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Paycor, a Human Capital Management company, have released the results of a survey they have conducted about the present and the future of HR.

The nationwide study - conducted by Harris Poll - surveyed 500 HR professionals and C-suite executives and was undertaken to understand how HR leaders in small and medium businesses saw the future of the industry in five years and how they could prepare for changes.

Approximately half of the HR and business leaders who were surveyed believe that many core HR functions will be automated by 2022.  Whilst being optimistic about their businesses in 2018, 45 percent are apprehensive about recruiting and retention of staff.  The two major concerns they have are finding the right people for the job and then keeping them motivated.

The survey also reveals that small and medium size businesses will focus more on using information that can be interpreted quickly and used to drive business decisions and help solve challenges without widespread vetting from the leadership.

Experts stated that Initially HR technology was built to guarantee conformity - but that is rapidly changing.

Karen Crone, Chief HR Officer of Paycor stated:

"Most people embark on a career in HR to make a difference, but many get stuck in the administration.”  She added "HR technology wasn't built to make HR's job easier or to give HR time back to focus on people. Over the next five years, look for the most successful teams to embrace technology and focus more on performance."

She added: "Armed with the tools to add more strategic value, HR leaders will be able to evangelize a holistic approach to the entire employee life cycle—from hiring and on-boarding through career development, learning and training—so they can spend less time on the administrative work that has kept HR in a box and more time enhancing their company's people power."

According to the survey, 82 percent of respondents say ‘soft skills’ will become more important as HR becomes less administrative and 47 percent expect their roles to become more data-driven strategic. By 2022, HR professionals predict that their teams will have three top priorities - training and development; employee morale and employee retention.

Stacey Browning, President of Paycor stated:

"As technology continues to disrupt the HR status quo in ways big and small, it's critical that small to midsize business HR professionals are able to minimize their focus on administrative tasks and achieve a more strategic position in their organizations."

The survey report indicates that HR leaders are gearing up for the challenge - but many HR leaders will find it difficult to invest in the necessary tools to assess data as they could be obstructed by cost, especially if they are unable to power new technologies - and new systems are unaffordable.

Karen Crone stated:

“HR leaders should start small……they do not necessarily need a system to look at data in new ways. Take attrition data, for example. We often look at the monthly rate or voluntary versus involuntary, but what about other factors?”

She added, “Just by stringing together data that is seemingly unrelated, you might find a meaningful pattern for your business."

This month, Judge William L Witham Jr of the Delaware Superior Court granted a request to block the testimony of a doctor appearing as an expert witness in a medical malpractice case.

The plaintiff, Amanda Norman, filed the lawsuit against Dr. Christine Maynard and the clinic All About Women.  She claimed that, while performing a diagnostic laparoscopy on Amanda Norman in October 2013, Dr. Maynard perforated the plaintiff’s bladder.  The mistake was not realized prior to completing the procedure – which led to further surgery and hospitalization for Amanda Norman.

The defendants sought to exclude evidence and testimony concerning their write-off and payment of medical expenses; limit the testimony of Dr. Kenneth Woo; exclude apologies; exclude evidence of other injuries and exclude the evidence of Dr. Jeffrey Soffer – the expert witness.

Resident Judge William L. Witham determined that there was no evidence that Amanda Norman’s expert witness - Dr. Soffer - had based his definition of the standard of care on information broadly accepted within the medical community. Therefore, the judge granted Dr. Christine Maynard - and her clinic All About Women - their request to exclude his testimony.

The order states that Dr. Soffer was offering expert testimony for the plaintiff to support the argument that Dr. Maynard had violated the standard of care while performing the surgery on Amanda Norman. The defendants argued that Dr. Soffer’s testimony lacked foundation - being based only on the fact that the bladder injury occurred - and that he had failed to explain in which way Dr. Maynard’s actions did not comply with the standard of care.

The decision states, “In this case, Amanda Norman has failed to meet her burden because no evidence has been presented that Dr. Soffer’s opinion is ‘based on information reasonably relied upon by experts’ in his field.  Therefore, the court must exclude Dr. Soffer’s testimony.”

