HR to advise on flexible hours law

first_imgHR to advise on flexible hours lawOn 3 Jul 2001 in Personnel Today Comments are closed. Previous Article Next Article Related posts:No related photos. Senior HR professionals have been asked to play a key role in theGovernment’s new task force set up to examine the introduction of legislationon flexible working practices (News 5 June). Trade and Industry Secretary Patricia Hewitt revealed the nine members ofthe task force last week and they include Fiona Cannon, head of equalopportunities at Lloyds TSB, Mike Griffin, director of HR at Kings CollegeHospital NHS Trust and Anne Minto, HR director at Smiths Group, and editorialadviser of Personnel Today. Sir George Bain, chairman of the new work and parents taskforce, toldPersonnel Today it will be looking closely at existing flexible workingarrangements that are successful and don’t damage business. He said,”Working parents have said what they want most is the ability to workflexibly. “It will be the role of the task force to examine how a right for suchparents to request to work flexible hours can be introduced, building onexisting best practice that is compatible with business efficiency.” The task force will report in mid-November. last_img read more

Establishing a new cultural norm

first_imgEstablishing a new cultural normOn 1 Sep 2001 in Personnel Today Related posts:No related photos. Previous Article Next Article Comments are closed. The EU directive on staff consultation has finally been pushed through. DTIMinister Alan Johnson has called on HR, managers and employee representativesto work together to change the culture on consultation. What can hr people doto move this forward? Compiled by Sarah-Jane North Bill Livingstone Director of human resources at Wrightington, Wigan and Leigh NHS Trust The history of joint consultation in this country has ebbed and flowed sincethe beginning of the last century and there have been many examples of itworking well, particularly in larger manufacturing organisations. During the70’s and early 80’s there was an increase in the number of employers usingjoint consultation but a major reason for this surrounded the utility ofmanaging job losses during a recession. By 1990 the tide had gone out again buta recent CBI survey – Employment Trends 2000 – indicates a resurgence. Theextent to which this is influenced by Europe remains debatable but few coulddeny the generally superior industrial relations records and economicperformance of many European Community countries. The empirical evidencetherefore to support the view that the UK has a poor record in relation toconsultation is in my view significant. Establishing consultation as a cultural imperative does however requireagreement between potentially conflicting institutional interests. Most HRprofessionals would support the principle but traditional management thinkinghas generally not been accommodating of this and of course trade unionsofficially see their members’ interests being best advanced through collectivebargaining. However, the climate is changing as the distinction between capitaland labour becomes more blurred in our “property and share-owning”democracy. Consultation however is only part of a wider staff participation agenda or”partnership”. Giving staff a vested interest in the success of theirorganisations through “share ownership” is one way of doing this.There is no reason why staff in the public sector could not be rewarded in asimilar way for their performance. It is unrealistic to appeal to public sectorvalues as a reason for working from an increasingly disillusioned workforce. Itwould be an innovative, albeit unlikely, move for the Government to introduce a”Public Sector Employee Dividend”. The major issue therefore is notjust about consultation but creating the right conditions for every employee tobe able to align their interests with the interests of the organisation. It isalso about creating a meritocracy where ability, hard work and opportunity arebrought together to achieve individual and organisational success. Bruce WarmanHR director, Vauxhall MotorsI am anti the directive. It imposes aone-size-fits-all structure where different organisations have very differentneeds. The bottom line is what you are consulting about. The closure itself orways to alleviate it? And when do you start consulting? That’s the dilemma allcompanies face. If you consult too early you can create negative expectationsthat will not be realised. For fundamental changes in business, when it gets tothe point of having to make unpleasant decisions, it can be too late to doanything about it. Consulting can get in the way of decision-making andimplementing decisions. Sometimes the quicker you get it sorted the quicker thebusiness can return to normal.  Thelevel of change that we experienced in 2000 was very rapid and sudden. Thingshappened more quickly than we would have anticipated. We had to respond quicklyand we could have damaged the rest of the business by not doing so. Drew ThomsonManaging director, Air Miles and BA MilesWe have a vibrant consultative body, called Viewpoint. We encourageour staff to nominate the people they think are best suited to represent theirinterests.  The impact on our businesshas been most keenly felt during our current reorganisation, which involvedclosing our call centre at Crawley. We wanted to consult openly, to see ifthere was another way to achieve our business objectives. Viewpoint has beeninstrumental in helping us refine the proposal and understand our staff’sneeds. Most notable was reaching agreement on maintaining an evening/ weekendcall centre shift a Crawley, thereby saving over 40 jobs. Any progressivecompany will want to consult with its staff. If they are only reacting to alegal requirement, you have to question their culture; not wanting to shareknowledge and consult is hardly a recipe for engaging your staff and achievingsuccess.Peter ReidDirector, Peter Reid ConsultingThis directive won’t go into a drawfor three years while the Government scratches its head and HR ignores it. Wehave to do something now. There is the very real voluntary option to designinformation and consultation procedures. All you need is another Marks &Spencer closure system and the unions will be pressurising the Government touse the directive it has to hand. People are commenting that they’ll simply beable to e-mail their employees but that shows a failure to understand thepurpose of the directive. We can’t be looking at how to get around this. Weneed to be looking at how to improve what we’ve already got. We have put inplace a works council for a UK manufacturing, engineering company, a businesswith 57 people. It took nine months. It will be more difficult for biggercompanies and they will have to balance the needs of various sites, for exampleunionised and non-unionised, and different types of practice.DerekLuckhurstAssistant director, the Involvement and Participation Association There is vast scope for improvementin consultation. If something has to be explained to employees it may encouragemanagers to think about it more and make better decisions. There is a cleartrend away from managers feeling that if they consult others about an issuethen this brings into question their leadership. Effective consultation has tobe underpinned with trust and requires a degree of openness that has not beenseen in traditional models of industrial relations, where it was all aboutkeeping your cards up your sleeve in smoke-filled rooms. We would wish to seefull transparency throughout the decision-making process. If you train peopleyou consult with there should be no concerns about confidentiality. The moreopen consultation is, the more responsibility trade union and staffrepresentatives have to ensure the trust they are trying to achieve isn’tbroken.  last_img read more

