Motivating force

first_imgRelated posts:No related photos. Previous Article Next Article Comments are closed. In the war for talent, managers have to keep an even closer eye on staff morale and motivation. Here we look at how four organisations view the subject and what measures they take to monitor and improve levels in their workforce. By Peter FargusAn organisation may be resized, delayered and re-engineered, but its competitive edge always relies upon the competency and creativity of its people ñ that and their motivation to apply themselves in support of their organisation’s goals.It is because of this critical competitive edge that leading organisations are looking to confirm and measure key influences on motivation which affect people’s performance. By establishing reliable measures they put themselves in the position of being able to monitor the effects of improvement action within their organisations.Experience shows that motivating people on a continuous basis is not easy in this rapidly changing world. Some of the factors that managers in one multinational oil company sees as influencing the way it needs to motivate people are:More complex problems that require better cooperation between teamsGreater emphasis on respecting individual differencesMore pressure to achieve difficult objectives on timeBetter educated employeesHigher standards of living which bring higher expectationsDemand for flexible working patternsMedical advances that enable people to work productively to a greater ageThe availability of communication technology which is resulting in increased understanding of what is happening worldwideNew levels of political democracy and transparency worldwide The growing tendency of businesses to face reorganisation.Because of these changing circumstances it is becoming more important to ensure senior managers regularly monitor the motivation within organisations and take the necessary action to nurture it.Improving your business through your peopleThe actions taken by such leading companies provide valuable guidelines on what needs to be done to augment the traditional measures of motivation, such as days lost through strikes, sickness and accidents. These still have their place, but the emphasis now is towards:Finding out what issues are current in the minds of employeesCreating instruments which provide a measure of opinionUsing instruments to track motivationTaking action as a result of their findings Linking the actions with the annual planning cycleBut does this emphasis on involving people in identifying organisation problems and initiating improvement activities really work? Intuitively it seems right, and it would be unusual for commercially oriented business organisations to invest so much time and effort into measuring motivation if they do not believe a tangible business benefit will emerge. But is there any real proof that it works?Although it is difficult to establish research that, in effect, isolates the “people factor” from all the others that affect business performance, the Sheffield Effectiveness Programme, the Institute for Employment Studies (IES) research and the Imada Loss Prevention Programme provide strong pointers.The Sheffield Effectiveness ProgrammeThis found people management practices had the greatest effect on productivity and profitability. Work carried out jointly by the Institute of Work Psychology (University of Sheffield) and the Centre for Economic Performance (London School of Economics) over the past 10 years points strongly to a causal linkage between employee motivation and business profitably/productivity.The study made every effort to compare similar organisations and was rigorously designed to isolate the impact of people on business performance. It concluded that, when comparing five commonly used managerial practices, one stood out as accounting for the largest variation in business performance.The researchers calculated the change in company productivity and profitability accounted for by the use of business strategy, emphasis on quality, use of advanced manufacturing technology, use of research and development and people management. The results indicated very different percentage variations associated with each activity. It can be seen that people management practices have by far the greatest impact on productivity and profitability. The researchers concluded that senior managers should monitor the satisfaction and commitment of employees on a regular basis using standardised surveys, and organisational changes should be made as necessary to promote job satisfaction and employee commitment.The Institute for Employment Studies Research found better people management increased productivity and sales. The IES has carried out two pieces of research which support the proposition that a motivated workforce affects business results. The first research, commissioned by Focus Central London, looked at the impact of implementing Investors in People within central London. The second looked at the impact of employee commitment on retail sales.Investors in People is a government-backed business standard which helps organisations harness their employees towards meeting business goals. In the past it has been focused primarily on training, but the new standard (introduced last April) is more broadly based, and early indications suggest it will be even more successful than earlier versions.As shown in panel below, the research indicates a link between the implementation of the standard, better people management practices and increased productivity and customer satisfaction.The researchers also found that the more an organisation had to do to achieve the standard, the greater the reported positive effect on business performance.From People to Profits follows the IES’ research into the relationship between employee commitment and retail sales in a major retailer. The researchers correlated measures of employee loyalty, pride and sense of ownership with sales performance data collected over two years. The results indicated a link between employee commitment and changes in sales.Imada Loss-Prevention ProgrammeThe