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Liberal Democrats come up with “A New Purpose for Politics”

The promotion of wellbeing in the workplace is the main objective of the Liberal Democrats’ new policy paper; A New Purpose for Politics: Quality of life.

The party wants to make the promotion of quality of life a part of public policy making. In the paper, the Liberal Democrats call for company directors to make their workplaces healthier, and also measure the effects of initiatives that are put in place.

Liberal Democrat MP for East Dunbartonshire, Jo Swinson, said: “We all recognise that our quality of life matters but large scale studies show that levels of reported life satisfaction in the UK have been roughly static for decades.”

The paper looks to introduce practical changes to address, for example, long commutes to work.

Swinson said: “We know that people who have moderately long commutes tend to be less happy than those who can commute quickly. This is especially true for those with childcare responsibilities. The paper proposes changing zoning policy to create mixes of business and residential land use could help cut commuting times for many people.”

Critics may see this paper as another nanny-state policy attempt, but there is also an argument that steps could be taken to help hard working people enjoy a better standard of living in terms of job enjoyment and general well being.

Image by Moritz Hager courtesy of the World Economic Forum.

New Acas guidance to help address the gender gap

Although it is a legal requirement for men and women to receive equal pay when performing the same role, the reality is that on average women are still paid less than men. Many well meaning organisations struggle with identifying or rectifying issues in this area.

Acas (which is an acronym for Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service) launched their guidance on Voluntary Gender Equality Reporting on 14 September, 2011. This guidance is there to help identify and address gender gap problems.

According to a report by Acas, women in the public sector earn, on average, 10 per cent less than their male counterparts and in the private sector the gap grows to 19.8 per cent. These figures are reflective of full time employees only.

The guide on Voluntary Gender Equality Analysis and Reporting has been drawn up by Acas in order to help private sector and voluntary organisations that are interested in possible gender gabs, but are unsure of how to go about identifying and resolving problems.

Acas Head of Equality Steve Williams said: “Our new guidance provides advice for organisations whether they are already collecting, analysing and acting on information regarding gender, or whether they are starting to think about doing so.”

You can find out more about the guidance by visiting www.acas.org.uk/vger.

Photo by Mirimcfly.

Revisiting the Health and Wellbeing Good Practice Award

Working in a company that organises a weekly game of football for staff to play, and has a gym downstairs, I certainly appreciate an employer that helps promote good health. As such, I was interested in reading about an award and framework for promoting this aspect of the workplace.

Investors in People has launched the award in 2010, off the back of research into the importance of promoting health and wellbeing in the workplace. It was found that business performance can be improved through increased productivity, a reduction in absenteeism and improved employee retention as the result of better health and wellbeing at a company.

The name of the award is the Health and Wellbeing Good Practice Award. Although this award was launched more than a year ago now, I think it is a valuable one to keep in mind for HR professionals.The framework for the award was developed with the help of over 400 organisations and the backing of the Department of Health. The framework of this award is worth looking into if you are interested in improving this aspect of your business.

The National Director for Health and Work, Dame Carol Black, awarded the accolade to Claridge’s, Kimberly-Clark and NHS Suffolk as three of the first recipients of the award last year. I imagine it would help a company attract higher quality applicants for vacancies if they held this award.

Jane Jones, acting Chief Executive of Investors and People UK, said in a press release, “Over the past five years we have worked with some of the UK’s leading employers to analyse the role of health and wellbeing in the workplace. This isn’t just about fruit and gym membership, and nor is it about perks or ‘nice to haves’. It’s about embedding health and wellbeing into the culture of the business to ensure everyone benefits. The organisations we have worked with recognise these benefits and we believe this new award will help others reap the same rewards.”

Investors in People is an organisation that aims to promote and assist business improvement. The organisation is celebrating their 20th anniversary this year.

Photo by Adria Richards.