US crisis prompts BA to axe 7,000 jobs

first_img Previous Article Next Article US crisis prompts BA to axe 7,000 jobsOn 25 Sep 2001 in Personnel Today The airline industry has announced thousands of job losses on both sides ofthe Atlantic in response to anticipated falling passenger demand following theterrorist attack on the World Trade Center. In the UK, British Airways has announced 7,000 job losses and a 10 per centreduction in flying, and Virgin Atlantic is to cut 1,200 jobs and reduce itstransatlantic flights by 20 per cent. In the US, Boeing is planning to lay off between 20,000 and 30,000commercial airplane workers by the end of 2002, and Continental Airlinesproposing to shed 12,000 employees. Delta Air Lines, Northwest, United Airlines and American Airlines are alsoplanning major job losses following 20 per cent cuts to their operatingcapacity. Comments are closed. Related posts:No related photos.last_img read more

Racism claims lead to theatre shake-up

first_imgRelated posts:No related photos. Previous Article Next Article Racism claims lead to theatre shake-upOn 30 Apr 2002 in Personnel Today Comments are closed. The English theatre industry is launching a major overhaul of its diversity policies following allegations of institutional racism.The Eclipse Report, produced by the Arts Council and the Theatrical Management Association, highlighted poor representation of ethnic minorities on theatre boards and among its staff.The report was based on a study between 1998-99 which found only one in 23 theatre staff came from an ethnic background, and of the 440 board members, only 16 were black.Peter Hewitt, chief executive of the Arts Council, said the findings would lead to a major drive for better diversity. “The imperative to conquer institutional racism and to embrace the world’s cultures has never been more acute. The Arts Council is currently developing a new diversity project which will be launched later this year,” he said.The report called for positive action, heightened awareness and recommended more up-to-date research on the number of black, Asian and Chinese personnel in the sector.The report’s recommendations also included more training for board members and senior staff, the introduction of a database of ethnic actors and more funds for equal opportunities initiatives.last_img read more