Imada programme cut costs by 30 per cent and provides another example of how involving people in solving a business problem can affect the bottom line. In this case work carried out in the transportation division of a US-based multinational petroleum manufacturing organisation focused on the cost of lost days due to injury.Over a 12-month period, the (already poor) industrial injury frequency had doubled and lost work days quadrupled. The organisation’s management decided to examine the issues in the context of the way the organisation operated as a whole.By carrying out an organisation assessment and subsequently helping to harness the interests and abilities of staff, management succeeded in reducing lost working days from 1,368 to 42 a year within five years and cutting delivery costs from 2.3 cents to 1.62 cents a gallon over 10 years. This latter figure represents a 30 per cent cost saving per gallon of over 2.2 billion gallons a year.Some of the management practices Imada recommended for improvement are:Increased control by employees over their workEmployee participation in the recruitment and selection processStaff involvement in workplace and equipment designChanges to the purchasing of equipmentUse of experienced employees as trainersBetter information sharing and feedbackImproved communication between teamsAdditional non-technical skills training Use of focused performance measuresMost are related to good management of people. A summary of the resulting changes is given below. These three pieces of work do not necessarily provide conclusive evidence of the linkage between employee motivation and business results. Other research projects have failed to identify a correlation. There is enough to support the view that investing in good HR management practices can generate significant benefits ñ but organisations cannot afford to make a half-hearted attempt on this front.Case study 1TO BE EMPLOYER OF CHOICEIn order to become the dominant consulting firm in the world, one of PricewaterhouseCoopers’ strategic objectives is to become the “employer of choice”. The firm aims to attract the best candidates from all walks of life and retain them long enough to develop their potential to the maximum.This is not an altruistic approach. PricewaterhouseCoopers’ global clients expect the best, and if the best is not available, they will look elsewhere. Consequently the ability to attract and retain top-quality consultants is critical to the maintenance of a top-quality client base.Furthermore, high staff turnover impacts significantly on the bottom line. PricewaterhouseCoopers estimates that the cost of employing a new member of staff is between 160 to 180 per cent of salary. Consequently, in a global professional services firm, a relatively small improvement in staff retention reduces the cost of staffing by millions of dollars.For this reason, senior partners have invested significant amounts of time in defining the way the firm should do business. Their deliberations have been aimed at surfacing deeply-felt business principles that appeal to experienced consultants and top graduates alike.As part of its people strategy, PwC designed a measuring instrument called People Survey, aimed at providing staff with a “voice at the table”. It emphasises the business principles of PwC’s consultancy division, MCS, and also enables all staff to regularly highlight where things are going right and where they need to be improved. Case study 2TO BE A GREAT PLACE TO WORKThe goal of BT’s Multinational Sales and Services was to be the most successful service company meeting the communication needs of global customers. To achieve this, it relies on the outstanding commitment and motivation of all MNS&S employees and on being able to attract and retain talented people with scarce skills. For this reason it ran a programme of initiatives called “A Great Place To Work” in which: Professional expertise is valuedLearning is encouragedEveryone is able to give their bestEmployees share and build on each other’s ideas People look forward to coming to work.To the senior management team, “a great place to work” meant developing an environment where self-motivation could take root and flourish. In order to build on previous initiatives, the team created an instrument that would measure how people felt and where resources needed to be focused in the future.The team supplemented the regular BT surveys with an instrument that specifically measured the characteristics of the Great Place to Work programme. The resulting questionnaire helped identify what activities needed to be put in place to make the initiative successful and how those activities should be implemented.Case study 3TO ENABLE PEOPLE TO MAKE A DIFFERENCEAirtours wants to be the UK’s preferred holiday company by leading the way in quality, value and service. Its people are vital to this success, none more so than those with customer-facing roles throughout the world. The demands of today’s holidaymakers require motivated people who take the initiative and work well as a team.Airtours created a measuring instrument to solicit staff’s views on those actions that affected its customers positively, what could be improved and how people felt about working for the company. It is one activity aimed at enabling its employees to make a difference.Case study 4TO LISTEN, LEARN AND WIN TOGETHERElida Fabergé, a wholly owned subsidiary of Unilever, is the largest producer of branded health and beauty products in the UK. The company has always aimed to satisfy the needs of customers (retail outlets) and consumers (users of its products) better than its competitors.It chose the business excellence model promoted by the European Foundation for Quality Management (EFQM) and the British Quality Foundation (BQF). Contact the author at [email protected] READER OFFERThis is an edited extract of Measuring and Improving Employee Motivation by Peter Fargus and published by Financial Times/Prentice Hall, an imprint of Pearson Education, £75. You can order it at at 15 per cent discount Motivating forceOn 16 Jan 2001 in Personnel Todaylast_img read more

