There are few people who don't complain about their commute to work. Whether it's leaves on the line, road rage or just the British weather, the experience is rarely rewarding.
One rail operator recently suggested that they fared poorly in customer satisfaction surveys simply because they were associated with the dreaded 9 to 5. If you are cursing a ten-mile tailback or being pressed under the armpits of your fellow passengers, should you at least be glad you don't fall into the category of "extreme commuter". To earn this dubious accolade you need to complete a marathon three-hour each way commute.
House prices are rising and even formerly cheap areas of major cities are being snapped up by developers. Throw in job insecurity in an era of global economic uncertainty and it's no wonder that people are reluctant to quit a job just because of the journey home.
The latest Office of National Statistics data on the personal impact of commuting raises an interesting question; should employers care? According to the figures, the first 15 minutes of a commute can be considered the honeymoon period with limited commuter stress or anxiety irrespective of the means of transport.
The worst effects are experienced by those whose commute lasts between 61 and 90 minutes. Additionally, those travelling by underground, light railway or tram for over 30 minutes had a lower sense that daily activities were worthwhile compared with those with a 15 minute commute or less.
There's a limit as to what employers can achieve in respect of urban property prices or modes of transport. But there are things that they could do. What about allowing employees to use flexible working patterns to avoid stressful rush hours?
Doing an early or later working week could help employees dodge the rush-hour. This, in turn, can yield dividends for a forward-thinking employer. Greater employee well-being and loyalty could then lead to greater productivity and job satisfaction.
On the flip side, although employees may be prepared to suffer their commute now, as the economy improves, unhappy employees may start re-assessing their options.
For employers perhaps the most interesting figures were the ONS's findings on cycling. Those donning the dreaded Lycra every morning for more than 30 minutes had equivalent levels of stress and anxiety to those honeymooners with a 15 minute commute.
While it might appear counterintuitive to anyone who has watched cyclists and buses battle it out on the daily grind, the positive impacts of cycling to work extend beyond the simple fitness/ pollution argument to general office well-being.
The findings suggest that expansion of "cycle to work" schemes and providing better facilities such as showers and lockers could have a positive impact on the mental well-being and not just the physique of the workforce.
Cable backs all-female shortlists
Previous blogs have discussed the government's target of 25% of FTSE 100 board positions to be held by women in 2015. Cable has now publicly backed the controversial suggestion of an all-female shortlist. The argument is that either consciously or unconsciously a male recruiter is more likely to recruit somebody like them, i.e. male, and that this is the only way of achieving those targets.
Aside from the issue that all-female shortlists arguably undermine successful candidates, making them vulnerable to suggestions that they were not the best candidate for the job, there is also a legal question of discrimination. Cable has joined recruiters in seeking guidance on the legality of the shortlists from the Equalities and Human Rights Commission.
The issue is whether all candidates would have to be objectively assessed on their merits first, and if so, at what point the all-female list could be produced. If each candidate must be assessed on 'all criteria specific to the candidates' then the implication is that such a shortlist could only feature late in the recruitment process after interviews had been conducted and only if the women were all of equal or higher suitability than those excluded.
Research from the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) states that 30% of workers are overqualified for their jobs, and there are far fewer graduate jobs than graduates, "meaning that too many people's skills are being under-utilised in the economy".
Statistics suggest the UK has a higher proportion of low-skilled jobs than any country in the OECD except Spain. 22% of UK jobs require no more than primary education, compared with less than 5% in Germany and Sweden.
This has implications not just for our benefits bill, but also our productivity levels. Chief executive of CIPD, Peter Cheese, argues that we have increased the supply of skills but we now need to increase the demand.