DTI promotes firms’ work-life policies with share of £10.5m

first_img Previous Article Next Article Comments are closed. Nearly 100 private, public and voluntary sector employers are to benefitfrom the DTI’s £10.5m Challenge Fund to promote work-life balance policies. The fund provides free consultancy support for employers who want to developand implement good policies and working practices for their workforce. Lesleyanne Freeman, HR director for Leicestershire Constabulary, one of the93 organisations to benefit from the fund, said the award would help the forcechallenge work patterns and culture while maintaining its operationalefficiency. She said, “The constabulary will be employing consultancy support tosupplement work being undertaken by its internal personnel and management team.This is to explore practical ways in which it can improve recruitment andretention and develop employment initiatives which optimise work-lifeopportunities for all its employees, both police officers and supportstaff.” www.dti.gov.uk DTI promotes firms’ work-life policies with share of £10.5mOn 31 Jul 2001 in Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), Personnel Today Related posts:No related photos.last_img read more

Pressing for returns

first_img Comments are closed. Previous Article Next Article Pressing for returnsOn 27 Nov 2001 in Auto-enrolment, Personnel Today Blowing the budget on HR IT systems in time of recession may not sound likegood business sense, but suppliers armed with ever-more sophisticated tools aremaking the case for investing now to get ahead in the human capital game. ByKeith RodgersEveryone knew that the economic data coming out of the US this month wasgoing to be bad, but the scale of the problem took many seasoned watchers bysurprise. According to figures released by the Labor Department at the start ofNovember, 415,000 jobs were lost in the US in October – a fall that pushedunemployment rates in the world’s largest economy up by one half of apercentage point. Combined with data showing that 24 million jobs will be lostglobally in 2002, the picture could hardly look bleaker. For some specialists in the human resources IT industry, it was yet anotherblow – now, one would assume, is not a good time to be touting recruitmentsoftware applications. The marketing arm of the IT sector, however, has always proven to beresilient, and even in the face of global slowdown, vendors are busy puntingout statistics that demonstrate how investment in HR software can lead to fastreturns. For example, Job Partners, an online recruitment service provider,argues that getting the employee acquisition process right is as valid in arecession as it is in boom years. Because some skills remain hard to find andgood quality candidates are more reluctant to gamble on a job change,streamlining your recruitment processes is as important as ever if you arelooking to improve your human capital asset base and cut operational costs. Andwhile it might not be the kind of investment that first springs to the mind ofa finance director looking to improve the bottom line, there’s merit in theargument. HR IT investment still makes a lot of sense in the current climate –it just needs a solid business case. For years, HR has been the poor cousin in the IT market. Viewed historicallyas a transaction-based activity – in much the same way that the HR functionitself has long been viewed primarily as an administrative centre – investmentwas largely driven by somewhat prosaic needs. More recently, however, as the HR function has begun to carve out astrategic role for itself, the IT industry has set its mind to systems thatimprove effectiveness, particularly in terms of employee measurement, retentionand the leveraging of human capital. These strategic systems, catering foractivities such as performance management and competency assessment, focus ondelivering both hard and soft benefits. In the boom years, when organisationswere prepared to gamble in the hope of gaining a competitive edge, thesesystems were beginning to find their way on to boardroom agendas. Now, as IT budgets and headcounts are slashed, boardroom focus is elsewhereand the criteria for investment have changed. Whether it is a system upgrade orprocurement of a niche product, approval rests on delivering rapid, tangiblereturn – and preferably, one that shrinks the cost base. “Companies arereally zeroing in on the cost-reduction side right now,” says StaceyLawson, vice-president and general manager of employee relationship managementat Siebel, which recently entered the HR market. “Intuitively they believethere are lots of benefits, but in all areas people are looking more directlyat the cost-saving side of ROI. That’s life these days in enterprisesoftware.” Ironically, while the IT industry continues to offer ever-more sophisticatedsystems, many organisations still lag behind at a basic transactional level.Any administrative process that involves either manual labour or duplication ofactivities between HR and employees is ripe for automation, from timekeepingrecords to updates of personal information and delivery of pay advice. All of the major HR systems from leading suppliers such as PeopleSoft,Oracle, SAP and Lawson provide the engines and application modules to handlethese kinds of processes, while a raft of specialist software providers offeran alternative in the shape of “point” solutions. In each case, theROI argument is relatively simple. If you can cut costs – not just in terms ofHR administration, but also from the line of business – and improveeffectiveness, particularly the quality of management data, you’ll probablyhave a business case that the board will listen to. At a transactional level, however, some of the more significant efficiencygains promised by vendors go beyond basic automation and involve a degree ofcorporate reorganisation and a new approach to data management. In particular,the advent of Internet-based systems from the leading HR suppliers has promptedmany organisations to look at rolling out employee portals, the front-endsystems that form the platform for Web self-service. By allowing end-users to input their own HR-related data and checkinformation through their browsers, organisations can automate a range offunctions, from enrolment in healthcare schemes to online distribution ofpayslips. Re-keying of data – a resource-hungry and error-prone operation – ismade redundant as users enter their own information directly into systems in atimeframe that suits their working patterns. In addition, as end-users becomecomfortable with the methodology, the portal provides a means to distributeboth HR-related and corporate information across an organisation. On thesurface, this combination of hard cost-savings and soft benefits makes for aconvincing business case. Even at a pure process level, however, early adopters of employee portalswarn that implementation throws forward a number of challenges. For one thing,portal deployment is dependent on the development of a suitable IT infrastructure,and for users of older technology, that may require an upgrade to a moreflexible system architecture (see box). This kind of investment clearly impactsthe ROI equation. At a cultural level, meanwhile, HR departments have to be aware of a varietyof issues when they adopt this kind of technology. Information dissemination,for example, has to be carefully controlled – because data is being”pushed” to the user rather than requested, reactions can be negativeif employees receive irrelevant material or