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In order to understand how employers can improve engagement and retention of employees, FSG - together with Hart Research Associates - surveyed over 1,200 entry-level, hourly workers between the ages of 17 and 24 years of age.   Dozens of companies were also interviewed to find out how they have improved staff retention.

The young people that were surveyed worked in a wide range of jobs, which included health care, manufacturing, retail, and hospitality.  More than half of these 1,200 young people working in entry-level jobs said that was their intention to leave in less than a year. Less than a quarter stated that they were highly satisfied with their job.

As turnover can cost up to 200% of an employee's annual salary, depending on what their role is, it can therefore cost businesses billions of dollars each year.  

Employers wanting to improve retention were advised of key ways this could be achieved - by improving manager training; diversity and inclusion and scheduling – although it was found that some employers are already improving in these areas.

Job satisfaction amongst the young people surveyed was found, in a large part, to be determined by how they perceived the way their manager treated them, with being treated fairly and with respect often more important than income. Nearly 50% of the women and 40% of the men surveyed said that they had struggled at work because they felt they were treated unfairly by their manager and 32% said they had previously lost a job due to unfair or disrespectful treatment. 

HMSHost - the largest provider of food and beverage services for travelers in North America - used its Engagement Training Program to help frontline managers provide authentic recognition to its employees, to listen and solve problems and deliver specific, actionable feedback to their teams. Where it tested this training, it received enthusiastic feedback from managers and associates and saw early improvements in associate engagement and retention.

Research showed that young people are more than twice as likely to stay in their employment for more than a year if they see the job as a career - or a stepping stone to a career. However, only 35% of young people surveyed described their current employment in those terms. It was suggested that employers could offer meaningful opportunities for professional growth within the company.

In addition, employers can support educational achievement for young people, as 45% of those surveyed wanted to go to college and the responses indicated that those who enrolled in school whilst working are much more likely to stay in their current jobs.

Starbucks recently expanded its College Achievement Plan - offering free tuition for online classes and removing cost, knowledge and schedule barriers for employees. Early results show that the changes are paying off, as employees enrolled in the plan are being retained twice as long and promoted four times as often as employees not participating in the program.

Employers could also create a more diverse and inclusive work environment as there is clear evidence that doing so is good for business. For example, Gap Inc. is a leader in this area, creating a program called This Way Ahead for teens and young adults facing barriers to employment.  Sixty five percent of its participants are women, 98% people of color and all are from low-income backgrounds. After training and a 10-week paid internship, 75% of This Way Ahead graduates received offers of employment at Gap, Old Navy and Banana Republic stores. Gap Inc found it to be an effective talent strategy and the retention rate for these employees is double that of their peers. Their performance ratings are on par with their peers and graduates have higher-than-average engagement scores.

Of the youths surveyed, 83% said they would be more likely to stay in their current job if they had more control over their work schedules. Predictability and flexibility were most important - they want to know, in advance, the days and times they are going to work and they also want their managers to be flexible when unexpected events such as sickness or transportation challenges, arise outside of work.

Young people value good benefits and wages, however research showed that whilst they value benefits like overtime pay, a 401k retirement-savings plan and paid time off, the most important benefit by far is health insurance. That is why companies like UPS, Lowes, REI, and Starbucks are in high demand - they all offer some form of health insurance for part-time, hourly employees.

More than 50% of the youths surveyed wanted to more work hours and research suggested that offering existing workers additional hours, rather than hiring new workers, may be one way to save on costs and improve employee satisfaction.

There is also a business case for raising wages. In 2014, IKEA decided to raise its minimum wage, which led to a 5% improvement in retention in less than six months. It was so successful from a business perspective that IKEA raised wages again in 2015. Other low-cost retailers, from Costco to Trader Joe's, have also shown that raising wages can create a competitive advantage.

Research finds that there is a clear business case for putting these ideas into practise and employers who are leading the field in these areas are surpassing industry averages when it comes to retention and employee engagement. This not only makes them better places for young people to work but it also makes them stronger businesses.

