Softworks Blog

Mairead Walsh

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“Pawternity” leave – Barking mad or will it take off?

Posted by Mairead Walsh on Tue, Apr 4, 2017

I don’t personally have a dog which is quite surprising considering the amount of pleading I have got over the years from my kids.  I do love dogs.  As a kid there were plenty of dogs coming and going in my house, as my sister brought home every waif and stray much to my mother’s dismay.  In all honesty I’d love a dog – please don’t tell the kids though!

My reluctance is that I’m just not sure I’ve got the time between working and ferrying around my kids to Soccer, Rugby, Gaelic Football and Hurling matches, not forgetting play dates, parties and playgrounds. Dogs are a lot of work, particularly when they are puppies so I was intrigued to hear that some companies are offering ‘pawternity’ leave.


So what exactly is ‘pawternity leave’? Apparently it’s just like maternity or paternity leave but for a new pet, instead of a new baby.   The unpaid time off is allowed in order to give pet owners time to take care of their new pet whether this is a kitten, puppy, rabbit, hamster or whatever you’re having yourself…

Looking a bit deeper into this new leave, it came as no surprise to find out that some of the companies offering this leave are pet-themed companies.  The Scottish brewery BrewDog offers a week of paid leave for employees with new puppies or rescued dogs.  BrewDog co-founder, James Watt has this to say:

 “It’s not easy trying to juggle work and settle a new dog into your life, and many members of our crew have four-legged friends at home. So we wanted to take the stress out of the situation and let our teams take the time they need to welcome their new puppy or dog into their family. We always want to raise the bar when it comes to offering our staff the best possible benefits; at BrewDog, we care about two things above all else. People and beer. We also just really really like dogs.’

BrewDog, was started by two men and a dog back in 2007, and both co founders are commonly found accompanied by canines Simcoe and Dr Gonzo.

Mars Petcare the people behind big pet food brands including: Whiskas, Pedigree Chum and Kitekat now offer their employees ten hours of paid leave for a new pet. Once their pets have settled in, they are allowed to join their owners in the office.  Mars’ HR Director Kate Menzies commented on why they have introduced this leave.

“We want to enable and ease responsible pet ownership for our employees. Dogs and cats are at the heart of our business and our policy is designed to embrace a culture that is passionate about pets.” She also had this to say;

“Having pets in the workplace comes with many great benefits including relieving stress and improving productivity, as well as breaking down barriers between employees which creates a more relaxed environment.”

But it’s not just pet themed companies. BitSol Solutions -an IT company- in Manchester has also got on board and offers their employees a week off paid leave. According to company owner Greg Buchanan
"Pets are like babies nowadays, so why shouldn't staff have some time off when they arrive?"

So what do you think - are they all barking mad or could this really take off? Share your thoughts in  the comment section below and if you are looking for a way of managing your employees leave - whether this is maternity, paternity or even pawternity Softworks can automate this process for you!. 

Topics: Time & Attendance, Maternity Leave, pawternity leave, paternity leave, absences

Managing Employee Time & Attendance? There's an App for that...

Posted by Mairead Walsh on Tue, Oct 4, 2016

If you find managing employee time, attendance and absences an administrative nightmare you are gonna love Softworks new app :)  Our Time & Attendance app allows employees to record their own time, attendance, absences and check work schedules via their smart phones/tablets from wherever they are. The app even includes their GPS location!  

With employees entering their own requests and managers signing off via email alerts it couldn't be easier to manage employee time and attendance. Wave goodbye to re keying data and a mountain of emails and phone calls!

With Softworks Time & Attendance Mobile App Employees can:

  • Clock In or Out (with GPS location) - Perfect for today's mobile workforce.
  • View clocking history.
  • Check flexi balance (if applicable). 
  • Book a holiday/vacation.
  • View current balances.
  • Check work schedules/rosters.
  • Update employee details.
  • Request absences including; training, sick leave, maternity, paternity, study and much more...
Dashboard.png Request_Absence.png Balance_Details.png

If you would like a quick demo of our new app, we would be delighted to show you around and get your feedback - Just fill in your details via this link and we will be in touch.