simply feel they are being swamped.In addition, take-up of many of the add-on services that organisations aretempted to offer employees – such as personal holiday offers from corporatetravel agents – can be low, particularly in European countries where Internetusers are less familiar with online retailing. Above all, the HR department hasto be ready to handle change – self-service demands that HR administratorsrelinquish control over many of their activities, raising the spectre of majorrole changes or redundancy. Each of these cultural issues could have asignificant impact on the real – as opposed to projected – investment story. But while these transactional and process-based investments focus ontangible cost-savings, the argument for implementing HR technology is much morefundamental, based around potential productivity gains and the more strategicissues surrounding effective human capital management. As Roger Moore, servicesdirector at RCMS, argues, “ERM is more than any single product or system.It should link together existing disparate employee-related systems includingadministrative, business intelligence, knowledge management and reportingsystems, as well as systems to manage staff performance, analyse skillslevels/shortages, and improve staff efficiency, training, loyalty andcollaborative working.” Clearly at this level, the investment argument becomes far more complex forHR, but it rests primarily on the assumption that in most companies, humancapital and retained knowledge is not being effectively leveraged. At onelevel, that requires companies to build an effective enterprise-widedata-sharing structure, allowing knowledge to be freely disseminated betweenindividuals and departments. In itself, with all the data collation andsecurity concerns it entails, this is a significant challenge, and one thatgoes beyond the traditional remit of HR. In terms of performance management, meanwhile, the stakes are raised higherstill. Human capital analytical software touches every part of an organisation– to be able to understand how well individuals, departments and theorganisation as a whole are performing, and then use that information to managechange, HR needs to work closely with line managers across the company. If, forexample, an account manager’s performance is measured on the basis of clientsatisfaction, the HR-related data needs to be combined with external customerresearch. Many of the leading HR management systems vendors have developed businessintelligence applications that can demonstrably help this process, measuringthe effectiveness of employees and departments in their day-to-day activitieswhile giving senior managers a strategic insight into the strengths andweaknesses of the total human capital base. While some of these applicationsare based around relatively mature management tools, such as the balancedscorecard, many of the newer applications coming on to the market are morealigned to traditional financial processes such as budgeting. Software vendors point out that while the ultimate goals of effectiveperformance measurement require a far-reaching reassessment of companypractices, there are a significant number of short-term gains to be made. Forexample, the framework for skills and knowledge analysis is typically builtaround some kind of competency assessment programme. Although the initialprocess of assessing and recording skills can be laborious, it can producetangible short-term results even in the throes of recession. Eudie Thompson, CEO of specialist software developer Zynap, argues thatcompanies that develop competency profiles of their employees – including theirpre-hire CV, details of training courses and instructor assessment, appraisals,projects undertaken, and even extra-curricular activities – may discover theycan leverage the skills they possess in-house rather than recruit. Thefunctionality to perform this kind of competency management is contained in araft of systems, from HRMS applications to Learning Management Systems and inZynap’s case, an artificial intelligence based system currently underdevelopment. Ultimately, whether companies choose to invest in HR IT at this leveldepends on whether they buy into the whole concept of effective human capitalmanagement. If HR is still perceived primarily as an administrative function, investmentapproval is likely to be limited to transaction-based improvements. If HR canmake a case for a strategic role, investment in more sophisticated toolsbecomes far easier to justify. Paving the way for a partnership approachThe concept of”collaboration” has primarily been driven in the IT industry byissues well outside the domain of HR, covering “back-office”supply-chain issues such as manufacturing and logistics, and more recently”front-office” business strategies such as customer relationshipmanagement. Moving towards collaborative working practices does, however, havea significant impact on an organisation’s underlying IT infrastructure, whichin turn affects HR’s ability to fulfil its own role. The core principle of collaborative commerce is to streamlinethe way organisations work together in order to match customer demand moreclosely with vendors’ ability to supply. At the back-end of the equation,companies are developing ways to exchange data more freely, improvingvisibility down the supply chain so that every organisation involved in thedevelopment and delivery of products or services is aware of what its partnersare capable of delivering. More advanced forms of collaboration are beingpursued in sectors such as the automotive industry to allow for collaborativeproduct design.At the front-end of the equation, meanwhile, companies areattempting to use customer relationship management as a means to get a morein-depth understanding of real demand and purchasing patterns, which can be fedinto their forecasting processes. Ideally, the business relationship with thecustomer should evolve into a partnership, where customers see the benefit ofsharing data with their suppliers because it ultimately improves the quality ofservice.Underpinning this collaborative model is a new, more flexibleIT architecture that allows for easy integration between different systems. Inparticular, systems that are designed specifically for the Internet offer fargreater flexibility for collaboration at an organisational level, bothinternally and externally, and also give individual users more flexibility inthe way they work. The previous generation of IT architecture was built aroundthe concept of client/server computing, where the bulk of applicationprocessing was carried out centrally, but the “client” system – suchas a PC – ran some code. Pure Internet architectures, by contrast, turn the”client” primarily into a pure access device that allows users to loginto the system easily through various different types of equipment, includingremote PCs.This flexibility has a number of technical benefits for the ITdepartment, but it also underpins the development of collaborative HR-relatedinitiatives such as employee portals. HR vendor PeopleSoft, which rebuilt itsentire enterprise application suite around an Internet architecture, has nowturned the issue into a central plank of its marketing strategy, and the likesof Oracle and others have joined the fray.Although the choice of enterprise-wide architecture is unlikelyto be driven by HR, the implications for the department mean that HR managementshould have a say in decisions affecting its own technology capability. Related posts:No related photos.last_img read more

