Do we need to legislate against stress?

first_imgDo we need to legislate against stress?On 1 May 2001 in Personnel Today Related posts:No related photos. Comments are closed. The Health and Safety Executive recently concluded that one in fiveemployees is very or extremely stressed, while a study by the TUC` reveals thatstress is a major concern for workplace safety representatives. Are employersdoing enough under self-regulation to combat stress or is it time to legislate?Compiled by Sarah-Jane NorthDavid Cooper Director of HR and corporate development, East London and the CityMental Health NHS Trust Stress does exist and it exists in significant amounts in the NHS, at alllevels, indeed more so now among general and senior managers than ever before.I joined the NHS in 1987 and it did not seem so prevalent back then. Butgeneral management in the NHS is now much more like that found in the privatesector. And it is increasing in particular areas, usually where there are staffshortages or pushes to deal with specific issues. I feel there is more stress in mental health than in my previous field ofcommunity health. If a child doesn’t get speech therapy for 12 weeks it doesn’tmake headlines. But if a patient is discharged and murders then we will be heldaccountable for that. People working in mental health live in fear at timesbecause of the client group they work with. I have my own opinion about claims that there can be “good”stress. In my opinion, life without stress would be fantastic. I also believe that the vast majority of stress is created by other people.About 90 per cent of the things I get asked to deal with immediately are notthat urgent. That’s more about wielding power. The key issue to address is about working in a supported environment. We arenot doing enough locally, regionally or nationally in the NHS to deal withstress because we are not prepared to accept how much stress exists. For yearswe have accepted that our staff will be abused and harassed. It has even become a comic turn that a district nurse may go to a house andbe flashed at. It’s part of NHS folklore. What we need is zero tolerance. Dr Rob BrinerSenior lecturer in organisational psychology, Birkbeck College, LondonUniversityStress is not really a meaningful, medical, scientific concept. The casesthat have gone to court are about specific conditions such as depression ornervous breakdowns. These cases involve people who have found it hard to cope, have repeatedlytold their employer about their problem and the employer has handled thesituation incredibly badly. It is not the work itself that is the problem, buthow the employee’s concerns are not addressed. It is also my impression thatlawyers use the fear factor to make organisations feel they have to do thingsabout stress when in fact much of what they do will not prevent stress at all. The law is used to scare people and that is not the best basis from which toencourage employers to behave properly.Steve HarveyDirector of people, profit and loyalty, Microsoft UKYes, stress exists. It’s a bit like personal training at the gym; you haveto stress a muscle before it can grow. The important part of the deal is thatthe muscle then has to have recovery time. In the workplace, a degree of stresscan be a good thing as long as it is not 100 per cent of the time.Employers could always be doing more to put the stress into context, and aslong as there is recovery and fun time within the work environment, it shouldbe manageable. At Microsoft, we make sure that people take their holidays, weprovide external help for employees in the form of an Employee AssistanceProgramme, if people feel their life is getting out of hand. Stress is a very individual pressure, so I do not believe there should belaws in relation to it on employers.Terry GormanPersonnel director of Nottinghamshire County Council, president of localgovernment personnel group SocpoI agree that stress does exist in the workplace and indeed is now one of thetwo most common causes of absence, alongside musculosketal problems. It isdifficult to say whether it is increasing in real terms but what is clear isthat more managers are now prepared to accept that it does exist so itspresence is more open.In local government I believe it is being tackled with training and in-housecounselling teams. More could be done to ensure proper risk assessments areundertaken and that managers are alert to early signs of stress when involvedwith their staff.The drivers for change are the need to reduce absence in line withgovernment targets, the business benefits and the costs of getting it wrong.There is no need for legislation.Owen TudorSenior health and safety policy officer, TUCStress is the major health issue facing workers in Britain – union safetyreps say so, employer sickness absence surveys say so, and governmentstatistics prove it. People are working too hard and too long, without theresources they need. Although weak, the Working Time Regulations are having aminor but measurable impact on hours, but the pressure to work harder is beingkept up and people who can cope for a while are beginning to burn out. The work ethic is out of control, and we need a new approach to thework-life balance. Unions and employers have agreed on a programme of actionthrough the Health and Safety Commission. We have agreed that stress can be ahealth and safety problem, and that health and safety laws can be used tomanage stress. Previous Article Next Articlelast_img

