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Political power game

first_imgImmigration minister: Get your sponsor licence applications in nowThe minister for future borders and immigration has advised employers wishing to continue to recruit skilled workers from abroad next… Comments are closed. Previous Article Next Article Political power gameOn 27 Feb 2001 in Blacklisting, Personnel Today Over 1,000 UK redundancies expected at G4S Cash SolutionsSecurity company G4S is planning to cut more than a quarter of jobs in its cash handling business amid the… Inmany ways getting promoted is similar to getting elected. You have to act and speakconvincingly, and be seen in the right places with the right people. So withthe General Election looming, and with tongue firmly in cheek, we present ourown promotion-winning manifesto for the profession. By Jane LewisPERSONNELOFFICERWhereto be seen At the annual CIPD conference – acting on the principle that thebest way to get ahead is by behaving as if you’ve already been promoted. Whatto wear On the same principle as above, dress like your manager. If this isa disaster-zone (probably quite likely) dress in the way you think your managershould be dressed. At this stage it’s important to play safe with appearance.Pay particular attention to grooming. For women: A pair of well-shaped eyebrowscan prove a very useful indicator of efficiency, dedication to detail and pridein oneself. But don’t overdo it or you’ll be perceived as a hard-liner.Whatto say “I’ve got a few problems with this title ‘personnel officer’. Is itpossible for me to have a title that doesn’t sound like it’s come from anepisode of Some Mothers Do ’Ave ’Em?” Or: “HR is the new marketing.”Whatnot to say “Clear off, you little troll.” (HR is notorious for preachinghow to treat people nicely – and then doing exactly the reverse).Whoto be seen with That astonishingly able New Dealer you argued for, hiredand brought on, and who now considers you his mentor.Whonot to be seen with Other members of your own department. What a waste ofnetworking opportunity! For your own good, get in with the business groups.Whatto carry The latest Nokia phone (still the most stylish). Ideally youshould be seen to be habitually texting away in business-like fashion. Thishints at a great range of contacts.Pitfallsto avoid Appearing on The Weakest Link (involves a 90 per cent chanceof humiliation).Opportunitiesto grab Shift all that tiresome payroll stuff over to that obliging doormatin accounts. Make sure you do your CCP and CIPD qualifications. Eye-catchinginitiatives Run a prominent charity scheme and get it written about in thelocal paper.PERSONNELMANAGERWhereto be seen Inspiring your team in a range of transformational exercises inretreat at Babington House, Gloucestershire. – scene of BBC2’s recent programmeConfidence Lab. Make sure you make an impression at any conference specific toyour industry. Have a distinctive view on how business ought to work from thepeople point of view.Whatto wear For women: Show your cutting edge by dressing up while everyoneelse is dressing down. This season’s fashion is on your side, the 1980ssemi-androgynous look is back, so an ideal outfit this spring would be apin-striped trouser-suit. If a return to 1980s style is more than you can bear,suits with zip-fronted jackets still look modern and on the pace. Above all,ditch last year’s feminine frippery look – beaded/braided cardigans and prettyskirts.  For men: Dressing down withstyle is still where it’s at. Nobody ever got fired for wearing Paul Smith.Whatto say The priority here is to get across a credible explanation as to whyyou are in middle HR management (possibly the worst strategic position to be inif you want to make it to the top). Something like “If you have to set policyyou should also have to implement it,” might do. Or: “I believe in doing theday job well.”Whatnot to say “The unions are our partners” (recent events at Corus show thesheer wrong-headedness of this). Whoto be seen with Any fast-track HR director (choose one from another firm ifyours isn’t up to pace). Being seen as a camp-follower of someone good is oneof the best ways of eliciting interest from headhunters.Whonot to be seen with One of the many hordes of business psychologists nowstalking the business scene. The point is you can take “soft” only so far. Thelosing brief at a high-profile industrial tribunal.Whatto carry The latest executive toys – especially a next generationpalm-pilot like Visor Handspring. That said, you should also still offerproperly printed business cards.Pitfallsto avoid Exposing flabby arms in a spaghetti strap dress at professionalaward ceremonies. Assuming responsibility for yet another failed implementationof the HR software that was supposed to issue in a new era of knowledgemanagement.  