Dr. Christine Maynard and the clinic had argued that Dr. Soffer’s testimony was only reliant on the fact that Amanda Norman’s bladder had been injured but did not elaborate on what would have been required of Dr. Maynard to abide by the standard of care. They added that he had failed to provide any explanation as to how he reached his standard of care opinions. 

Conversely, Amanda Norman argued that Dr. Soffer’s testimony indicates that a doctor exercising care and diligence would not injure a patient during a diagnostic laparoscopy.  She also stated that the evidence pinpointed specific deficiencies in Dr. Maynard’s surgical procedure.

In considering the argument, the court used a five-step test set out in the U.S. Supreme Court case Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals to determine the admissibility of the expert testimony.

The order states that to be allowed –

  • the witness must be qualified as an expert:
  • the evidence must be relevant
  • the opinion must be based upon information that other experts in the field rely upon
  • the testimony must help the court understand the facts of an issue
  • it must not create unfair prejudice

The court found that Dr. Soffer’s testimony was inadmissible because it failed on the third point of the test.

According to Judge Witham’s decision, Amanda Norman had not shown that Dr. Soffer’s opinion was based on information that experts rely upon. In fact, he had stated himself that he did not rely on any publications in reaching his conclusion and that it was based on his own knowledge.

Judge Witham wrote, “This contention in no way alludes to whether his analysis of the facts in this case is consistent with other experts in his field.  Therefore, the court must exclude Dr. Soffer’s testimony.”

The Court issued the decision on November 16.

The Ministry of Justice has announced that applications for refunds of Employment Tribunal or Employment Appeal Tribunal fees, will now be processed.

Employment Tribunal fees that were charged between July 2013 and July 2017 will be considered for refunds, after the Supreme Court found, on 26th July 2017, that the Employment Tribunal fee system was unlawful. As the rule of law requires people to have access to the Courts unless Parliament has clearly said otherwise, the introduction of fees was found to have obstructed access to justice. A review of the impact of the fees appeared to support this, as it showed there had been a 70 per cent drop in the number of cases brought in the Employment Tribunal since fees were first introduced.

After the ruling, Justice Minister Dominic Raab stated: "The Supreme Court recognised the important role fees can play, but ruled that we have not struck the right balance in this case.”

Initially, there was a four week trial phase before the scheme was fully rolled out, where around 1,000 people were contacted by the Government and offered the chance to apply for reimbursements. It has been estimated that 100,000 claims could be eligible for refunds now the scheme is fully open.

Applicants can apply for a reimbursement through the gov.uk website but if an employer was ordered by the Tribunal to reimburse a fee paid by the Claimant - and the employer can prove they did so - the employer instead of the Claimant can reclaim the fee. In addition to being refunded their original fee, successful applicants will also be paid 0.5 per cent interest, which will be calculated from the date of the original payment up until the refund date.

It has been reported that since the ruling, the number of Employment Tribunal claims is beginning to increase. However, it is conceivable that fees may be brought into force again in the future, as it was only found that the fee system from July 2013 was unlawful, not that any type of fee system is. This was highlighted by the Lord Chancellor David Lidington during a justice select committee recently, when he verified that the Government were intending to charge in the future

Only 24% of employers in the private sector say they are under pressure - to any degree - from the majority of their workforce to raise wages, whilst almost four in ten private sector firms say they face no pressure at all.   These are findings of the latest quarterly CIPD/The Adecco Group Labour Market Outlook survey conducted on more than 1,000 HR professional and decision makers.    

However, a slightly higher proportion of private sector employers state that, particularly among high and middle-skilled jobs, there is either some or significant pay pressure to raise wages for certain roles.  23% of private sector employers stated that the reason for the lack of pressure to raise wages is the fact that workers recognise that the business cannot afford more generous pay increases - which underlines the productivity challenge facing many firms.       