9/11 one year on

first_img9/11 one year onOn 1 Sep 2002 in Military, Personnel Today Comments are closed. Previous Article Next Article Features list 2021 – submitting content to Personnel TodayOn this page you will find details of how to submit content to Personnel Today. We do not publish a…center_img Related posts: What long-term safetyimplications are there for HR one year on from 11 September? In our two-partreport Cindy Elmore, Bo Kremer-Jones and Liz Simpson exploreInthe first of our two-part special one year after the terrorist attacks on theWorld Trade Center in New York and the Pentagon, we look at what companies aredoing and how people have reacted, with changing priorities and new concernsTheterm ‘crisis management’ took on new meaning on 11 September 2001 when Al-Qaedaterrorists hijacked four American planes, flying two of them into the twintowers of New York’s World Trade Center and crashing another into the Pentagon,with the fourth coming down in Pennsylvania’s countryside. Prior to this event,crisis management had more to do with recalling contaminated or faultyproducts, whistleblowing or environmental disasters – with the emphasis ondamage limitation after the event. By12 September last year, however, after major New York-based, US and globalfinancial services companies and trading exchanges lost key employees in theattacks and smaller enterprises went out of business due to the loss ofessential corporate data, crisis management came to mean disaster preparednessand recovery on a very different scale.  Since11 September, the threat to businesses has shifted significantly, requiring anequivalent shift in security and in disaster planning – a shift few firms areapparently aware of or acting on. And where action is being taken, it is oftenunnecessarily expensive, intrusive and misguided.  Clearly,the events of last September were beyond the realms of understanding. Anexecutive vice-president at the American Stock Exchange admitted last Octoberthat the damage to its facilities wasn’t something it had ever made plans todeal with.Inthe intervening year, an abundance of advice has emerged on what to do in theevent of a similar attack and how to protect people, property and vitalbusiness information. This advice has come from the likes of nationalorganisations such as the American Safety and Health Institute, which recentlyreleased a ‘disaster preparedness’ video, as well as psychologists andspecialist consultants – many of whom are former military, law enforcement andsecurity personnel.But,as Larry Smith, president of the Institute for Crisis Management (ICM) based inLouisville, Kentucky reports: “On 12 September, our phones were ringingoff the hook with people wanting information and to be involved in creatingcrisis plans, but nobody wanted to spend any money. Over the past year we’veprobably not done any more significant business than we did the yearbefore,” says Smith. “Forwardthinking executives and HR managers, who understand it’s not a matter of ‘if’but ‘when’ their organisations will be struck by some kind of crisis, know thebetter prepared they are the less damage they will suffer and the quicker theywill recover. But getting them to do something before an event is anothermatter.”Indeed,HR professionals in a variety of businesses across the US and Europe aretight-lipped about the status of their corporate security. Outside the globalcorporations, many groups are exasperated that corporate America is doing solittle – or focusing on the wrong things.  “Ingeneral, companies are awakening to the fact that the ball game haschanged,” says Lance Wright, a partner with global executive search firmBoyden International and an expert on security issues. “Those who havesuffered bad PR in the past are probably further ahead than most – firms suchas oil companies, other large multinationals that have to deal withenvironmentally sensitive issues and those with less favourable reputations,such as the tobacco industry.” However,even these companies, Wright believes, “have yet to reach the point wherethere is strategic security function that operates at a top level and isresponsible to the board”, a position that he regards as vital in today’sworld of changing priorities.BuildingtensionsPerhapsthe magnitude of 11 September was so overwhelming that companies are in denialabout something of that nature happening to them, says Peter Power, managingdirector of Visor Consultants in the UK. “Too many companies are saying‘If we haven’t got two big towers near us, then we’re OK’.”Butmaybe it is just that firms are failing to appreciate the simple steps they cantake to ensure their people, property and corporate intelligence are protected,and that business can continue to operate without undue loss of working days.”Fearbrings business to a halt,” writes Alexis D Gutzman in the opening chapterof her book, Unforeseen Circumstances: Strategies and Technologies forProtecting Your Business & People in a Less Secure World. Yet the knee-jerkreaction of many US building owners and managing agents in increasing buildingsecurity to levels exceeding that of airports, says J Paul Beitler, constantlyreminds workers that they’re operating in a dangerous place. Suchthinking plays into the hands of terrorists who are less concerned with blowingup buildings or killing people than undermining the fabric of Western society.According to Beitler, a Chicago-based real estate and asset management expert,security costs in that city up to 11 September were running at 30 cents asquare foot. Now they’re $3 a square foot because of the installation ofdetection devices and the small army of additional security guards. Theseincreased charges are likely to outrage executives and possibly cripple smalland medium-sized businesses in the city when companies receive their annualbills. Yet most of that expense is being badly deployed.”Noneof the measures that have been installed in office buildings would haveprevented the events of 9/11,” says Beitler. “Those terrorists didn’tattack the World Trade Center because it contained corporate offices, butbecause it was an icon of American capitalist society. It’s hard for me toenvision that somebody is going to die for Allah by crashing into the worldheadquarters of Hyatt, for example.” Manyfirms across the world already had in place emergency plans for if the buildingcaught fire, if a bomb went off, if someone entered the building with a gun –but how many companies had prepared for a Boeing jet coming through the window?The answer: Not many – if any at all.Attemptingto predict possible terrorist or other attacks is an area that Lance Wrightthinks that HR should be involved in, given their “basic facilitationskills to help others think the unthinkable”. Butgiven that bombing incidents do occur in buildings – for example, thedevastation of the Oklahoma City Federal office building in April 1995 and,almost exactly two years earlier the massive IRA bomb in Bishopsgate, Londonthat killed one person and damaged 72 city buildings – what kind of securitydoes Beitler, a Vietnam veteran, recommend?”I’mnot advocating no security,” he answers. “But it should be reasonableand not turn office buildings into armed campuses. Most office buildings todayput primary focus on the front doors, entrance hall and reception areas. Yet in95 per cent of cases where theft or some traumatic event occurs theperpetrators enter – usually unhindered – through the back of thebuilding.  