Take to the stand

first_img Previous Article Next Article Take to the standOn 1 Sep 2001 in Personnel Today With the rise in tribunal hearings, OH expertise is increasingly being calledinto the legal arena. But what lessons can the profession learn from recentdocumented cases?  By Linda Goldman andJoan Lewis Employment tribunals and civil courts are awarding very high levels ofcompensation in cases involving personal injury suffered in the workplace. Theinjury may be psychological, physical or a combination of both. Occupational health staff are involved in assessing capability for work atall stages of the employment process, taking into account any changingcircumstances. Changes in conditions may be personal – for example, illness orpregnancy – or they may relate to changes in the job itself. Many cases oflong-term absence from work require occupational health input to determinefitness for return to work or suitability for early retirement on healthgrounds. The Disability Discrimination Act 1995 affects the treatment of employeeswhose health causes absence from work, since employers are required to makereasonable adjustments to allow a disabled person to remain in the workplace. This wide range of matters involving occupational health brings themincreasingly into the courts and tribunals where their opinions on the healthof an employee are critical. Expert approach An expert witness is one who is independent of either party involved inlitigation. The duty of the expert is to the court and their opinion is inrelation to the specific area of their expertise called upon in evidence whichmust not appear to usurp that of the judge. An occupational professional must therefore have very clear and objectivestandards when reporting in-house on the health of an employee, lest aninference be drawn that the professional opinion is partisan. An expert report should not only contain the credentials and expertise ofthe witness but also a sentence to the effect that the witness understands thattheir duty is to the court. Those who instruct the witness to prepare a reportshould not put any constraint on how the report is written – a “warts andall” professional and objective approach is the only one which the expertcan and should offer. Even if the occupational health professional is notinvolved in the litigation process, impartiality is the order of the day in thepreparation of any report. The question of fitness to work is one frequently considered by the courts.In Gogay v Herts County Council, the Court of Appeal considered the effect onan employee’s health of suspension during employment in a case in which medicalopinion was pivotal. More recently, occupational health opinion came under scrutiny in Farnsworthv London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham because the council chose to relyonly on its doctor’s report of a disabled job applicant’s health records as tofitness to work, when the records themselves showed that she was likely to havea good attendance at work. In that case, the Employment Appeal Tribunal held that the applicant’sconsent to release her health records was to the council and that the doctorwas not bound by confidentiality. Therefore, the doctor could have given moreinformation to the council on which they could base their decision as towhether to employ the applicant. This case appears to question the necessity for confidentiality inconsidering health records. More clearly, the case underlines the view oftribunals that employment decisions are the responsibility of management andcannot be delegated to medical experts. Fair and objective decisions arerequired of employers based on various factors including medical opinion, whereappropriate. Medical evidence was questioned in Abadeh v British Telecommunications,2001, IRLR 23. The EAT held that the tribunal was “over influenced”by BT’s regional medical officer’s opinion so that it adopted her assessmentthat Abadeh’s impairment of tinnitus did not have a substantial effect on hisday-to-day activities. The doctor was entitled to her opinion on the diagnosisof the condition and to report on observations of his condition but thereafterit was a judicial function to determine whether Abadeh was disabled within themeaning of the Disability Discrimination Act. Duty of care Before making health a criteria for employment, employers might consider theabsence levels they tolerate in the existing workforce before making employmentoffers dependent on a satisfactory health assessment. Where such an assessmentis deemed necessary, the candidate should be informed as to how the medicalassessment will take place – by questionnaire, for example, or medical or acombination of the two. In light of the Farnsworth case, the applicant will need to give writtenconsent to the medical being carried out and to whom the content of the reportand material on which it is based may be disclosed. Apart from rights under the Data Protection Act 1998, if the candidate isdissatisfied with a report or recommendation, they may consider litigationdirectly against the occupational health professional who prepared it. It maybe of some comfort, considering the difficulties that doctors have been havingin the cases quoted, that recent case law indicates that the occupationalphysician carrying out a medical examination or tests is doing so for thebenefit of the prospective employer and therefore no duty of care is owed tothe subject of the medical. In Kapfunde v Abbey National and Daniel it was confirmed that for a duty ofcare to arise there has to be a doctor-patient relationship. It is best,therefore, to stick to the professional remit of occupational health andprepare all reports as an expert witness in case that is what occupationalhealth professionals are required to be. A quick glance at what is going on in important employment cases can beobtained from the EAT’s website ( A diligentsearch will show where medical evidence has been a feature Linda Goldman is a barrister at 7 New Square, Lincoln’s Inn. She is headof training and education for ACT Associates & Virtual Personnel. JoanLewis is a senior consultant and director of Advisory, Consulting &Training Associates and Virtual Personnel, employment law and advisory serviceconsultancies Case roundupKapfunde v Abbey National andDaniel, 1998, IRLR, 583 CAThe employment medical does not create a patient-doctorrelationship. The doctor should, in effect, be a stranger to the job candidate.In this case the doctor assessed a questionnaire which showed that thecandidate suffered from a chronic debilitating disease. The doctor reportedthat this would result in poor attendance at work during acute exacerbations ofthe disease. There could be a change in the non-therapeutic relationship if thedoctor spots a life-threatening condition and either reports it to the examinee(creating the relationship) or fails to report it when ethical considerationsmight arise. Arguably, the problem could be addressed by writing a confidentialletter to the examinee’s GP.  Lesson Contact professional indemnity insurers to agreea form of wording. v Herts County Council, 2000, IRLR 703The council took steps to suspend a social worker, who wasworking under a lot of pressure, to investigate possible impropriety. Thesocial worker was exonerated but complained that the suspension amounted to abreach of her contract and was so stressful as to cause her psychiatric injury.She was successful in her claim for compensation, in which medical evidence wascalled to show the effect of the suspension on her. Lesson Include risk assessments on suspension criteriain high-stress cases.Farnsworth v London Borough ofHammersmith and Fulham, 2000, IRLR 691F consented to the disclosure of her medical records to thecouncil. The occupational physician assessed her as unsuitable for the job forwhich she had applied on the basis of her past medical records. In fact, hermedical condition had improved in recent years and she had not taken time offfrom the voluntary post which she had held for some time prior to applying tothe council. The EAT ruled that the employer’s knowledge of the employee’s disabilitywas irrelevant to whether it treated the employee less favourably for a reasonrelated to her disability. Knowledge or lack of knowledge of an applicant’sdisability is not a necessary ingredient for the purposes of the test ofjustification. The employer’s habit of not making further enquiries of itsoccupational health physician as to the medical history of a candidate were notjustified by misplaced reliance on a duty of confidence when the candidate hadwaived the right to confidentiality. Lesson Be cautious of making job offers beforecompletion of medical assessments.F v London Borough of Camden,2001, IRLR 186The tribunal found that the employer did not discriminateagainst F when they dismissed her as being incapable on the grounds of her disabilityto carry out any job for them. The EAT said that was the wrong approach. Thetribunal failed to consider the extent to which, if at all, certain adjustmentsproposed by F could have overcome the symptoms which were preventing her fromattending work. The case was sent back to another tribunal to consider whetherthere were reasonable adjustments which could be made under section 6 of theDisability Discrimination Act 1995. F had had a series of accidents andillness. The council took advice from a doctor who could not give a realisticdate for her return to work. The medical report only covered one aspect ofchange to her job by saying that, “even if the requirement to do homevisits was removed from her job description” he would be unable to give anopinion on a date for her return to work. The EAT asked “why F wasincapable of carrying out any job at the council for medical reasons?” TheEAT said that the answer could have been that, in consulting with itsoccupational nurse, it did not discuss the extent to which any adjustmentscould help to get F back to work apart from the one item of home visits. Lesson Consider the traditional elements of diagnosisand prognosis in the context of reasonable adjustment recommendations orcomments. Comments are closed. Related posts:No related photos.last_img read more