Becoming known among staffas the person who insisted on e-mail content scanning.Opportunitiesto grab Change management of any sort. It might be worthwhile campaigningfor any sort of change, just so you can say you managed it. Shape the companyintranet into something really worthwhile logging on to.Eye-catchinginitiatives Champion any scheme guaranteed to help build up your personalpower-base among staff. Delta Airline’s idea of putting a PC in everyemployee’s home is a winner – especially if they log onto your zappy, happeningintranet.HRDIRECTORWhereto be seen Out and about in the City (whether your company is listed ornot). Standing up to Paxman on Newsnight (but make sure you do).Whatto wear Time to up the dress stakes. Women: Need to inspire respect fromother women, whether senior or junior, by wearing recognisably designer suitsand choosing exactly the right kind of heel for their court shoe (conical thisyear, apparently). If you’re dealing with men, don’t worry – they won’t notice,so just look smart. Men: Need at least two properly tailored suits, severalshirts from Pinks, and discreet cufflinks. On no account wear gimmickcufflinks. If you’re feeling racy you might consider a pair of braces: MichaelDouglas’ Gordon Gecko character in Wall Street is still an icon in terms of thego-getter business executive look.Whatto sayThereare two opposing schools of thought here. One insists that most successful HRdirectors are characterised by their ability to talk (often meaningless)strategic babble – it doesn’t matter if you can’t put it into practice as longas it sounds good and includes the phrase “human capital”. Buta second school of thought insists this approach is an absolute no-no – unlessyou’re in the position to back up your nebulous remarks with hard evidence.“When I hear the phrase ‘people capital’ it makes me reach for the sick-bag,”says one investment banker.Whatnot to say“Peopleoften ask how I cope with the administrative and, let’s face it, psychological burdenof having some 1,200 souls in my care…but I can just about manage if all theMyers Briggs indicators add up.”Whoto be seen with Any self-respecting HR director needs to have a couple oftame academics in tow. Big cheeses to aim at: David Norburn, Dean of ImperialCollege London; Lynda Gratton at London Business School (being associated withher Leading Edge Forum will boost your business HR credentials). If you canhook up with a prominent international academic, so much the better forgravitating upwards to a global position. Any inspirational change agent:George Davies (ex-Next and Asda, now M&S hoped-for saviour is a goodexample.)Whonot to be seen with Geoff Armstrong: or any of the old guard at CIPD.Unless: a) you’ve been brought in to overhaul the organisation b) you’re aftera role in a super-trad Blue Chip. Headhunters: It’s bad business manners towear your disloyalty on your sleeve (and an even worse move to be suspected ofmaking a career change into headhunting).Whatto carry A copy of Harvard Business Review with your influential article on“Transformational Business Practice” in it.Pitfallsto avoid Giving out tickets to the opera or ballet to people in the Cityyou want to influence (unless female). “I’ve slept through Giselle six times,”is a common refrain. Much better to play safe with big sporting events thateveryone wants to attend.  Having yourcompany blacklisted as unethical by student unions – predicted to be a newlypotent political force.Opportunitiesto grab Lunch with Unilever chief executive officer Niall Fitzgerald in thepenthouse conservatory of the company’s Blackfriars’ HQ. Not only is Fitzgeraldconsidered the new wave CEO, but he’s credited with trying to get to grips withthe HR Paradox (whatever that might be). Also, the food is among the bestserved in corporate Britain.Eye-catchinginitiatives Follow BAe Systems’ example and announce you intend to subjectyour company’s senior management to “trial by workforce” to establish salary levels.(Important caveat: make sure you keep senior management sweet by ensuring thescheme has no teeth).GLOBALHR DIRECTORWhereto be seen Taking part in any international “arts in business” installation– being a patron of the avant-garde arts has huge snob value in top corporatecircles and also ensures access to quasi-political circles. On board theinaugural flight of the re-vamped Concorde.Whatto wear Women: At this stage you can afford to look haughtilyunapproachable: and you need to stress your international glamour. AmericanVogue editor Anna Wintour (dark glasses, severe fringe, cashmere everything)might be a good role model. Men: Tailored suits as before, but you might go fora more interesting colour, so long as it is taupe, beige or stone. Look as ifyou’re ready to do a TV interview at any time – and wear Paraboot shoes (Frenchequivalent of Church’s –  but much moresassy). Whatto say “The main conundrum facing HR is how to deal with the very differentperspective on loyalty. We need to find ways of encouraging those employees wholeave to build up their careers to see us as their alma mater.”Whatnot to say “Doesn’t anyone speak English round here?”Whoto be seen with For ultimate new-business credibility: Naomi Klein, authorof No Logo. Any international hard-hitter from the Murdoch dynasty through toex-Pearson chief Valerie Scardino and Oracle chief Larry Ellison.Whonot to be seen with Any dodgy, or potentially dodgy, politician. BillGates.Whatto carry A copy of The Economist with you pictured on the cover shakinghands with Nelson Mandela. Any number of Louis Vuitton luggage accessories. Pitfallsto avoid Over-exposure to air travel: continually bloated stomach, becomingan airport bore, forgetting to take off your Virgin long-haul snuggly slippersbefore attending an important meeting. Spending too much time away from HQ andlosing your grip on boardroom politics. Doing any kind of texting whatsoever –no senior executive should risk arthritis of the thumb by sending stupid messages.Opportunitiesto grab Managing a massive global expansion programme. Hiring a really goodfirm of due diligence people: useful to get some dirt on rivals for the CEOjob.Eye-catchinginitiatives Organising an international office swap. Broadcasting a regularpersonal message to staff worldwide over the intranet. Related posts:last_img read more