A timely break

first_imgA timely breakOn 1 May 2001 in Personnel Today With the latest twist in the saga of the Working Time directive, willemployers really have to offer short-term holiday entitlement from dayone?  Stephen Levinson provides sometimely answersCharacters Frances: a solicitor. Bill: her client, an HR director. Scene Frances’ soulless office on a damp spring evening. Her thoughts areturning to the summer and the holiday brochures waiting for her at home whenthe phone rings… F: Hello… B: Hi Frances, Bill here, how are you? F: Nothing so wrong a good holiday would not cure… And you? B: Oh, like that is it? As it happens I want to talk to you aboutholidays so that should cheer you up. F: Going to offer me the director’s villa in Barbados, Bill? Abouttime…you are right, you will cheer me up. B: Is that a lawyer’s urban myth then… all director’s have aCaribbean bolt-hole? It is about something more prosaic… our market researchdivision. We take on a fair number of researchers and managers on short termcontracts and… F: (Butting in quickly) You are going to ask me about the Bectu*case… B: Frances, do you know how irritating that can be, even when you areright? Yes it is about Bectu. I have been asked to find out what can be done. Iunderstand that the European Court has decided that everyone is now entitled tofour weeks holiday from day one. That will put some of our project costs overbudget and we may have to think about recharging customers. Have I got itright? F: Not exactly Bill. The advocate general has proposed that the13-week qualifying period is incompatible with the Working Time directive andunlawful. His opinion will be taken into account by the ECJ but there is noformal decision yet… and the law in the private sector is still that there isno entitlement to holiday pay until thirteen weeks have been worked. B: So how long will that last… the ECJ usually follows the AdvocateGeneral’s opinion, doesn’t it? F: Yes… I think the statistics are that they do that in about 80per cent of cases. It is unclear when the court will give a decision but weshould have it by the summer. B: Just in time for the holiday season then. Do you think we will getthis one into the 20 per cent bracket? F: Not where my money is going, Bill. I think the odds are on the lawchanging. B: Why? F: The case is really part of a very long running saga going back tothe previous government. Do you recall John Major calling all of the WorkingTime legislation “complete nonsense” and the attempt to annul thedirective on the grounds that it had been introduced on a false premise andthat it was really not based on health and safety? B: I can remember that well… the UK lost its case and theregulation was eventually introduced by Labour in 1998. But all that is oldhistory, why is it relevant? F: I think the court takes an integration approach to issues likethis. It will not be keen on the UK having rules for workers that are markedlymore relaxed than the other member states because that upsets the level playingfield that is supposed to exist in a common market. B: You mean we will not be allowed to have a more favourable regimefor employers than other member states? F: Yes, it is only a part of the reasoning but I think that it isinfluential, Bill. B: But Frances, how come a Labour government brought in the 13-weekqualifying rule in the first place? F: The directive says that the measures to be taken by member statesshould be in accordance with conditions laid down by the member states. Boththe last government and the present one seem to have been advised that thisentitled them to provide for a qualifying period. They both wanted to allow forthe “burden on business”. The Conservatives proposed 49 weeks andLabour went for 13 weeks. B: So they both got it wrong. What were the reasons for the advocategeneral’s decision? F: The first point in the argument was that the entitlement to paidholiday was a fundamental social right. B: Who would argue with that? F: Our beloved government for starters. Anyway the advocate generalpointed out that an entitlement to paid holiday is provided for in the EuropeanCharter of