In the public sector almost three-fifths of the organisations state that they are under pressure, to some extent, to raise wages for the majority of their employees - which may partly reflect the recent debate about scrapping the public sector pay cap.  In addition, 25% of public sector organisations say that they are under some or significant pressure to raise wages for certain roles. 

The survey also suggested that a noteworthy majority of employers do not face any significant difficulty accessing the skills they require.  Only 13% of all current private sector vacancies are skill-shortage vacancies and only 29% of all employers with a vacancy report that it is from skills shortages.  This suggests that any pay pressure is not likely to come from a lack of skills in the current labour market. 

Employers report that average basic pay increases are expected to reach 2%, which is higher than the previous quarter’s figure of 1% - but is still in line with official data that shows wage growth as being between 1.8 and 2.2% over the past six months. 

The survey also shows that - consistent with the trend over recent years, the average basic pay increase expectations are higher in the private sector (2%) than in the public (1%) and voluntary (1.5%) sectors.  However, whilst overall pay pressure is quiet in the private sector, some parts are under more pressure - for example, 38% of construction employers say they are under some or significant pressure to increase earnings for the majority of the workers.

Gerwyn Davies, CIPD Senior Labour Market Analyst, states, “This survey provides further evidence that productivity has a far more significant bearing on pay growth than the tightness of the labour market. Over time we might expect low unemployment levels to lead to increased pressure on pay, as the Bank of England has predicted. However, it’s the UK’s ongoing poor productivity growth that’s currently preventing employers from paying more, not their inability to find or retain staff. This is why the Chancellor in this month’s Budget has to prioritise investments that will support workplace productivity improvements - for example, investing in support for small firms and skills development initiatives that can help to drive productivity gains over time.

In terms of employment, despite the evident optimism in this quarter’s survey, it remains likely that the sharp increase in the number of people in work over the past year will ease during the course of 2018. This is due in part to the impact of continued slower economic growth, the uncertainties associated with Brexit and the prospect of further interest rate rises. However, employment prospects for the manufacturing sector look bright, perhaps buoyed by the benefit of a weaker currency and the strength of global demand.”

Travel specialists Opodo recently conducted new independent research which reveals that British employees are trailing behind those from other countries across Europe and the USA when it comes to flexible working hours and taking a sabbatical.

Although 65% of British employees said that they would consider taking a sabbatical, it appeared that they would not actually take the extended break - risking burn-out in the process.

The research showed that, despite UK employees being amongst the Europeans most likely to be allowed the extended leave by their companies, more than half stated that it would be hard to return to work after taking a sabbatical.  One in five of those polled in the UK feel that it would harm their career prospects with their current employer, compared to almost two-thirds of people in Spain who believe that taking extended leave will help them in the future in terms of employability.   More than half of the people in Germany said the same, whilst 49 per cent of people working in France also believe sabbaticals can help with future employment.

The major factors that influence interest in sabbaticals include stress in the workplace, which was cited by 50% of those polled; mental health - 43% and physical health - 32%. 

The research suggests that an extended break from work would actually be useful for many, despite the British employees being least likely of all the nations surveyed to return refreshed from their summer holiday. 

A spokesperson for Opodo stated:

“It is all too easy to become overwhelmed by the stress of working life, particularly now we are working longer hours until later in life. 

Given the advancements in modern technology, many now also have their work emails and calendar synced to their phone, meaning we’re no longer simply working 9-5 but are clocked on 24/7.

Taking a sabbatical can be a great release valve for this stress and offer the opportunity to do something you’ve always wanted, whether that’s going travelling, learning a new language or skill or just taking some time off to focus on yourself.”

Worldwide, it seems that reducing stress and improving health are the main factors behind employees needing to have a sabbatical. British employees are the most likely to want to go it alone and are only half as likely as those in the rest of the world to use their leave as an opportunity to learn a new language.

The study shows that just 30% of British workers feel they have a good work/life balance - less than the worldwide average of more than 34% of people surveyed. The countries that rated themselves with having the best ratio of work and personal life are Portugal with 43% and the USA with 41%.   Germany has the least with 27%. 