Telecoms firms let best staff slip through fingers

first_imgTelecomsfirms are poor at recruiting and retaining high standard employees, accordingto a report.Thestudy by HR consultancy Watson Wyatt reveals that most telecoms companies havehuman resources practices that provide good value to shareholders, but are notgood at attracting and keeping the best employees.DougRoss, Watson Wyatt partner and co-author of the firm’s European Human CapitalIndex, said, “It shows that many telecoms companies do not have clear policiesfor retaining their better performing employees. “Theytend to have HR policies which encourage the retention of both good and lessgood performers within the organisation. Our research suggests that this willhave a negative impact on their financial performance.”VirginMobile’s HR director agreed. Lily Lu said, “The telecoms industry has been poorin the past in keeping good employees happy, but I do believe that the industryis improving.”Thestudy also shows that a significant improvement in key HR practices hascontributed to an increase of more than a quarter in telecoms companies’ stockmarket values.Lusaid, “Staff incentives and reward schemes are now commonplace within theindustry. At Virgin we have a bonus system that every employee is part of.Individual bonuses depend on the companies performance as well as theindividuals.”Mobilephone giant Orange dismissed the report’s findings and claims that it does notsuffer from the retention and promotional problems highlighted by the survey.Aspokesperson said, “We employ a number of strategies designed to attract andretain good staff. The company has a commitment to providing careerdevelopment, exciting and varied opportunities and good rewards. This hasensured that Orange has not experienced problems in retaining staff.”TheHR policies in telecoms companies that help recruit and retain good staffinclude sharing information, well-integrated leadership practices andconsistent pan-European HR practices, claims the report.TheWatson Wyatt European Human Capital Index is based on a study of 200 companiesacross Europe. www.watsonwyatt.comByPaul Nelson Comments are closed. Previous Article Next Article Related posts:No related photos. Telecoms firms let best staff slip through fingersOn 20 Mar 2001 in Personnel Todaylast_img read more