Fundamental Rights. B: I thought that was not legally binding? F: Right again, Bill. If you remember, Keith Vaz said it would haveas much importance as something written in The Beano. But it looks now as if hewas quite wrong. B: How so? F: Because the advocate general reasoned that if something is afundamental social right and recognised as such by the Community it cannot becorrect for a member state to have rules that effectively mean that certainworkers are deprived entirely of the right to a paid holiday. Either it isfundamental or it is not. In Bectu most of the members work on contracts thatlast less than 13 weeks and are never entitled to paid annual leave. B: I see, anything else? F: He also pointed out that the effect of the rule was to introduce adistinction between the employment relationships of employees on a fixed termcontract and those working under contracts of unspecified duration. B: Didn’t like that? F: He called it “surreptitious” Bill. He argued that such adistinction was not mentioned in the Directive; cannot be inferred and isparticularly inappropriate when dealing with a fundamental right. B: Who is this man? What did he say the right to make conditions didmean? I cannot say I blame the Government about getting that wrong, the wordsmust mean something. F: Generous of you, Bill. Tizzano is the name and he gave a littlelist or rather approved the list that was suggested by the Commission. B: Good name for what he has done. Go on then, amaze me with yourlist. F: You can provide rules to allow employers to plan holiday periods;to require advance notice; to have a way to calculate a pro rata entitlement ifyou have worked for less than a year, and to set out a minimum period ofemployment before leave can be taken. B: Come again on that last one, did I hear you correctly? F: A requirement of a minimum period of employment before leave canbe taken. B: Oh, I see. You accrue the right from day one but cannot takeholiday until you have worked, say, three months. F: I think that is right. B: What will the overall effect of all of this be, Frances? F: Probably one for you rather than me Bill, but it is bound to havea big impact on agency workers, in a £20bn market. All employers will have toeither absorb the extra costs or pass them on to the customer. Saving expensessuch as holiday costs was one of the things that made using agency workersattractive. B: There are plenty of other advantages, Frances and I suppose itwill be the same for everyone. F: As long as the work cannot be exported outside the EC. But, Billhave I answered your questions? B: Could we get round all this by making all of our researchersself-employed? F: No chance, Bill. The regulations apply to all “workers”,so that is not a runner. B: Looks like I will be stuck with it then. Can I be sued for notpaying it now? F: No, as I said the law has not changed yet. The effect of the ECJ’sdecision will be that the UK will have failed to implement the directive in sofar as it relates to annual holidays. A government employee can sue based onthe directive. B: But our employees will not be able to sue us because we are not anemanation of the State? F: Spot on. But don’t think it will take long for the Government toact. B: Why not? F: Because, in theory, anyone who suffers a loss attributable to theGovernment’s failure to implement the directive can sue the Government andrecover damages for that loss and there must be hundreds of thousands ofworkers who will be in that position. B: That could keep the small claims courts busy. F: Yes it would. So your position is that a liability to giveholidays to workers with less than 13 weeks service will begin when the newregulations are made and not before. B: Thanks Frances, I’d better get back to some contingency planningand you can hit the brochures! F: Bye Bill. Stephen Levinson is a partner with KLegal, the law firm associated withKPMG * Case C-173/99, Broadcasting, Entertainment, Cinematographic and TheatreUnion v Secretary of State for Trade and Industry (8 February 2001) Previous Article Next Article Comments are closed. Related posts:No related photos.last_img read more