A question of confidentiality

first_imgA question of confidentialityOn 1 Feb 2002 in Confidentiality, Personnel Today Employment lawyers have a great deal to thank Michael Douglas for.Disclosure gave us an insight into sexual harassment in the workplace. WallStreet illustrated the damage that can be done when a key employee leaves andengages in competitive activity. And now his wedding to Catherine Zeta Jonesprovides a masterclass on the law of confidence and privacy. Before the couple’s wedding in 2000, OK! magazine struck a deal with thecouple to pay a large and undisclosed sum for exclusive rights for nine monthsto publish wedding photographs. OK! asserted that rival magazine Hello hadoffered three times the contractual sum but that the couple trusted OK! topublish only the images they wanted. On 20 November, two days after the wedding, Ms Zeta Jones warned OK! thatHello was about to publish unauthorised photographs. The company obtained aninterim injunction but Hello appealed and on 23 November the Court of Appealdischarged the injunction. Hello published its issue three days before OK! thusspoiling completely its rival’s scoop. The decision is of considerable significance. It illustrates: – the common law’s capacity to develop established doctrines and apply themto unprecedented situations; – the growing importance of the law of privacy and its close relation, thelaw of confidence; n the importance of the Human Rights Act 1998 in relation both tosubstantive rights, such as the right of privacy, and to the exercise ofdiscretion in deciding whether to grant an injunction. This is likely toinvolve a balancing exercise between different rights under the EuropeanConvention on Human Rights (incorporated into the HRA), particularly where theright of freedom of expression is involved. Even where a claimed infringementof a right is well-founded, this balancing act may mean that an injunction isrefused. The developing law of confidence The employer often has an exaggerated sense of what is confidential. Tradesecrets and confidential information are identifiable, objective knowledgewhich form part of the employer’s stock-in-trade but do not include theemployee’s skill, experience, know-how and general knowledge. The improbably named Faccenda Chicken Ltd v Fowler [1987] 1 Ch 117, case,identifies three classes of information: – Class 1 is trivial, or easily accessible information from public sourcesand therefore not confidential; – Class 2 is information which the employee must treat as confidential, butwhich remains in his head becoming part of his own knowledge. He cannot use itother than for his employer’s benefit during the contract of employment, but heis free to do so after its termination; – Class 3 is so confidential that, even if it is learned by heart, theemployee cannot lawfully use it for anyone’s benefit but the employer’s, evenafter leaving that employment. In distinguishing between Class 2 and Class 3, the test is whether a personof ordinary honesty and intelligence would recognise the information as theemployer’s property, or as the employee’s own property to do with as he likes.Applying the test requires examining the nature of the employment and theinformation; whether the confidential nature of the information was impressedon the employee; and whether the information could be easily isolated from thatwhich the employee was free to disclose. Protecting confidential information Garden leave may be appropriate where the employee has given notice ofresignation, and the employer believes that the employee intends to useconfidential information to compete with the employer on his own, or by joininga competitor before expiry of the notice period. However, garden leave islawful only if the employer has a legitimate interest to protect (such asconfidential information) and for no longer than is reasonably necessary toprotect it (which may involve difficult questions as to its shelf-life). Express restrictive covenant may state that the employee may not use ordisclose confidential information other than for his employer’s benefit, duringand after the employment, and frequently identifies items of confidentialinformation. Since an employee is under a duty of confidence towards theemployer irrespective of the express terms of the contract, it could be arguedthat an express covenant adds nothing to the common law position. It iscertainly true that the