Softworks Blog

The right to request flexible working - UK Law comes in to force

Posted by Mairead Walsh on Wed, Sep 3, 2014

On the 30th June 2014, new laws came in to force in the UK around flexible working.  Every employee now has the statutory right to request flexible working after 26 weeks employment service, regardless of their caring responsibilities. Previous to this the right only applied to parents of children under the age of 17 (or 18 if the child is disabled) and certain carers. So what does this actually mean for employees and employers? 

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The legislation does not give employees the immediate 'right' to flexibility, rather it provides a right to request flexible working. Requests need to be made in writing, stating the date of the request and whether any previous application has been made and the date of that application. Employers do have the right to refuse flexible working, if they have a good business reason for doing so.

However they have an obligation to treat all requests in a ‘reasonable manner’. Examples of handling requests in a reasonable manner include; assessing the advantages and disadvantages of the application, holding a meeting to discuss the request with the employee and offering an appeal process. If an employer doesn’t handle a request in a reasonable manner, the employee can take them to an employment tribunal.

Eligible employees can request a change in working hours, working time or working location. This includes a wide range of working patterns such as job sharing, working from home, part-time working, compressed hours and flexitime. 

While some employers may be wary of this new law and flexible working in general, it should be noted that it has been proven, that flexible working brings many benefits to an organisation including better retention rates, reduced costs and improved productivity. Furthermore the Millennial generation (those born between 1980 and 1995) have actually come to expect such flexibility.  So as an employer, if you are looking to attract talent from this group, you will need to have a flexible working strategy in place.  

The so called traditional 9 to 5 or eight hour working day actually originated out of necessity during the Industrial Revolution in Britain in the 1800s. So much has changed since then in terms of how, when and where we do business, it undoubtedly makes sense to move on from something that was created over 200 years ago.

If you would like to find out more about implementing flexible working, including practical advice and tips, you are very welcome to download our free white paper -Could Flexible Working work in your organisation. 

In this paper, we examine the pros and cons of introducing flexible working. We tell it straight, based on 20 years' experience in this area, so that you can make an informed decision on whether or not it is right for your department or organisation.


Topics: Employee Retention, Work-Life Balance, Flexible Working, Motivation

Don't Forget National Employee Appreciation Day - Friday 7th March!

Posted by Mairead Walsh on Wed, Mar 5, 2014

This Friday is National Employee Appreciation Day. If you are not familiar with the annual worldwide event, it has been going since 1995 and was set up to recognise and honour hard working employees.  The event encourages managers of all levels to support and reward their employees, and to show their appreciation.

Appreciation from the boss can be a great morale booster and welcome motivator.

So now we all know what it is, what's the best way to celebrate? We've pulled together ten of the most popular activities used by companies to recognise their employees.

  1. Hold an awards ceremony
  2. Free Food - Breakfast, Lunch, Pizza...
  3. Cakes/Chocolates for all
  4. Organise a fun group activity
  5. Happy hour in the local pub
  6. Time off for all
  7. Throw an appreciation party
  8. Give a gift card
  9. Offer a flexible schedule for the day
  10. Say "Thanks" personally or with a handwritten note.





Happy National Employee Appreciation Day! Let us know how you celebrate this year...

Topics: Employee Retention, Work-Life Balance, Flexible Working, Motivation

How to keep Generation Y engaged in 2014

Posted by Mairead Walsh on Tue, Jan 7, 2014

First there was talk about Baby Boomers, then we heard about Generation X and today’s conversation is focused firmly aound Generation Y.  So who are this generation and why is it going to be so important to keep them engaged in the workplace now and in the future?

Generation Y generally refers to people who were born between the late 70s and 80s although the group is sometimes expanded to include all those born between the late 70s and 2000. When it comes to defining a generation, the boundaries are quite loose.  The point is, Generation Y are now all grown up and are set to become a significant force within the workplace and keeping them engaged could be key to your company's success or otherwise. 

Certain traits have emerged that are distinguishing this generation from previous generations. One of the most significant differences between generation X and Y cited, is that  generation X are often seen as the “abandoned generation” or "latch-key kids" due to the fact that they were raised at a time when both parents had to work so they had to fend for themselves.

Generation Y, on the other hand, are often considered to be the most parented generation in history. They are also the largest generation of youth in history being three times larger than Generation X.  Generation Y includes terms such as Millennials, the Net Generation and the Trophy Generation (due to the tendency for kids in this demographic to get trophies from activities regardless of their actual achievement levels!)