Business start-ups can turn to Internet for advice

first_imgVital health and safety information for small business start-ups can now befound on the Internet, courtesy of a partnership between IOSH and Norwich UnionRisk Services. A new website,, has been created to provide essentialguidance for small businesses on their health, safety and environmentalobligations. It is free to use and is supported by the Health and SafetyExecutive and Small Business Service. By interacting with a friendly website helper, known as “Alex”,users can learn about general principles and legal stipulations for health andsafety at work, and will eventually be able to explore the particularrequirements of their industry in further detail. The site provides guidance on welfare matters, insurance categories and riskassessment and examines the contents of a health and safety policy, allrelevant to the size and nature of the user’s organisation. The overall aim of is to provide a site which isinteractive, informative and user-friendly, enabling small and medium sizecompanies and business start-ups to meet their health and safetyresponsibilities right from the beginning. It is hoped that the site will gosome way in addressing the current situation in which, on average, the rate offatal and major injuries in small firms is almost double that for firmsemploying more than a thousand people. The site, which was launched in October to mark the start of the EuropeanWeek for Health and Safety at Work, will be developed further with the additionof extra criteria, including occupational health provision. Further informationabout can be found in a free leaflet available through theSmall Business Service, local Business Link operators and the Prince’s Trust. Related posts:No related photos. Comments are closed. Business start-ups can turn to Internet for adviceOn 1 Nov 2001 in Personnel Today Previous Article Next Articlelast_img read more

Staff knowledge helps company grow turnover

first_img Comments are closed. Ensuring all employees understand their role in satisfying theneeds of the customer helped Astron grow turnover from £13 million to £100million over the last five years. Kathy Woodward, formerly group HR director of print services company Astron,told delegates that she is no doubt that this huge growth was largely theresult of the company’s effective focus on customer satisfaction. Woodward, who is now director of consultancy, said that one of the waysthat Astron made individuals aware of their importance to the customer was bymaking the whole sales cycle, from tender, through to implementation andservice, the joint responsibility of all the employees in the company. “Everybody, IT, purchasing, packaging, logistics, has an obligation to listento customer needs and to innovate,” she said. Woodward said she would expect any member of staff to be able to tellprospective customers how their job impacted on the end product. Related posts:No related photos. Previous Article Next Article Staff knowledge helps company grow turnoverOn 21 May 2002 in Personnel Todaylast_img read more


first_img Previous Article Next Article This week’s training newsElectric skills plan The Electricity Training Association, an industry skills body, has launcheda pilot e-learning scheme for staff in the sector. Designed by e-learningspecialist EBC, the Business of Power package will be used as an electronicinduction course for staff joining the industry. The course can be completedon-line or via CD-Rom and takes students through some key areas includingtransmission and safety. on e-learning Call2Contact, a scheme launched by E-skills UK to address staffing, trainingand skills in call centres has published the second consultation draft of theContact Centre Career and Skills Framework. It has been drawn up with inputfrom 50 employers in the sector and should be finalised by the end of July.   www.e-skills.comVocational centre South West Durham Training is set to receive £600,000 worth of governmentmoney to become one of five new national centres of vocational excellence. Asthe only pathfinder centre in the engineering sector it will focus ondeveloping skilled workers to meet the needs of prospective employers. Thecentre will be funded by the Learning and Skills Council and the Department forEducation and Skills. on epilepsy The National Society for Epilepsy has designed a new range of trainingcourses for healthcare professionals. Designed in conjunction withBuckinghamshire Chilterns University College it will cover the diagnosis,assessment and treatment of epilepsy. The training is aimed at nurses, socialworkers, commissioning managers, occupational therapists and other relatedprofessions. e-learning International oil drilling company M-I LLC is introducing a new system totrack and manage online learning for more than 5,000 employees in sevendifferent countries. The firm, owned by Smith International and Schlumberger,will use THINQ LMS to manage employee certifications as well as technical,safety and training from a centralised system.  www.thinq.comStreamlining training Czech Telecom has implemented an e-learning system allowing its 15,000 staffto train online. The initiative has enabled the telecoms provider to streamlineits current training and offer greater support to employee development. Thesystem was developed by Kontis and has cut training costs by 60 per cent. Thefirm will use Click2learn software. Related posts:No related photos. Comments are closed. TrainingOn 2 Jul 2002 in Personnel Todaylast_img read more

In brief

first_img Comments are closed. In briefOn 1 Feb 2003 in Personnel Today Related posts:No related photos. This month’s news in briefWhistleblowing comments We would like to make it clear that comments made by Rachael Heenan ofBeachcroft Wansbroughs in an article in our December issue on whistleblowing,were of a general nature and did not relate to any specific case. We apologisefor the inappropriate use of her comments and regret any embarrassment caused. Bill to curb ‘fat cat’ payments snubbed The DTI has snubbed a Tory bill aimed to curb excessive pay-offs fordirectors of underperforming companies. Secretary of State Patricia Hewitt decided not to back the Private Members’Bill proposed by MP Archie Norman (pictured), despite increasing controversyover payments for ‘fat cat failures’ and criticism from the Government itself. Young workers’ hours to be restricted The Government has announced amendments to the regulations on young workers.From 6 April, the working time of those aged 16 to 18 will be limited to 40hours a week and a maximum of eight hours a day. They will not be able to workat night. Tribunal compensation limits increased Employment tribunal compensation limits have increased. The maximum week’spay rises from £250 to £260, redundancy and basic unfair dismissal awards to amaximum of £7,800. Maximum compensation for unfair dismissal increases from£52,600 to £53,500. Pensions rights ‘should transfer under TUPE’ The majority of employers which responded to the Government’s consultationon pensions believe occupational pension rights should transfer under the TUPEregulations, reform of which has been pending for over a year. They also saidprotection should be flexible and legislation simple so that, for example,employers could pay a lump sum in compensation if it was not practicable tocontinue a scheme. Previous Article Next Articlelast_img read more