Topics: Time & Attendance, Flexible Working, Automated Absence Management, Mobile App

Timesheet Fraud – How well is your business protected?

Posted by Mairead Walsh on Mon, Apr 25, 2016

As a business if you are still relying on spreadsheets and paper timesheets to manage your employees’ time, activities, skills and costs, you could be leaving yourself open to inefficiencies, inaccuracies, non-compliance with working time legislation and in some cases even employee fraud. Inaccurate employee time tracking and timesheet fraud is a common problem in organisations that use manual processes. Some of this is due to conscious intent and some due to a lack of management controls.

In this blog I will detail some of the most common types of timesheet fraud along with ways that you can increase management controls, ensure legal compliance and protect your business from deliberate fraud.


Types of Timesheet Fraud
Entering and/or approving incorrect data is one of the most common abuses of attendance information. When done accidently it can expose employee carelessness, flawed processes and a lack of management control, however when done deliberately, in simple terms it is fraud. Employees are responsible for entering their correct attendance data and supervisors are responsible for certifying that this information is indeed correct. While we all hope that the majority of employees are both diligent are honest, unfortunately experience shows that this is not always the case. Set out below are some of the most common ways employees can commit timesheet fraud.

  1. Inflating work hours - With paper-based timesheets it’s very easy for employees to enter incorrect times of arriving and leaving work and overstate or round their hours up to the nearest hour. Overpayment then occurs as the employee is paid based on falsified hours or rates.
  2. False data entry - If employee attendance data has to be retyped from timesheets or time cards into a payroll system, it is very easy for a dishonest employee to change the numbers. As well as being open to fraud, this type of process is susceptible to typos and mistakes. The less you have to rekey your time and attendance information, the more accurate your data and in turn the more accurate your payroll.
  3.  Nepotism - This type of fraud occurs when a manager favours a co-worker, relative or friend by scheduling them for a specific task rather than scheduling a different employee, who is also available to work, and may be a more cost effective choice. For example, if a job comes in for a service engineer, who also happens to be the schedulers buddy and is assigned to this job despite the fact they are already in overtime, your business is at risk of paying unnecessary time and a half rates to get that job done.
  4.  Errors due to delays in completing timesheets - Although not technically fraud there are often inaccuracies when employees fill in timesheets weeks or months after they have worked these hours. Supervisors then sign off on these timesheets when realistically it is unlikely anyone can actually 100% guarantee that these hours were worked particularly for supervisors who are responsible for large teams. 

How to prevent Payroll Fraud
While it may not be possible to eradicate payroll and timesheet fraud, there are ways to catch it and catch it early. The key to catching it and minimising the risks is to ensure you have safe processes, policies and systems in place that can’t be easily manipulated.

