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News in Brief: The week in HR – 03/06/05

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Briefcase

See our at-a-glance round-up of all the latest HR news including Britain’s battle to keep the opt-out, National Insurance rate hike rumour, eBay productivity sap and cosmetic surgery promotion solutions.


Working time opt-out slipping away
Trade and Industry Secretary, Alan Johnson headed for Luxembourg yesterday to negotiate with other EU employment ministers over keeping the 48-hour working week opt-out.

Last month the European Parliament voted to scrap Britain’s opt-out and yesterday the European Commission demanded that it be phased out by 2012.

Business organisations including the Institute of Directors are angered by the move claiming the opt-out is essential for maintaining a flexible labour market. The Trades Union Congress, however, support the plans saying many workers endure long hours against their wishes.

National Insurance hike on the cards
The Head of the Pensions Commission is reported by the Times to have said that National Insurance Contributions may have to be raised to plug the pensions’ shortfall.

Adair Turner, who revealed a pensions black-hole to the tune of £57 billion a year last October said there was ‘no way round’ a triangle of difficult choices: more means-testing, higher taxes or a higher state pension age.

Turner is expected to deliver his report in the autumn.

Technology benefits escape HR
A Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) survey claims that HR are failing to make the most of available technology. Less than a fifth or 16% of human resource information systems (HRIS) were integrated with an organisation-wide IT system and more than a quarter of respondents (48%) say their systems are difficult for the HR department to use.

Martyn Sloman, CIPD Training, Learning and Development Adviser said, “HR professionals who fail to realise the potential of their HRIS will not be able to play their full role in the organisation. They will not be able to provide line managers with the information they need to manage labour costs and develop their staff. Nor will they be able to report on human capital. HR could be much more ambitious in its requirements and join forces with IT in order to make full use of the systems.”

Burnout Britain fuels talent shortage woes
More than half of workers claim to be over-worked or burnt out a problem that is impacting on the bottom line and corporate reputations of one in six (15%) UK businesses.

And according to survey authors, Hudson, one in seven HR managers have lost one or more members of staff due to burnout, with 36% witnessing a decline in productivity and a staggering 79% reporting an increase in the number of sick days being taken.

Despite the findings just over half of bosses have a formal process in place to help employees cope with the problem of over-work.

Workers in the financial services sector (46%) and public sector (44%) report to be the hardest hit while accountants in private practice are the least likely (21%).

eBay lures workers
Workers are spending hours surfing the net and according to poll authors Peninsula employment law firm, the problem is growing. Seventy-four per cent of UK employees bid on eBay regularly while men spend up to four hours a day online, double the time spent by women. Men also like to visit BBC Sport and Amazon. While women favour eBay, Amazon and BBC Health.

Peninsula’s MD, Peter Done said that bosses need to ‘crack down’ on the issue:

“Employers need to start by introducing clear guidelines and implement these within employee contracts. It may also be prudent to introduce a monitoring system to look at how many hours employees spend on the internet. Look at limiting their access allowing them to view the web in their lunch hours or afternoon breaks. However most importantly tackle the problem before it gets out of hand.”

Exhausted mums too tired to work
New mothers are sleep-deprived, managing a mere three and a half hours a night, according to a new report by Mother & Baby and Yours magazines.

Seventy-seven per cent of sleep-starved mothers admitted to being unable to work effectively while just over half said they were forgetful and tearful.

Women turn to cosmetic surgery to raise career prospects
Shocking news from the Aziz Corporation reveals that a quarter of women in business would consider going under the surgeon’s knife to boost their careers.

Twenty-six per cent would consider a face lift, 27% plastic surgery and 28% Botox treatments if it resulted in a promotion.

Less invasive procedures met with almost universal sanction with 94% of women saying that they would consider dying grey hair, closely followed by dieting (92%) and dental work (91%).

Men are also warming to the idea, with one in five male directors considering plastic surgery.

Building Society lifts ‘age’ barriers
Nationwide Building Society is to allow staff to work until the age of 75 if they wish to do so. Back in 2001, the Society pioneered the move to allow older workers to graft until 70.

Jeremy del Strother, Divisional Director Personnel and Development, said: “This new approach to flexible retirement benefits both our employees and the organisation. The Society and Nationwide Group Staff Union are committed to diversity and recognise the valuable contribution older employees make to the business.”

The Trades Union Congress have applauded the move saying they welcomed moves by business to work in conjunction with the unions to ‘combat ageist attitudes at work.’

Teaching is top pull for graduates
Students from 90 universities ranked teaching as among their top three most desired professions. The Hobsons Graduate Recruitment Review reveals that 16% of graduates cite teaching as their career area of choice.

Management ranked at number one with Marketing, PR and advertising coming in a close second.

Teaching has risen in popular fashion by 3% on the surveys conducted in the previous two years, in which it was ranked as only the seventh most popular career with students.


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Annie Hayes

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