Clean up your act

first_imgAreyou getting the most out of your IT systems and software packages?  A spring clean will help clear out thedebris and is also a good time to revisit forgotten capabilities thatoriginally drew you too choose that system, writes Rob McLuhanAn IT system does not normally need an engineer coming round with an oil canto keep it going. Although in many respects it is self-maintaining, a goodspring clean once in a while can help keep it in peak condition. Some of the work will involve the IT support team or vendor carrying outtechnical checks. However, there is much that HR can do itself to optimise thesystem’s performance by overhauling its content and applications. “A regular clear-out can have some amazing benefits in terms of use andefficiency,” says Paul Beaumont, production director HR Payroll atMicrosoft Great Plains Business Solutions. As a starting point he recommendslooking to see how quickly the system operates. Now that the cost of storage has plummeted, hard drives are capable ofstoring huge amounts of data. But they are still finite, and eventually therewill come a time when the system slows from the accumulated weight of years ofinput. That will leave staff tapping their fingers while information is beingretrieved. “When the database is clean it might take less than half a second toretrieve a file, but within six months it could slow to two seconds,”Beaumont says. “After a year it could be more than five seconds – slowenough to be an irritation.” The problem here is disk fragmentation. Lack of space means parcels of dataare distributed increasingly widely in the system instead of being stored in asingle location. Where insertions, updates and deletions are constantly beingmade, it takes time to gather the information and reassemble it as a singlerecord. A first step is to back up all data on magnetic tapes or digital storagewhile IT “defrags” the entire database – the equivalent of emptying aroom of furniture to give it a good clean. Once the data is reimported the system should be much more responsive. However, speed is affected by the working of the network as a whole, and thenext stage should be to check how many users are connected. “Try tofine-tune the system to peak periods,” suggests Beaumont. “There maybe times when access is higher than on a day-to-day basis, such as end-of-monthprocessing. Monitoring the uses of the system could uncover bottlenecks whereIT could do some beefing up.” One problem here could develop as a result of the increasing popularity ofemployee self-service. “You can anticipate an abnormally large number ofpeople applying for leave at Christmas and Easter, and there will also be ahigh level of traffic just after the year end as individuals are accessingtheir P60 forms online,” says Mark O’Dowd, head of HR solutions at SAP UK.”It is a good idea to sit down every so often with the IT department tofind ways of balancing the peaks and troughs.” Similarly, each time the HR department is about to make a new serviceavailable to employees or managers they need to think about whether theperformance will be satisfactory, he adds. If users find it hard to use thesystem they will be put off. The start of a new year, whether calendar or financial, is an excellent timeto look at the data held within it, and this should be the next major area tolook at, says Jim Nugent, head of strategic development for service delivery atRebusHR. Hard decisions need to be made about what to keep and what to throw away.Much data may have outlived its usefulness: absence records more than threeyears old, leavers and unsuccessful candidates, vacancies, old course bookings– all can all be reviewed and where necessary deleted. “When we implement a new system companies often want to transfer datathey previously held,” Nugent says. “But we ask them if they actuallyneed to. What purpose does it have and what is its value? In many cases itturns out there is none – if it doesn’t drive the business it is just taking updisk space.” Statutory regulations mean that employee and other business data has to beheld for several years. But if the necessary period of time has elapsed thereis no reason why the data cannot be archived in an offline storage facility. Legislative changes are frequent and affect HR more than most departments.Payroll will need to be updated with new tax rates, increases in nationalinsurance, or changes to reporting procedures on company cars, for example. “This can be a nightmare for HR,” says Mark O’Dowd, head of HRsolutions at SAP UK. The company offers its customers legal change packages,notifying them ahead of time of what to expect. That is an opportunity for HRto liaise with IT, providing the necessary information about its internalprocesses and ensuring updates are assimilated onto the system. O’Dowd also stresses the need to store information with appropriate datestamps, ensuring material can be efficiently retrieved from the archives. Forinstance, if an employee’s address changes, the system will record the exact datefrom which the new one is valid and the old one defunct, ensuring it cancross-reference accurately in the future if the need arises. Michael Richards, managing director of Snowdrop Systems, also suggestsreviewing content such as holiday and sickness codes. His company providessupport to define those at the implementation stage, but over a period somewill become redundant. “You can mess up your data if you have two codesthat mean the same thing, but it’s a fairly easy process to go through and updatethem. It is important to do this if the system has been in place for a fewyears.” Then take a look at the standard letters, he suggests. Do they adhere tocorporate standards and are they applicable in terms of HR legislation? Reviewthose aspects which have the most value and make any necessary adjustments. Another area that needs checking is the accuracy of employee details. Wherestaff are using intranet self-service these records are less likely to be outof date, but it is still useful to overhaul the system from time to time.”About 50 per cent of all our new customers since last summer have somesort of intranet, but anyone who has had a system in place for more than twoyears should carry out a review,” Richards says. Moving on to the next stage, HR should ensure it is getting the most out ofits system. Often, an organisation may intend to fully use it, but because ofstaff changes or other reasons some facilities are forgotten or ignored. “As time goes by facilities become increasingly hidden, and you end upnot using them,” says Richards. Snowdrop offers one- or two-day systemhealth checks, going back to the client and running through all its features toidentify those that are not being used. Typically, it might find that only three or four out of five key facilitiesare being used properly, often those that are less obvious but might still havea bearing on HR strategy. One neglected feature enables Word documents to beattached to an individual job record rather than being stored elsewhere on theHR server. That means the document can be read from directly within the systeminstead of having to be searched out. Spring is as good a time as ever to remember why you bought the IT system orsoftware package and review what difference it has made to your performance,says Ian Murison, sales director at Wealden Computing Services.”Invariably, people buy systems based on what they have been shown by thevendor,” he says. “They are attracted by all the sophisticated thingsit can do, but end up using it as an electronic filing cabinet.” One of Wealden’s features is diary task management, which sets up schedulesfor reminders and the creation of documents. “People say this is exactlywhat they want, and then we come back a year later and find no-one is using it.They have got bogged down in administration – the very reason they bought thesystem in the first place.” So a yearly maintenance session could include a further demonstration fromthe vendor plus training, reminding staff of what the system can do andensuring that they take full advantage of it. This can have a positive bearingon the overall HR performance, Murison points out. For example, the diary can be used to alert managers to the end of aprobationary period and offer to generate a questionnaire asking what action totake, a routine process that often gets overlooked or tackled at the lastminute. Or it could remind HR about the progress of a disciplinary reviewperiod, which might affect the outcome of an industrial tribunal. “Morecompanies lose cases because they didn’t follow their own disciplinaryprocedures than for any other single reason,” Murison says. Another feature might be document generation. Check to see whether you haveset up the templates as you planned at the implementation stage, or whetherthey need amending. Look at the generation of organisational charts – are theybeing produced as easily as it looked in the original demonstration? Andquestion whether the information is getting beyond the HR management as intended,benefiting the whole organisation. Many problems occur with systems because of lax security. About 60 per centof companies have suffered a security breach, costing an average of £16,000each, according to research last year by the DTI. A spring clean needs to take account of how seriously users are taking this.If an informal audit of monitors reveals passwords scribbled on Post-it notes,file covers or blotters, it is time to take action. Finally, it can be useful to look beyond the system at the businessprocesses that surround it. “The software industry is criticised forforcing companies to do business in certain ways, but many organisations haveingrained processes that aren’t rooted in good strategy,” says LarryDonivan, vice-president of global development for Lawson. Lawson provides best practice performance indicators and external marketdata, enabling customers to discover attributes such as cost and time per hire.But from time to time the department needs to ensure it is carrying out thesemeasurements and is collecting the data it needs to analyse it over time. He says, “We can create sophisticated systems but they are only as goodas the data you put in,” Donivan says. “If you are going to carry outmeasurements, you need to ensure the business process is workingproperly.” For instance, he says, recruiters are notoriously poor at managing their CVintake, which they tend to keep in file folders instead of automating.”When the process is complete there are piles of candidates, hired or not, but no processes exist to collect that data efficiently.” How far you want to go with an annual overhaul will depend on the resourcesavailable and how well the system was functioning to begin with. Turning ahouse upside down for a spring clean will just cause disruption if order isn’trestored quickly. But even a little attention, judiciously and regularlyapplied, is certain to make a difference. Comments are closed. Previous Article Next Article Related posts:No related photos. Clean up your actOn 1 May 2001 in Personnel Todaylast_img read more