Who to believe?

first_imgAllegations of sexual harassment are always a cause for concern. But what doyou do when the allegations are uncorroborated? And what happens when itemerges that the case has more to it than first disclosed? Joe Glavina, Katie Jackson-Turnerand Rob Riley, assess the aftermath of an office affairBob has been employed as a sales manager for Sellit & Co for five years.He has recently been advised that his sales team’s results are poor and that hewill need to make a big improvement if he is going to hit budget. Bob returnedfrom sick leave six months ago, during which time his colleague, Wendy, also asales manager, managed Bob’s team along with her own. During that period Bob’ steam performed better under Wendy’ s management. Bob now complains that Wendyhas been sexually harassing him and this is the reason for his poorperformance. He requests a meeting with you to discuss what the company isgoing to do about it. What should you do? JG comments This situation should be dealt with very promptly. The firststep is to check that there is a sexual harassment, or equal opportunitiespolicy, which sets out the procedure for dealing with allegations of sexualharassment. Assuming there is a policy in place, you first need to carry out aninvestigation, which will involve talking first to Bob to gain a fullunderstanding of what has happened and ensure he is aware that the complaint isbeing treated seriously from the outset. You will need to explain to him theprocedure you will follow, the timescale and the fact that the matter will betreated in confidence, as far as possible. You will then have to decide whethera formal investigation is necessary. Sometimes it is possible to resolve fairly minor complaints by having thecomplainant raise their concerns directly with the alleged harasser, providedthere is support from HR. It is worth suggesting this to Bob, but if hedeclines, as is likely, a formal investigation will be necessary. This wouldentail interviewing any witnesses and taking statements from them. You muststress the importance of keeping the allegations confidential throughout theprocess. If witnesses insist on anonymity you will need to take account of thefact that Wendy is likely to be at a disadvantage in responding to theirevidence and so the appropriate weight to be given to them must be carefullyconsidered. Further steps might include looking for other evidence that could supportBob’ s claims such as e-mails, notes or other documents. Wendy must be informedof the allegations and be informed of his version of the events. With regard to informing Wendy, timing will be crucial. Often it is best tofind out whether the allegations have any merit before confronting a member ofstaff. However, once an investigation has started, rumours spread and so it maybe preferable for Wendy to be told sooner rather than later. If the allegationsare very serious, consideration should be given to suspending Wendy orseparating the two employees. You have further discussions with Bob and he explains that he had an affairwith Wendy three years ago. He tells you that he finished the affair and as aresult Wendy began harassing him. He admits that he did not mention itpreviously because he was embarrassed and thought the harassment could bestopped without mentioning it. Bob tells you that on the last occasion theyattended an event together Wendy further harassed him. At your request Bobprovides a detailed written account of all of his allegations against Wendy.The account covers over 20 incidents, some at work and some outside work, butthe majority of the incidents were not witnessed by anyone except Bob. Aconference period is commencing. Both Wendy and Bob and their teams will haveto attend and participate in these conferences, which will involve overnightstays. Wendy will be the key speaker at some of these conferences. What do youdo next? KJ-T comments Once Bob’ s allegations have been explored and there is a casefor Wendy to answer she should be interviewed. The circumstances may mean thatthis takes place after the conference. However, in the meantime it will benecessary to ensure that Bob and Wendy are kept apart. Assuming that there is insufficient evidence to suspend Wendy there is arisk they will meet at the conference, which is undesirable. This is a difficultsituation to handle because insisting Wendy moves to another hotel or does notattend the conference will risk undermining her position. Picking on Bob isalso tricky because it could lead to an allegation of victimisation on thebasis of less favourable treatment for having raised the complaint. You will need to speak to both parties and reach a solution which both wouldbe happy with. Asking the line manager to act as a chaperone might be asolution. You interview Wendy after the conference and she confirms that she had hadan affair with Bob. At the time she felt that Bob had a problem with the factthat the affair had ended and that as a result he was making her life difficultby raising the grievance. In relation to the allegations that she had harassedBob, Wendy denies any inappropriate behaviour and mentions that she actuallytried to support Bob in his work and had put him forward for promotion. Shesuggests that it is very convenient that with the majority of Bob’ sallegations there was never anyone else present. What practical steps might youtake to help you to assess the evidence? And assuming that there isinsufficient evidence to support the allegations of harassment, what stepsshould you take to resolve the situation and enable the parties to continueworking? RR comments In the absence of further independent witnesses, you will haveto weigh up Bob’s word against Wendy’ s, which makes it difficult to decide whoto believe. The important thing is that the approach you take is fair, objectiveand can be justified. A useful approach to take is to create a matrix intowhich you record all of Bob’ s allegations, together with any supportingevidence and, alongside this, you record Wendy’s explanations, together withany supporting evidence. You can then consider each allegation in turn andassess its weight. In this way you are better able to judge the credibility ofeach piece of evidence and, importantly, justify your decision to the partiesand, if necessary, to an employment tribunal. Assuming that there is insufficient evidence to support the allegations ofharassment you will need to explain your reasoning to both parties. You shouldalso explain the business need for finding a solution and try to get bothparties to “buy in” to that solution. If the parties cannot work together, then one of them will need to be movedand this will involve considering both the interests of that individual and theneeds of the business. Ultimately, if neither is prepared to cooperate, or ifthe business cannot accommodate a move, then dismissal of one or both of themwill need to be considered. Provided a fair procedure is followed the dismissalis likely to be fair in these circumstances. Obviously any such dismissal would need to be preceded by proper consultationand the basis for choosing between the two of them would need to be justifiedon objective grounds. The final decision will inevitably take into accounttheir relative value to the business. Rob Riley is a partner, Joe Glavina a professional support lawyer, andKatie Jackson-Turner a senior solicitor in the employment department atAddleshaw Booth & Co Previous Article Next Article Related posts:No related photos. Comments are closed. Who to believe?On 1 Jun 2001 in Personnel Todaylast_img read more

