they provide tuition assistance, up from 42% in 2017. Moreover, 82% of respondents said they offer their employees the opportunity to connect with the charitable causes they champion through volunteering.

 

The information contained in this newsletter is for general use, and while we believe all information to be reliable and accurate, it is important to remember individual situations may be entirely different. The information provided is not written or intended as tax or legal advice and may not be relied on for purposes of avoiding any Federal tax penalties. Individuals are encouraged to seek advice from their own tax or legal counsel. This newsletter is written and published by Liberty Publishing, Inc., Beverly, MA. Copyright © 2019 Liberty Publishing, Inc. All rights reserved.

Employee Retention is Higher When Managers Have Emotional Intelligence

Employee Retention is Higher When Managers Have Emotional Intelligence

Employees who work with managers with high levels of emotional intelligence (EQ) are less likely to want to leave their organization than employees who rate their leaders as having low EQ, according to a recent study by a researcher at the University of Dallas.

Published on August 30 in the SSRN Electronic Journal, “Emotional Intelligence: Helping Managers ‘Turn Over’ a New Leaf in Leadership Behaviors,” was written by Emmanuel Dalavai, a doctor of business administration. Dalavai observed that because the costs of organizational turnover are high, scholars and practitioners often look for ways to reduce employees’ turnover intentions, in part by promoting EQ in managers.

To investigate the question of whether leader emotional intelligence influences employee turnover intentions, the study examined leaders and followers at a health care institution based in the southwestern U.S., focusing on the followers’ perceptions of their managers’ leadership behaviors. The study sample consisted of 71 hospital administrators, clinicians, and other employees. The researchers tested four hypotheses of employees’ perceptions of the EQ of their leaders on their turnover intentions using two scales: Trait EQ and the TIS-6, or the shortened form of the Turnover Intentions scale.

Overall, the results indicated that higher levels of leader EQ had an inverse effect on follower turnover intentions, and thus reduced followers’ inclinations to leave their organization. Specifically, the findings of the analysis confirmed the first hypothesis, showing that the leader’s ability to exercise self-control by pulling back on negative behaviors had a residual impact on followers’ desire to leave the organization. The second hypothesis on the effect of a leader’s well-being was also confirmed, thus demonstrating that leaders’ ability to take care of themselves mentally and physically had a direct influence on followers’ likelihood of leaving.

The third hypothesis regarding the importance of the leader’s sociability was also supported by the data, indicating that leaders’ ability to apply networking skills and to influence the feelings of employees affected followers’ turnover intentions. Finally, the fourth hypothesis on the level of a leader’s “emotionality” was confirmed, thus showing that the followers of leaders who can communicate their feelings to their followers and are empathetic to others’ perspectives were less likely to report a desire to leave.

Dalavai concluded by offering several suggestions for how companies and human resources departments might apply these findings to tackle engagement issues and turnover rates. For example, he said, organizations should consider adopting altruistic models of leadership, like servant leadership approaches, rather than relying on the traditional transformational and charismatic leadership models. He also recommended that companies’ HR departments invest more concentrated resources in human capital investment, such as soft skills training that includes EQ-based programs.

From Benefit Trends Newsletter, Volume 61, Issue 12

The information contained in this newsletter is for general use, and while we believe all information to be reliable and accurate, it is important to remember individual situations may be entirely different. The information provided is not written or intended as tax or legal advice and may not be relied on for purposes of avoiding any Federal tax penalties. Individuals are encouraged to seek advice from their own tax or legal counsel. This newsletter is written and published by Liberty Publishing, Inc., Beverly, MA. Copyright © 2018 Liberty Publishing, Inc. All rights reserved.

Women in Tech Report Facing Ongoing Challenges

Women in Tech Report Facing Ongoing Challenges

Companies are increasingly pursuing initiatives to raise the number of women working in information technology, but women who are currently employed in IT continue to report that struggles with pay inequity and work-life balance are holding them back, according the results of a survey conducted by talent recruitment firm Harvey Nash.