mere mention relating to an item of information asbeing confidential in such a clause cannot of itself make the informationconfidential. However, express confidentiality covenants have two potential advantages.First, they impress on the employee that certain information is, or may be,confidential. Second, certain judges appear to be of the view that a widerrange of information is to be treated as confidential for the purpose of anexpress confidentiality covenant than under the implied duty of confidentiality.Non-competition covenant The drawback of the restrictive covenant is thedifficulty an employer faces in policing the employee’s compliance. An employeris likely to face formidable difficulties in establishing that an employee hasmisused confidential information. It may be easier to keep the employee out ofthe relevant market all together for a limited period through a non-competitioncovenant. The implied duty of confidence is a last resort, since the courts arereluctant to stretch the implied duty of confidence if an employer has nottaken the trouble to incorporate an express restraint on the employee’spost-termination activities. The springboard principle is where confidential information has been used byan employee in a competing business, but where the information is no longerconfidential because it has entered the public domain or is no longer availableto the employee. However, by his past misuse of the confidential information,the employee has unlawfully gained a springboard or head start for hiscompeting business. There is controversy about springboard remedies and theyhave not yet been fully explored by the courts. Common problems A number of problems arise in relation to enforcing the duty of confidence,including a decision on how to plead the case. If the employer’s legal advisersget this wrong it can have catastrophic consequences. One pitfall is thetemptation to plead confidentiality for a wide and general body of information.For example, it might be claimed that “the claimant’s manufacturingprocess” was confidential, or that “the defendant had knowledge ofthe claimant’s confidential financial and other business affairs”. Such aplea is not always without reason. The matter is urgent, the claimant needs toget an injunction at short notice, and it is more expedient to plead in generalterms, at least at the outset. However, it may be counter-productive if thisresults in the court throwing the claim out all together. The court could hold it to be an abuse of the process of law to giveparticulars of information which is not truly confidential. It will not allowan approach based even in part on wide and unsupportable claims ofconfidentiality which could be used as an instrument of oppression orharassment against a defendant, or to destroy an ex-employee’s ability toobtain employment or a competitor’s ability to compete. The wider the claims, the longer and more expensive the litigation. The Human Rights Act 1998 The decision in Douglas v Hello! (2001 QB 967) highlights the importance ofthe HRA in such cases. Section 12 applies where the court is consideringwhether to grant any relief which might limit the right to freedom ofexpression. Section 12(3) provides that there should be no restraint onpublication before trial unless the court is satisfied that the applicant islikely to establish that publication should not be allowed. This may requirethe court to anticipate how the balance might be struck between competingConvention rights of the right to privacy and the right to freedom ofexpression as it did here. The Douglas case also demonstrates the importance of the principle thatinjunction-seekers should have “clean hands”. Lord Justice Brookesaid he was not sorry to refuse an interim injunction, because it appeared thatOK! had engaged in similar spoiling tactics directed at Hello in the past. Finally, the case demonstrates the fluidity of the law. Adaptingwell-established principles to a changing technological environment, coupledwith the impact of the Human Rights Act, means that this field is now ripe fordevelopment under the influence of creative and ingenious arguments fromemployment lawyers. Paul Goulding is a QC at Blackstone Chambers.  This article is abridged from a paper presented to the EmploymentLawyer’s Association in December Comments are closed. Related posts:No related photos. Previous Article Next Articlelast_img read more

