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A week in HR: Has business gone back to the dark ages?

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NewsThis week, Verity Gough reports on how sexual discrimination appears to have reared its ugly head again, the latest unemployment figures, how old-fashioned management styles are driving staff to resign, and how the recession is forcing companies to be more ‘creative’.


So much for a modern attitude to women – if the shock report commissioned by recruitment company HireScores.com is anything to go by, so called ‘maternal-profiling’ would be rife if it wasn’t for the our robust employment laws.

The anonymous survey revealed that half of business owners are cautious about employing young women – with 81%admitting they would ask female job seekers their future and current family plans if the law permitted it, and 49% of managers confessing that age and gender does factor in their final decision to recruit someone.

In contrast, 89% of those questioned said they rarely or never took male applicants’ home commitments into consideration when recruiting. Perhaps these employers should be downloading the new Acas equality and diversity guide to give them a few pointers.

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On the theme of archaic practices, old-fashioned leadership and management styles are apparently causing mass redundancies, according to a report from BT Business. A You Gov survey of 3,473 small business workers found that nearly half of employees that quit their jobs did so because of disagreements with mangers who insisted on hovering over their desks and monitoring their every move.

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They should take a leaf out of the books of companies who celebrate mobile working, as according to Wisework, this is the key to surviving the recession. Founder of The Future Work Foundation and director of Wisework, Peter Thomson says that too many businesses see flexible, mobile working as an employee benefit when the reality is that SMEs with fully mobile workforces are 60% more likely to be forecasting growth in 2009 compared to those who don’t. The full results of the study have been compiled into a survival guide for business.

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Meanwhile, data released from the Office for National Statistics on Wednesday confirmed what we all had feared – that unemployment had passed the two million mark over the three months to January, and now stands at 2.029 million. This is the first time it has reached this figure since 1997.

John Philpott, chief economist at the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, warned that full employment is not just slipping away, it is sinking without trace.

“These are the most doleful set of UK labour market figures since the start of the recession. Not only is unemployment back to where it was in 1997 but it now looks as though we are heading towards the worst outlook for jobs in the UK’s post-war history.”

A more detailed report can be found on the BBC website.

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On the subject of the recession, a report from the BBC states that each UK job is ‘chased by 10 people’. The TUC has announced this stark new statistic after analysing official government figures which point to a doubling of the number of unemployed in the past year. In some cases, says the TUC, there are more than 20 people applying for each job.

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However, with the word recession ringing in everyone’s ears, it appears to be a good time to work in the public sector, which apparently is completely immune to the economic turmoil. A CIPD report out today has claimed that the public sector is a recession-free zone, however it warns that ministers should ‘take a much tighter grip on public sector pay’.


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However for private companies, the misery continues but at least the recession is sparking some creativity. Bosses at Incisive Media, publishers of business magazines including Accountancy Age and Professional Adviser, have been dreaming up ways to avoid mass job cuts by asking staff to take a week’s unpaid holiday between Christmas and New Year. It will then deduct one week of salary spread evenly over salary payments across the next financial year.

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While over in the HR blogosphere, I Hate HR has some top tips for finding a job in a recession – again it seems that creativity is the key. While Sirona Consulting pimps his ‘Ten Things You Must Understand’ when – looking for a job. Definite food for thought.

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Finally, with the whole world embracing social networking, the first ever recruitment Tweet-Up is set to go ahead in an as yet undetermined bar in London. For those who have been on another planet, a Tweet-Up is a meet up for those who use Twitter. It will be a great opportunity for networking and will hopefully spawn other events. For more information read this.

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