Survey signals confusion over retirement issue

first_imgSurvey signals confusion over retirement issueOn 23 Oct 2001 in Personnel Today Chief executives should be forced to retire before 65, according to morethan three-quarters of people taking part in a survey by the Employers Forum onAge. But when asked about their personal retirement plans, nearly 75 per cent ofrespondents say they should be allowed to choose when they stop working. Retirement in the 21st Century reveals that 40 per cent of respondents wantretirement ages abolished altogether. Nearly half of the 1,000 surveyed believe a set retirement age encouragesage discrimination. A similar proportion, however, think that politicians and judges shouldretire at 60. Only one in 10 believe these professions should carry no maximumage limit. Sam Mercer, campaign director for the EFA, said, “There seems to bemass confusion and unrealistic expectations of being able to work for 30 yearsand retire for 30 years. This is clearly not sustainable and it is a situationthat will only get worse.” Previous Article Next Article Comments are closed. Related posts:No related photos.last_img read more

Let’s put the human factor back into HR

first_img Comments are closed. Inthese times of economic change HR finds itself in the spotlight. But ratherthan turn to gimmicks to prove its worth, it needs to focus on people Asthe HR mantra “to be even more exclusively business-driven” bec-omeslouder and louder the profession should be braced for more self-flagellation. PersonnelToday’s panel discussion of senior HR professionals, (“Tool Order”,24 July) showed this most clearly. But as Financial Times journalist RichardDonkin points out in his new book Blood, Sweat and Tears, the externalcriticism and constant self-doubt in the HR community is nothing new.  Fiftyyears ago in the first “modern” management textbook The Practice ofManagement, Peter Drucker slated the personnel profession for being tornbetween its administrative and HR activities.Hemocked its “constant worry as to its inability to prove it is making acontribution to the enterprise”. This led the function to a preoccupationwith the “search for ‘gimmicks’ to impress their managementassociates” – the same tool-addiction and lack of business focus referredto in the Personnel Today debate.Donkin’spessimistic conclusion is that HR has always been about “sweating the mostvaluable assets of the company”. He traces a disturbing line of managementthinking all the way from the sweatshops of inhumane industrialists in theindustrial revolution, through FW Taylor’s narrow-minded scientific managementand its deliberate agenda of smashing the power of skilled labour, right theway up to business process re-engineering and our current obsession withshareholder and economic value-added and HR’s “bottom-linecontribution”. Employeeslooking for respite from the enslaving effects of the new knowledge andinformation-driven work revolution (including e-mail overload and voicemailasphyxiation) can only look to themselves for salvation.Isee examples in my work every week of HR departments seeking the magic-bulletsolution from consultants and being unwilling to pay to uncover the problemsthey face; of companies turning down business-aligned and innovative rewardschemes because “nobody else uses them”. Ialso regularly meet line managers who ludicrously over-estimate the role ofmoney in motivation at work and who oppose work-life balance or job redesign ortraining programmes because they can’t see beyond that month’s profit and lossaccount.Itis precisely at these times of major economic and industrial change that theneed for specialists who focus on the human dimension, who understand humanbehaviour and motivation becomes most vital. Thisis as true in the current industrial revolution as it was in the first. Risingrates of workplace injuries and deaths, tribunal claims and stress-relatedcompensation payments are all evidence of the pressures our businesses areunder. Yet now, as London Business School’s Lynda Gratton has pointed out, isprecisely the time for organisations to recognise the unique features of humancapital – that we have feelings and we seek meaning in our work and in ourlives.Fiftyyears earlier even than Drucker, Edward Cadbury, one of the founding fathers ofpersonnel management in the UK, observed that, “employee welfare andcompany productivity are different sides of the same coin”. If HR is toprove Donkin wrong, it needs to be creating more work environments where, as heputs it, people can “work at what they love doing and what is important todo” – and in the process create the financial returns their employers lustafter.  Weneed to avoid any more “dark satanic mills” being built in the guiseof call and tele-centres, and recession-induced management styles.Sopay attention to your business needs and your managers’ desires, but do not beafraid to remind them of Cadbury, and of the human in human resources.ByDuncan Brown is principal of Towers Perrin and chairman of the CIPDCompensation Forum Let’s put the human factor back into HROn 30 Oct 2001 in Personnel Today Related posts:No related photos. Previous Article Next Articlelast_img read more