Training

first_imgThis week’s training newsWise women success The first 20 candidates have successfully completed the ‘wise web women’training programme, introduced to increase female IT staff. The Government initiativehas been pioneered by BT and training company Parity. Ten weeks of IT andmarketing training is combined with a 16-week placement at an SME. It waslaunched following a survey that found just 5 per cent of women consider IT asa career.  www.parity.co.ukAirforce programme British, German, Spanish and Italian Airforce staff will receive desktopsoftware and maintenance simulator training as part of a new overall trainingsolution. VEGA training group is working on the Ground Aids training programmeto support personnel using the Eurofighter. The firm will provide 40 per centof the emulation software and 29 per cent of the courseware as well asinstalling all the UK systems.  www.vega.co.ukSearch for engineers Forty female students are flying to France and Finland this summer in anattempt to attract more women graduates into the engineering sector. Sixthformers from around the country will spend a week abroad as part of theinitiative by the National Training Organisation for Engineering Manufacture.The Insight 2002 scheme is also offering 500 top female maths and sciencestudents residential courses at UK Universities.  www.emta.org.ukCIPD mentor service Norwich City College and the CIPD have teamed up to launch a new mentoringservice for personnel students. The scheme aims to ensure students benefit fromthe support and guidance of senior professionals. The CIPD has 650 members inthe region and mentors have already come forward from HR departments at the NHStrust, Virgin and Mills & Reeve solicitors.  www.cipd.co.ukNurses career curve The Department of Health has launched eight new schemes to attract moremedical professionals to disadvantaged and understaffed areas. The new teachingprimary care trusts are designed to provide the best career development for GPsand nurses. The areas are: North Tees, Bristol, Slough, Lincolnshire, Haringey,Luton, Blackburn and Birmingham.  www.doh.gov.ukRetail pilot scheme Nick Brown, Minister for Work has announced the first five areas to benefitfrom the Ambition: Retail training programme. The first areas to pilot thescheme, designed to get 50,000 New Dealers into work over three years will beBristol, Cardiff, Gateshead, Glasgow and Redditch.  www.dwp.gov.uk Related posts:No related photos. Previous Article Next Article TrainingOn 19 Feb 2002 in Personnel Today Comments are closed. last_img read more

Foreign nurses facing poor treatment

first_img Previous Article Next Article Foreign nurses facing poor treatmentOn 30 Apr 2002 in Personnel Today Overseas nurses recruited to alleviate NHS shortages are suffering low pay, exploitation and double standards, research claims.A survey by the Royal College of Nursing of more than 1,100 overseas nurses shows that one in three had to pay agency fees of up to £2,000 to secure a place in the UK. Over a third of Filipino nurses had to pay commission after securing a job, 22 per cent were forced to pay air fares, 13 per cent for training and 11 per cent an introductory fee.The study also reveals a culture of low support, racism and poor pay in the health sector with international nurses getting salaries of around £600 less than British staff, despite having between five and 20 years’ experience.Tracy Myhill, president of AHHRM, said overseas recruitment was critical to the NHS and HR must improve the way it dealt with foreign staff. “We have to improve the way we recruit nurses from overseas and how we are supporting them when they get here,” she said.Just under half of those questioned felt that their UK colleagues received better treatment, while a third said their qualifications were not respected.Myhill called for mentoring and buddy schemes to help integrate foreign staff but admitted HR practices had to improve.weblink www.rcn.org.uk Comments are closed. Related posts:No related photos.last_img read more

Government will take charge of top NHS careers

first_imgRelated posts:No related photos. Government will take charge of top NHS careersOn 29 Oct 2002 in Personnel Today The careers of the England’s top 1,000 chief executives in the NHS are tobecome the direct responsibility of the Government. Nigel Crisp, NHS chief executive, England, and his team are currentlyassessing the top 1,000 chief executives and will assume responsibility fortheir career progression from next January. Crisp himself will directly take charge of the top 250 chief executiveswhile the rest will report to the directors of social care. The aim of the move is to improve career progression planning and helpretain chief executives in the NHS. Crisp told delegates that HR management is critical in helping to modernisethe health service. “The people function in the NHS makes the difference.It is what it is all about. Modernising the NHS is the biggest HR project inthe world,” he said. “We have the opportunity to bring about real improvements. We must putin support training and bring people on through the organisation. We must getcloser to staff and introduce real improvements by communicating and engagingwith them.” Comments are closed. Previous Article Next Articlelast_img read more