A good fit for shoefayre

first_imgA good fit for shoefayreOn 1 Jul 2003 in Personnel Today Related posts:No related photos. Previous Article Next Article Ian Trennan, HR manager at Shoefayre, describes how a bespoke approach tostaff training is delivering good results for the national footwear retailerVocational trainingDesigned and delivered by: The Lexicon Group, Suite 3, TudorHouse, Coychurch Road, Bridgend CF35 5NSPhone: 01656 645008Fax: 01656 646152e-mail: [email protected] bespoke vocational training programme developed over the past 18 months byShoefayre, in partnership with training provider, the Lexicon Group, is bearingfruit. The broad aims of this scheme are to improve our overall skills level, whileincreasing staff job satisfaction and morale. High staff turnover is endemic in the retail sector, and the introduction ofthis bespoke training programme is seen as a very clear way of signalling thatwe care for our employees. Earlier this year, the new scheme saw its first results, with the award ofNVQ and National Traineeship (NT) certificates – since replaced by theFoundation Modern Apprenticeship – to three employees who had successfullycompleted their training. This was seen as a major step in the roll-out of theprogramme and was a major source of satisfaction to all involved in itsdevelopment. Shoefayre is a Co-operative Society, established in 1961. It operates 365outlets throughout England, Scotland and Wales. With a workforce of about3,000, the company has around 10 per cent of employees in formalised trainingat any one time, mostly undertaking NVQ Levels 2 and 3. In the past few years, our approach to training has been revised as part ofa company-wide programme of updating and culture change. Under the new regime, Shoefayre’s training policy – previously largelyorganised regionally – is now being brought under central control, withmultiple providers replaced by a single training and development organisation,the Lexicon Group. This was necessary to bring consistency and equalopportunities to staff across the organisation, as training had previously beenprovided by up to 50 NVQ providers. Simplified We also entered into a contract with the National Contracting Service (NCS).This gave us a single point of contact for all NVQ funding and support in linewith government requirements, greatly simplifying our national training operation.Basically, we felt our employees were not benefiting as they should andShoefayre was not getting the results it needed. It was also the case that training was seen to be delivering qualificationsthat were not wanted and at levels not required. Now we have a tight portfolioof qualifications agreed with Lexicon and any variation to this has to beagreed in advance. Company values promote fair treatment of staff; an approach that we hopewill set us apart from other mainstream retailers. We wanted to create anapproach to training that enabled our people to get something out of theprocess, rather than just a vocational programme that would satisfy the needsof the business. To achieve this, we built up a close working relationship with Lexicon injointly developing vocational training courses that satisfy the internal needsof the company – customer service, stocktaking and so forth – while givingemployees access to nationally-recognised qualifications. This relationship started in summer 2001. At that time, all formal trainingwas on hold and the plan was to concentrate on internal training only. However,despite our apprehension, Lexicon came up with a proposal that convinced us torevisit the NVQ route. Branded programmeWhen we were considering our training requirements, we didn’t want to takean ‘off-the-shelf’ solution. We are working towards a Shoefayre-branded accreditation programme, andLexicon is one of the few providers prepared to put in the time and resourcesto develop a tailored scheme such as this. Lexicon’s corporate development director, Helena Williams, agrees:”What we have developed is not a fixed scheme, it is a flexible approachto training that can be tailored to satisfy both individual and companyneeds.” We spent four months developing the initial courses and launched a pilot inour outlets in South Wales in October 2001. Following the success of thispilot, we went for a national launch in May 2002. Under current arrangements, we offer Foundation and Advanced ModernApprenticeship training in retailing for the 16 to 24 age group, plus NVQ atLevels 2 and 3 for staff over 24. We see the programme as a stepladder that should enable everyone to gain thequalifications to suit their job level. Initially, the take-up was slow (see graph below), mainly because we had toovercome some deep-grained preconceptions about training, which meant peoplewere reluctant to sign up. Due to bad experiences in the past, vocationaltraining was seen as an employer’s way of getting cheap labour. But this is anoutdated view and we set about changing these preconceived ideas. As a key part of this process, we undertook a formal launch to all areamanagers to ensure their buy-in. This then cascaded through the company. “It is critical to develop the relationship between the Lexicon adviserand the branch manager,” said Williams. “Training is tailored to theneeds of each branch and the individuals in that branch. It is important thateveryone appreciates the value and benefits of this approach.” Early results from the retail training programme have been encouraging andthe NVQ partnership programme is now being expanded through the organisation’sLeicester headquarters, and into its warehousing and logistics operations. We have met the initial requirements of changing people’s perceptions abouttheir personal access to training. According to a recent survey, staff membersnow believe that opportunities for development have improved dramatically overthe past few years. They are realising that meaningful training is not just forthe privileged few. We now have 380 people in training. This includes shopworkers aged 16 to 64,and a national training co-ordinator who has just started a Level 4 NVQprogramme. The target for 2003/4 is to increase the numbers participating by200 to 250 people. During the first year, there has been some negative feedback, which isinevitable, but this has been taken on board and fed back into the programme,which continually evolves. Branded programmeWe are still in the early stages, but the next phase in the development ofthe training programme will be to establish means of measuring its impact onthe bottom line of the business in terms of productivity, staff retention andease of recruitment. Recent innovations include a fast-track internal development programme,which enables talented managers to complete training that might normally takethree years in just six to 12 months. We are now looking at ways of integrating fast-track workshops into the NVQprogrammes to allow staff with potential to accelerate their training in asimilar way. We at Shoefayre are very pleased with progress to date. The bespoke trainingwe are now providing has had a major impact on the attitude, morale andconfidence of individuals, really helping to bring them on. Our aim is tomaintain this quality and see a similar transformation with all our teammembers in the future. Training has a real impact on staffThe impact on those who have gonethrough the training has been dramatic. One of the three recent achievers, EmmaTucker, has seen a marked increase in confidence in her personal worth and inher ability to do the job. By targeting the skills and support she needed, shehas now achieved the position of branch manager and she plans to take a NVQLevel 3 in advanced supervisory management.Tucker, who has been with Shoefayre for six years, isenthusiastic about the programmes and the support provided by Lexicon.”The way the courses are structured means they don’t disrupt the workingday, so you can carry on with your job while you study. I think it is a realbonus that you can gain nationally-recognised qualifications while you work,rather than having to make time to go to college.”VerdictMaking a difference for our customersHigh staff turnover is endemic in theretail sector, not a problem faced by Shoefayre alone. However, by offering ourstaff a vocational training structure that is genuinely tailored to individualneeds and that leads to nationally-recognised awards, we feel we have donesomething to signal that we care for our employees and that sets us apart fromother employers in the sector.The main benefit of this approach is that Shoefayre caninfluence how training is delivered through our close relationship withLexicon. Obviously, no training programme is going to be perfect, but whenissues arise, they are quickly recognised and addressed jointly. This is a constantlydeveloping partnership.Ability to meet business needs * * **Buy-in by staff  * * *Flexibility in delivery * * * *Value for money * * * *Overall rating * * * *Key: * = Disappointing  * * * * * = Excellent Comments are closed. last_img read more