Kodak opts for online multi-lingual tool

first_img Previous Article Next Article Related posts:No related photos. Comments are closed. Eastman Kodak has chosen e-learning provider Click2Learn to design newonline course content and convert some of its instructor-led courses intoWeb-based formats. As part of the initiative, a number of Kodak’s officesaround the world, including in Africa, the Middle East, Greater Asia, Japan,Latin America and the US, have adopted Click2learn’s ToolBook desktop authoringsoftware for e-learning content creation. “We were especially pleased with ToolBook’s ability to allow peoplewith little or no programming experience to easily create content in differentlanguages,” said Cynthia Davies, e-learning educational specialist atKodak. Kodak opts for online multi-lingual toolOn 1 Sep 2001 in Personnel Todaylast_img read more

…in brief

first_imgRelated posts:No related photos. Comments are closed. Previous Article Next Article This week’s news in briefEffects of terrorism The findings of a new CBI/Mori poll of 250 top executives shows just howdeep the wounds of 11 September are proving to be for British business. Morethan 60 per cent admit that the attacks have damaged business prospects, with athird of companies expecting a serious impact on demand. HSE guide cuts stress The Health and Safety Executive has launched new guidelines to help smallfirms prevent work-related stress. The leaflet, Work-Related Stress: A ShortGuide, uses a question and answer format to provide practical advice on issuesrelating to stress at work. It covers a range of topics including anexplanation of what stress is and what causes it as well as employers’ legalduties over stress. fall Manufacturing output in the UK last month fell by the largest amount fornearly a decade. Figures from the Office for National Statistics show thatoutput reduced by 1.6 per cent in September, the biggest monthly fall since May1992. There were significant reductions in electrical and optical equipment,paper, printing, publishing, computers and the mobile phone industry. tackle bias The Department for Work and Pensions is urging recruitment consultancies toenter the Age Positive Recruitment Awards of Excellence 2001. The awards, whichtake place later this year, are part of a wider campaign to challengeemployers’ prejudices towards age. For more details call 08457 330360 or [email protected]’ pay resolved A dispute between CHC Scotia and the British Airline Pilots’ Association(Balpa) over the difference in pay between helicopter pilots andbetter-rewarded commercial airline pilots is set to be resolved. The partieshave agreed terms on a revised deal that has been sent to Balpa membersemployed by Scotia with a recommendation that they vote for acceptance. …in briefOn 13 Nov 2001 in Personnel Todaylast_img read more

Cap Gemini stands by job cuts voicemail

first_img Comments are closed. Cap Gemini stands by job cuts voicemailOn 27 Nov 2001 in Personnel Today The HR director of Cap Gemini Ernst & Young has defended the company’sapproach to staff communication when announcing job cuts earlier this month. Europe’s biggest IT consultancy was criticised in the press for usingvoicemail to inform staff of 750 job losses. Robert Ingram explained that the company made strenuous efforts to ensureits 9,000 employees were given full details about the proposed cuts as soon aspossible after the decision was made. Prior to the announcement on 15 November, the board consulted with theelected employee representatives on the staff council about the need forredundancies and acted on its advice to make the process as open as possible. At 10am on the day of the announcement, chief executive Maurice Abellconducted an interactive conference call with 600 managers. This was followedat 1pm by a simultaneous voicemail and e-mail message to all staff explainingthe company’s position and need for job losses. It informed staff that the company would try to reduce the headcount througha programme of voluntary redundancy and early retirement, but if that failedthen compulsory job cuts would be necessary. The e-mail contained a link to a dedicated website that provided moredetails on the programme and information about a freeze on new company cars andan unpaid career break scheme. A telephone helpdesk was also set up to supportstaff enquiries. Ingram said, “We have been really open with everyone, explaining thechallenges the company faces and what that means for staff. People haveobviously been disturbed by the cuts but our feedback suggests our approach hasbeen appreciated.” Related posts:No related photos. Previous Article Next Articlelast_img read more