  • Use of electronic Timesheets - One of the easiest and most unobtrusive ways to accurately track employee time and activities is via electronic timesheets. Electronic Timesheets replace the need for paper timesheets and gather information on hours worked by employees. They interface with Payroll and Human Resources Systems. Electronic timesheets were designed to allow employees to easily enter their daily hours worked or assume their standard contract hours, as well as paid time off via their PC, laptop, tablet, phone etc. They were developed to reduce administration and manual tasks, increase payroll accuracy, ensure compliance with working time legislation and protect organisations against payroll fraud. Once timesheets are completed and approved, the system can then calculate payroll, based on the hours entered thereby avoiding the need for any manual calculations. With electronic timesheets, supervisors don’t need to sign off on “paper” timesheets which can be open to errors; instead they approve employees’ electronic timesheets online directly from their email or via their phone App. This ensures that timesheets cannot be changed later as once approved they go directly to payroll rather than back to the employee. With electronic timesheets you can allow employees to view and edit their time, enter absences, submit requests for leave and review their schedules reducing time spent looking for this information from others.
  • Entering and approving timesheet information regularly - The most common type of payroll fraud is the padding of timesheets by employees and the best control over this is ensuring that timesheets are completed and signed off regularly and in a timely fashion. With an automated system like Softworks, there is no need for administration staff to re-enter this information into the system. This allows you to completely eliminate the middle steps which could leave your business open to human error or fraud. The quicker that timesheet information is processed the more exact it will be. By leaving a time lapse between work done and approval you leave your business open to mistakes and deliberate fraud.
  • Make timesheet approval quick, easy & hassle free - If tracking time and attendance becomes too much hassle for employees and supervisors, timesheet accuracy goes down. The easier it is for employees to fill in timesheets and supervisors to approve them, the more accurate this information will be and the faster errors or attempted fraud will be spotted. Line managers don’t want to waste time chasing their team for timesheets and HR & Finance departments don’t want to waste time chasing line managers. Good electronic timesheet systems have built in functionality such as email alerts and SMS messaging reminding employees and managers about timesheet submission and approval. At the end of the day the process should be quick and easy and provide no disincentive to doing it. By enabling supervisors to easily and quickly edit, authorise and analyse, time, attendance, holidays, absences and additional time from one screen you will increase timesheet accuracy and alert supervisors quickly to any discrepancies. A good electronic timesheet system should offer all of this. With Softworks, employees and supervisors receive automatic email notifications when timesheets are due and they can approve or edit timesheets directly from their email or via their phone App.
  • Keep track of employees centrally - Managing variable working hours, times and days and tracking large numbers of employees and/or contract workers dispersed at multiple locations in real time can be quite a challenge. With electronic timesheets you can allow employees and/or contractors to check in from off-site locations. Electronic timesheets are 100% web enabled so both employees and supervisors can log in anytime and anywhere via their PC, Laptop, Tablet, Phone etc. making it easy to record employees’ working hours, times and days and track large numbers of employees at a central source no matter where office premises or employees/ contractors are located. This is turn makes it easier to track any discrepancies or unusual time and attendance which leads us into management reporting.
  • Management Reporting - In order to keep a close eye on timesheets, managers and supervisors should be able to generate and view reports easily. This will help them to analyse employee costs, overtime usage, time off and easily and accurately track hours spent on projects or tasks. Furthermore having a system that generates good reports will prevent employees from booking time to projects that don’t exist or are completed, or favouring employees on projects, without taking into consideration the cost implications 
  • Legal Compliance - Most countries today have working time legislation for health and safety reasons. As a business, it is your responsibility to accurately record your employee's working hours, overtime, annual leave and start and finish times. If you don’t, you could be at risk of prosecution for non-compliance or even face a lawsuit from employees. There is a growing body of case law involving class action lawsuits for unpaid overtime. Already lawsuits have been filed against many high profile organisations in the US including; Best Buy, McDonalds, Urban Outfitters, Apple, AT&T, Bank of America, CVS and Wells Fargo among others, alleging employers misclassified employees as exempt from overtime or failed to pay overtime to employees regardless of their classification.

    This is not just an issue in the US, this is a global issue. In Canada, Ontario’s Superior Court of Justice gave the green light to a class-action lawsuit against part of Bank of Montreal’s wealth management group that alleged the bank owed unpaid overtime to hundreds of current and former investment advisers. The lawsuit alleged BMO Nesbitt Burns Inc. did not keep a proper record of the time employees worked and did not appropriately compensate employees when they worked overtime. The case followed other lawsuits over unpaid overtime brought against Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce and the Bank of Nova Scotia by bank tellers and other employees who said they were unfairly denied overtime pay. The banks were hit with combined claims of $950 Million.

    In the UK John Lewis had to spend £40m to compensate staff who were accidentally underpaid for working Sundays and Bank Holidays over a seven year period. . No matter where in the world you are based, if you employ staff, ensuring legislative compliance and managing, recording and tracking working hours has never been more important. A good Time & Attendance Solution can automate this process for you and ensure that your organization is always 100% compliant.

