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News in Brief: The week in HR



To say it has been quite a week in news is an understatement, the joy and jubilations of an Olympic win, the G8 Summit and the terror and outrage of the Capital under siege by terrorist attacks; we bring you up to date on the latest HR news and the impact on your organisation.

W/C 04/07/05
Olympic win brings job and transport gains
London’s successful win over Paris to host the 2012 Olympics will spark jobs creation and improvements to transport.

Tony Woodley, General Secretary of the Transport and General Workers’ Union (T&G) says the games are a ‘terrific’ opportunity for UK firms in manufacturing and construction.

“UK companies and their workforces should be at the forefront of the projects to deliver the quality venues for the quality games in 2012.”

Meanwhile, Eddie McDermott, the T&G Regional Secretary said the win would mean the regeneration of whole swathes of East London and particularly the lower Lea valley.

Welcoming the potential for quality jobs in the region as well as improvements to the capital’s transport network, he said the union had already put a marker down for ethical trading.

“London and the South East will deliver and the T&G will play our part. Of that I have no doubt,” he said. “We have already met with the Mayor to say we want him to do all he can to ensure merchandising to promote the games is produced under fair trade.”

Employment is booming
Despite gloomy predictions early in the year, employment is still booming according to the latest Job Creation Index (JCI).

Latest figures show that over 65,000 jobs were created across the UK’s 21 key industries in June hitting a peak for job creation in 2005.

This month’s top industries are vehicles and parts and food and drink. Major vehicles and parts companies have conducted a large-scale recruitment drive, only months after a high number of redundancies at Rover. During June 11,919 jobs were created in this sector alone, according to the market data.

Media and marketing and printing and paper fared less well, showing the greatest reductions in June.

Ray Murphy of Mandis, the company behind the JCI, said: “Despite recent anxieties about the outlook for certain parts of the economy, a review of JCI Index data for the six months January to June 2005, shows the creation of 285,912 new jobs. This represents a 16% increase compared to the same period in 2004 when the total was 246,925 jobs.“

The Mandis/Adecco Job Creation Index is the ongoing monthly tracker of UK jobs created across 500 leading UK organisations in 21 industries.

LSC holds skills summit
The Learning and Skills Council (LSC) is hosting a skills summit this month aiming to arm delegates with the latest research on the impact of training and development.

To coincide with the UK’s presidency of the EU, the summit, supported by Oracle Corporation, will draw on comparisons with the UK’s European neighbours and will look in detail at skills issues and solutions.

Along with presentations from government, including Secretary of State for Education and Skills, Ruth Kelly and Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, David Blunkett, there will be speakers from leading employers including BAE Systems and Cobra Beer.

For more on this story see:

HR Directors back call for Human Capital Chief
Seventy-nine per cent of HR Directors would like to see a Chief of Human Capital responsible for implementing measurement systems that identify the correct data with which to deliver human capital profiles that support delivery of business strategy.

These are the findings of a survey conducted at a recent London conference by Pricewaterhouse Cooper/Saratoga.

The call marks the move towards a greater emphasis on the provision of tangible measurement data on human capital.

In addition, 65% of those surveyed believed the proposed chief human capital officer role should be closely aligned with that of the HR Director; 10% thought with the CEO; 12% with the Head of Strategy; 5% with the CFO and 4% with the COO.

Almost all respondents (98%) agreed their businesses should be able to capture, measure and therefore manage data on their people; and that human capital metrics already exist which can be used to do so.

Richard Phelps, Partner, PricewaterhouseCoopers commented,“Many organisations don’t yet realise that generic measurements exist today which can be used to measure the business impact of human capital in the same way as companies measure every other asset.”

SMEs move to flexi-working
According to new research, 28% more SMEs are practicing flexi-working compared to this time last year.

But while flexi-working is on the increase in the SME community, the annual research, by business communications provider Inter-Tel Europe, highlights that SMEs are only making small concessions to accommodate flexi-working and may be making unsubstantiated claims.

Some 90% of the 400 HR managers questioned said that less than 10% of their staff worked from home at least once a week, and only 1% of managers could say that over half of the company regularly practiced flexi-working.

For those that had adopted flexi-working, 19% said that it had been demanded by staff, although just 2% have made it an integral part of their HR policy as a result.

Getting in the way of going flexi was the inability to monitor remote staff (18%), and a belief that flexi practices went against the business culture or business model(33%).

However HR managers also felt that if they adopted flexi-working staff would be more productive (33%), more motivated (53%) and less stressed (92%), and that flexi practices would make it easier to recruit staff (48%).
For more on this story see:

Careers takes back seat
Employees are putting family commitments ahead of career advancement according to a survey by IRS Employment Review.

In rank order the barriers preventing employees moving ahead with their careers are:

  • their partner’s job

  • parental responsibilities

  • language abilities

  • carer responsibilities

  • lack of interest, and

  • fear from being away from the centre of power

When employees do decide to relocate, London, the South East, South West and East Anglia are the most popular destinations. Western Europe is the most popular overseas relocation followed by North America.