It’s ironic that thestrenuous screening of office workers’ bags is not being done for deliverypersons. And there’s often little or no security under the loading docks ornear dumpsters where vehicles carrying large bombs or weapons can cause realdamage to buildings.”ContingencyplanningThefact is, says Beitler, most security measures that have been installed wereundertaken with no real mission or direction in mind. But to succeed atdisaster preparedness and recovery – whether caused by natural events such asfloods, earthquakes and snowstorms or man-made ones such as fires, chemicalspills or bomb threats – a plan is absolutely essential.Indeed,poor contingency planning is considered to be the reason why a third of thecosts attributed to major disasters like the 1993 World Trade Center bombing,and those perpetrated by the IRA in London, are linked with the inability tocontinue doing business  And it’s notjust a plan that is necessary, it’s a whole new function with new skills andcompetencies that firms need to consider (see right).Forexample, when Verizon Communications’ network went down after the lowerManhattan attacks it took with it New York recruiting firm Digital MarketResearch’s ability to communicate beyond its own four walls – despite the factthat Digital is located midtown, some distance from Ground Zero.  Only after setting up a duplicate networkinfrastructure – something few companies based well away from key terroristtargets would normally think of doing – could the company get back tobusiness.  That loss of accessibility tocustomers and potential clients is reported to have cost Digital $120,000.Butothers were more fortunate – or just more prepared. In a totally unplannedmove, a well-known asset management firm, for example, had within 48 hourstaken over two floors of one of the hotels of a large multinational chain andwas running business ‘as usual’ from there.Usingformer military and law enforcement personnel as consultants when drawing up adisaster preparedness plan also produces previously unthought-of links betweenIT and people. John Bucciarelli is president of WMD Task Force, a USorganisation whose subject matter experts have more than 500 years ofexperience between them, covering terrorism, weapons of mass destruction anddisaster preparedness. Thankfully, they’re the good guys. Since forming earlierthis year, the WMD Task Force has worked with companies to help deter terrorismand reduce vulnerabilities.However,not everyone with former military experience will be useful as a securityadviser, warns Visor’s Peter Power.”Inmy experience there are too many charlatans out there that say that justbecause they defused a bomb 10 years ago during some war, they can deal withthe security implications of this kind of threat in Bruges, for example. It’snot much good bringing in a bomb disposal expert when the ball game has soclearly changed. We need to change with it,” he says.Awarenessis cheap but preparedness can be costly, adds Washington DC-based psychologistand organisation development consultant Paul Camper, who specialises in thearea of HR-related disaster management. He says it is critical to devote moretime, energy and money to respond to the psychological and emotionalconsequences of disasters – particularly technological disasters, which havethe greatest effect on worker productivity.Whilethe Employee Assistance Programs in place in many organisations in the US havebeen a boon for many company employees, particularly those who live alone anddon’t have the all-important emotional support outside of work, they aregenerally not equipped to cope with crisis management and response, saysCamper. What is important, he adds, is for HR to partner with community-basedorganisations and authorities that have established educational awarenessschemes to help employees understand what to expect and how to adequatelyrespond to disaster incidents.Indeed,companies such as Morgan Stanley – having devised a comprehensive disaster planand ensured that its employees rehearsed those measures regularly and had inplace no-cost ‘buddy systems’ – got many of its people out when terror struckthe twin towers in 2001. After all, it’s one thing to have a plan, but quiteanother to ensure employees know what it’s like to walk down 50 flights ofstairs already crowded with panicked co-workers.Inplanning what needs to be done in a crisis, one communication factor frequentlyoverlooked is the importance of taking advantage of lower level knowledge.”Oneof the key people to get on board is the janitor, because they know what isgoing on in the building whereas few high level folks would know where thepower switches are,” says associate professor Bev Sauer, who runs crisismanagement workshops at Johns Hopkins University and is the author of TheRhetoric of Risk which studied crisis communication and planning in the coalmining industry.Itis difficult to engage employees in disaster preparedness if management doesn’tunderstand what is needed or – as with the FBI operative’s memo warning of MiddleEasterners taking flying lessons which failed to reach senior levels prior to9/11 – if important information is ignored, says Sauer.Achievinga balance between making people aware of potential crises and scaring them outof their wits is also a consideration. And here it seems the Europeans havedeveloped considerably more resilience than their American counterparts.Psychologists in the US have coined a new term, “anticipatoryanxiety”, whereby individuals display symptoms of anxiety, stress and depressionto an event that hasn’t even occurred – such as the possibility of furthermainland terrorist attacks on the first anniversary of 11 September.Indeed,much of the American public’s super-charged reaction to 9/11 may have much todo with their isolationist nature – and the insularity that exists even betweenthe different US states. The US populace is regarded as not being as wellversed in overseas issues as their European cousins and seem to have a shortmemory when it comes to disasters that have occurred on US soil.Ever-changingterrorism”I’vejust finished a new book in which I make the observation that 11 September wasreally nothing new,” says the ICM’s Larry Smith. “When my editorcalled to dispute that, I pointed out that hijackings have taken place in theUS since the 1970s. A US bomber crashed into the Empire State Building in 1945,and a single-engine Cessna flown by a deranged man hit the west side of theWhite House in 1994.”Inthe past 15 years, environmental accidents have dropped significantly becauseof training after incidents such the explosion at a plant owned by UnionCarbide in Bhopal, India and the Exxon Valdez oil spill into the Gulf ofAlaska. So management can learn lessons from the past when it wants to,”adds Smith. “However, from all we can tell from literature, news coverageand anecdotal evidence, the majority of companies affected by 9/11 did not haveadequate disaster plans and, as a result, when their building collapsed, thebusiness collapsed with it.”Becausethe business of terror has changed, Boyden’s Wright points out that businessesmay be threatened by terrorist activity that takes on ever-changing shapes,depending on the nature of the business itself. “The concern now for, say,burger chains such as McDonalds or Burger King is that some politically orreligiously motivated organisation traces their beef supplier and places acontaminant in the beef in such a way that it undetectable