Timesheet fraud is upsetting not just because of the money that companies lose, but also because of the breaches of trust that occur. While it may not be possible to completely eradicate payroll fraud, there are certainly ways you can minimise the abuse. You should have clear policies in place on what the consequences are for such criminal activity. You should also consider electronic timesheets as they have been developed and designed to minimise human error and deliberate fraud. The potential for timesheet fraud is significant and the consequences are far reaching and an expensive process. As a business you need to be diligent with your internal controls and management reporting so that issues such as; payroll anomalies, excessive labour costs, extreme hours worked, high cost projects are discovered at the earliest possible time and dealt with quickly.

If you would like to see Softworks Electronic Timesheets in action, contact us for a live demo and you can decide if Softworks could make a positive difference to your business processes and in turn bottom line.

Topics: Time & Attendance, Compliance, Timesheets, Fraud

Retailers - Are your store managers struggling with manual timesheets?

Posted by Mairead Walsh on Wed, Mar 23, 2016

Do your store managers have difficulty accurately recording their employee's time, attendance and holidays? Are any of your managers not filling in or perhaps even fabricating timesheets? Is "I don't have the time" a common excuse?

Softworks have been working with retailers for over twenty five years and if this is an area you are struggling with, get in touch. We can assist you and your store managers to 

  • Automate time consuming manual processes around timesheets, rosters, holiday and attendance tracking. 
  • Formalise holiday booking rules across all your stores so that rules can't be broken by store managers. 
  • Eradicate incomplete and fabricated timesheets.
  • Manage and record requested overtime and track time in lieu or payment due depending on your rules and procedures.
  • Manage employee's variable working hours, times and days and track employees dispersed at multiple locations in real time.Clas_Ohlson_Case_Study_Softworks.png
  • Allow employees to clock in and view timesheets and rosters using a mobile phone, laptop or tablet.
  • Easily create rosters/schedules that ensure allocation of adequate resources within budget. Track hours and generate management reports for head office. 
  • Ensure legal compliance with legislation and health and safety. 
  • Increase payroll efficiency and accuracy by automating the flow of information from time and attendance to payroll.
  • Ensure your shop managers are where they are most effective - on the shop floor managing employees, generating sales and ensuring you are delivering a exceptional customer experience. 
Arrange a Demo

If you would like to learn more about Softworks Retail Solutions, contact us for a demonstration today or download our Clas Ohlson case study

Topics: Retailers

Many Businesses could learn from the Justice Canada Scheduling & Payroll Fiasco

Posted by Mairead Walsh on Thu, Feb 25, 2016


A CBC investigation recently reported  about a payroll screw-up at Justice Canada that credited several thousand government lawyers with as much as $50 million worth of time off that they didn't deserve due to a multi-year administrative problem dating back to 2007.

According to CBC, the problem arose due the fact that Justice Department lawyers were responsible for entering leave into two different scheduling systems.  When a lawyer entered time off into the first program, they didn’t always update the second one, which was the one that linked to payroll.  In more than 3,700 cases, the payroll software showed the lawyers had unused leave, even though they had already taken it. The situation has set off an administrative and labour-relations nightmare for the Canadian ministry.   


Since first reported by CBC, Justice Canada have issued a statement and stressed that the current value of the leave entries still to be reconciled is estimated to be no more than $3.5M for the period between 2007 and 2013. The reconciliation exercise is still being finalized and no "financial liability" to the Government has been established to date.

Whatever the final figure turns out to be, it’s pretty clear that it’s a situation that no business wants to find themselves embroiled in.  The administrative mess has tied the department in knots, threatening current negotiations for a new labour contract, prompting union grievances and forcing a massive payroll clean up that has taken more than two years. 

This has been a hard lesson for Justice Canada but I think many companies can learn from their experience and it’s worth reviewing the systems that you use to manage your employees Time & Attendance, Scheduling and Absence Management.   At Softworks we are sometimes amazed that there are so many companies out there that still rely on spread sheets, clipboards, notice boards, and from time to time a bit of sweet talking and arm twisting to schedule their employees!