The greatest Briton: Alexander Graham Bell

first_imgIf the BBC can do it, so can Personnel Today. We want to know which Britonyou rate as the greatest people manager and leader of all time. Personnel Todayhas invited 10 leading figures in the field of management to nominateindividuals they believe are the best, and then convince you they are right. Tovote, visit the voting form where you will also find summaries of all 10nominees. The voting closes on Tuesday 4th March 2003.. This week’s nominee is:Alexander Graham BellBy Paul Pagliari, HR director of Scottish WaterThere was a Scot who was responsible for transforming the world in waysinconceivable before his radical invention. Who was that man? Alexander Graham Bell, of course, inventor of the telephone,and the man who truly deserves the title of the Greatest Briton. Bell was born in Edinburgh on 3 March 1847. He was the son of Melville – aspeech and elocution teacher who developed the first international phoneticalphabet – and Eliza, who was deaf from the age of five. Bell was the only child to survive into adulthood, with his younger andelder brothers, Ted and Melly, dying of tuberculosis. These biographical facts foretell the strong values, personality anddetermination of the man destined to radically change the preferred mode oflong distance communications to voice, and thus transform virtually all aspectsof modern life. Bell developed a passion for communication from a young age. He was tobecome an extraordinary man with a visionary understanding of its power andpotential. Educated at the universities of Edinburgh and London, Bell emigrated to theUS in 1870. In his twenties, he set about developing a multiple telegraph thatcould send several morse code messages. Like many great people, Bell appeared to benefit from luck and skill inequal measure, and it was while he was trying to develop multiple morse codethat he stumbled on the concept that speech could be reproduced through soundwaves in a continuous undulating current. This truly brilliant discovery is theprinciple behind the telephone. On 7 March 1876, Bell patented the telephone (Patent 174,465) at the tenderage of 29. But unlike so many great pioneers and inventors, Bell followed through,visualising the future and realising the potential of his remarkable invention.Shortly after the invention of the telephone, Bell had told his father:”The day is coming when telegraph wires will be laid on to houses, justlike water or gasÉ and friends will converse with each other without leavinghome.” How right he was. Remember this prediction was at a time when the telephonewas in its infancy and its full potential was far from recognised. Bell’s invention changed for good the way people live their lives. Telehonesand telephone lines have enabled us to network global companies via computers,make transactions electronically, or simply talk to our loved ones to let themknow all is well, wherever in the world we might be at the time. The telephone is not only capable of transmitting voice, but also oftransmitting emotion and, therefore, allows us to communicate not only what weare thinking but how we feel. In a stroke of genius, Bell shrank the world and transformed the lives ofthe citizens of his country of birth and education, Great Britain, and, indeed,the lives of people around the world. But Bell was more than a ‘one event wonder’. Like Leonardo da Vinci, heforesaw the future and continued to be a prolific inventor, developing theforerunners to mobile telephones, tape recorders and air conditioning. He dared to lead the way and in 1877, helped establish the Bell TelephoneCompany, which proved enormously successful and a great many have continued toaccrue the benefits. Bell, though, was able to translate his exceptional values into his privatelife. He lobbied the cause of deaf people and to establish day schools for themthroughout the US. When he set out on this challenge, only 40 per cent of deafchildren were taught to speak. At the time of his death in 1922 the figure was80 per cent – testimony enough in itself to his leadership qualities. Like all exceptional leaders, Bell made himself accessible to all. Heencouraged one family – the Kellers – to educate their little girl Helen, whowas deaf. She later attended the Boston Museum of fine arts and became a highlysuccessful commercial artist. Employers today can learn much from Bell’s great achievements – nurtureideas, encourage innovation and pursue developments, however radical they mightseem at the time. Likewise, there remains a need today for companies to accept and fostertheir links and social responsibilities within the communities in which theyoperate and beyond. Bell proved that leaders and business can create thecircumstances to improve our quality of life. In researching this article, I have grown to respect the great depth andleadership qualities of Alexander Graham Bell, a hugely successful entrepreneurand a great humanitarian. While telephones, fax, mobiles, text messaging, and the like may sometimesdrive you mad, they have undoubtedly revolutionised the world for the better,and it can all be traced back to the leadership and vision of one man. Bell isthe greatest creator ever of shareholder value and an inspirational figure forthe to the cause of the “children of a lesser God” – it must earn himthe title of Greatest Briton in Management and Leadership. Bell’s CV3 March 1847 – Born in Edinburgh1865 – Educated at Edinburgh and London universities 1870 – Bell family emigrated to the US   7 March 1876 – Patented the telephone 1877 – Created the Bell Telephone Company 2 August 1922 – Died in Nova Scotia The greatest Briton: Alexander Graham BellOn 21 Jan 2003 in Personnel Today Related posts:No related photos. 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Higgs report to force radical rethink on choice of directors

first_imgHiggs report to force radical rethink on choice of directorsOn 11 Mar 2003 in Personnel Today Comments are closed. Previous Article Next Article Employers will face significant resourcing problems as they try to implementthe recommendations from the Higgs review on non-executive directors. This will be the message from recruitment expert Betty Thayer, chiefexecutive of Exec-appointments.com, at an Institute of Directors conferencenext week. The independent review into the role of directors by Derek Higgs publishedlast month concluded that the pool of people sitting on UK boards should bewidened and that half of company directors should be non-executive. Thayer will warn companies that they need a radical re-think of the criteriafor appointing directors if they are to fulfil their new obligations. She will argue that introducing the recommendations would require a majorcultural shift, with directors moving away from the ‘old boy network’ attitude.”Board members will have to be much more open-minded and considerappointing younger people who can bring valuable experience of modern businesspractice such as new technology and e-commerce,” she said. www.execappointments.com/non-exec Related posts:No related photos.last_img read more