for some time.Imagine the amount of people they could affect with that,” he warns.Workplaceviolence, however, has been all too familiar to the US, in which death andinjury have been caused by assailants no-one would have thought of barring fromthe workplace. Such is the case of the fatal shooting of seven people –including the HR director – by a co-worker on the morning after Christmas 2000at Edgewater Technology, an internet consulting firm in suburban Boston,Massachusetts. Larry Smith was called that day by a frantic woman who had beendirected to the ICM by the Society of Human Resource Management (SHRM), some ofwhose employees had attended a workshop of Smith’s.Ashe recalls: “The week after, when Edgewater employees went back to work,the company arranged for each one of them to see a critical incident stressdebriefing counsellor paid for by the company for as long as needed. Thecorporate culture was excellent before the shooting, with the CEO ShirleySingleton being a very people-oriented person,” says Smith. “This wasan excellent example of employees, who had established a strong bond in theyears that they had worked together, wanting to get back to console each otherand grieve together. Their way of not letting that crazy gunman get the best ofthem was to make the business productive again.”Thisexample of enlightened management behaviour, supported by creative HR systems,is exactly the kind of approach that organisations need to take to ensureemployee loyalty and performance in these fearful times, according to DonChristian, a partner in PricewaterhouseCoopers’ Global Risk ManagementSolutions practice and the leader of their New York Operational EffectivenessTeam.”Companiesthat implement HR systems and methods which engender employee connectivity,including helping people manage stress and change, will operationally winconsistently in the market, as opposed to only being successful as they ride awave,” says Christian. “The human psychological and social impact ofrising safety concerns are still being understood. However, it is increasinglyimportant to focus on doing the right thing even if all the right methods areunknown. “Attitudesare strongly linked to experiences. Given that 9/11 was our first majorexperience, it is difficult to predict the lasting effect. However, fear forsafety and protection of family will continue to emerge and accelerate withmore provocation – real or perceived – until our expectation for fear andconcern reach another level.”ByBo Kremer Jones and Liz SimpsonChangingpriorities: Reactions post 11 septemberSince11 September, many Americans have actively changed the way they work. Accordingto a Maritz poll conducted in January, 41 per cent of US employees said theyhad reviewed their work-life priorities since the World Trade Tower attacks.Ofthat total:–52 per cent have chosen to work from home or ask for flexi-time arrangements tohave more time with their families–20 per cent planned to find another job or career path more personally rewarding–21 per cent planned to establish stronger relationships with their co-workersInaddition, 28 per cent of Americans polled by Maritz Research planned toparticipate in more community volunteer opportunities sponsored by theiremployer.Source:Maritz Poll – www.maritzpoll.com or call (US only) 1-800 446 1690Anational telephone survey on post-11 September reactions, conducted by thesociology department of the College of William and Mary, a small publicuniversity located in Williamsburg, Virginia found that:–More than one in three US workers (around 49 million) felt more stressed on thejob–One in four felt their jobs had become more dangerous–Around 33 per cent of workers polled reported that their workplaces hadimplemented tighter security measures after the 9/11 attacks. However, of thosereporting higher security, 40 per cent said these precautions did not make themfeel any safer, although the majority felt they were necessary measuresFullreport available at: http://faculty.wm.edu/jtrobeWhatabout the disabled?”Whatmany of us realised after 9/11 was that while for the past 50 years we havebeen focused on getting people with disabilities into the workplace, we hadoverlooked how to get them out in a disaster situation,” says JamesWilliams, president and CEO of Easter Seals, a US-wide voluntary organisationthat has provided services to children and adults with disabilities since 1919.Findinga solution for the safe evacuation of the 13 million Americans in the workforcewho have disabilities, plus the additional 25 per cent with special needs, iscritical, says Williams.”Immediatelyafter the disaster, President Bush’s speech to the joint session of Congressincluded reference to a worker with disabilities who didn’t make it out of oneof the towers, and another who did. That elevated interest in this issue andled to our Safety First campaign, encouraging communities to work together tohelp find necessary solutions.”Indeed,the issue concerning co-workers with mobility problems, who might find itdifficult to walk down 18 floors in a crowded stairwell – such as a pregnantemployee or someone with epilepsy that might be triggered by a warning system’sflashing lights – was addressed recently by Easter Seals, given that thecompany is housed in a Chicago high-rise.TheHR director asked all employees to communicate, strictly confidentially, ifthey wanted to be identified as needing special assistance in the event of anemergency. Many more than had been expected did so – including one with severediabetes.  “Don’tassume that the solution to these issues needs to be high tech or highcost,” says Williams. Something as simple as a buddy system can make allthe difference for a person who is hearing-impaired and may not pick up cluesfrom an auditory alarm system,” he adds.Inaddition, the organisation has bought two ‘evacu-chairs’ with tracks that gripthe stairs, enabling those with mobility problems to safely descend at the samespeed as someone walking.”Theseevacu-chairs are situated at the entrance to each stairwell and everyone hasbeen shown where they are and how to use them. Aside from planning what youneed to do in a crisis, the other advice is to practice, practice,practice,” says Williams. “We’ve had three or four drills since 9/11,most of which called for a complete evacuation of floors 18-24 using thestairwells.”Suchdrills have the added benefit of highlighting the employees who need specialassistance, even those who don’t look as if, or admit that, they do.Takingon the terrorists Howcan firms cope in this new unsafe world?Inthe post-11 September world, says Boyden International’s Lance Wright,”there is no such thing as business and then security as a separateissue”. Whattoday’s organisations must have, he says, is “a strategic securityfunction operating at the top level of business. Whoever fills this role mustbe responsible to the board”.”Theymust have a strategic focus rather than an operational focus,” he says.”It’s not about ‘guns and badges’ anymore.”Theevents of 11 September have forced security issues further into the boardroomthan ever before. To deal with these new risks effectively takes a whole newway of thinking – and a new set of skills. Before, business continuity was verymuch an IT issue – getting the machines back up and running – but with 11September, HR has very much come to the forefront of the security issue.Notonly must a high-level corporate security expert interact with and advise theboard, but