 

Following concerns from some police forces, the National Police Chiefs Council (NPCC) invited Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services (HMICFRS) to carry out an inspection of The National Police Air Service (NPAS) and the results of the inspection were made public on 30th November 2017. The full report can be found here:

The NPAS provides police air support using helicopters, fixed-wing aircraft and drones to all 43 police forces in England and Wales - replacing the previous system where each force used their own aircraft. The NPAS was started in 2012 but recently there has been much criticism from serving police officers concerning the service being provided.

Her Majesty’s Inspector of Constabulary, Matt Parr, who led the investigation said:

 “We found some fundamental problems with the current collaborative arrangements for police air support, which have led us to conclude that urgent change is required – if not a fresh approach entirely.”

He added:

“With the number of bases being halved and the number of aircraft being cut by a third in the last 10 years, savings have primarily been made by cutting the service provided to forces rather than increasing efficiency. An inconsistent service means that many incidents requiring air support are over before a police helicopter can arrive. Moreover, we are concerned that the police service now operates insufficient aircraft to provide a consistently prompt response to incidents in all forces in England and Wales”.

In response to the report, the NPAS issued a statement where West Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner, Mark Burns-Williamson, the chair of NPAS said:

 “Many of the areas identified in the report are already recognised and there is ongoing work to address them but I think it is important to state that NPAS has successfully delivered phase one of the first national collaboration of this kind which is now a totally borderless 24-hour police aviation service and now delivers on previous and current Government commitments to create a National Police Air Service (NPAS).”

He went on to say:

“Our pilots and staff provide an invaluable service, particularly within the context of national austerity imposed on the police service where running costs have been significantly reduced from £55 to £38m and are significant factors to be borne in mind.”

Flying a drone while under the influence of alcohol could soon be illegal, as the state of New Jersey recently proposed a bill making it an offense to be operating a drone when drunk.

The Democratic state Sen. Paul Sarlo put forward the legislation, which was passed 39-0 and will be shortly be reviewed by the New Jersey Assembly Committee.

According to the National Conference on State Legislatures, New Jersey is the first of at least 38 states considering making much stricter drone legislation this year, going beyond the Federal Aviation Administration's (FAA) regulations.

The New Jersey bill proposes making operating a drone while under the influence of alcohol a disorderly person offense. If caught and found guilty it carries a sentence of up to six months in jail, a $1,000 fine, or both.

The bill also makes hunting wildlife and endangering people or property while using a drone a similar offense, along with barring the use of drones to endanger safety at correctional facilities or to interfere with first responders engaged in transport. This would fall in line with a number of other states such as Michigan and Illinois who have also put forward legislation to address the use of drones near prisons.

Sen. Paul Sarlo stressed that the New Jersey bill was not in response to a particular incident but an attempt to be pro-active in the regulation of drones as the industry grows in popularity, especially on the recreational side.

According to APA’s 2017 Work and Well-Being survey - released by the American Psychological Association - half of American workers (50 percent) say that in the last year they have been affected by; are currently being affected by; or expect to be affected by organizational changes.  The survey was conducted online by Harris Poll among more than 1,500 American adults who were employed full time, part time or self-employed.

The survey findings show that workplace changes may affect employees’ job attitudes and experiences.  Staff who reported being affected by organizational change (71 percent) currently - or within the past year - reported lower levels of job satisfaction compared with employees who reported no recent, current or anticipated changes (81 percent).

Also, Americans who reported recent or current change (34 percent) were almost three times more likely to say they have no trust in their employer (12 percent) and more than three times as likely to say that they intend to seek new employment within the next year (46 percent) compared with those who suffered no recent, current or anticipated change.

David W Ballard, PsyD, MBA – head of APA’s Center for Organizational Excellence, states,

“Change is inevitable in organizations, and when it happens, leadership often underestimates the impact those changes have on employees. If they damage their relationship with employees, ratchet up stress levels and create a climate of negativity and cynicism in the process, managers can wind up undermining the very change efforts they’re trying to promote.”