Training news in brief

first_img Previous Article Next Article Training news in briefOn 28 May 2002 in Personnel Today Related posts:No related photos. Comments are closed. This week’s training news in brief.Online learning Staff at insurance giant Royal & Sun Alliance are getting access to anew e-learning package to cover formal and informal learning. As many as 50,000employees across 50 countries are set to benefit following the implementationby Saba. The company has designed the system to turn its training content intoan online format. Open qualification The Scottish Executive Health Department has teamed up with the OpenUniversity to offer 200 NHS managers a nationally recognised qualification. Themanagers are being offered 100 per cent bursaries to study for the ProfessionalCertificate in Management. The certificate is seen as the first step towards anMBA and is a mix of residential and online learning.  Banking on NVQ Up to 200 youngsters are to be given the opportunity to work in retailfinancial services as part of a Modern Apprentice scheme at Barclays. The16-18-year-olds will be given experience at around 200 branches across the UKas part of a TTC Training course that leads to an NVQ qualification.  Housing staff link up IT training has led to 1,000 housing department staff in London being ableto work remotely from various locations. Staff at Camden Council received MSOutlook training from provider E-cademy to enable the agency to work from morethan 64 offices. The department manages 30,000 council homes and the newtraining will allow better communication and electronic meetings.  Distance no object Lloyds pharmacy is launching a distance learning programme available tomanagers at 1,300 stores. The Professional Management Development Programmeconsists of four modules and deals with a series of key managerial competenciesincluding motivation, managing change, teamwork and time management. Eachmodule contains case studies and exercises.   Apprenticeship first Up to 200 first-level distribution workers are expected to be the first tostudy for the new Foundation Modern Apprenticeship in International Trade andServices. The programme, designed by Quantica, will train 16-to-24-year-olds inthe basic skills needed to work in import, export and shipping. The scheme issupported by 150 companies around the country as well as the National TrainingOrganisation for the distribution sector. www.dtno.comlast_img read more