also with HR, IT and other critical departments. They should besomeone with experience in handling this sort of role in a large organisation.And that, he points out, “doesn’t necessarily mean that it should besomeone from the military”.Whenlooking for these new skills, Wright suggests that former intelligenceorganisation operatives might produce the right candidate. “They have tohave emotional intelligence too,” he believes. “They have to be ableto read the signals that people are sending out, both inside and outside theorganisation in terms of important issues. In addition,” he adds, “ithas to be a top-notch manager who understands data and can manageeffectiveness. They should be a change agent, someone who is comfortable withthe new paradigm we live in.”Wrightoffers other suggestions about seeking this skilled new employee. “Whatabout an MBA,” he asks, “who has two languages and a background indata analysis? Individuals with technical depth and who have demonstrated anorganisational and strategic capability are probably the most likelycandidates. You can then quickly get them up to speed on the ‘guns and badges’aspect of all this.”People– your most important assets?”Companiesare paying more to secure their IT systems because that clearly has an impacton how you continue to operate. But we challenge clients to give some time andthought to their most important resources – the individuals who work forthem,” says Mallary Tytel, head of ETP, the Connecticut, US-based non-profitHR and management consulting firm.Shereports that for several months following 9/11 she met with a corporate clientlocated at Ground Zero and on asking the senior management team how things weregoing, was told: “Great – we’ve been able to get our IT systems up andrunning.” Yet when Tytel dug deeper she discovered this company of 100people had a 12 per cent turnover rate, compounded no doubt by managers who hadbegun counting their employees’ changed priorities – like going home on time tobe with families – as lost productivity.Whichraises the question: is HR up for the stepped-up challenge of 21st centurycrisis management?Fewcompanies in the US have taken succession planning into account, adds Tytel,meaning they are ill prepared for the loss of key personnel, by whatever means.The picture is not much brighter in Europe. In Germany, for example, recentresearch suggests 80 per cent of its small and medium-sized enterprises have nosuccessor to the CEO.Achievinga balance between the cost of increased security measures, training andcounselling and the potential risks is tricky, she admits, given that the USeconomy took a nosedive – due in part to 9/11. And the US was not alone, theripple effects of America’s economic slump were felt the world over.”Oftenwhat we see with our clients is that the moment the economy takes a dip, HR andtraining programmes are cut because senior management doesn’t recognise thatthese functions are protecting tangible and extremely valuable assets,”says Tytel.Somesolutions, however, cost nothing. One third of all terrorist incidents involvehostages and while your organisation may have chartered private planes forsenior personnel or reduced executive air travel since 9/11, have you everconsidered how your corporate website might be part of your threatassessment?  John Bucciarelli has.”Weadvised a top 10 Fortune 500 company with worldwide offices to think about howwise it was to list the addresses and locations of their critical operations ontheir website,” says Bucciarelli. “Then there’s the seeminglyharmless executive biographies with details of where someone lives, togetherwith names of family members.”HRprofessionals need to reorient themselves with the way we think about what weput on the internet so that key employees don’t become targets.” If theydon’t they will miss a serious opportunity and will undoubtedly be reduced oncemore to simply carrying out more mundane administrative tasks.BoydenInternational’s Lance Wright, adds: “Suddenly, HR is in a business it’snot had to be in before. HR should be in a critical advisory capacity. HRprofessionals should be key players in managing the strategic security process,and they should be involved in revisiting the approach to competencies andskill sets to understand what is needed of a strategic risk manager. If theskills are not in the company already, someone needs to say so.” AndWright believes that someone should be HR. TomMajor, regional security director EMEA and CIS with International SOS, seesHR’s role more as being involved in communication. “In a crisis, HR arethe communications line through which the rest of the company has tomobilise,” he says.Newconcerns AHarris Interactive survey conducted for Privacy and American Business(P&AB), an activity of the non-profit public policy think tank the Centerfor Social and Legal Research, shows “signs of new post-9/11concerns”. Amajority of employees feel that their employers should be strengthening IDprocedures for entering premises and accessing computer systems, and doing moredetailed background checks on job applicants. The report also says that 35 percent felt their employer should do more detailed background checks on currentemployees.Indeed,adds P&AB: “This attitude, formed by recent events, may explain tosome extent why Americans in this survey seem more accepting and open-mindedabout their employer practices as they relate to privacy.” Aclear example of this in the report notes that “four out of five employeesand managers say they would be willing to have an ID card issued by theiremployer that would have on it their photo, basic personal information and abiometric identifier, such as a finger print to enhance workplacesecurity”.Furtherinformation–Institute for Crisis Management 950 Breckenridge Lane, Suite 140 Louisville,Kentucky 40207-4687, US www.crisisexperts.com  Tel: +1 502-891-2508–The American Safety & Health Institute 4148 Louis Avenue Holiday, Florida,34691, US Tel: +1 800 246 5101 www.ashinstitute.com–Unforeseen Circumstances: Strategies and Technologies for Protecting YourBusiness & People in a Less Secure World Alexis D. Gutzman, AMACOM 2002–WMD Task Force: www.wmdtaskforce.com     Toll Free (US only) :Tel: 1 888 401 3136–Vanguard Integrity Professionals HQ: 2950 E. Flamingo Road, Suite D-1, LasVegas, Nevada 89121, US. The company maintains R&D centres in Californiaand Canada, as well as a wholly-owned subsidiary in the UK.  www.go2vanguard.com–Another company that largely comprises professionals with federal and local lawenforcement or military and security backgrounds is Talon www.talonexec.com–The Beitler Company has produced two booklets: A Practical Guide to TenantSafety and Practical Security Guidelines for Building Managers.  www.beitlerco.com–For details of the Easter Seals’ new ‘Safety First’ programme or to request aSafety First kit, visit www.easter-seals.org or call toll free (in the US) 1866 BE SAFE5–The Rhetoric of Risk: Technical Documentation in Hazardous Environments byBeverly Sauer of Carnegie Mellon University, published by Lawrence ErlbaumAssociates, 2002–For details of surveys and publications on IT security offered by the InformationTechnology Association of America, go to: www.itaa.org/infosec/surveys.htm–www.boyden.com–www.internationalsos.com–www.dti.gov.uk–www.watsonwyatt.com–www.crisis.fr–www.crisis-management-and-disaster-recovery.com–www.law-now.com–www.pandab.org (Privacy and American Business)last_img read more

