The summer breeze blows in yet more HR advice on keeping cool and a slightly bemusing piece of research about UK workers’ supremacy to the rest of Europe – apparently we are more selfless
It’s a lovely summer’s day. It’s hot, but not we’re not exactly at Spanish sierra or Death Valley levels – yet.
Regular readers will know that HR just loves a heatwave; it springs into action just as other employees are drooping like unwatered begonias, offering a range of frankly superfluous advice – have a cool drink, shut the curtains, freeze a hot water bottle overnight and put it by your feet. That sort of thing.
The advice might be superfluous but those of us of a certain age may remember being told by our parents that having a hot cup of tea is helpful on warm days. Now older and wiser we can safely say this advice was surely about as useful as leaving carrots out for Santa’s reindeers on Christmas Eve.
Thankfully, fewer of us are embarking on those intolerably sweaty commutes these days, although visitors who piled into that well known greenhouse the Olympia exhibition centre for the CIPD Festival of Work this week may shudder at the memory. Instead, we swelter at home, enacting Boris Johnson’s remarks about visiting the fridge too often, although not for cheese.
Extra PCs, printers, photocopies, servers, lights – all of these generate excess heat. Anything you’re not using, turn off – it’ll make a difference” – Hub Events
This comment may irritate on a hot day but don’t blame HR. Turn your ire onto Regulation 7 of the Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992, which simply states that temperatures inside buildings “shall be reasonable”. Macdonald adds: “It’s likely that a top-figure doesn’t exist because of complications it would cause to certain industries which naturally work indoors in hot conditions – glass factories for example.”
A lighthearted take on HR
Putting a figure on heat would be hard anyway. The Met Office defines heatwave temperatures county by county, so that what’s a heatwave in one place would not be considered to be too hot in another. For example the threshold has been set at 28C in Surrey but 26C in East Yorkshire. To apply it to temperatures deemed comfortable for working could mean people having to work in Surrey at 27C despite colleagues calling it a day in Yorkshire. The Met Office has adjusted the temperatures as heatwaves become more likely because of global warming.
One “hack” that might misfire from Hub Events: Macdonald writes: “Turn Off Machines. Extra PCs, printers, photocopies, servers, lights – all of these generate excess heat. Anything you’re not using, turn off – it’ll make a difference.” The temptation to turn everything off will doubtless become too much once employees start on that route.
Certainly employees will expect employers to be full of compassion when it comes to staff beavering away in the heat. Particularly because the UK workforce is the most “compassionate” in Europe, apparently. New research by recruiter Randstad UK of 16,500 European workers has found that when asked if they wouldn’t mind earning less money if they felt their job was contributing something to society or the world, over a third (36%) of Brits said they’d sacrifice their pay for the greater good.
Selfless Brits lead the world
Randstad claims this makes us more compassionate than workers in other countries. A helpful league table shows that workers in Hungary are the least compassionate (19%), closely followed by those famously unhelpful Norwegians (20%). The French, also defeated by the English at Agincourt in 1415, were worryingly close to the UK in terms of compassion at 32%. And of course it’s very important we beat the Germans, if narrowly (also 32%).
It’s odd that earning less money is thought of as “compassionate”. And who gets to decide what “the greater good” is? The boss? There are quite a few legendary bosses who seem to define the greater good as being their own bonuses. Perhaps this is what makes those Norwegians so much less “compassionate”.
The French, also beaten by the English at Agincourt in 1415, were worryingly close in terms of compassion at 32%”
Victoria Short, the CEO of Randstad UK, says: “Our research suggests that, in the UK, we’re keener to prioritise doing meaningful, vocational work than the Germans or the French. Even workers in Nordic countries with famously comprehensive welfare systems; multi-level collective bargaining based on the economic foundations of social corporatism; a sizable percentage of the population employed by the public sector; and a high percentage of the workforce unionised – aren’t as public-spirited as us.”
Eyebrow-raising stuff and possibly one in need of a response from the Norwegians!
‘Brits want important work’
She adds: “We care more about the inherent significance of the job than our European neighbours do. Brits want to do important work. We want to know that we are making a difference. That we are being an important member of society moving things forward.”
However, Hungarian workers do get some credit: “If you want to maximise how much you make, there are ways to do that – and all power to the Hungarians with their focus on the bottom line.
“But some of the jobs that pay the most can be incredibly boring, leaving you feeling like you’ve sold out. Pay is not the be all and end all of the world of work. Well, certainly not in this country.”
Such stirring words. They bring to mind Winston Churchill’s famous speech: “Never before in the field of HR research has so much been deduced ….”