Living on the frontline

first_img Previous Article Next Article What is it really like at the junior end of HR? Paul Nelson spent a day withtwo young women starting their careers in the public sectorTo an outside observer, the role of assistant personnel officer at WokinghamDistrict Council could be likened to that of a call centre operator. Fiona Spain and Sinead O’Flynn – by their own admission – spend most oftheir time sitting at their desks answering managers’ questions via e-mail andphone. It appears mundane, but is an important operational role that must behandled by someone. “Most of our job involves answering the phone and giving policy adviceto managers and informing staff of their rights,” says Spain. “We arethe first point of call for everybody. Our telephone numbers are the maincontact point and we take all queries on payroll and policy advice.” Despite still studying for her CIPD qualification, Spain has had a variedfive-year HR career that includes recruiting Oxford and Cambridge Universitygraduates for Andersen Consulting (now Accenture) and being involved in runningan e-learning centre for communications firm Energis. It is a background manyjunior HR professionals would envy. But the 27-year old’s lack of generalist HR experience leaves her frustratedin her desk-bound role. She says: “I do not have the years and years ofexperience necessary to give people instant answers to queries. I have notdealt with 10 disciplinary cases to refer back to. In fact, frequently, it isthe first time I have dealt with a particular query so I have to put the phonedown, check the facts and call people back. I look forward to the day thecorrect answers roll off my tongue.” Other aspects of Spain and O’Flynn’s role include collating quarterlystatistical data and providing managers with sickness absence reports. Theybelieve that the Information Commission’s Records Management Data Protectioncode of practice – which forces HR departments to separate sickness and absencerecords – will be an ‘absolute nightmare’ for them and stop the councileffectively managing absence. Project work is the aspect of the job they enjoy the most, as it is a breakfrom the tedium of being on the end of a phone. It gives them their only forayinto the strategic aspect of HR. O’Flynn is writing a report into the council’s social services and housingdepartment’s recruitment processes, because the number of black and ethnicminority staff are far fewer than those that apply. She will recommend to herpersonnel manager that the council updates its recruitment literature by translatingit into other languages, and introduces written and spoken English classes.O’Flynn will also advise the council to radically overhaul how it advertises inthe ethnic press. “There are local ethnic newspapers and magazines which we do notadvertise in, as the council thinks that if a professional is job hunting, theywill look at business press or a national newspaper,” she says. “By doing it this way, we may be putting off ethnic minorities fromapplying for jobs. It might be good to raise awareness of the council as anemployer among this community.” Another project O’Flynn works on is ensuring staffing agencies’ recruitmentprocedures are as rigorous as the council’s are. Later this year, she will beinvolved in harmonising employee terms and conditions. Also, Spain is lookingto host seminars for managers about the council’s flexible working andmaternity policies. How the two women joined the HR profession could not be more different.Spain started a career in HR because she wanted to help people, which shebelieves she does, “but not in the rose tinted way that the naive19-year-old thought”. O’Flynn, by comparison, stumbled into HR by accident. After graduating fromMiddlesex University in 1995 with a degree in English Literature, she took anadministrative job in the personnel department at Berkshire County Council.”I went for a job that just happened to be in HR,” she says. The 28-year-old then earned promotion to personnel assistant, preparingcontracts for and checking teacher’s records. She moved to Wokingham via a planning and legal role in the HR team at theRoyal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead Council. From a HR point of view, Wokingham is a fairly innovative local authority.It has been shortlisted in the communication strategy at this year’s PersonnelToday Awards, but neither Spain nor O’Flynn could answer questions about thecouncil’s HR strategy. Despite this, the personnel assistants are angry that HR is not viewed as abusiness partner by the council’s staff. Spain says: “The bad aspect of HR is that we are viewed as a policingfunction. For example, we have to chase up line managers because they have notgot back to us on specifics.” They are so fed up with being blamed by staff when managers fail to informthem about employment changes, that they have introduced an e-mail reader replysystem – so managers are unable to claim ignorance. “Staff do not really understand what we do in HR. We are viewed assitting twiddling our thumbs, waiting for an issue to come to us. The councilhad a recruitment freeze earlier this year and the general view was ‘you mustbe bored now’,” continues Spain. Their future plans for a career in HR highlight a lack of confidence in theprofession – with neither seeing themselves representing HR in the boardroom. Despite her career in HR being popular with her friends and family, O’Flynn,who has toyed with the idea of studying for a MA in Business Ethics, is unsureif she intends to remain. Instead she dreams of a job as a creative writer. “My boyfriend manages staff, so he gives me case scenarios from hiswork. My sister is an employment lawyer so understands HR is a demanding job.My parents have some friends who are in HR and have done well, so they see itas a good career move,” she says. “I do not know about being a HR director though. I would like a moresenior job, but maybe in a different environment. I am not sure if I would wantto carry on in this particular field,” she adds. Spain likes her job and sees her future firmly in HR – but not at boardroomlevel. “I would not want the responsibility of being a HR director – Idon’t think I would be able to get the work-life balance right,” saysSpain. “I want to progress up the ladder to personnel officer and manager,but not just for the sake of it. I enjoyed my involvement with e-learning andthink training would be very rewarding.” Career factfileSinead O’Flynn1996 – Berkshire Council1998 – Windsor and Maidenhead Council2000 – Wokingham CouncilFiona Spain1998 – Andersen consulting1999 – Energis2001 – Vale Williams (chartered surveyors)2002 – Wokingham District Council Council fact file– Wokingham became a unitary authority in 1998 when BerkshireCounty Council split into six district councils– The 22-person HR team at the council is responsible for 4,500staff– It covers more than 150,000 residents in an area stretchingfrom Henley in Oxfordshire to Basingstoke in Hampshire and Reading to Bracknell Living on the frontlineOn 22 Oct 2002 in Personnel Today – Jacqueline Wiltshire, head of personnel – who reportsdirectly to the council’s chief executive, is responsible for the HR andtraining team– Two personnel managers and three personnel officers supporther. Two personnel assistants help Spain and O’Flynncenter_img Comments are closed. Related posts:No related photos.last_img read more