Pay gap needs radical solution
The Equal Opportunities Commission (EOC) has said that the widening pay gap between men and women will not close unless there is a radical rethink of equality laws.

According to the EOC two-thirds of organisations have failed to conduct an Equal Pay Review and have no plans to do so.

Part-time women, they say, earn 40% less per hour than full-time men, the same gap as 25 years ago while full-time women earn 18% less.

Ranjit Dhindsa, employment specialist at Reed Smith said:

“Although many companies have transparent pay structures in place there is still a lot of room for individual discretion (if not unionised) which can lead to issues of disparity.”

The proposal is to modernise existing legislation to:

  • Focus on achievable outcomes

  • Be evidence based and targeted towards the causes of the pay gap, with every employer carrying out a diagnostic “equality check” to find out exactly what action was needed

  • Be transparent and accountable, with consultation with unions and the workforce on the findings and action plan as well as reporting to shareholders

  • Smaller businesses would have a programme of support to help them with the process

Existing laws rely on individuals taking their case to an Employment Tribunal.

Dress down gets thumbs up
Seven in ten bosses believe ‘dress down’ are days having a positive impact on productivity and performance.

The success of dress down days, has according to the findings by Peninsula employment law firm, grown considerably since the same sentiments were tested five years ago.

Today 84% of employers believe it is has been an overall success while in 2000 the figure was just 62%.

Employees have also warmed to the idea of ‘dress down’ days with 88% feeling more at ease in casual clothing and 63% finding formal dress codes at work restricting.

Peter Done, Managing Director of Peninsula commented:

“The traditional view of business people’s dress at work is changing with the shirt and tie image diminishing, it is not unheard of to see directors in casual clothing brimming in their own confidence and asserting their own style to feel at ease in their workplace.

“Dress down’ days have proved a revelation and has played a part in revealing employees self assurance in themselves and confidence in their work performance, void of being stifled in a suit indicating a trend which I see continuing across various industries and companies of all sizes.”

Top IT training companies revealed
QA has been named as the UK’s top earning IT training provider in a chart compiled by IT Skills Research.

The top slot, last year taken by Parity who have now slipped to third position, sees QA move two places up the board.

To compile the list, IT Skills Research ranks companies according to IT training revenue made solely in the UK.

Organisations whose revenue is derived principally from publicly funded training or from military/defence-specific IT training, training franchises whose revenues consist only of royalties and training brokers/portals are excluded from the list.

The top 10 (with last year’s position in brackets) are listed as:

  • 1 QA (3)

  • 2 IBM IT Education Services (5)

  • 3 Parity Training (1)

  • 4 Learning Tree International (2)

  • 5 InterQuad Learning (10)

  • 6 SkillSoft (7)

  • 7 SAP (6)

  • 8 Thomson NETg (4)

  • 9 Oracle University (8)

  • 10 Spring IT Training (9)

To read the full top 50 click here.

Health and Safety success is down to motivation
Improved communication and motivation of worker participation in risk management is having a positive impact on health and safety.

These are the findings from the Health and Safety Executive. Their report of 1,700 employers focuses on the case studies from two major and potentially hazardous industries, chemicals and construction highlights the importance of the context in which consultation takes place.

A total of 90% agreed good health and safety was important for staff productivity and morale.

Hugh Robertson, TUC’s senior policy advisor on health and safety, welcomed the report saying, “The TUC is pleased to see further evidence of the effect that unions and consultation with the workforce have in improving the safety culture within an organisation. We now need further research to ensure that we know what factors lead to this effect.”

Copies are available from HSE’s website at:

HR staff under threat at Asda
Supermarket chain, Asda has announced sweeping cuts amongst its management force which will include HR posts.

Around a 1000 staff are expected to go as part of the move. The supermarket which employs 140,000 staff said the cuts were part of a process to put more emphasis on stores in order to, ‘simplify, re-focus and re-energise the business for future success.’

Harry Donaldson, GMB senior negotiator for Asda said it was ‘appalling’.

“I call on ASDA senior management to put a stop to this treatment immediately. GMB will represent all its members in ASDA and we’ll call upon the rest of the workforce to join the GMB to enforce their employment rights.”

And the winner is …
Sharon Cooper, Director of Human Resources EMEA, IPC Information Systems is the lucky winner of the Open Golf Championship competition.

Of her win, that will include accommodation in Edinburgh on Saturday 16 and Sunday 17 July, full corporate hospitality at the event and of course the chance to watch the masters in full swing she said:

“I was delighted and amazed to find out that I had won the prize of a trip to the Open Golf Championship. Although I am not a golfer, the opportunity to be there and enjoy the atmosphere of such a famous and prestigious event is an experience that I am sure no-one would want to miss. I know that is true as all my golfing colleagues have been busy trying to persuade me to take them along too!”

Congratulations Sharon!

Thank you to everyone that entered, we had a huge response. And if you missed out this time, then don’t despair, there’ll be plenty more competitions coming up.

*HRZone brings you this prize in conjunction with Mercer Human Resource Consulting.

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