Research and results

Strategic HR Review

ISSN: 1475-4398

Article publication date: 18 October 2011



Nolan, S. (2011), "Research and results", Strategic HR Review, Vol. 10 No. 6.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Research and results

Article Type: Research and results From: Strategic HR Review, Volume 10, Issue 6

A look at current trends and data

Story 1 - Multinationals see workforce health as a growing priority

Faced with rising health care costs and a growing concern over the health of their employees, a vast majority of multinational organizations plan to place a higher priority on workforce health initiatives and the overall well-being of their workers over the next few years. This is according to a survey by Towers Watson, which also found that wellness programs have become prevalent worldwide as more multinationals promote health and well-being.

The survey found that three out of four companies said workforce health and promoting health and well-being will be more of a priority this year and next, while 87 percent said it will be a higher priority over the next two to four years. To address this growing priority, nearly half of the respondents (47 percent) plan to implement a global workforce health strategy over the next two years. Currently, less than one-third (32 percent) of multinationals have a global workforce health strategy in place.

Francis Coleman, a senior international consultant with Towers Watson, said: “Given the variety of health systems and market practices around the world, and the significant differences in costs for employers to sponsor health plans, the need for a global workforce health strategy has never been greater. Multinationals with a clear strategy can better coordinate local health activities to improve their overall workforce health and increase the efficiency of their total spending on health care.”

Objectives vary across regions

When asked to rank the three most important objectives for their health strategy, more than half (54 percent) of all respondents said it was to demonstrate their continued interest in employee well-being, resiliency and stress management, while slightly fewer (52 percent) said it was to help control rising health costs.

There were, however, significant differences by regions. More than two-thirds (69 percent) of multinationals headquartered in the Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) region ranked employee well-being and stress management in the top three objectives. By contrast, 62 percent of Asia-headquartered respondents ranked providing competitive rewards among the top three objectives. Not surprisingly, 59 percent of North American companies listed controlling costs in the top three.

Francis Coleman said: “Multinationals in various regions have different needs and goals. European corporations, for example, are concerned with disability, lost productivity and absenteeism, while corporations in the Americas are much more focused on medical cost containment. EMEA employers are focusing on using their strategy to directly influence employees’ health. Asia-based corporations view their health programs as a way to attract and retain top talent.”

Wellness programs gaining popularity

Overall, three in four (75 percent) multinationals currently offer a wellness program, which can include preventive care, health screenings or education. These programs have been growing in popularity over the past few years. The one exception can be found among Asia-headquartered multinationals where only 62 percent of employers offer a wellness program. The survey noted that this might be due to the emerging nature of preventive care in the region.

For more information

Copies of the survey report are available at:

Story 2 - Lack of ROI measures could be hindering the role of HR within organizations

The 2011 Global Assessment Trends Report, from talent management company SHL, highlights some key business areas on which organizations should focus and takes a comprehensive look at how organizations measure talent. More than 460 HR professionals from around the world (including 53 percent from EMEA) were surveyed with a view to shedding light on talent management trends and their effects on organizations’ “people intelligence” programs.

Participants were asked to respond to various current topics such as employee retention, treatment of candidates and use of social media in the hiring process. Results indicate, not surprisingly, that performance management remains a top priority for HR professionals as the economy continues its recovery, while succession planning rose even higher on the list (up from the sixth spot in 2010 to second in 2011), indicating an increased focus on key leadership roles due in part to millions of retiring baby boomers. Other key findings from the report include:

  • Lack of ROI measures. Only 48 percent of EMEA respondents collect metrics to show the value of their HR investments in general.

  • Treatment of candidates. Over 80 percent of companies believe applicant reactions to the hiring methods are important in their recruiting efforts. However, despite this expressed importance of promoting a positive candidate experience, only 31 percent of EMEA respondents indicated they monitor applicant reactions.

  • Trends in online assessment. This is increasing year-on-year: In 2009 60 percent, in 2010 73 percent and in 2011 83 percent of respondents allowed test takers to complete online assessment. EMEA leads the way with 85 percent allowing online completion in 2011, primarily for reasons of candidate convenience.