Although UK employers were rated among the most generous of the nations polled when it comes to leave - with more employees here saying they had a generous holiday allowance - the nation that offers the most flexible working options is Spain, followed by the USA and Germany.  And, when it comes to other forms of flexible working benefits that can help to improve employee welfare, the study reveals that British companies are lagging behind businesses in other countries.

The Ninth Circuit has upheld a district court’s denial of Glassdoor, Inc.’s motion to quash a grand jury subpoena requiring it to disclose identifying information about eight anonymous reviewers.  Rejecting Glassdoor’s First Amendment challenge, the appeals court found that the company failed to allege - or to provide evidence - that the government’s investigation of the employer for fraud was conducted in bad faith.

Glassdoor operates a website where employers promote their companies to potential employees.   Employees post reviews of what it is like to work at their companies and in these reviews - which are anonymous - employees rate employers in a variety of categories.  These categories include interviewing practices, salaries and workplace environment.  

An employment attorney - Jadzia Butler of Covington and Burling in Washington D.C. - has stated that a recent court order requiring Glassdoor to reveal the identities of eight users of the website, may have an effect on internet free speech.  She says that it is “particularly concerning” if a subpoena can compromise the anonymity of the internet users and added, “Some employees use the platform to report managers' or co-workers' problematic behavior. Without their identities being kept confidential, they may be less likely to do so. That's bad for the employer, who could have been made aware of things it did not know were happening.”

Although the reviews are anonymous, users have to provide their email addresses to Glassdoor in order to post on the website and they are warned that such information may have to be disclosed if required to do so by law.  Glassdoor warns that they “will disclose data if we believe in good faith that such disclosure is necessary . . . to comply with relevant laws or to respond to subpoenas or warrants or legal process served on us.” 

Their Terms of Use state that Glassdoor reserve the right “….to take appropriate action to protect the anonymity of users against the enforcement of subpoenas or other information requests”. 

Glassdoor was attempting to do that, despite an on-going federal criminal investigation where anonymous reviews were posted about an unspecified federal contractor.  These reviews criticized the company's management and business practices – with one anonymous review stating that the company "manipulates the system to make money unethically off of veterans/VA.”

Glassdoor raised First Amendment concerns and the government agreed to limit its request for reviewer details to just eight example reviews, in order to “contact those reviewers as third party witnesses to certain business practices relevant to the investigation.” 

However, the court stated that, "The speakers whose identities the government seeks may well be witnesses to this criminal activity, perhaps even participants in it.”

Jadzia Butler said that the employees are not implicated in a crime and are mere witnesses. She stated, "They did not ask to be dragged into this legal process. Now they and those who hear about their story will think twice about expressing themselves in this way."

Mark Kluger, an attorney with Kluger Healey in Florham Park, N.J. said, "Since most employees who post on Glassdoor probably don't work for criminal enterprises or those that are targets of FBI investigations, the average contributor likely has nothing to worry about."

An attorney with Foley & Lardner in Miami - Mark Neuberger - agreed, "This subpoena is not and should not be the end of sites like Glassdoor or other ones where people can comment about their doctors, restaurants or anything else."

However, Charles Krugel - an attorney in Chicago - stated that, "This decision should make employees think twice about using Glassdoor when employees accuse their employer of serious criminal misconduct."

In a statement Glassdoor said, "We are disappointed in the 9th Circuit's decision to deny our appeal to protect the identities of eight Glassdoor users whose contact information was being sought in connection to a federal criminal investigation linked to alleged fraud, waste and abuse of federal funds."

It added, "Glassdoor vigorously fights our users' First Amendment rights to freedom of speech, including sharing opinions online about their workplaces anonymously."

Generation Z - those born from the mid-1990s to the mid-2000s - are now entering the workforce and according to a new poll, they will be difficult to manage, hard to communicate with and will not have a particularly strong work ethic. 

APPrise Mobile, a mobile employee communications and engagement solution,  has released a national survey of workplace managers (which relied on a Google Consumer Survey) showing that more than a third believe that managing employees from Generation Z will prove more difficult than the management of previous generations. So far, Generation Z has not impressed their more experienced co-workers according to APPrise Mobile.