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Generation Y are idealistic, digitally-enabled, social and ambitious and research tells us they are likely to have a distinct set of characteristics and expectations from their managers.  The implications are that the management styles that may have worked for previous generations may not have the same impact or motivation factor for this generation.  

Due to the endless positive feedback bestowed on generation Y kids from their parents, the young adults of this generation tend to be extremely confident. They tend to enter the workforce with high expectations both for themselves and for their employers. They have higher salary expectations and unlike previous generations, they don’t overly fear losing their job, as they have had the luxury of bouncing from one job to another until they found one that suits. This lack of fear tends to make them more outspoken and less afraid of the boss than previous generations.

This generation is likely to "work to live" rather than "live to work". Working assists them to do the things they really want to do. They would rather an interesting job for less money that allows them plenty of time out of the office (or working at home/flexible working) rather than putting in 12-hour days for a six-figure salary. In summary they want engaging work with opportunity for change and growth. Both on a personal and professional level.  They expect instant feedback at work, in the same way they receive feedback in their personal lives via text messages or "likes" on Facebook.  They want work to be an enjoyable experience and if this experience can include working with their friends in a casual and fun environment – even better!

So if you are looking to engage this generation consider the following motivation and retention strategies for 2014...

  • Share the company vision – This generation will look for meaning and by explaining your company vision you will give them a clearer sense of purpose.
  • Give encouragement and regular feedback – honest supportive feedback will go a long way; they have received this from a young age and continue to receive it via Facebook etc.
  • Coach rather than manage – Generation Y need to feel they are learning, and they especially appreciate being coached.
  • Offer more flexibility – Work life balance ranks high on their agenda. To Generation Y-ers, a 9-5 shift can seem like a prison sentence!
  • Stretch the comfort Zone - Generation Y people welcome new challenges.  
  • Provide education and professional development - Facilitating their continuing education and hobbies will go a long way towards keeping them happy and engaged
  • Promote team cohesiveness and social interaction - Team loyalty is a key tool for motivating and retaining Generation Y members who enjoy working in a team environment.
  • Give time for personal projects – Offer time to work on personal projects as this keeps them engaged and can also boost innovation within your business.
  • Set multiple tasks and goals in a structured way - They are excellent multi-taskers and enjoy variety at work.
  • Allow time for social causes – Generation Y feel responsible for making a difference in the world and like to give back via volunteering, supporting charities etc. Support them by allowing some flexibility in their hours to facilitate. It's good for them, it's good for your business and it's good for the world in general :)

Topics: Jobs, Employee Retention, Flexitime / Flexible Working Hours Arrangement, Work-Life Balance, Flexible Working, Working From Home, Motivation, Performance, Generation Y

New Research Paper: What Makes Employees Tick - Time or Money?

Posted by Mairead Walsh on Tue, Oct 22, 2013

Which would you prefer - more time or more money? Do live to work or work to live...? 

During the summer, I was at a conference and one the sessions that really stuck with me was delivered by Elizabeth Dunne, who is a US Author and "Happiness Researcher". In her session she spoke about what makes people happy. According to her research we regret not doing things in life much more than we regret not purchasing a material object. Experiences apparently bring more happiness and we essentially live by our experiential CV. We like to talk about things we have done rather than how much we have made...which leads me back to my original question - Which would you prefer - more time or more money?

I guess everyone is different and a lot can depend on where you are in your life. For example your career, marital status, family, dependents etc. etc. That said we wanted to delve further into this question and do some research to find out the general consensus. 

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Therefore we commissioned the largest global network of HR professionals, to conduct a survey on our behalf. The survey was essentially about finding out what would employees prefer - A 5 per cent pay increase or a flexible work schedule, so they could have more time to do the things they wanted to do in life.  We also looked at their overall satisfaction rating with work and if flexible working was available to them. 

Amongst other measurable data, the conclusion drew

  • 66.5% of employees would prefer flexible working and 33.5% would prefer a 5% pay increase
  • 30% of workers said they were on some kind of flexible work schedule
  • 69.4% are satisfied with their work environment
  • 93% said they would like flexible working but surprisingly only 53% per cent reported that their employer currently gives the option

Overall the paper makes quite interesting reading and is available for free to download.

Download Paper

Topics: Employee Retention, Flexible Working, Motivation

The team that eats together stays together...!