Learning to play for a win-win situation

first_img Previous Article Next Article Despiteinitial concerns, there is some evidence that training partnerships via theUnion Learning Reps scheme are having a beneficial effectTraining partnerships between companies and unions are providing employeeopportunities that go beyond basic skills tuition. At Metroline buses, trainingmanager Mick Hodges explains how its relationship with the Transport andGeneral Workers Union, (T&G) which began with courses including English asa second language, has grown into the provision of a Learning Bus, deliveringaccess to a dozen PCs for staff to use for learning activities at the company’sgarages. “The Learning Bus is used by drivers, engineers, cleaners, somemanagers and administrative staff,” says Hodges. “The trainingoffered is not really work related, but we benefit from offering it to currentstaff. We also send the bus out into the wider community, where it acts as auseful recruitment tool as well.” The development of Metroline’s training relationship mirrors the developingrole of Union Learning Representatives (ULRs) in the UK. According to RobbieGilbert, chief executive of the Employer’s Forum on Statue and Practice (EFSP)the idea of the ULR first emerged to address basic skills problems. However,with legislation in the Employment Act giving reps statutory and potentiallyexpanded responsibilities from April this year, Gilbert is concerned thatcompanies will find themselves saddled with a new union official, and littleidea of how to relate to them. “I don’t believe it has ever been thought through as to how the ULRswill work with the employer’s own provision of training, whether that bethrough Investors in People (IIP), individual learning plans or otherinitiatives,” says Gilbert. Lack of clarity exists regarding how much timethe ULR can spend on their activities, how much access to and influence onstaff they should have and even how learning records created and maintained bythe ULRs in the course of their work should be used, for example. Liz Smith, head of TUC learning services, dismisses these concerns,indicating that by the time the legislation comes into effect, there will beadvice and guidance on ULRs in the form of a revised Acas code, a TUC handbookand a guidebook for employers produced by the Department for Education andSkills. “This should not be a matter for confrontation,” says SusieParsons, chief executive of the Campaign for Learning. “It is abouteverybody doing the best for themselves. The employers can do what’s best fortheir businesses and unions are helping them realise that.” IIP chief executive Ruth Spellman, says: “Unions are less worried aboutpromoting training as a ‘win-win’ initiative for staff and their employer. Anycompany with a union can use that organisation to check what trainingopportunities are being offered and what kind of success training has.” The forthcoming legislation is not the only indication that the Governmentexpects unions to have increased involvement in raising the skills of theworkforce. The Union Learning Fund, set up in 1998 by the DfES, continues tofund initiatives and helped more than 28,000 people engage in learningactivities last year. The fund will become the responsibility of the LearningSkills Council (LSC) from this month. Liz Smith notes that funding is also available from the LSCs for smallerscale local initiatives, and that this kind of finance is frequently used aspump priming to release resources from elsewhere, including ‘matching funds’from the employer themselves. Company-matched cash At British Bakeries in Newcastle, money from the Union Learning Fund wasmatched by the company to establish a learning centre for its 280 employees.Patrick Hutchinson, a ULR from the Bakers, Food &Allied Workers Union, hasbeen seconded from the shopfloor to manage the centre on a full-time basis. “The learning centre has been a joint partnership between the union andthe company split down the middle,” he says. “The company’s side hasnot just been in cash – it has provided space for the centre to be setup.” With much of the course provision coming from Learndirect, the BritishBakeries centre provided a good business case for management as well asincreasing its workers’ skills. Four years ago, Gloucester City Services introduced an initiative to supportbasic skills among its predominantly manual workforce. According to Emma Bradley, personnel officer with the section which providesstreet cleansing operations, provision was originally designed and deliveredwith union involvement as part of the service’s appraisal system and worktowards IIP recognition. Interestingly, policy changes meant government financewas available to support the first year of the initiative and this currentyear, but for the interim period, the organisation provided the fundingrequired. Today, a dedicated classroom contains 10 computers for staff, plus access toa tutor, offering individual support for employees who want to develop theirskills up to and beyond basic literacy and numeracy standards. “Some of our employees left school as soon as possible and camestraight into their job,” explains Bradley. “Now they want to improvetheir skills. They also want to be able to help their children with homework,so there have been benefits there too.” While Gilbert notes that trade unions do not have a substantial history oftaking a training role, it appears they are more than making up for lost time. Susie Parsons says many union leaders will take an active part in thisyear’s Learning at Work Day on May 15, taking job swaps and hoping to betterthe 750,000 staff and 4,000 organisations