While the majority of medium to large businesses have already automated their core HR functions, many are missing a trick by not automating the areas of Time & Attendance, Scheduling and Absence Management. If this is true in your situation, it’s most definitely an area that you and your organization can benefit from exploring further. The greatest financial cost for any organization is their workforce costs and you need to be all over this.  A fully integrated workforce management solution that includes time & attendance, scheduling, absence management and workforce analytics, can for starters, shave anywhere between 5% and 20% off your organizations payroll costs. Just make sure all your systems are fully integrated so you don't end up in the same situation as Justice Canada.  

Modern workforce management systems can help your organisation not only to cut payroll costs but also to improve performance, while addressing the ultimate goal of contributing to profitability. World class companies today are using WFM solutions to optimise labour planning, scheduling & modelling, respond to union and legislation requirements, track and cost projects and manage planned/unplanned absences and even to implement employee and family friendly initiatives, such as flexible working options. 

If you are thinking of researching this further you might find our free to download and impartial guide useful - Selecting a Workforce Management System - Advice and Tips before you buy

Topics: Time & Attendance, Labour Scheduling, Automated Absence Management

Super Bowl Sickies – Are you missing any employees this morning?

Posted by Mairead Walsh on Mon, Feb 8, 2016

An estimated 117 million people watched The Denver Broncos defeat the Carolina Panthers last night. The final score of Super Bowl 50 was Denver Broncos 24 and Carolina Panthers 10. Interest in the Super Bowl is no longer confined to the United States. The Super Bowl has in fact become one of the fastest growing global businesses in the world. This year's event was broadcast or legally streamed in 230 countries worldwide.  According to sports research company Repucom back in 2011, 8.1% of people in the United Kingdom were interested in the NFL Super Bowl but this increased to 12.3% in 2015. That's an increase of 1.86 million fans.

With the Super Bowl comes Super Bowl parties which generally equate to Hot Dogs, Nachos, Chicken Wings and Beer and more Beer! Unfortunately for employers this leads to many people waking up the next morning with a whopping Super Bowl Hangover.  The event has long been linked with late nights and drinking and with late nights and drinking comes a high level of employee absence and lateness.   So as a business how do you combat this type of absence? Here are our top 6 tips on how to manage absence and lateness after a major sporting event.


Top 6 tips on how to manage absence & lateness after a major sporting event.

Tip 1 - Turn unplanned absences into planned ones

Encourage your employees to book the day off rather than calling in sick. Some organisations now even offer “Duvet Days” where an employee gets one day a year that they can stay at home. They can plan this in advance of their absence. The only criteria being that employees can't all be out on the same day - so you might need to think about how to manage this great employee perk! 

Tip 2 - Combat lateness with flexible start and finish times

If feasible, offer flexible working start and finish times. Flexible working gives employees greater ownership and control of their own time and working hours enabling them to manage their social lives better. The are many business and financial benefits associated with offering flexible working arrangements including; better retention rates, reduced costs and improved productivity. If you would like to research this further download our free whitepaper - How to Strategically Use Flexible Working Arrangements to Benefit your Business.

Tip 3 - Use a carrot rather than a stick

Research shows that improvements in employee attendance can be achieved by making absence management an integral part of their overall company policy - by creating an Attendance Culture. Many organisations have discovered the benefits of shifting from a punitive approach of ‘absence control’, in favour of enlightened ‘attendance management’ strategies. These strategies aim to provide a working environment which maximises and motivates attendance. 

Tip 4 - Don't ignore absenteeism and ensure you managers are taking responsibility for their teams

Whether you decide to use the carrot or the stick method to manage absenteeism, the most important thing is that you have some procedure in place and that your managers are taking responsibility for managing it. Closing your eyes and hoping it will go away, will never work!  Organisations with the lowest absence rates are those where senior managers take responsibility for managing absence. Return-to-work interviews are one of the most effective absence management tools, followed by disciplinary measures. 