Posted by Mairead Walsh on Thu, Sep 5, 2013

We've all heard the advice that the "Family that eats together stays together". The experts say it assists with bonding, communication, healthier eating habits and a time for learning. Being a mum, I totally get all this. I’ve been listening and heeding every bit of advice I’ve got from fellow parents, websites and the collection of books under my bed that I’ve assembled over the years.

But I never thought about how this could work in a work setting. Our support department however appear to be well up on the benefits. Meet Adam, he’s from Softworks Support, there he is cooking breakfast for the team on the Softworks balcony!

What a great way to start your workday with your colleagues……Anyone for a sausage…  :)


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Topics: Softworks, Motivation, Performance

Blue Monday - How To Banish The January Blues

Posted by Mairead Walsh on Mon, Jan 21, 2013

How did you feel when you woke up this morning? If you woke up feeling a bit miserable, don’t worry you are not on your own and it will all seem better tomorrow :)

Today is “Blue Monday”, officially the most depressing day of the year.  According to psychologists, a combination of bad weather, financial stresses, and shattered New Year's resolutions have teamed up to make the 3rd Monday in January, the most depressing day of the year.

Employers see elevated levels of absenteeism during this time, with employees calling in sick with the flu or even Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). Days are short and lack of light has employees feeling unmotivated.

While the “science” behind Blue Monday may not really be science at all, this time of year is a great opportunity for employers to think about their policies and what they are doing to bring work-life balance to their employees. Employees are dealing with lower motivation this time of year, and the feeling of a need to take action. How, then, as an employer can you assist them to get through it?

Blue Monday depressed

Work-Life Balance

If you currently have work-life balance programs on offer, make sure that your employees are taking advantage of them. If you don’t currently offer flexible working, consider it for 2013. Flexible Working brings many benefits to an organisation and at this time of year, it enables employees to make the most of their daylight hours. Arriving and leaving work in the dark, can be very demoralising and flexible working gets over this problem.

Furthermore, during this time of year, it's not only work that suffers due to low motivation, but personal tasks do as well. When employees leave the office in the dark, there is little motivation to run personal errands. Stress levels increase, as more tasks end up not getting done and lists get longer. By assisting your employees keep on top of things in their personal lives, they will stay focused, motivated and engaged at work.

Could your organisation offer a better work life-fit?  We recently published a new white paper which you are very welcome to download and circulate free of charge. In this paper, we examine the pros and cons of introducing flexible working.  We tell it straight, based on 20 years’ experience in this area, so that organisations can make an informed decision on whether or not it is right for your employees, specific departments and/or your organisation in general. Click here to download


Further News about Flexible Working & Employee Motivation & Engagement



Topics: Employee Retention, Flexitime / Flexible Working Hours Arrangement, Absenteeism, Work-Life Balance, Work-Life Balance, Flexible Working, Motivation

From The Boxing Ring to the Boardroom…

Posted by Mairead Walsh on Wed, Aug 15, 2012

Softworks Irish staff was treated to a bird’s eye view of Katie Taylor's return to Ireland this week with her coveted Olympic gold medal. Softworks head office is based in the seaside town of Bray and Katie is a well-known local and extremely popular celebrity. There was huge excitement here during the Olympics and we were delighted to view her return from our office balcony, where she gave us our very own wave – Thanks Katie!

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So what’s next for Katie? She is undoubtedly at the top of her boxing game and we also know that she is a very talented soccer player, but has she considered the board room? According to a new paper from Ernst & Young, Sport is leading the way in improving gender equality in business by challenging sexist stereotypes.

The white paper, High achievers: recognizing the power of women to spur business and economic growth, focuses on the foundation that women have established in sports; the impact they are now making in all segments of business and society; and the work that remains. It also examines the anticipated impact of women as the largest emerging market in the world, with women’s global incomes growing from US$13 trillion to US$18 trillion in the next five years – that incremental US$5 trillion is almost twice the growth in GDP expected from China and India combined.

Beth Brooke, Global Vice Chair of Public Policy at Ernst & Young, comments: “How can we harness the immense potential of women for the improvement of society and the economy? Supporting their participation in sports and education, leading initiatives that increase their presence in senior leadership and on corporate boards, and helping them to start and grow their companies, are a few ways to level the playing field.

“As we celebrate this year’s Games and athletes, and look toward the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, we must continue to foster the growth of one of the world’s most promising emerging markets: women.” You can get more information about this report here

Whatever you decide to do next Katie, we have no doubt you will have continued success and from all at Softworks we wish you well.