Allied Carpets goes online to recruit

first_img Previous Article Next Article Allied Carpets is rolling out an online recruitment system to its 220 UKstores, in a bid to attract more candidates. The firm usually recruits between 15 and 20 new staff every month. Theappointments range from warehouse workers to senior management. It needs to attract applicants at every level, and said it must ensure eachvacancy is placed on the most appropriate website. HR manager Philip Ryan-Culver said the firm hoped to get more qualitycandidates at a range of levels, and felt online recruitment was the best wayto go. “We recognised online recruitment was the key to attracting candidatesat all levels and wanted to improve what we were already doing,” he said. Allied Carpets will use HR Portal to research suitable job websites andmonitor the quality of the initiative. Comments are closed. Allied Carpets goes online to recruitOn 6 May 2003 in Personnel Today Related posts:No related photos.last_img read more

What works, what doesn’t and why

first_img Comments are closed. Related posts:No related photos. In the second of a series of three articles, Professor Amin Rajan and SharonHarris narrate the experiences of companies that have sought to create adiverse workforce to raise the bottom lineIf diversity management is about accessing the best talent and leveraging itto deliver targeted business outcomes, all HR practices need to be open andfair: meritocratic yet sensitive to inter-personal differences. With these considerations in mind, companies in our sample have implemented12 distinct measures under three headings. Although listed separately, theyhave been treated holistically. They are targeted at three aims. The first is to ensure fairness in recruitment and selection. Jobs arewidely advertised, using both conventional and unconventional sources, andduplication is minimised in the selection process. The second provides customised training to managers and employees, andmentoring support to women and ethnic minority groups entering seniorpositions. The last seeks to promote work-life balance for all employees – men as wellas women – forging links with local communities and special interest groups. Embedding diversity in processes Some companies in our sample have overt initiatives on diversity, othershave relied on an unusual degree of common sense. Either way, they have soughtto incorporate their ideas into day-to-day management practices, so they occuras part of daily business routines. The main emphasis is on: – Seeking new ideas – Creating or joining support networks – Building diversity into sales and marketing campaigns – Receiving clients’ buy-in – Observing national laws – Forging links with disadvantaged business suppliers – Changing the composition of teams at every level to reflect diversity ofpeople and/or style. The following examples illustrate how companies are embedding diversity intoeveryday practices: – In a pharmaceutical company, eliciting new ideas has had a two-prongedgoal: to ensure the diverse workforce does lead to innovations that improveprocesses and products; and to make line managers realise innovation relies ondiverse styles and approaches – Joining external networks in one bank has led to three aims of goodpractice: to gain insights into the latest thinking; to swap ideas; and to usemembership of an external body to generate subtle internal pressures for change– Reflecting diversity in sales and marketing campaigns was introduced at anIT company with two aims in mind – to emphasise that the company is in tunewith changing customer demographics, and to project the image of a progressiveemployer that reflects the social mix of the wider society – In an aerospace company, getting buy-in of diversity principles fromclients has had three effects: generating external pressures for internalchange; spreading good practices in the supply chain; and creating a nationalpool of women and minority candidates for senior jobs. This demonstrates that embedding diversity into day-to-day practices hasbeen a matter of sound business practice, not big, costly initiatives. Creating leadership culture If there was one point that came through repeatedly in our research, it wasthat management leadership at all levels made a huge difference. The companies in our sample are attempting to create a leadership culture byhelping managers at all levels to develop a style that shows sensitivity todifferent groups of employees, their specific needs and work styles. They arealso creating certain formal mechanisms to reinforce that style. As many as 60 per cent of medium and large companies in our sample carry outstaff perception surveys: and increasingly questions on diversity and inclusionare featured on them. Such upward feedback has proved especially useful increating a leadership culture and some organisations have gone even further, asindicated by the following examples. A global company with an ambitious initiative has revamped its list ofleadership competencies to include diversity. Among others, these focus on howto: – Value differences and improve business performance – Learn about yourself and deal with any bias you may have – Build inclusive relationships by active listening and understanding – Build inclusive workgroups and teams – Cope with behaviours that exclude and limit people. A financial services group has revamped its competencies to focus on how to:– Encourage creativity in a structured work environment – Overcome ingrained barriers to creativity – Convert new ideas into product and process improvements. Knowing the blockers At the same time, it is worth emphasising that not all diversity initiativeshave been successful. Paradoxically, the internal and external forces thatpromoted workforce diversity are also the ones which can constrain progress. In today’s high-pressure work environment, numerous constraints haveemerged. The key ones include: – Time pressures on managers – Ingrained attitudes and inexperience – A culture of presenteeism. It is worth emphasising that in many organisations, the culture ofpresenteeism still exists, despite overt initiatives on flexible working,annualised hours and remote working. Employees still feel they may be perceivedas not pulling their weight if they do not work the same hours as their boss orpeers. The out-of-sight, out-of-mind syndrome is proving hard to shift. Four examples serve to underline these constraints: – In an insurance company, a combination of trading difficulties anddepartures in the top team led to managers losing interest in what wasotherwise an enlightened initiative to increase the share of women in middleand senior jobs. Sustained interest at the top proved essential for it tosurvive – One asset management firm paid so much attention to recruitment andselection issues that line managers saw diversity as yet another fad; heretoday, gone tomorrow. Emphasis on an inclusive management style is just asimportant – The whole infrastructure of a diversity council was created to underpinthe corporate vision in one engineering company. But the firm failed to pass onthis communication to the line managers, most of whom found out about the initiativefrom the corporate intranet. Consultation and communication are vital – A retail bank promoted numerous women and members of minority groups tomiddle and then senior positions in different regions in the UK. Two unforeseenproblems subsequently arose: the individuals suffered a sense of isolationsince they did not have personal networks on which they could rely for adviceand support; and their bosses found it difficult to manage them, as they hadnever had to manage anyone different from themselves before. Personal networksand mentoring support are important. Harnessing the power of perception In the final analysis, line managers are seen to be the key to success.Accordingly, a significant effort is going into raising their awareness onthree aspects of human nature. First, intelligent reasonable people think along the same lines, but theirperception of reality can be very different. That does not mean they have to be‘brought into line’. Second, the greater the differences in people’s styles and approaches, thehigher the scope for creativity. This is because creativity is not simply a linear process of knowledgecreation, but rather a random explosion of energy often borne out offrustration and curiosity not normally associated with individuals with similarminds, persuasions and perceptions. Third, stereotyping is nothing more than a shortcut to forming judgementsabout people without getting to know them or their unique strengths. Tominimise it, managers need to: – Cultivate the ability, willingness and self-discipline to listen – Question their own values and bias when difficult situations arise – Recognise that clarity of goals leads to clarity of actions. Amin Rajan is the chief executive of CREATE and Sharon Harris is the UKhead of diversity at Deutsche Bank Next week… The third and final article in this series will look at how theseinitiatives have affected the corporate bottom line. This article is based on the report Harnessing Workforce Diversity to Raisethe Bottom Line, available from CREATE. For further details contact JennyLatham on 01892 526757, fax 01892 542988, or e-mail [email protected] What works, what doesn’t and whyOn 9 Sep 2003 in Personnel Today Previous Article Next Articlelast_img read more