Tip 5 - Monitor employee sickness absence records for frequency and patterns
One quarter of all organisations do not even bother to keep absence statistics and as many as three quarters do not have any idea of the cost of absence to their organisation. The fundamental building block of any effective absence control programme is the availability of complete, accurate and timely information. Good records are vital to grasp the extent of the problem. Tightened attendance reviews have been proven to reduce employee sickness absence.

Tip 6 - Consider a new automated Time & Attendance System
Modern Time & attendance systems can help organisations manage absenteeism by providing them with the evidence needed to manage any issues. By the very virtue of what they do, time & attendance systems will store all details of hours worked, of all employees, and therefore all details of when they were not there, when they were late, left early or worked overtime. The reporting facilities enable organisations to produce reports, which can analyse absenteeism, by rating, frequency, reason, percentage, cost and the Bradford Factor, and can also create this information in graphical format if required, thereby giving the company the tools to manage any problems. They can become part of enlightened ‘attendance management strategies’ rather than the punitive ‘Big Brother’ approach of yesteryear, giving employees responsibility over their jobs and attendance.

The management of non-genuine sickness absence is about managing people. It is about their relationship to their jobs, their ambitions, their capacity and motivation to give their best, and their need for more than monetary affirmation. This is a challenge for employers when addressing absenteeism after major sporting events.  The trick is to recognise that there could be a problem and plan accordingly.  Early recognition, effective assessment and rapid intervention are key to managing these short-term absences and can prevent these absences from becoming problematic. Business owners, HR departments and managers alike need to be open to altering their approach and revising their policies to take account. 

Topics: Absenteeism, Automated Absence Management

Softworks to unveil slick New Time & Attendance GPS App at HRPA 2016

Posted by Mairead Walsh on Wed, Jan 20, 2016


Softworks will be unveiling their slick new app at this year’s HRPA Annual Conference & Trade Show taking place in Toronto, Canada this week. For twenty five years Softworks has been assisting companies to organize the working day in a way that makes them more productive and profitable by adding value to their operations. Softworks award winning solutions include; Time & Attendance, Labour Scheduling, Absence Management and Project Tracking

Softworks new Time and Attendance Mobile App allows employees to clock in and out on their smart phones from wherever they are and includes their GPS location. Using Softworks Mobile Employee Self Service employees can;

  • Clock In or Out (with GPS location).iPhone6_APP_US-1.png
  • View clocking history.
  • Book a vacation.
  • View current vacation balances.
  • Check work schedules.
  • Update employee details.
  • Request Absences.

Andrew Ferguson, CEO of Softworks, had this to say “We are delighted to be part of the HRPA Annual Conference & Trade Show once again this year and very excited to be revealing our new app. Softworks goal has always been to make a positive difference to the working lives of our users, their organisation and employees. With the rise of flexible and remote working options, along with the requirement for Canadian employers to keep a record of all hours worked by employees, we felt it was the perfect time to show off our new app which will make tracking employee time and attendance so much easier for organizations.“

If you are attending the HRPA Conference and Trade Show this year, make sure you swing by booth 141 and you can check out our new app and meet Softworks CEO, Andrew Ferguson and Canadian Business Manager Lita Letto. 

Topics: Time & Attendance, Conferences, Mobile App, HRPA

Top Five Countries for Work-life balance

Posted by Mairead Walsh on Mon, Jan 18, 2016


Balancing work, family, leisure activities and personal commitments is a constant challenge for many of us. In my house we all either work or go to school and evenings and weekends are filled to the brim with a myriad of sports including; Gaelic football, rugby, hurling, soccer, running, swimming and Pilates to name a few. This means constantly running from work to the next activity and hoping to grab a bite somewhere in between. Being able to successfully do everything so that every member of our little family (there’s only four of us!) gets their activity is a constant challenge. That said, we are some of the lucky ones as I work for a company that values work life balance and the benefits it brings to their employees so all Softworks employees have flexible working/flexitime.