Disinfectant to be withdrawn

first_img Previous Article Next Article Comments are closed. Disinfectant to be withdrawnOn 1 Mar 2002 in Personnel Today A disinfectant blamed for causing skin problems and asthma among NHS workersis being withdrawn from the UK market from 1 May. Cidex, the brand name for the disinfectant glutaraldehyde, is widely usedwithin NHS operating theatres to kill viruses on certain surgical instruments. But health workers’ union Unison and the HSE have been worried about itseffect on workers. It can be harmful if inhaled or swallowed, can irritate theeyes and respiratory tract and can cause damage to the skin and eyes. The manufacturer, Johnson & Johnson, has stressed the product is safeand that it is only being withdrawn so it can be replaced by an updatedversion. In January, the HSE issued guidance on how much glutaraldehyde workersshould be exposed to, including what employers should do to protect the healthof their staff. It followed earlier guidance published in 1999. Unison welcomed the news of its withdrawal. Jon Richards, national healthand safety officer, said: “There is no ‘safe’ level of exposure and no placefor it in hospitals today. It is well known that it can irritate the skin,eyes, throat and lungs. I am delighted to hear that it will be withdrawn fromhospitals.” J&J Medical, the company that manufactures the product in the UK, saidCidex had been used “safely and effectively” in hospitals for morethan 30 years. “As with all sterilants and disinfectants, Cidex must be handled withcare and certain precautions against exposure observed,” it added. The transition to the new product, called Cidex OPA, would take placegradually during the year. Related posts:No related photos.last_img read more

Engineers join forces to fight skills shortage

first_img Previous Article Next Article Two major engineering bodies have joined forces to tackle the skills crisisin the industry. The Institution of Incorporated Engineers (IIE) and EMTA,formerly the NTO for engineering manufacture, last month signed a memorandum ofunderstanding, sealing their commitment to work in partnership to boost skillslevels. The main aim is to pave the way for advanced modern apprentices to obtainrecognition through the Engineering and Technology Board, the industry’sprofessional registration body. “We’re working with EMTA to ensure the right standards are in place incompany apprenticeship schemes so the people on them are eligible forregistration as engineering technicians or, perhaps through additional study orexperience at work, as incorporated engineers,” said John Beale, head ofpublications and promotions at the IIE. The partnership will help young people who achieve work-based qualificationsovercome barriers to gaining professional recognition, which was previouslyrestricted to those who followed the academic route. It is part of a bid toincrease the number of engineers professionally qualified at the intermediatelevels, relative to those attaining the highest status of chartered engineer. “In the past the emphasis has been on chartered engineers but we needto redress the balance,” said Beale. “More and more employers arecoming to realise that what they want are people with the right skills set andknowledge base who are able to add immediate value to their business. That’swhy we’re working with EMTA and employers to make sure that happens.” EMTA chief executive, Dr Michael Sanderson, explained: “The area ofskills where our companies need most help is at the intermediate level, and theIIE looks after that group. What we’re looking to do is treat NVQ level 3 aspart of the evidence towards membership of the institution. Obviously we’ll doother co-operative things too.” Joint initiatives will seek to build integrated frameworks for engineeringand technology qualifications, encourage employer-led development schemes andrespond effectively to emerging skills issues. Another area will be to develop and promote means for continuingprofessional development (CPD). EMTA, which is on course to become the SectorSkills Council for technology, engineering and science, runs a number oflearndirect open learning centres. It is now seeking to present trainingmaterial it produced for BBC Learning Zone programmes in a user-friendly formaton the web. “We’re working with Redbus, which has done a lot of work withdentists on CPD, to produce mini courses on-line where learners can be assessedand get a certificate,” said Sanderson. “I think that should be ofgreat interest to the IIE and I shall be presenting it to them to see if we canwork together in that area as well.” By Elaine Essery Comments are closed. Engineers join forces to fight skills shortageOn 1 May 2002 in Personnel Today Related posts:No related photos.last_img read more