Time to put your cards on the table

first_imgTime to put your cards on the tableOn 22 Jul 2003 in Personnel Today The Information and Consultation Directive will take time and resources toimplement, which is why HR must ensure it is not left to the last minute.Roisin Woolnough reportsEmployers need to think long and hard about how they communicate businessnews and changes to staff, following the Government’s announcement on theInformation and Consultation Directive. While the legislation itself does notrequire companies to have an employee consultative body, it does stipulate thatif just 10 per cent of the workforce demand it, then the company must provideit. What form that consultative body takes is to a certain extent left up to theemployer. The framework has taken into account the varied nature of existingarrangements between employers and employees, some of which are highlysuccessful, and the DTI has avoided a one-size fits all approach. One thing the DTI, employer and employee industry bodies are all agreed uponis that companies should at the very least establish if they comply with thedirective and what the business implications are. Any organisations that fallfoul of the directive could face a fine of up to £75,000. “HR people are going to want to drive this initiative, rather thanrespond to demands from employees,” says Ken Allison, Head of HRConsulting at Bond Pearce. “There are good business reasons for doing itahead of time, so that you have the machinery in place and representatives canhandle their roles well.” The EU-legislation takes effect for companies with 150 employees or more inMarch 2005, in 2007 for those with 100 or more employees and in 2008 for thosewith 50 or more employees. Information and consultation means just that and nothing more. “People tend to think consultation is the same as negotiation, but itis not,” says Patrick Burns, director of advocacy for The Work Foundationconsultancy and think-tank. “Consultation still very much leaves decisionmaking in managers’ hands. The directive says a company must be prepared tolisten to employees’ views, state its own views and then make a decision,”he adds. The legislation came about because of EU concerns about the number ofcompanies making public announcements about fundamental changes to their businesses– such as restructuring and mass redundancies – with no prior warning to staff.Employees have to be informed and consulted on management decisions thataffect their future, and the consultation has to be meaningful. It also needsto be done right down to departmental level and at the time the decision-makingprocess is taking place – not when plans have already been finalised. “If the board signs this off, saying ‘Yes we must consult’, but thenthey go through the motions at national level, then there is a problem,”says Burns. “All the personnel we have spoken to said consultations haveto take place while there are still options and the decision can still beaffected.” If companies only pay lip service to the notion of consultation, Burns believesemployees and unions could bring about cases of non-compliance. “If I had to predict a potential flashpoint,” says Burns, “itwould be confidentiality. Accidental exposure is a problem, but not if peoplelearn from good management.” A major concern expressed by employers is that employee reps will leaksensitive corporate information, but Burns sees no reason why this shouldhappen if they understand what is expected of them. He says representativesneed to be given good training to ensure issues such as confidentiality are notbreached. Senior and middle management also need to understand just what theprocess entails, what information needs to be disseminated and when it shouldhappen. “It is very important to work out if both sides feel confident thatthey have the skills to deal with this,” says Burns. “Clarity is veryimportant as accidents of confidentiality often happen because protocols andprocedures are not clear enough.” It is up to HR to set the guidelines, audit the systems already in place,provide the framework, organise elections and monitor progress. That wholeprocess takes time and resources, which is why it is important that it is notleft until the very last minute. “It’s very hard to see how an organisation will get something set upthat is credible, functioning and compliant in under six months,” saysBurns. “You need to find out how well your system works and match it torequirements and have effective dialogue with employee representatives and atboard level.” Global companies also need to bear in mind how their EU counterpartsinteract with employees. “There are issues around links between UK arrangements and Europeanarrangements,” says Allison. “The works council in the UK would haveto nominate a rep to the EU council, which might be a lot more trade-uniondominated.” This could be tricky for employers and it’s up to HR to negotiate itsuccessfully. Whatever happens, Allison says that for employee councils to beeffective, companies need to set them up and treat them in an appropriatemanner. “Make sure it’s not imposed from the top – implement it in aconsultative way,” he says. weblinks  Philippa James, HR Officer at AlfalvalThe sales and services arm of Swedish process engineering manufacturerAlfalaval has had an employee representative body since mid-1999. “We started it because we had a new managing director who was very muchinto being open and communicating with employees,” says HR officerPhilippa James. Called the Employee Consultative Forum, it meets three times a year withfive representatives from different divisions of the business. Representativesfrom the UK’s 200-strong workforce are elected for a two-year period. “Employees can ask most questions they want to, particularly thingssuch as whether there are any areas that cause problems and office improvementsin working methods,” says James. The company will not discuss any issues that are deemed strictlyconfidential or anything relating to particular individuals, and the forum doesnot cover minor workplace issues, such as washroom provisions. “That’s forthe facilities people,” says James. Before each meeting, the agenda is set out so that suggestions can be putforward, and James says that employee opinion surveys show the staff feel theforum is working. On the question ‘I’m kept well informed on the company’sprogress’, the opinion surveys show that 50 per cent of employees agreed in2002, compared with 34.2 per cent in 2001. And the staff response to ‘Thecompany does a good job of keeping employees informed about matters affectingus’, showed an increase of 25 per cent from 2001 to 40.4 per cent in 2002. James feels the forum is fairly well aligned with the directive, althoughshe feels the company may need to make the processes a bit more in-depth in thefuture. Information and consultation regulationsWhen will the regulations begin toapply to my company?Organisations which employ more than 150 employees will be liableto act on a staff request to set up a new information and consultation(I&C) body (a works council) from 23 March 2005 onwards. Where the organisations have more than 100 employees, theoperational date is 23 March 2007, and where the undertakings have more than 50employees, the operational date is 23 March 2008. As from those dates, the lawdoes not require employers to do anything. However, if requested by theiremployees, they will from those operational dates be required to commencenegotiations on the setting up of an information and consultation body/workscouncil. How will such a request for aninformation and consultation body/works