According to the OECD (The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) “Finding a suitable balance between work and daily living is a challenge that all workers face. The ability to successfully combine work, family commitments and personal life is important for the well-being of all members in a household. An important aspect of work-life balance is the amount of time a person spends at work. Evidence suggests that long work hours may impair personal health, jeopardise safety and increase stress.

The OECD report on Work Life Balance ranks its 36 member countries on balancing work and daily living. In their report, Denmark was ranked as the number one country for work-life balance. The key indicators used were share of employees working long hours (50 hours or more per week), time devoted to leisure and comparing the scores with respect to gender.   Let's take a closer look at the top five counties for work-life balance and the secret to their success. 

1) Denmark

Denmark is the number one country for work life balance. According to the OECD, an important aspect of work-life balance is the amount of time a person spends at work. Evidence suggests that long work hours may damage personal health, risk safety and increase stress.   In Denmark only 2% of employees work very long hours, one of the lowest rates in the OECD where the average is 13%.   Obviously if people are working long hours they have less time to to spend on other activities, such as time with friends/family or leisure activities. Furthermore the amount and quality of leisure time is important for people’s overall well-being, and can bring additional physical and mental health benefits. In Denmark, full-time workers devote 67% of their day on average, or 16.1 hours, to personal care (eating, sleeping, etc.) and leisure (socialising with friends and family, hobbies, games, computer and television use, etc.).  The OECD average is15 hours.  

Furthermore policy in Denmark provides extensive financial support to families with young children: public spending on family benefits amounts to just over 4% of GDP, compared to 2.6 % on average across the OECD, and close to 60% of such spending is on family services including childcare. In Denmark 37 hours is the standard working week and they have higher female employment rates and better gender equality within the labour market. Gender employment gaps and gender payment gaps are among the lowest among the OECD and all of this has led to the Danes being satisfied with both their working and personal lives.



2) Spain  

In Spain workers have as much personal time as their Danish counterparts however a higher proportion of them stay late at work. According to the OECD,  Spanish workers give 16.1 hours, or 67% of their day, to personal and  leisure activities however 8% still work very long hours.

Spain also has one of the lowest fertility rates in Europe and a poor (but getting better) record of female employment, meaning for all that free time, Spaniards haven't yet managed to successfully combine work and family life to the extent of the Danes.  Female rates of fertility have deteriorated for two decades, among the lowest in the OECD at 1.3 children per woman. It would appear that both men and women have worked to establish their careers before considering childbirth.  This has seen a rise in female employment to  51 per cent, a move in the right direction, but still falling short of the OECD average of 57.5 per cent.

 3) The Netherlands

In the Netherlands workers have no interest in long hours. Only 0.5% of workers work very long hours however surprisingly this for some reason does not convert to more leisure time. Dutch workers spend on average 15.4 hours a day on themselves and their families, ranking them 5th among member states. However in the Netherlands, high levels of gender equality mean men and women share work responsibilities and families are helped by generous state benefits.  High literacy levels, low youth unemployment as well as a 93 per cent above average life satisfaction of 11-15-year-olds, coupled with high fertility rates and low unemployment all lead to a very happy country.   

4) Belgium  

Next up is Belgium, where 5% of employees work very long hours, less than the OECD average of 13%. Overall, more men work very long hours; in Belgium 7% of men work very long hours, compared with 2% for women. Workers in Belgium benefit from successful flexible working programmes and a high-level of personal time devoted to friends and family. The Belgian Federal Public Service Social Security has questioned conventional ways of working and this has resulted in them being named as the best employer. Their objective is to find talented people, to retain the right people and to make workers happy. The organisation lets people be in charge of their own life; it does not matter anymore when, where and how they work. Only results are important and evaluated. These new policies have led to a 30% reduction in office space resulting in a saving of 6 million euros per year along with a 55% reduction in the use of paper for printing, and a 60% reduction in office furniture expenditure.