The survey of 681 female and male IT professionals from U.S. companies across a broad range of industries was conducted in August 2018. Nearly one-third (31%) of the professionals surveyed said their organization provides career development programs for women after they have been hired, and 29% of respondents reported that their company offers programs to support recruiting and hiring women in technology. In addition, 43% of the women surveyed said that the attention paid to gender equality in the workplace in the wake of the #MeToo movement has been making the technology industry more welcoming to women.

However, while 46% of all respondents said that diversity and inclusion are integral to their company’s strategy, 39% said that their company’s diversity efforts seem more like “checking a box.” The findings also showed that the share of female respondents who claim their work environment remains unwelcoming appears to be increasing, rising from 30% in 2017 to 35% in 2018.

Researchers observed that although many companies are moving in the right direction on some gender issues, more needs to be done, particularly to close the gender pay gap and improve the working conditions for women in technology. For example, they noted, while 51% of the women surveyed in 2018 said they find working in technology financially rewarding, up from 35% two years ago; large differences in the perceptions of men and women remains, with 68% of male respondents, but just 30% of female respondents, saying they believe their company pays men and women equally.

In addition, the survey found that failing to pursue recruitment and career development programs for women can have far-reaching business implications for companies, and can directly impact retention. For example, 33% of female respondents, but 23% of male respondents, said an unsupportive environment was a deciding factor in their decision to leave their last job; and 23% of female respondents, compared to 13% of male respondents, reported that they had left their last job in part due to unfair treatment.

Researchers also noted that the technology industry’s reputation for high-pressure assignments and long hours are reflected in the survey, as both female and male respondents ranked the demanding work environment as one of the top challenges of working in IT. The findings indicated that 44% of the men and 48% of the women surveyed perceive that family responsibilities threaten to slow their careers. However, 57% of the women, but just 28% of the men, surveyed said that having a family translates into lost opportunities for advancement or equal pay.

From Benefit Trends Newsletter, Volume 61, Issue 11

The information contained in this newsletter is for general use, and while we believe all information to be reliable and accurate, it is important to remember individual situations may be entirely different. The information provided is not written or intended as tax or legal advice and may not be relied on for purposes of avoiding any Federal tax penalties. Individuals are encouraged to seek advice from their own tax or legal counsel. This newsletter is written and published by Liberty Publishing, Inc., Beverly, MA. Copyright © 2018 Liberty Publishing, Inc. All rights reserved.

Companies Should Seek To Leverage the Digital Workplace

Companies Should Seek To Leverage the Digital Workplace

Employees who work in digital workplaces tend to have relatively high levels of productivity and motivation, but organizations should be alert to security risks associated with these technologies, and to the emergence of a gap between employees who are and are not technologically adept, according to a global study conducted by Aruba, a Hewlett Packard Enterprise company.

The results of the study, “The Right Technologies Unlock the Potential of the Digital Workplace,” were based on interviews conducted in April and May 2018 with 7,000 employees working at organizations based in 15 countries across the globe, including the U.S. The findings revealed that a more digitally-driven workplace has both business and human benefits, and that companies that are less technologically advanced are at risk of falling behind the competition and failing to attract top talent. The study also warned that a clear chasm in employee performance and sentiment is emerging between more advanced digital workplaces and those that use digital technology to a lesser extent, and that companies must be vigilant as more digital-savvy employees are taking greater risks with data and information security.

Specifically, the analysis showed that “Digital Revolutionaries,” or employees identified as those who work in fully-enabled digital workplaces where new workplace technologies are in widespread use, were 51% more likely to report having strong job satisfaction and were 43% more likely to say they feel positive about their work-life balance than “Digital Laggards,” or those who have less access to workplace technology. The findings also showed that Revolutionary employees were also 60% more likely to say they are motivated at work, and 91% more likely to praise their company’s vision.