Other findings of the survey are:

  • 78 percent of U.S. workers reported average or better levels of work engagement - as characterized by high levels of energy - when being strongly involved in their work and feeling happily engrossed in what they do.
  • 22 percent reported low or very low levels of engagement at work, but 30 percent of workers who felt they were treated fairly by their employers were more than five times as likely to report high or very high levels of work engagement, compared with 7 percent of employees who felt unfairly treated.
  • Although 71 percent of employed adults felt that their organization treats them fairly, 21 percent said they did not trust their employer.
  • Employees who had no trust in their employer (70 percent) were likely to say that they were tense and stressed at work – and indicated that they intended to look for a new job within the next year - compared with 23 percent who trust their employer.  

Trust and engagement play important roles in the workplace.  In predicting well-being, engagement and trust accounted for 53 percent of the variance. Employees reported having more trust in their organizations when their contributions are recognized and opportunities for involvement are provided. 

Employees also experienced higher engagement when they had more positive perceptions of their employer’s involvement, growth and development and health and safety practices.

 “For organizations to successfully navigate turbulent times, they need resilient employees who can adapt to change,” David W Ballard said. “Disillusioned workers who are frustrated with change efforts, however, may begin to question leaders’ motives and resist further changes. To build trust and engagement, employers need to focus on building a psychologically healthy workplace where employees are actively involved in shaping the future and confident in their ability to succeed.”

The CIPD - the professional body for HR and people development - have published new research showing the value of strength-based performance conversations.  It shows that line managers can improve their staff performances by focusing on their strengths and not their weaknesses.

This method endeavours to move away from a ‘shortfall’ approach, which is focused on identifying and fixing the weaknesses of team members; analysing what is wrong and deciding how that can be avoided.

Jonny Gifford, Senior Research Adviser for organisational behaviour at the CIPD, said:

“The strengths-based approach marks a big shift in mind-set for many, if not most of us. Our default mode when looking for improvements tends to be deficit-oriented – we hone in on what’s gone wrong and consider how we can avoid that in the future. There will always be cases where it’s imperative to do this, but our research shows the benefit of making the norm in performance conversations to reflect instead on what worked well, why, and how it can be replicated. The research demonstrated that by focusing on the positives and building on what works, we can actually boost employee performance and help with the learning and development of our teams.”

The research done by the CIPD concentrated on workplace involvements in three government organisations:

  • Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs
  • The National Offender Management Service (now called Her Majesty’s Prison and Probation Service - or HMPPS)
  • The Valuation Office Agency (VOA), as well as work with the Civil Service Employee Policy team.

The study involved before-and-after measures comparing control groups who were not given any training or support, with treatment groups who attended a training workshop on leading strengths-based performance conversations.

In the Valuation Office Agency there were added interventions, including a change in HR policy on performance management.

After the study, it was found from employee feedback that there was a marked improvement in the usefulness of performance conversations when they were focused on strengths rather than weaknesses – 9.7% of employees agreed with the statement, “My meetings with my line manager help me learn and develop as a professional”.  It was also found that 7.4% agreed with the statement, “My meetings with my line manager help to improve my performance”.

In the civil service, it was shown that employee performance improves with simple training which focuses on building strengths and not dealing with weaknesses.  It is also possible to increase the results with changes to HR policy and further training for managers.

The published report also shows how robust and useful research can be conducted into people management practices.  HR and people development needs more research of this nature. 

Andrew Kean, Deputy Director of Civil Service Employee Policy, said:

“In the Civil Service, we know that the quality of the performance conversation between the manager and their employee is fundamental to any good performance management approach. So we are delighted that this research, which has centred on the nature and quality of performance conversations, has provided such clear results. In particular, that a simple training intervention focused on building strengths instead of fixing weaknesses positively influences the performance conversations that take place between managers and their staff.” 