council be triggered?Employers will be required to set up an I&C body when theyreceive a petition of more than 100 employees from within the undertaking. Thiskickstarts a process whereby the employer has six months in which to negotiatean I&C agreement. If an agreement is not reached, a lead-in period of afurther six months will operate, at the end of which the ‘default model’I&C body will automatically operate. In the next six months, the employer has the opportunity tocontinue to try to reach an agreement on a voluntary I&C body and/or toarrange the transition arrangements for the operation of the I&C defaultmodel.What is the position where myorganisation already has an I&C-type body such as a staff consultativeforum? Will this have to be disbanded?Unlike the position for European works councils, having anexisting agreed I&C body is not a complete defence to stop new negotiationsproceeding to set up a works council under the I&C regulations. However,the draft regulations do provide some limited measure of support in thissituation. Existing I&C arrangements can remain in place unless and until aformal petition, from more than 10 per cent of employees, is received. Where the employer wishes to preserve its existing staffconsultative forum, it has the option to call a ballot of all the employees inthe undertaking to vote on whether they want to proceed with the statutoryI&C negotiation process. If less than 40 per cent vote in favour ofprogressing with the negotiation for a new I&C agreement, then the employercan continue with the existing employee consultative forum, and the employeescannot submit a new petition for an I&C negotiation for a period of threeyears. Where the original petition to set the I&C negotiationprocess into motion is signed by at least 40 per cent of the employees in theundertaking, there is no entitlement for an employer to hold a ballot. Theemployer is forced to go ahead with the negotiation for a new I&Cagreement. What does the default modelprovide for?The draft regulations provide for information andconsultation in three areas:– The recent and probable development of the undertaking’sactivities and the economic situation– The current situation, structure and probable development ofemployment within the undertaking and any anticipated measures envisaged whichmay put a threat on employment within the undertaking– Decisions likely to lead to substantial changes in workorganisation or contractual relations, including collective redundancy and TUPEtransfersIn the first two of these, consultation is described as”an exchange of views or establishment for dialogue”. In the third –substantial changes in contractual relations and work organisation –consultation is defined as “with a view to reaching agreement”. Itshould be noted that this ‘higher’ level of consultation comes close to a formof negotiation, and would include subjects such as terms and conditions, hoursof work, methods of work, places of work, use of machinery and equipment atwork, changed methods of working, and so on.  Interestingly, the I&C Regulations referto “decisions likely to lead to substantial changes of work organisationand contractual relations”. In addition, the default model has provisions relating toconfidentiality. Unlike the position for European works councils, the draftregulations (in their current form) limit the employer’s ability to withholdconfidential information to where disclosure of it would, judged objectively,seriously harm or prejudice the undertaking. What is the timeframe for myorganisation to negotiate an I&C agreement before the default modelstructure is applied?There is an initial negotiation period of six months, beginningwith the date when the petition for the start of the negotiation process isreceived by the employer. If an agreement is not reached by the end of thatperiod, the default model will automatically apply, but there is a furthersix-month lead-in period for the employer to make arrangements for this – forexample, employee elections. At any time, the parties can extend the period ofnegotiations for an I&C agreement. Employers must do the following, all within the six-monthperiod:– Carry out an audit of its existing I&C arrangements– Develop a strategy on I&C– Educate and brief senior management– Manage employee expectations– Devise and implement the employee communication programmes onI&C– Develop an I&C agreement with which to begin negotiations– Train line managers on I&C– Arrange for the election of employee representatives tonegotiate the I&C agreement– Actually negotiate the I&C agreementSix months is a very short timescale to do all this, and ithighlights the importance of doing the preparatory work well ahead of the March2005 deadline.Compiled by Fraser Younson,partner, McDermott, Will & EmeryFive key points for hrKen Allison’s five key points that HRneeds to get right:– Have clear and realistic expectations of what the processwill deliver and what it is for, so that employees do not think it is anegotiating body– Display a willingness to discuss substantial issues soemployees find it meaningful– Ensure staff representatives are trained properly andunderstand their roles– Manage the agenda and communications strategy. Everyone needsto know when consultation is going on– Ensure that senior management commitment is visibleThe legalitiesThe legislation comes into effect forcompanies of:– 150 employees or more in March 2005– 100 employees or more in March 2007– 50 employees or more in March 2008Employee requests only have to be acted upon if 10 per cent ofthe workforce are behind the motion. If the employer already has a consultative agreement withemployees, then 40 per cent of the workforce need to endorse the 10 per centrequest for a review to be mandatory. How the directive is implemented is up tothe employer and employees to decide, unless they cannot agree, in which casethere are standard directive provisions.Claire Logan, organisationalchange manager at SafewaySafeway set up what it callsColleague Councils in March this year. It started with four councils and hassince added another. “We have gone for a staged implementation approach andthen we will roll it out across the whole company,” says Claire Logan,organisational change manager at Safeway, which employs 90,000 in its 480stores across the UK. Each council meets once a month, with between seven and 10representatives, and two weeks later, representatives from those councils go toa Total Council Meeting. “Individual council meetings provide the agenda for theTotal Council Meeting,” says Logan. “That ranges from discussionsabout pensions through to piloting a corporate training programme. If there areparticular initiatives we are wanting to work through we talk to them prior togetting board approval.”Logan says there have been teething problems in the informationflow. “The timing of the meetings is a challenge,” she says.”You need to balance how often you meet with having enough time for peopleto get feedback on the outcomes and generate ideas and suggestions. You need toget that right for it to be effective.”Each council member represents between 50-100 people and 47members have been trained so far. The training focuses on the legal issues.There are council sponsors at a senior level and meetings arechaired by an HR facilitator. Logan says acting as a facilitator swallows upsome HR hours, as does typing up the minutes, but that they have also savedtime and resources through trialling the training programme with the reps. Comments are closed. Previous Article Next Article Related posts:No related photos.last_img read more