The study also found that rather than perceiving advancements in digital technology and automation as a threat to job security, most of the employees surveyed are enthusiastic about these technologies, with 71% saying they would welcome a fully automated workplace in the future that allows their employer to build a smarter, more effective working environment. The results further showed almost all of the respondents (93%) think their workplace would be improved through greater use of technology, and large shares are confident that digital technology will result in a more efficient (56%), more collaborative (52%), and more appealing (47%) work environment.

While confirming that the benefits of digital workplaces are wide-ranging, the study also cautioned that cybersecurity remains a challenge for employers. The study recommended that companies seek to adapt to leverage the benefits of new digital workplace technology while simultaneously minimizing security risks organizations by adopting a digital workplace strategy, building collaborative digital workspaces, and incorporating security into the workplace from the ground up.

From Benefit Trends Newsletter, Volume 61, Issue 7

The information contained in this newsletter is for general use, and while we believe all information to be reliable and accurate, it is important to remember individual situations may be entirely different. The information provided is not written or intended as tax or legal advice and may not be relied on for purposes of avoiding any Federal tax penalties. Individuals are encouraged to seek advice from their own tax or legal counsel. This newsletter is written and published by Liberty Publishing, Inc., Beverly, MA. Copyright © 2018 Liberty Publishing, Inc. All rights reserved.

Millennial Workers Report Higher Stress Levels Than Older Workers

Millennial Workers Report Higher Stress Levels Than Older Workers

Younger workers experience stress more frequently than their older colleagues, and employee stress in general has physical, behavioral, and cognitive side effects that can lower productivity and increase employer costs, according to a survey on the effects of stress in the workplace released by employee benefits provider Unum on April 26.

The survey of 1,232 U.S. adults conducted in January 2018 found that 39% of workers aged 18-34 report that they experience stress daily to several times a week, and just 33% said they experience stress infrequently or never. By contrast, the older baby boomers surveyed appear to be the least stressed of the age groups, with only 11% of workers aged 65 or older indicating that they experience stress daily to several times a week, and 79% reporting that they experience stress infrequently or never. The values for middle-aged workers were closer to those of the youngest than the oldest group, with 29% of respondents aged 35-64 saying they experience stress daily to several times a week, and 48% indicating they experience stress infrequently or never.

The results also showed that working women of all ages report more frequent exposure to stress than working men, with 54% of female respondents, but only 47% of male respondents, saying they experience stress on a daily to weekly basis.

Among respondents of all age groups, the top causes of stress were found to include financial stress (49%), home life and family relationships (43%), personal health (35%), job responsibilities (33%), and the health of family members (33%).

Researchers cited a recent estimate from the American Institute of Stress that stress costs the U.S. economy over $300 billion annually in absenteeism, presenteeism, turnover, lower productivity, accidents, and medical costs. They emphasized that while most stress originates outside of the workplace, it is in an employer’s best interest to provide resources that proactively support employees in managing their stress before it escalates and affects their ability to do their job.

While acknowledging that stress can manifest differently from person to person, researchers pointed out that the common signs include a significant change in an employee’s quality of work, professional demeanor, or personality. They recommended that employers watch for short-term responses to stress, including avoidance behavior or lack of participation in group activities, reduced reasoning or difficulty making decisions, and a tendency to work long hours; as well as for signs of long-term responses to stress, including a loss of concentration or confidence, outbursts of irritation or anger, panic attacks, and a loss of energy.

From Benefit Trends Newsletter, Volume 61, Issue 6

The information contained in this newsletter is for general use, and while we believe all information to be reliable and accurate, it is important to remember individual situations may be entirely different. The information provided is not written or intended as tax or legal advice and may not be relied on for purposes of avoiding any Federal tax penalties. Individuals are encouraged to seek advice from their own tax or legal counsel. This newsletter is written and published by Liberty Publishing, Inc., Beverly, MA. Copyright © 2018 Liberty Publishing, Inc. All rights reserved.