Career focus: South East

first_imgRelated posts:No related photos. Career focus: South EastOn 21 Sep 2004 in Personnel Today Previous Article Next Article Comments are closed. A region by region look at working in HR in the UK. This month we investigate theSouth East.Great opportunities on offer in the SouthEastTheSouth East of England is rightly lauded as one of the UK’smost important economic regions. In fact, its economy is the 22nd largest inthe world, bigger than that of several European countries, according to theSouth East Economic Development Agency (Seeda).Theregion is home to around eight million people and comprises the counties of Berkshire,Buckinghamshire, Hampshire, the Isle of White, Kent,Oxfordshire, Surrey and Sussex.Accordingto Seeda, the South East isthe driving force of the English economy with the average gross income perperson higher than anywhere else in the country.TheHSBC Regional Focus Report 2004 places the South East near the top of theregional growth league, but warns that its economy is vulnerable to consumerretrenchment.Inthe long-term, it cites shortages of land, housing and manpower, and anoverloaded transport infrastructure as the key hurdles to continued success.However, it reports that ambitious government plans for development in theThames Gateway and Kent will partially alleviate some of these issues.Theregion also has a regional assembly that represents the area and hasresponsibilities around advocacy, accountability and regional planning.Thelatest government figures show the employment rate is 78.6 per cent or around4.07 million, up by 22,000 on the same period last year. Theseasonally-adjusted rate in the South East was 3.7 per cent (156,000) betweenApril and June, down by 0.3 per cent on the previous year.The seasonally-adjusted number of claimantsdropped by 1,500 in the last 12 months to 68,900 in July 2004. Althoughthe South East offers some great career opportunities for HR staff one of thekey challenges for the profession is recruitment and retention in such a tightlabour market.TomHadley, director of external relations at the Recruitment and EmploymentConfederation (REC) believes skills shortages and the tight labour market willprove difficult for the region’s HR departments.”It’sbeen the tightest labour market in the UK,”he says. “The need to recruit has increased again during the last ninemonths. One of the major challenges is finding and retaining the best people.”IThas been picking up again recently with companies looking to recruit new staff.However, EU enlargement could have a positive effect. A lot of new people arecoming from the Continent and alleviating some of the skills shortages,particularly in the service sector,” he explains.Hadleyalso pointed to a worrying trend that is seeing people move away to escape thehigh living costs.”Thereis some anecdotal evidence that workers are moving away from the South Eastbecause of the high living and housing costs, particularly staff in the publicsector,” he says.Accordingto the Manpower Economic Outlook Survey,employers in the region are not as confident as they have been in the past.South East businesses reported a net employment outlook of +11, below thenational average of +16 and the lowest quarter two results for the last sevenyears.Living in the regionEducationTherush for school places and the availability at the best schools is a majorworry for many parents. The average pupilto teacher ratios are 22.4 and 17.3 for primary and secondaryschools respectively. This compares with national averages of 22 and 16.4. Theaverage class sizes in the South East are 26.4 and 21.8, broadly in line withthe UKaverage.TransportTheSouth East has some of the most acute transport problems in the country, withhuge congestion at peak times on the road and rail systems. It has the busiestroad network outside of the capital, taking about 4,800 vehicles every day. Alack of investment coupled with difficult employee relations has led to arailway system that runs below capacity and, if you ask commuters, rarely ontime.Culture/LifestyleWithineasy reach of many Londonhot spots, the South East also has plenty to offer in cities such as Brightonand Southampton. There is also apleasant coastline and areas of natural and historical significance. Shopaholics should be happy withthe gigantic Bluewater and Lakesideshopping centres.HousingVarioussources say the rapid growth of property prices has abated slightly recently,but the region is still second only to Londonin terms of prices. The overall average cost of a home in the region is£213,828. According to official figures from the Land Registry an averagedetached house will cost around £339,824, with a semi-detached priced at£201,541. A terraced house will cost an average of £166,583, while a flat ormaisonette is estimated at £140,987.HR contacts and local informationSouthEast Development Agency www.seeda.co.ukSouthEast regional assembly www.southeast-ra.gov.ukCharteredInstitute of Personneland Development branches in the South East:http://branchwebs.cipd.co.uk/kent/http://branchwebs.cipd.co.uk/sussex/http://branchwebs.cipd.co.uk/csouthern/http://branchwebs.cipd.co.uk/chiltern/http://branchwebs.cipd.co.uk/thames/Company profileSkandiaStaff:1,600Based:SouthamptonFinancialservices firm Skandia hasbeen based in Southampton sinceits formation 25 years ago, and was set up as part of a deliberate move awayfrom the City of London.The decision led to a range of HR benefits, such as lower costs, and a moreattractive lifestyle for staff.HRdirector Mark O’Connell says the location has given him the edge overcompetitors.”Thevast majority of staff joining us aremaking a shift away from London,and the long commutes associated with working there,” he explains.”There’sa large catchment area fornew staff, and our employees have an average commute of just 20 minutes. Thishas really helped us with recruitment and retention and I think there’s a trendnow for people, especially those with families, to move away from London.”Headmits there is something of a trade-off being located on the South Coastas staff often have to travelfurther for business meetings and trips into London,but for many, this is a small price to pay. It has also enabled the company tobe proactive in the business community as it is one of the main operators inthe sector outside the capital.”Beingbased in a regional city has helped us build a larger profile than if we hadjust been one of the crowd inLondon,”he adds. “We play a bigger and more active role in the business communityas a regional head office.”Move here for…SalariesTherates of pay are higher than almost anywhere elseThe challengeWithsuch a tight labour market you will get to experience HR at its sharpest andmost innovativeCareersWithso many large, international organisations based in the South East, careers canprogress fasterBut beware of…Health serviceTheregion has the worst performing health service in EnglandStaff shortagesSkilledstaff in almost every industry arein short supplyCost of livingTheextra salary will not make the huge house prices easier to takelast_img read more

This week’s news in brief

first_imgRelated posts:No related photos. Comments are closed. Minority opportunity checkThe government is to launch an investigation into what holds back women from ethnic minority backgrounds in the workplace. Minister for women and communities, Ruth Kelly, said the inquiry would be the next phase of the government’s response to the Women and Work Commission.www.personneltoday.com/37329.articleStaff choose homeworkingSeven in 10 employees believe they would be more productive if they worked from home, according to research. The survey of 300 London workers by Sirenic IT company found that 70% of staff believed homeworking to be more beneficial for productivity. Common reasons for working away from the office were business trips and off-site meetings.www.personneltoday.com/37300.articleForces staff group set upA new organisation is being set up to represent the 250,000 British servicemen and women in the Armed Forces. According to its founder, the British Armed Forces Federation is not a union but will promote the interests of those serving,as well as veterans. Soldiers are banned from taking part in strike action or political activities. www.personneltoday.com/37284.article Previous Article Next Article This week’s news in briefOn 26 Sep 2006 in Personnel Todaylast_img read more

Average home mortgage reaches record $402K

first_imgMortgage applications drop as rates rise. (Unsplash)Though applications for home loans fell last week as mortgage rates ticked up, the average loan to purchase a home reached an all-time high.An index tracking applications to purchase homes dropped 5 percent, seasonally adjusted, last week from the prior week, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association. The metric was unchanged the week before.But as home prices continue to soar as supply remains low and strong demand persists, homebuyers are seeking loans for record amounts. The average size of a purchase loan reached $402,200 last week, up from $398,600 the week before. That’s the highest in the MBA survey’s 30-year history.Read moreLow rates give home refinancings a boostVicious cycle creates “huge supply crunch,” pushing home prices upUS home prices surged 9.5% in November Share via Shortlink Full Name* Joel Kan, MBA’s head of industry forecasting, said the increasing loan sizes, plus a higher year-over-year volume of purchase applications, indicates that demand remains strong if a little diminished.“Purchase applications cooled the first week of February, but homebuyers are still very active,” he said in a statement. “Purchase activity was 17 percent higher than last year.”The MBA’s index tracking refinance applications also declined by 4 percent week over week. Kan noted that, similar to purchase loans, volume was up 46 percent compared to the same week in 2020.Kan attributed the weekly declines in both indexes was largely due to mortgage rates increasing yet again as expectations for economic growth pick up momentum.“Treasury rates have been driven higher by expectations of faster economic growth as the COVID-19 vaccine rollout continues,” he said. It’s the fourth time in six weeks that rates have ticked up.The rate for a 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage was 2.96 percent, up from 2.92 percent the week before. It’s the highest rate since November, according to Kan. Jumbo rates dropped 1 basis point week-over-week to 3.11 percent.Contact Erin Hudson Message* Email Address* Tags Housing MarketMortgagesResidential Real Estate Share on FacebookShare on TwitterShare on LinkedinShare via Email Share via Shortlinklast_img read more