The road map to success

first_imgThe road map to successOn 1 Oct 2003 in Personnel Today Related posts:No related photos. Training specialists need to adopt a consultancy approach if they are toprove their worth. Here we introduce the first three of six key skillsImagine the following scenario. Opencall Communications is a UK mobile phonecompany. It has grown rapidly due to a new agreement with another networkallowing it to slash its prices, and its market share has grown to 12% thisyear, which is equivalent to more than 3 million customers. However, a recent training scheme for a new computerised information manualfor customer services personnel has failed. The HR and training department wasbrought in at the implementation stage, but was not involved in the planning.It was left out of the loop because many line managers see the department asbeing out of touch with the needs of the managers, while others see it as anobstacle or a necessary evil. As a result of this, the HR and training department is not being included inbusiness decisions. Initiatives fail due to lack of confidence in the function.Performance management and training also suffer. To succeed, HR and training needs to be pro-active and focussed on businessissues and to act as a facilitator. Unfortunately, this scenario is all too common. Part of the problem stemsfrom the change of focus for HR. Historically, HR managed training andperformance almost exclusively, but this is now the domain of the line manager.The difficulty is that line managers are not equipped to manage training andperformance. The result is bad practice, which creates problems that HR has toclean up – damaging the reputation of the function by association. ScoutingThis preliminary stage of consultancy is one of the most important,especially when applied to a training situation. Scouting is where the HRprofessional pro-actively analyses the business’s outputs and identifies areasthat could benefit from change. Coming to the line manger with areas that couldbe improved is beneficial in three ways: – Exploring training issues from a business angle is invaluable – linkingtraining objectives to business performance indicators has been shown todramatically improve employee success. – The HR professional is seen to be in touch with the business and anefficient problem-solver. – You can direct the process, maximising the success of the HR solution. Entry and contractingThis stage is the first contact with the client. The goal is to find outexactly what is going on. Following a structured procedure at this stage willvastly increase the chances of finding workable solutions, quickly. At SHL, werecommend using an interrogation model, such as the SOLVE model (below) to makesure you get all the right information and the commitment of your client. Themodel guides you through several stages at which different questions are asked.Situational questions are questions about how things are now. Use these toadd to your knowledge of the problem. For example, how many of your staff havehad refresher courses in the past year? Obstacle questions are negative questions that probe the problems with theexisting situation, known as the implied needs. This is the beginning of seeingthe problem as the client sees it. For example, are any employee groups lesseffective than you’d like? Linking questions focus on the consequences of the implied needs, makingthem tangible by giving them grounding in concrete business objectives. Forexample, has the training deficit resulted in the loss of clients? Value questions are questions you pose to tease out the value of thesolution to the problems you’ve identified. In this way, you increase theattractiveness of the solution and the client’s ability to express theirexplicit needs. For example, how much would you save? Evaluation focuses on success and helps the client identify what would itwould look like. For example, what are the key measures of success? After going through the SOLVE process you should have successfully identifiedthe client’s expectations. Don’t forget, that it’s vital that you set out whatyou will deliver and achieve on their behalf. DiagnosisThis is where all the information gathered in the preliminary stages is interpreted.The client has already stated what the need is – it is now up to the HRprofessional to translate it into discrete problems that can be solved. You cansplit this translation process up into two stages; the first stage isprioritisation, the second stage is the real diagnosis. Stage 1: The two-by-two model This model looks at the most important needs and classifies them accordingto degree of changeability and current success. This is one way to help aclient to focus on those things that can be altered to solve their problem (seebelow). Stage 2: The diagnostic window tool This tool gets the client to think about which factors contribute to theproblem and then prioritise each one effectively. It categorises these in terms of ease of change and importance. – Note the business challenge that has been identified – List related issues – Categorise according to what is going well – Check what can be realistically changed (this may require discussion withother people or organisations). Remember to keep things simple and that the tool is intended as a guideonly. Focus only on those things that contribute to meeting the business challengeand question whether the issue on the chart relate to the business challenge athand. Start with the assignments that are important and easy to change – quadrant1 in the diagram above. Success in this area will help build up trust andconfidence between you, the line manager and the employees. For example,selecting the right training programme. Quadrant 2 represents those tasks that are important, but harder to change.You will earn the respect of the line manager by achieving these targets. Forexample, re-training experienced employees to a new system. Do not to fall into the trap of tackling those issues that are both easilyresolved and not important. These are known as temptations (Quadrant 3). Forexample, booking training rooms. The final category is labelled ‘tolerables’ – targets falling into quadrant4 – which consist of those things that are unimportant and hard to change. This kind of assignment is often resource intensive, usually has poorresults and is best avoided. For example, trainers’ name badges. You now have a road map for the first of the next three stages of theconsulting process. Put the skills to useTry this scenario.Scouting: After looking at the quarterly customer service report younotice that the number of complaints has risen by 25% and that call waiting hasalso increased. Why? – Not enough staff– Staff not experienced enough– New information system is causing problems for the staff– Staff are de-motivated by rude customers upset about havingto wait so longEntry and Contracting: You approach management about the level of complaints– Situation Questions – How many more complaints were therethis time?– Obstacle Questions – What is stopping the calls beinganswered?– Linking Questions – Have these missed calls resulted in lostcustomers?– Value Questions – How much revenue would we save by answeringthose calls?– Evaluation Questions – To what level should we reduce thenumber of missed calls?Diagnosis:When things are going well recruitment is changeable whilesalaries are unchangeable. When things are not going well, the number ofcomplaints is changeable, but the number of telephone lines is unchangeable.Chosen need – Reduce number of complaints: Contributing factors– Training on technical information– More expert staff– Volume of calls– More voicemail optionsThis article provides an overview of the first part of the SHLconsultancy course. The course itself offers an in-depth, hands-on approach toconsultancy skills training. Next issue: the final three skills ofplanning and negotiating interventions, taking action and evaluationFor more information on thecourse, please contact the SHL Client Support Centre on 0870 0708000, Comments are closed. Previous Article Next Articlelast_img read more