which took part last year. “Union activity in this area is making a difference,” says JacquiHenderson, chief executive of Central London Learning Skills Council. “Iforganisations can get union involvement in planning how training is to becarried out and what kind of methodology would be appropriate, you can get theright resources for the right people.” Positive outcome The emerging message seems to be that companies should take advantage of theunions’ passion for learning and establish good partnerships which have apositive knock-on outcome for both the organisation and individual staff. “We’ve always had a good relationship with the T&G, and thatrelationship has improved since we created the Learning Bus,” says MickHodges of Metroline. “I hope it continues into the future because itcertainly seems to work. We are able to talk to the union and discuss issuesrather than just confront each other.” Land Rover is working in partnership with no less than three unions to giveits staff training opportunities. However, while the Associate DevelopmentScheme (ADS) has been established and run with the help of Amicus MSF, the GMBand T&G unions, there are no Union Learning Reps involved and funding comesentirely from the company. ADS manager Sian Hewkin explains the scheme emerged from pay negotiations inNovember 2001. While the company pays an amount per head, the programme runsentirely independently of the company, with strict criteria that none of thetraining provided should have anything to do with the employees’ work for thecompany. “The scheme is run entirely as a staff benefit,” says Hewkin.”As long as an associate wants to take a structured course which meets ourcriteria, then we will encourage them to take up that learningopportunity.” Classroom resources are provided by the company, as well as throughpartnerships and links with external training organisations and local colleges.As a result, staff can take part in learning activities ranging from Spanishand driving lessons, to basic brick-laying and even salsa dancing. “A lot want to learn skills such as plumbing, so they can use theseskills at home,” notes Hewkin. “But the programme is also aboutgiving them new skills.” Not only do the unions take an active part in determining the provision oftraining through their presence on the ADS committee, they also provide auseful way of spreading awareness of the opportunities, both through shopstewards directing associates to the ADS resource and through hostingpresentations from ADS staff at union meetings. Key facts from the employment act 2002 Section 43 part 4 of the Employment Act 2002 provides:– The right to reasonable paid time off for Trade UnionLearning Representatives to ensure they are adequately trained to carry outtheir duties– Reasonable paid time off to carry out duties relating to ULRrole, including training needs analysis, arranging learning for members,promoting and informing members of training opportunities and consulting withthe employer about carrying out these activities– The trade union must notify the employer that a member isundergoing training to be a ULR and confirm in writing when that training iscompleteGood Relations – getting the mostfor training from Union partnerships   Break down barriers and create a good dialogue with theunion on training issues. Understand and articulate the training needs of the organisation asperceived by management and check these with the perception of unionrepresentatives. There may be hidden training needs that union representativescan perceive.Respect confidentiality. If a union representativehighlights a skill shortage, do not try to identify where the shortage lies orto address the problem through recruitment. Clarity in organisation. Establish exactly what itexpected from union reps, their duties and responsibilities. Be clear about howinformation on individual learners is going to be collected, used and stored.Share success. Celebrate new qualifications or courses through joint newsletters,meetings and even presentations. Related posts:No related photos. Learning to play for a win-win situationOn 1 Apr 2003 in Personnel Today Comments are closed. last_img read more

Technology firm encourages frank talk among staff

first_imgMost employees would welcome the chance to point out their colleagues’failings or say what they really think of bosses face-to-face – but few everget the chance. However, a new scheme at technology firm Intentia is doing just that,encouraging the firm’s management team to talk frankly about each others’strengths and weaknesses. The high-tech Swedish firm introduced the programme to help managers learnmore about themselves and develop deeper skills. It now intends to extend theinitiative to all staff. “If people have issues with the way an individual works, then ourcustomers probably do too, so it’s essential we get it out in the open,”explained HR director Debbie McCallion. Ten managers were asked to evaluate each others’ skills, using a systemcalled SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats). The HR teamanalysed the results and compiled a list of each manager’s best and worstskills. The group then talked about each individual in turn, highlighting theirweaknesses face-to-face. At the end of the course, each manager was givenobjectives to try to improve. The company is now planning to extend a similar scheme to all its employees,in the hope that straight talking will improve the way teams work together. Previous Article Next Article Related posts:No related photos. Technology firm encourages frank talk among staffOn 15 Apr 2003 in Personnel Today Comments are closed. last_img read more