Council launches training scheme to help workers recognise stress

first_img Comments are closed. A rural borough council has introduced an innovative training programme tohelp its staff recognise and deal with symptoms of stress. Boston Borough Council, after receiving a grant from the DTI, developed thescheme to help council employees understand the increasingly widespreadcondition and prevent it from affecting their home or working lives. All line managers have attended training sessions that teach them how tospot signs of stress, assess the risks and, if necessary, support their staffcorrectly. Junior staff have also received stress awareness training which includessessions on recognition, positive coping strategies, support mechanisms andrelaxation techniques. Katharine Nundy, a personnel officer at the council, which employs around400 staff, said she hoped the measures would also help fulfil the HSE stressmanagement standards, due to be introduced next year. “It has helped our staff understand stress and really raised awarenessof the problem. It’s such a buzzword at the moment but not everybody knows whatit really means. “We also hope this will help with the HSE rules and in reflection, Ithink it will enable us to meet some of them,” she said. Boston was awarded money from the DTI Partnership Fund following a stressaudit in 2001 which identified some hotspots among frontline staff, especiallywhere they dealt with the public. Council launches training scheme to help workers recognise stressOn 2 Sep 2003 in Personnel Today Previous Article Next Article Related posts:No related photos.last_img read more

Culture Club is cut-price route to the right mix

first_img Comments are closed. Previous Article Next Article Culture Club is cut-price route to the right mixOn 22 Jun 2004 in Personnel Today Creating a culture of inclusion in the workplace costs next to nothing toimplement, according to the HR director at Kingston Technology Iona Elliott. Elliott explained that the company has a European workforce of 171,including people from 33 nationalities, speaking 20 different languages. Kingston Technology, which makes computer memory modules for electronicproducts, runs a series of, on the face of it, fairly simply schemes to developemployee involvement and promote diversity. A ‘Culture Club’ is run each month to celebrate different days, such as StPatrick’s Day, Bastille Day and the unification of Germany. Staff from the relevant country have the opportunity to teach others abouttheir culture, and the food in the canteen is based on that nation’s food. Company sporting events also incorporate the different cultures and Kingstonhas just finished running a Chinese Chess competition. “Two of our Chinese workers suggested it,” Elliott said. “Ifpeople propose something then those people have to run it, but we will helpthem. “The two guys went to Soho, picked up boards and ran the wholetournament. The HR department promoted it and provided prizes,” she said. Elliott said the benefits of such events are clear to see and she believesthey create a highly motivated workforce “After the events there is a buzz around the place,” she said.”Sport is one of the best involvement tools you can use. It costs next tonothing.” Related posts:No related photos.last_img read more

LinkedIn policy changes – Good, Bad or Ugly?

first_imgLinkedIn policy changes – Good, Bad or Ugly?Shared from missc on 20 Jan 2015 in Personnel Today Related posts:No related photos. Read full article Comments are closed.center_img Previous Article Next Article So as most already know, this year Linkedin changed their InMail policy. Instead of getting back all the InMails that didn’t get a response, Linkedin now only credit back InMails that are replied to. They also implemented their new policy around a commercial search limit in which in any given month you can only run a limited amount of searches as beyond a certain number they deem that it is being used for commercial purposes. I’ve seen a number of posts for and against the changes and for what it’s worth, I say bring it on!Here’s why…Sometimes, just sometimes, I shudder when I see some of the activities that are being passed off as “recruiting”. In the last month I have received a number of batch messages that not only are not personalised to me, but have zero relevance to me at all. E.g. I’m an IT/software development sourcing specialist/recruiter and therefore, I have a few technologies listed on my profile. In the greater context of my profile, this is clearly in reference to positions I regularly find myself recruiting and not related to my personal IT experience, YET – I still get messages asking about my interest levels in an exciting and fantabulous open position as a Developer. I’m all for looking at ways to find efficiencies but sending a batch message to anyone with a specific technology(ies) listed on their profile (due to a standard keyword search) is just plain lazy and is certainly not what the vast majority of the recruitment world would identify as effective, solid recruitment/sourcing practice. To date, given the limited InMails available per month on different subscriptions, recruiters were almost incentivised to not be engaging in their InMails and just throw buzzwords in the hope of either a) Quickly engaging a professional who might be actively on the market; or b) being completely ignored, as opposed to opening up conversations with candidates who are not “active” but may be open to discussing other opportunities. If by LinkedIn changing its policies it encourages the careful  and more considered use of InMails as a tool of value and as the medium that could be used to open doors to new networks/candidates/business partners/leads, then I’m all for it and can only see it having a positive effect on the industry.Link to info on new InMail policy: commercial search limits. I believe that the impact on this will be minimal to any recruiter who considers themselves to be somewhat social media savvy as most will be well versed in other online sourcing techniques and know e.g. know how to run x-ray searches via search engines, should they reach their search threshold. The knock-on effect of this is that recruiter who is perhaps not quite as used to other online search methods will have to begin to increase their knowledge of online sourcing methods which surely can only positively affect the recruitment industry?.Link to info on new “commercial use limit”: read more