Partnership aims to ‘sex up’ public jobs

first_img Comments are closed. Partnership aims to ‘sex up’ public jobsOn 27 Jan 2004 in Personnel Today An innovative partnership of local government and NHS trusts aims to recruitpeople who are unaware of the variety of jobs that the public sector offers. The Gateshead Partnership is made up of the Gateshead Council, Gateshead NHSTrust and Gateshead Primary Care Trust, which together employ more than 15,000people in more than 1,200 jobs. The scheme aims to promote awareness and the public sector’s profile, bydemonstrating the wide spectrum of jobs that the three different employersoffer. Organisers of the partnership hope that young people in particular, whodon’t rate the public sector as ‘particularly sexy’, will be drawn to jobs suchas web design, architecture and patient liaison. To stimulate a sense of serving the community, billboard advertising and ashared internet portal with local NHS trusts show actual Gateshead publicsector employees, rather than actors or models. Jeff Dean, head of personnel services at Gateshead council, said thatsharing a recruitment campaign with the local NHS trusts would ‘mop up a lotmore people numerically’ as it could demonstrate a wider choice of professions.”Our organisations have a lot of shared values, but the jobs we offerare not the same, so we are not in competition,” he said. “Workingtogether shows this is all about Gateshead and the community.” Dean added that the project had prompted greater interaction between theorganisations, including training projects, which would not be possible tooperate individually due to a lack of participants. The project is running until March, when it will culminate in a job faircombining the three employers. By Michael Previous Article Next Article Related posts:No related photos.last_img read more