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Topics: Women In Business, Motivation, Performance

New Study: Executives in India less willing to accept pay cuts for the ideal job

Posted by Triona Cahalane on Fri, Jun 29, 2012

A recent PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) and London School of Economics (LSE) study entitled “Making Executive Pay work – Psychology of Incentives” has identified Indian executives as those that are less willing to take a pay cut for the idea job. The survey is based on 1,106 participants across 43 countries including 83 from India.

Softworks WorkforceThe report mentioned that while executive pay has risen considerably over the years, there is a growing factor with regards the complexity of the reward model even among the Indian executives. This is highlighted via the fact that 50% of the executives in India will pick a clearer pay package than a more ambiguous one.

To compare with other countries around the world, executives have said that they would take a 28% pay cut for their ideal job, in comparison to Indian executives with only 24% which is the lowest rate across all countries. 

Padmaja Alaganandan, Executive Director–Consulting, PwC India said: "Only a limited number of executives will be motivated by highly leveraged and volatile pay packages, hence providing choice and flexibility in pay programmes is essential. Executives value deferred pay significantly below its economic or accounting value – a deferred bonus is typically discounted by around 50% over three years. However, it is the recognition that participation in Long Term Incentive programmes confers, as well as the fairness with respect to equity with peers that makes the difference."

Topics: Motivation

Are you realising your employees’ full value?

Posted by Mairead Walsh on Tue, May 8, 2012

Today’s most successful brands differentiate themselves by their workforce 


CEOsTime and time again we hear company CEOs and Managing directors say “Our greatest asset is not in our inventory or our sales or our products—but in our people."

This is of course very true, however as an organisation, are you actually realising and leveraging your employees’ full value?

Was your brand built from the inside out? Did you start with your employees and your corporate culture? If not this could be the perfect opportunity to revisit this area. It could be time to see how well your brand sits with your internal workforce management policies, procedures and work practices. With social media and word-of-mouth marketing a reality of today’s workplace, what happens inside is reflected in the way you and your people are perceived on the outside.

Leading companies today are realising that their employees need to be an integral part of their brand. If you really want to leverage your greatest asset – your workforce, you need to strike a balance between the needs of your business and the needs of your employees.

By achieving this balance, you can attract, retain and develop your workforce, who will in turn assist you, achieve your goals and most importantly put a human face to your organisation. The so called 9 to 5/eight hour working day originated out of necessity during the Industrial Revolution in Britain in the 1800s.  So much has changed since then in terms of how, when and where we do business, it makes you wonder why we are holding onto a working day that was created over 200 years ago.

CEOs and managing directors have come to realise that In order to compete effectively in today’s business environment, they need their workforce to both understand and share their vision.  It is the workforce who will be instrumental in the successful implementation of an organisation’s objectives.  The recognition of the importance of achieving this buy-in from the entire organisation has prompted active involvement by CEOs and Managing Directors in workforce managment projects. This involvement proves to their employees, both their commitment and their understanding of how their workforce is paramount to the success of the business.  

If you would like to read more about why today’s CEOs and Managing Directors recognise both the importance and the benefits of taking an active role in Workforce Managment Projects, you are very welcome to download our free guide.

Topics: Employee Retention, Workforce Solutions, Work-Life Balance, Motivation

Do Happier People Work Harder?

Posted by Triona Cahalane on Thu, Oct 13, 2011

According to the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index, which has been polling more than 1,000 adults every day since 2008, Americans now feel worse about their jobs and work environments than ever before. People of all ages, and across income levels, are unhappy with their supervisors, apathetic about their organizations, and detached from what they do. 
And there’s no reason to think things will soon improve!

Why are employees so downtrodden? It might have to do with poor employee engagement. The authors of The Progress Principle, Teresa Amabile and Steven Kramer, write that

“Employee engagement may seem like a frill in a downturn economy. But it can make a big difference in a company’s survival. In a 2010 study, James K. Harter and colleagues found that lower job satisfaction foreshadowed poorer bottom-line performance. Gallup estimates the cost of America’s disengagement crisis at a staggering $300 billion in lost productivity annually. When people don’t care about their jobs or their employers, they don’t show up consistently, they produce less, or their work quality suffers. 

According to an article in The New York Times, Amabile and Kramer collected 12,000 diary entries from 238 professionals in seven different companies. They found one-third of the participants was unhappy, unmotivated, or both.

“Our research shows that inner work life has a profound impact on workers’ creativity, productivity, commitment, and collegiality.” 

This means that employees are far more creative on days when they feel happier and perform better when they’re engaged in their work.

Topics: Absenteeism, Work-Life Balance, Motivation