  • Mobile testing. This has not caught on (even though smartphones and mobiles are increasingly more popular). Only 7 percent of HR professionals indicated their HR Information Systems are accessible via smartphone/mobile device and only 9 percent of HR professionals indicated that candidates are asking to take tests via smartphone/mobile. Interestingly, EMEA is ahead of the Americas and ANZ in this space.

For more information


Story 3 - Collaboration and social tools drain business productivity

The proliferation of collaboration and social tools designed to increase productivity is actually costing businesses 57.8 billion pounds per year in lost productivity, according to a survey of more than 500 international organizations of all sizes conducted by online market research firm United Sample (uSamp) and commissioned by social e-mail software provider

Nearly 60 percent of work interruptions now involve either using tools like e-mail, social networks, text messaging and IM, or switching windows among disparate standalone tools and applications. In fact, 45 percent of employees work only 15 minutes or less without getting interrupted, and 53 percent waste at least one hour a day due to all types of distractions. That hour per day translates into £3,277.50 of wasted productivity per person annually, assuming an average salary of £14.25/hour. For businesses with 1,000 employees, the cost of employee interruptions exceeds £3.2 million per year and total cost to UK plc is £57.8 billion.

Other findings of the survey include:

  • Most work disruptions are electronic. While traditional activities such as phone calls, talking with coworkers, and ad hoc meetings account for 43 percent of work interruptions today, the lion’s share of distractions are now electronically based.

  • Document searches drain productivity. Users also spend an average of 2-1/2 hours per week trying to find the documents they need in multiple local, corporate and cloud repositories. That adds up to 16 work days annually, costing businesses £1,638 per £14.25/hour employee per year to subsidize inefficient document management. The problem is exacerbated by the use of e-mail attachments instead of posting documents to a central repository where they can be easily located.

  • Work output and quality suffer. Users report that the continuous interruptions cause: difficulty working/producing (33 percent); no time for deep or creative thinking (25 percent); information overload (21 percent); missed deadlines (10 percent); and lost clients/business (5 percent).

  • Refusal to disconnect leads to rudeness. The perceived need to stay connected at all times has reduced civility in the workplace as well as interfering with the ability to focus on the task at hand.

Strategies deployed to reduce distractions

Despite the attachment to their digital tools and devices, both companies and end-users recognize the productivity challenges created by these technologies and have implemented a variety of tools and strategies in an attempt to limit digital-related disruptions. They include the following:

  • A total of 68 percent of respondents reported that their employers have implemented policies or technologies to minimize distractions, while 73 percent of end-users have adopted self-imposed techniques to help maintain focus.

  • The number one corporate strategy used to discourage digital diversion is blocking access to public social networks such as Facebook and/or other non-business web sites (48 percent).

  • Other corporate techniques used to promote digital efficiency include tracking online usage patterns (29 percent), training (25 percent), deployment of an enterprise collaboration and social platform that aggregates information in a single window (13 percent), No Facebook Fridays (6 percent) and No E-mail Fridays (3 percent).

  • In the case of end-users, 51 percent try to minimize distractions by reading e-mails in batches, 28 percent by working outside the office, and 25 percent by disconnecting from IM/e-mail and phone a few hours a day.

For more information

The full report can be found at:

Story 4 - Survey shows drop in ethics training

According to the results of the Institute of Business Ethics (IBE) triennial survey on companies’ ethics programs, there has been a fall in the number of companies that provide training in ethics for staff. The IBE surveys UK companies every three years on the use of their codes of ethics. In 2010, six out of ten UK companies provide training in business ethics for all their staff. This is a drop in 10 percent from 2007, when training was provided by seven out of ten UK companies.

Simon Webley, research director of the IBE and author of the report, says: “Although we are living in a time of austerity, cutting back on ethics training is a short-sighted thing for companies to do. Many say that this financial turmoil is the result of lack of integrity – we need to learn from that. In these straitened times, it is even more important that maintaining corporate values and ethics remains top of the agenda.”

For the first time, the survey also included companies listed on the stock exchanges of Spain, Italy, France and Germany. An interesting finding was that references to the corporate code of ethics in the recruitment process are more likely to be made by continental European-based companies – Spain (60 percent); Italy (60 percent); France (57 percent); Germany (50 percent) – than those in the UK (38 percent).

For more information


Sara Nolan

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