5) Norway

In Norway, 3% of employees work very long hours, again much less than the OECD average of 13% with men working longer hours than women. 4% of men work very long hours, compared with 1% for women.Full-time workers devote 65% of their day on average, or 15.6 hours, to personal care and leisure just over the OECD average of 15 hours. In Norway, men devote approximately 15 hours per day to personal care and leisure, and women 16 hours per day.

Other countries that made the top ten were ranked in the following order

6 – Sweden

7 – Germany

8 – Russian Federation

9 – Ireland

10 – Luxembourg

Out of the 36 countries evaluated, The United Kingdom was ranked number 23, Canada 24, USA 29 and Australia 30.  Turkey was ranked worst coming in at number 36 and is by far the country with the highest proportion of people working very long hours, with close to 41%. If you would like to find out more you can view the OECD's Better Life Index for 2015 via this link   


Topics: Work-Life Balance, Flexible Working, Working Hours, Happy Workers

Show me the light, roll on the 23rd of December…!

Posted by Mairead Walsh on Thu, Dec 17, 2015

Is it just me or does anyone else out there look forward to getting past the shortest day of the year? Do you, like me, struggle getting out of bed during November and December and feel like you do nothing but work and sleep as it’s too dark to do much else? One of my kids actually said to me on Monday when I was bringing him to school– “mum are you sure the alarm didn’t go off an hour early”? Seriously it was that dark.

In Ireland, we will soon hit our shortest day of the year. On the 22nd of December we will get a measly 7 hours, 29 minutes and 55 seconds of daylight.  No wonder most of us spend Christmas consoling ourselves by tucking into mince pies, plum pudding and chocolate Santas and spend the rest of the year trying to work it back off.


Of course, in Softworks we have flexitime so while I whinge, I do get to start anytime between the hours of 8am and 10am but it’s been so dark, I’m arriving closer to 10am than 8am these days.  In the spring/summer you will always see me propped at my desk by 8am so that I can head off early and make the most of my bright evenings.  So if you don’t currently offer your employees flexitime, think about it, you’d be amazed at the difference it could make to their lives and mood!

But finally, some good news, from the 23nd of December it immediately starts to get a little brighter every day.  Admittedly only 5 seconds on day one, but it does begin to climb quite steeply after this.

By the end of January daylight will have increased by over an hour, by February we will be up to over 10 hours of daylight and by April we will have hit a whopping 15 hours – now you’re talking!

Our longest day in 2016 will be on the 21st June and we can look forward to 17 whole hours of daylight.  It will be bright getting up and bright going to bed – happy days :)

So roll on the 23rd December, I want to see the light again.  In the meantime, I’m off to the shops to stock up on mince pies, plum pudding and chocolate Santas…   

Topics: Flexitime / Flexible Working Hours Arrangement, Flexible Working

Softworks delighted to be part of the Action Plan For Irish Jobs Briefing

Posted by Mairead Walsh on Wed, Dec 2, 2015

Softworks were delighted to attend the Post-Budget 2016 and Action Plan for Jobs Briefing this morning with An Taoiseach, Mr. Enda Kenny T.D., & An Tánaiste and Minister for Social Protection, Ms. Joan Burton T.D.& Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, Mr. Richard Bruton T.D.

Pictured below An Taoiseach, Mr. Enda Kenny and Softworks Head of Finance Oliver Mitchell

Today's enterprise stakeholder briefing on Budget 2016, the Action Plan for Jobs and enterprise policy priorities took place in the Hotel Keadeen in Newbridge, Co Kildare. As the Irish Government prepare the 2016 Action Plan for Jobs, which is to be considered by Government by year-end, the event was an opportunity to hear the views of the enterprise sector on 'What more can the Government do?'.

As part of the briefing, the Government;

  • Outlined what the long term budgetary and taxation plans look like;
  • The enterprise and jobs ambitions and strategy at a national and regional level; and,
  • Canvassed input and contributions from enterprise on these plans.


Topics: Jobs, Government