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HR Zone Any Answers Digest #10 – Training attendance, non-smokers, whistleblowing, hours…


HRZONE Any Answers Digest – Issue 10
Tuesday 25 June 2002

********** THIS WEEK’S TOPICS ***** THIS WEEK’S TOPICS **********
Encouraging training attendance… Hiring non-smokers…
Whistleblowing by any other name… Part-time hours… online
performance management systems… Language tests… Learning
********** THIS WEEK’S TOPICS ***** THIS WEEK’S TOPICS **********

The World Cup draws to a close, but other HR challenges keep
coming. If you have a problem, or just want to air an issue, come
to Any Answers:

University of Aberdeen
Routes to Knowledge – People and the Knowledge Economy: Unlocking
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build human capital. Face the challenges for HRM, people
development and retention. Debate, question, hear, discuss, get
some answers from: Richard Scase, Cisco Systems, Lloyds TSB,
Nottingham Business School

What you asked this fortnight

New questions posted include:

Any recommendations of online performance management systems?
Richard Rogers

Any suggestions of language tests to ensure foreign employees have
minimum requirements?
Caroline Kembery

Any suggestions of incentive schemes for employees to learn any
course, job-related or not?
Caryle Webb-Ingall

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Featured question: Encouraging training attendance

Q – I have recently joined a firm where there has been no
training strategy. My problem is poor attendance: some people are
very keen and have attended everything on offer while others (the
ones that need it most) are very reluctant to attend and cancel
appointments on a regular basis. Any suggestions?
Cris Sasovsky

Edited responses appear, to read responses in full, go to

A – Explain the benefits of your courses to management i.e. tell
them what behavioural changes your courses can create, and how
these then add value to the company / organisation. It is then up
to management to identify where the training can be applied. This
does have its problems from your perspective in that your courses
can be perceived as corrective rather than developmental.
Alexander Paterson


A – Picking a handful of consistent offenders and having a one to
one with them to discuss their lack of attendance could be a good
way of overcoming this problem. If you simply can’t do this due
to the volume of people or feel uncomfortable, tackling their
line manager instead, as they need to be aware if people are not
attending and therefore need to manage this.
If there has been no training before, people may not even know
what training is! Or what benefits they can get out of it.
Katharine Mohamed


A – 1.There is nothing like peer pressure. You need to get those
who do attend the training to talk about it to their colleagues –
preferably in positive terms. Ensure you get feedback from
everyone who attends and not just immediate feedback but longer-
term responses.
2. Some form of mentoring may help – if it is you who is telling
them then they may resist, but if it is someone they respect or
have to listen to then they will consider it more seriously.
Nigel Higgs


A – Make yourself as visible as possible – presentations,
perhaps, to demonstrate the strategy, and why you are doing what
you are doing.
Helen Furnell


A – We introduced a limit on the number of times an individual
could cancel. This meant that once they had reached the limit
they were banned from booking a place for the next year. OK, it
sounds harsh, and almost unworkable. Wait until their manager
starts asking questions when you refuse them a place on a
critical course. OK, you give them the place, but there is an
added incentive for them to attend. The boss is on their back,
and it could seriously affect their performance appraisal, and
their job.
Craig Worcester

to read responses in full, go to

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Any Answers Answered:
This fortnight, new responses have been added to the following

Q – Does anyone know of legislation which would make it unlawful
to only hire non-smokers? Or has a case ever been awarded to a
smoker claiming unfair treatment by being denied “smoke breaks”?
Anna Kearsley

(see site for responses in full)

A – Selection criteria need to be job-related. I’m hard-pushed to
think of any instance, bar for a smoking cessation counsellor
perhaps, where such a condition could be justified. I know of
organisations who ask their smoking population to work extra time
as a result, and other organisations who give their non-smoking
employees additional days-off during the year to compensate.
Ultimately you’d have to justify why a non-smoker was less able
to do the job relative to a smoker – as you would for any other
selection criteria.
Connall Platts

To see all the responses to this question in full, go to:


Q – Could anyone tell me what the definition of part-time hours
is as I have had conflicting reports varying from 16 hours to 21
hours? Also is there a minimum period for probation?
Peter Buckley

(see site for responses in full)

We defined “Part Time” as any contractual hours less than the
standard fulltime hours(which in their case was set at 37.5).
Anna Kearsley


Following the introduction of the Part Time Workers Regulations
2000, a part time worker is anyone who works less than the
established full time hours. This could therefore be one hour
less or 50% less.
With regards to probationary periods, there is no statutory
period of time that I am aware of. Most organisations I am aware
of use between 8 weeks and 6 months depending on the complexity
of the role.
Neil Morrison

To see all the responses to this question in full, go to:


Q – Suggestions welcomed on what else we can call a
“Whistleblower” policy. Staff are opposed to the name
“whistleblower” though not to the contents of the policy.
Pat Akerman

(see site for responses in full)

A – The word integrity springs to mind. How about the ‘Personal
Integrity Policy’?
Alan Wilson

A – An Accountability Policy? Or simple words to summarize the
intention – e.g. CLEAR, OPEN, INTEGRITY?
Connall Platts

A – We simply call it “Dealing with Malpractice”.
Peter Fleming

To see the responses to this question in full, go to:

Do you have anything to add? Or do you have a problem or a query
on any HR-related subject? Join in now, at

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Copyright (c) 2002 Sift Group Ltd. All rights reserved.
May be reproduced in any medium for non-commercial purposes as
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Tel:+44 (0)117 915 9600 Fax:+44 (0)117 915 9630 ISSN 1474-2225

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