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January 31, 2014

Also in the news this week – 31 January 2014

Work-life balance is a struggle for many

Half of all adults say they have an uneven work-life balance, according to a new study into the health and happiness of 2,000 men and women commissioned by Tilda. More than half said their stress levels had risen in the past 12 months amid a struggle to find the right balance between work and family life. In addition, it seems many of us are finding it hard to switch off – with one in four saying they only stop thinking about work last thing at night. Over half the study say their work life has impacted on their personal relationships and in some cases led to poor health.

Crowdcube to launch managed fund

Crowdcube has launched a managed investment fund for people who want to buy shares in start-up or early-stage British businesses. The Fund will enable them to build a portfolio of equity investments selected by a professional fund manager from those businesses listed on Crowdcube. Darren Westlake, CEO and co-founder of Crowdcube, said: "This will appeal to investors who love the idea of equity crowdfunding as part of their investment strategy but don't have the time, or inclination, to fully research opportunities and create their own diversified portfolio."

Smartphone sales soar

The latest data from Juniper Research shows that the sales of smartphones saw a year-on-year growth of 39% in 2013 – with the total number of smartphone shipments in Q4 2013 reaching 280 million. The research shows that Samsung dominated the market, but it also finds that Apple sold a record 51 million iPhones in Q4 2013. Sales are also up for LG, but Nokia saw sales of its handsets drop by nearly 30% in Q4 2013. Other smartphone vendors, including Lenovo, Huawei and ZTE, have improved their smartphone market share year-on-year.

Self-employed need health and safety regs too

Safety experts are warning prime minister David Cameron not to exempt the self-employed from safety law. The Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH) issued a statement following Cameron's recent address to the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB). IOSH head of policy and public affairs Richard Jones said: "IOSH fully supports the simplification of legislation and guidance, but is against lowering of standards that could lead to more accidents and deaths. As we have made clear to government, we think it would be unhelpful, unnecessary and unwise to exempt certain self-employed from health and safety law, as the Government is proposing."

Password angst could be a thing of the past

The need to remember passwords could be removed by advances in security technology. Facebanx has developed an innovative new log-in using face and voice recognition. It is claimed that this will not only solve the problem of forgotten passwords but also help to combat cyber crime. Facebanx's CEO, Matthew Silverstone, said: "By simply pointing a device's camera and taking a selfie and then repeating out loud four randomly generated numbers, customers will be able to log into their account within seconds." A number of businesses – including banks – are currently trialling the software with a view to rolling it out for their customers.

Flexibility is a major motivator

Employers looking to avoid costly staff turnover should put flexible working at the top of their agenda for 2014. That's the conclusion of a new survey of 2,600 UK business owners and managers by Regus. It has found that 76% believe flexible working improves staff retention and 71% consider flexibility a key measure in attracting new talent. Three-quarters of those polled also claim that they would pick one job over another if it offered greater flexibility. In addition, 74% of office workers believe flexible working makes them more productive.