David Ede, Director of People and Organisational Development at the Valuation Office Agency, stated:

“It has been a really useful experience to have the CIPD research running alongside our own internal performance management pilot. This has allowed for a comparison between a holistic approach to performance management (complete policy change and cultural shift to coaching conversations) and a more discrete strengths-based intervention where the policy has remained unchanged. VOA has been doing its own internal evaluation of our pilot and worked alongside the CIPD to feed into their research.” 

It’s been several years since Amazon announced the prospect of making their deliveries to customers via drones - but the idea has still not been realized.

One of the most important factors in turning this into a reality, is of course convincing the public and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) that this type of delivery service is a safe option.

To overcome this obstacle, the latest patent outlined by Amazon is for a drone that would break apart in the event of a mid-air emergency. Trials have been undertaken on a UAV fitted with what is known as a “fragmentation controller”, which, on detection of a malfunction or emergency would activate a sequence to break apart the drone into smaller pieces. By tracking its flight path, the weather and other statistics, the drone would be able to assess when and where would be the best place to drop its mechanism’s parts, hopefully causing less harm than if it were to fall in one piece.

This is not the first idea regarding drones that Amazon have come up with. Previous patents have included the use of lamp posts as drone docking stations to keep them charged up, deploying drones from flying warehouses and putting parachutes into shipping labels.

However, while Amazon and the FAA are both working towards the safe integration of drones into US airspace, trials in the UK are further along as legislation has progressed more rapidly there. 

In 2018 the government is planning to introduce a new bill that will require drone users to register before flying drones that weigh more than 250g. This is the same weight limit that US law defines as the lowest risk category of drones, as they are unlikely to cause injury or damage in the event of an accident.

Along with the possibility of making safety awareness courses mandatory for operators, the bill will also make it compulsory for larger unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV’s) to be registered.

Additionally, drone owners will be required to use apps to ensure that flights are safe and legal and the new proposals may also include a ban on drones flying near airports or above 122 metres (400 feet).  As The British Airline Pilots’ Association (BALPA) have had 81 reports of near misses involving drones and aircraft so far this year (a dramatic increase up from 29 in 2015 and 71 last year), they welcomed the proposals, however the union's General Secretary, Brian Strutton, warned:

"These proposals are a step towards the safe integration of drones, but until the new rules are in place the threat of a serious collision remains."

The Police will also be given new powers as part of the bill, allowing officers to ground drones when necessary and to impound any they think may have been used in criminal activities.

“Drones have great potential and we want to do everything possible to harness the benefits of this technology as it develops, but if we are to realise the full potential of this incredibly exciting technology, we have to take steps to stop illegal use of these devices and address safety and privacy concerns....” stated Baroness Sugg, the Aviation Minister.

The draft drone bill will be subject to a consultation period, with plans for secondary legislation early next year.

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.

This year the FAA has received an average of 250 reports a month of drones near airports - a rise of nearly 100 a month from most of last year. This is especially worrying as a study carried out on behalf of the FAA showed that a drone colliding with an aircraft will cause more impact damage than a bird strike of equivalent size and speed.

The study, carried out by a consortium of universities under the Alliance for System Safety of UAS through Research Excellence (Assure), found that unmanned aircraft vehicles (UAVs), being made of stiff plastic with a mass of batteries and cameras,  have the potential to cause more damage than flexible birds do.

Interestingly, while bird strikes have always threatened aviation - meaning reducing the hazard of a bird strike has become something that regulators and the aviation industry have had to take very seriously - according to the FAA’s accident database, small or medium sized birds have only caused 3 fatal accidents since 1990. However, the study found that these aircraft-manufacturing standards designed for bird strikes aren't appropriate for ensuring planes can withstand collisions with drones.

Animations released by the FAA show how dangerous a drone strike can be, causing significant damage to a plane's engine or tail area. Additionally, researchers found that a drone's lithium ion battery was likely to shatter in high-impact collisions, raising the potential for a fire. Although drone operators need special permission to operate in some areas near airports, the rise in reported sightings suggest not all operators abide by the law, even though the result of colliding with an aircraft during the critical stages of flight - takeoff and landing - could be catastrophic.

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