More than a quarter of workplace managers anticipate having major communications and training-related challenges.  Twenty six percent believe that it will be more difficult to communicate with employees from Generation Z; 29 percent expect it will be more difficult to train them compared to older generations and 1 in 10 managers (16 percent) also expect Generation Z to negatively impact their company culture. 

Two percent of respondents feel that phone calls will be an effective way to communicate with Generation Z - however, the authors of the report wrote that ‘connecting over the phone could become a thing of the past’.

Jeff Corbin, founder and CEO of APPrise Mobile said, "To the extent Millennials are associated with 'entitlement,' there probably is a level of fear that Generation Z will turn out worse.  The farther away in age, the greater the likelihood that they (the managers) believe they won't be able to relate to Generation Z."   He went on to say that as most of Generation Z grew up with a mobile device in their hands, "there is a tendency and expectation of instantaneous gratification. They want the answers now. They are all about tweets and short responses. As a result, many Generation Zers are going to be too quick to respond rather than deliberate and thoughtful……the concept of professionalism, formality and quality in communications may be a foreign one to many in Generation Z, which could be problematic to older generations."

Bruce Tulgan, founder of New Haven, Connecticut based consultancy Rainmaker Thinking, agreed that fears about Generation Z may not be unfounded.  He said that his own research shows that managers’ biggest worry is that Generation Z will view jobs as short-term transactional relationships and that they will demand a great deal of flexibility and responsibility early in their working lives. 

He stated, "It may be attributable to being raised by helicopter parents who have provided more guidance, direction, support and coaching to young people than any generation in history. Thus, these young people often have unrealistic expectations about where they stand in relation to others and what they can hope to achieve and receive in the first years of employment. They aren't going to want to take it slowly, get a feel for the place, learn who's who and what's what before starting to add value.  They want to be set up for success, and they want to start proving themselves on day one."

The poll found that 44 percent of managers believe that the reliance that Generation Z have on technology will be an advantage – but then not all companies will have the technological tools expected by Generation Z.

Jeff Corbin stated, "Companies aren't necessarily on board with mobile as a business strategy. Yes, they recognize that it's important - but what about the ways they are doing business that hasn’t changed - even though the people they are dealing with and their ways of living have changed considerably?"

He cited that many companies still spend considerable resources creating lengthy newsletters which are distributed as print, intranet and email.

Generation Z has always lived in world of internet connection, smartphones and tablets.  Managers responding to the survey saw this as a positive and 42 percent said that they plan on introducing more technology tools. 

“Most Millennials remember a time when fax machines and landline phones were commonly used and AOL dial-up was the only way to access the internet, but their incoming Generation Z colleagues only know of these things from history books and movies. Bottom line – this new generation of workers expects technology to touch every facet of their life and companies should embrace this sooner than later,” said Jeff Corbin, CEO of APPrise Mobile.

The National Labor Relations Board originally heard a complaint from an employee, Mr Navarro, against Banner Health System – an organization that had adopted a confidentiality agreement covering the sharing between employees of private employee information concerning pay rates and disciplinary actions. Banner was told by the court that policies cannot stop workers from talking about pay.

Banner Health is a large healthcare system in Phoenix, AZ. James Navarro worked at Banner, sterilizing surgical equipment. On February 19th 2011 Navarro could not use the autoclave which is a large, pressurized steam sterilizer normally used for sterilizing reusable medical instruments.  This was because the hospital's steam pipe was broken.

He was instructed to use hot water from the coffee machine for the first step in the cleaning process and then to use a low-temperature sterilizer with hydrogen peroxide.

Mr Navarro was concerned that those procedures violated the established protocol, which caused him to raise questions with various supervisors and do some quick research – none of which allayed his concerns.

After confirming there were adequate clean instruments available for the day's scheduled surgeries and deliveries, Mr Navarro did not sterilize any additional instruments.  He spoke to several other workers at the facility about the problems, and was disciplined for it.