Tribunal ruling clarifies whistleblowing regulations

first_imgTribunal ruling clarifies whistleblowing regulationsOn 9 Dec 2003 in Personnel Today Disgruntled ex-employees who make speculative claims against their formeremployers using whistleblowing rules are increasingly likely to fail after arecent legal decision. The case involved an HR professional whose contract was terminated afteronly two days in the job, when the company employing him said it did not havesufficient confidence he could handle the assignment effectively. Paul Kraus claimed he was dismissed after warning the company that its plansto make staff redundant would contravene its legal obligations. But a tribunalstruck out his claim, ruling it was misconceived. A subsequent appeal upheldthe decision. The case was brought under the Public Interest Disclosure Act, which isdesigned to protect whistleblowers who report dishonest employers. Few claimsare made under the Act – and even fewer come before the Employment AppealTribunal. The tribunal clarified that a disclosure had been made under the WhistleblowingAct, but rejected claims that the company’s redundancy plans would breach legalobligations. Rob Riley, employment partner at Addleshaw Goddard, said the case helpedclarify the meaning of the regulations and would help prevent false claims beingused against firms in the future. Previous Article Next Article Comments are closed. Related posts:No related photos.last_img read more

Do employees benefit from employee benefits?

first_imgDo employees benefit from employee benefits?Shared from missc on 17 Jun 2015 in Personnel Today Related posts:No related photos. Previous Article Next Article Comments are closed.center_img Read full article Staff benefits schemes seem to be a hot topic at the moment so I thought I’d chime in with my thoughts….In years gone by the company car, paid phone bill’s or company credit card were pretty much the in domain of the professionals at the top of their game working in the most generous of companies. Now though, almost akin to my blog post on gimmicky long interview processes, companies seem to be using the benefits they offer as a marketing tool, and the list of what is being offered is getting longer and longer. There’ nothing wrong with that, but let’s dissect it a little.In recent times there has been a lot of debate over what is considered a generous benefits programme and what is going too far. For example, I refer to Facebook and Apple who opted for a very polarizing benefit of freezing any female employee’s eggs (most suggest in a bid to allow feeling more at ease delaying having children). Or Google California, as another example who trucked in snow to create a snowy wonderland for its staff. Times are of course changing and our wants and needs are evolving with the times. I totally get that we are not programmed in the same way that we were 50 years ago where social norms almost pre-defined at what ages children would enter our lives, or when we should be allowed to enjoy a brisk walk in the snow, but is this taking a “company benefit” too far?In a few less extreme examples such-as, orgs employing chefs to cook meals each day for staff, full gym in-house or even sleep pods. These all sound amazing, right? And who wouldn’t want a part of that, but something that is also worth thinking about is – Are we then blurring the lines further between our professional worlds and our personal worlds? And indeed, is this a good or bad thing? We have already seen a huge shift towards technology interoperability and never being too far away from a piece of tech that could see us struggle to “switch off” in our personal time, but we are now looking at a new age where the comforts of home-life are being brought to the office.This is not to say I wouldn’t dive straight into a sleep-pod given the chance – just food for thought and I’d be keen to hear other perspective on where boundaries should be in the creation of a solid benefits scheme…last_img read more