A couple of days later, Mr Navarro visited Banner's human resources consultant, reported his discomfort with the prescribed procedures and expressed concern for his job. That same afternoon, Mr Navarro's supervisor gave him a “non-disciplinary coaching” and - a few days later - a negative yearly evaluation.

The main evidence supporting the claim was the confidentiality agreement and an interview of complainant form – referred to by the human resources consultant – which was the primary evidence in support of the charge that Banner maintained an over-broad investigative non-disclosure policy.  The introduction included the wording, “I ask you not to discuss this with your co-workers while this investigation is going on, for this reason - when people are talking it is difficult to do a fair investigation and separate facts from rumors.”  However, the HR consultant stated that she did not request non-disclosure from Mr Navarro and he did not testify that he was asked to keep the matter confidential – nor his interview with HR.

It was held that Banner's confidentiality agreement violated the National Labor Relations Act but that its investigative non-disclosure policy and treatment of Mr Navarro did not.

On later appeal by Banner, it was found that Banner’s policies could discourage discussions about working conditions - a right guaranteed under labor law, the court said.

This ruling impacts on all employers and shows that even non-union businesses must watch speech restrictions.

British Airways (BA) recently announced that a consultation exercise would shortly commence regarding the proposals to close its New Airways Pension Scheme (NAPS). A significant and growing funding deficit was cited as the reason for the closure. 

Because of this, thousands of British Airways employees’ retirements have been plunged into uncertainty. 

British Airways stated that the NAPS scheme’s deficit reached £3.7bn in March of this year, making it the largest of all UK company pension black holes relative to the firm’s overall value. The airline said it had paid £3.5bn into the scheme since 2003.  They also stated that in 2015 they had committed to pay between £300m-£450m a year into the NAPS scheme until 2027 and this was regardless of whether new contributions from employees are stopped.

If NAPS remained open to accrual, the cost of providing future benefits could rise to 45% of individuals’ pensionable pay in 2018 – more than four times the typical employer contribution for UK airlines.

The trade unions Unite and GMB slated the move and conveyed their dismay and disappointment at proposals from the airline to shut NAPS to future contributions from its existing 17,000 members. 

It is understood that discussions between the airline and the unions had focused on ways to make the scheme sustainable and the possibility of it closing had not been brought up, until the statement by British Airways.  

In a joint statement, the two unions said, “Our team of financial analysts has worked tirelessly with the airline over the last few months to explore ways to keep the pension scheme open and secure it for the future.”  They added, “This announcement sadly confirms that our advice has gone unheeded and that we have been unable to convince British Airways that keeping the scheme open is the right thing to do, for both the company and its employees.”

British Airways have stated that members would still receive what they were due in their retirement – meaning payments from the Scheme would likely continue for decades. NAPS was created in 1984 and offered members lower benefits in return for a lower contribution rate than its predecessor, The Airways Pension Scheme (APS).

British Airways lost a High Court battle against the Trustees of APS in May after they pushed through a £12m discretionary payment in 2011 to make up for a change in the inflation link.

A challenging period lies ahead for BA, with the company likely to face strong opposition from members, unions and the Trustee Board. However, having regard to the level of NAPS’ deficit and the trend for final scheme closures generally, it should perhaps come as no surprise that BA wishes to close to accrual.

Many defined benefit pension schemes are under pressure due to increased life expectancy of the members and record low interest rates. Pension schemes invest greatly in Government bonds – whose yields have fallen to historic lows in recent years – meaning that the money earned from these investments fails to cover the liabilities that the schemes face.

Artificial intelligence (AI) is changing the way in which organizations innovate and communicate their processes, products and services. Practical strategies for employing artificial intelligence are available to data and analytics leaders now.

This is according to a report by Gartner Inc. - based in Stamford, Connecticut - which has predicted that within the next four years jobs will be eliminated by artificial intelligence.  However, that will only be in the initial stages, as more jobs will then be created.

According to the Gartner’s ‘Top Strategic Predictions for 2018 and Beyond....’ employees will turn to chatbots to replace apps to complete their work – forcing HR to adapt how it manages the way its employees’ interact with the new technologies.

The report states that "….today, chatbots are the face of AI and will impact all areas where there is communication between humans. Bots will take over some of the functions of apps and change the way users interact with technology. Bots will also increase employee engagement and automate tasks faster."

Daryl Plummer, vice president and Gartner Fellow, Distinguished Companies, states,

 "Technology-based innovation is arriving faster than most organizations can keep up with. Before one innovation is implemented, two others arrive. Companies will be required to develop a discipline around how pace can be achieved..….Speed of change will require variability of skills and capabilities to address rising challenges."

Gartner report forecasts that by 2020, artificial intelligence will have eliminated 1.8 million - but created 2.3 million jobs.  The report states that in 2019 more jobs will be eliminated than created, but it is believed that the number of jobs created by artificial intelligence in 2020 will overcome the shortfall.  The report carries on to say that the elimination of jobs will vary considerably industry by industry, with some - such as healthcare and education - not being affected.  Of the organizations with artificial intelligence already in operation, 77 percent have reported that they have more job gains than losses.

Gartner forecasts that by 2021, 40 percent of IT staff will hold "multiple roles, most of which will be business, rather than technology-related." They predict that by 2019, IT technical specialist jobs will fall by more than 5 percent as digital business initiatives require increasing numbers of IT employees to be more versatile (in 2017, IT specialists represent about 42 percent of the entire IT workforce).

In future, employees will constantly need to keep their skills upgraded and permanent learning will be vital to keep pace with all the technological changes in the workplace. Regulations will need to change to ensure that companies are keeping data safe and as more devices connect to the Internet, HR professionals will need to make certain that all devices connecting their organizations to the web are safe.

During a recent webcast, speakers from Mercer Sirota (a global consultancy focusing on talent, health, retirement and investments) stated that women - more than men - feel that they can't speak with candor in the workplace.

The speakers cited the fact that women feel they cannot be up front about ethical concerns and are not treated considerately by managers.  They based this on the results of a recent 80 question survey of 3,010 U.S. workers - and on findings from five years of surveys given to about 1.3 million employees. The study related to what drives engagement and satisfaction in the workplace for men and women.

The survey found that 68% of women who responded agreed that they are satisfied with their jobs compared to 73% of men - and although both men and women reported that the type of work they do is the key factor that engages them, they were found to differ on the other factors that motivated them. 

The question of whether pay in the workplace is fair and transparent was put to the respondents of the survey and 41% of women said they believed it was compared to 51% of men.  According to a Mercer webcast speaker, complementing pay to performance keeps men and women satisfied at work - but the absence of fair earnings is especially discouraging to women.  

However, women are more concerned than men about the consequences of being candid at work.  A third of women stated that the do not feel able to express their views or ideas without fear of repercussions.  This compared with 29% of men.  When interviewed, Megan Connolly - a senior consultant at Mercer Sirota - stated that since the results were based in part on Mercer Sirota's ongoing survey of about 1.3 million employees worldwide, even a 4-percentage-point difference is something to pay attention to.      

The webcast speakers pointed out that if employees cannot be candid about new ideas or concerns in the workplace, they are less likely to feel positive about their career advancement and development opportunities.

Sixty-six percent of women believe that employees can get a fair hearing for their complaints, compared with 70% of men and women are also less comfortable than men speaking out about ethical concerns. More than 1 in 4 female employees, 26%, said they do not believe they can report an ethical concern without retaliation, compared with 21% of men.

Fifty-one percent of female employees said they believe that managers consider the impact of their actions on staff before making decisions and 56% of male employees believe the same.

Megan Connolly said, "A common theme in each of these differences is perceived fairness. We know that fairness is a crucial factor when it comes to building engagement."

Mercer Sirota principal, Pete Foley stated, "This research clearly suggests that companies that measure these gaps and focus efforts on closing them can not only improve engagement but help women thrive in the workplace."