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News in Brief: The Week in HR – HR fails in quest to add value

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Briefcase
Catch up on the week in HR with our latest news round-up including revelations on how non-HR professionals view the function, more absence woes, why the TUC are putting kids first and temps have the last laugh.



W/C 30/1/06
HR fails in quest to add value
Only 17% of non-HR professionals believe that HR adds value to the business.

These are the findings from The Management Agenda 2006 published by education and research organisation, Roffey Park.

According to their study HR also continues to be seen as reactive by 53% of the sample, 37% believe it lacks credibility and 32% say it is not influential.

The top challenge for HR this year is developing a performance management culture (63%). Managing change, last year’s key challenge follows closely, becoming more strategic remains on the agenda and influencing senior managers also remains a key challenge.

Leadership continues to be a key issue with a third of respondents rating it as poor or very poor in their organisation. Just 36% trust their leaders to a great extent.

“There is still some way to go until organisations provide the ideal environment in which managers can achieve their high aspirations but there are signs that a corner may have been turned”, say report authors Valerie Garrow and Annette Sinclair. “The Agenda provides clear evidence that by focusing on ‘softer’ issues such as values, purpose, social responsibility and leadership development, organisations will be better placed to recruit and retain the best”.

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Absence costs must be addressed from the top
Directors must play their part in tackling escalating absence costs say the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).

Addressing a Human Resources Directors summit this week, Lord Hunt of Kings Heath, heath and safety minister said that latest estimates put the cost of absence to the economy at around £12 billion a year, with the private sector making up around £8 billion of the total.

Lord Hunt said: “Sickness absence and return to work policies are only worth having if they have the full support of directors and top-level managers. After all, leadership starts from the top.”

According to official statistics stress is one of the biggest problems at an estimated cost of £3.7 billion per year.
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Bosses urged to puts kids first
The Trades Union Congress (TUC) is urging employers to offer more support to working parents.

Launching a new childcare guide, the TUC suggest that employers might want to consider opening a workplace nursery that offers cheaper places to staff or start working with neighbouring employers to offer a crèche for all employees to use.

Childcare vouchers – which are tax exempt for both employer and employee – or childcare subsidies are other popular ways of helping parents survive the childcare years, say the TUC.

And it needn’t cost say the union body who suggest that simple changes such as implementing flexible working, term time working, annualised hours or job-share arrangements are all ways of improving the lot both for bosses and workers.

TUC General Secretary Brendan Barber said: “Employers who realise the benefits of offering childcare support to the mums and dads in their workforce are less likely to have stressed out employees, and instead have productive staff who get more done. The business case for providing some form of childcare support for employees is overwhelming.”

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Temps have the last laugh
Temporary workers are happier and healthier than permanent staff according to a new study conducted by King’s College London.

Thirty-two per cent of permanent workers compared to just 16% of temps suffer from anxiety triggered by work, while 44% of the long-term fixtures said that work made them feel irritated which compares to just 38% of those on short-term contracts.

And while a huge 77% of temporary workers said they were satisfied with their job, just 66% of permanent staff said the same. Health is also suffering for those tied into their employers with 80% of permanent staff saying their wellbeing is good compared to 87% of temps who said the same.

In seeking to explain these unexpected findings, Professor David Guest, the director of the UK research said: “Two key factors need to be considered. The first is that permanent workers are more likely to feel that their psychological contract with their employer has been in some way violated and this affects their well-being.

“Secondly, it is not so much that temporary jobs are good but that permanent jobs have got worse. People are working harder, they have less freedom at work and there is a general decline in job satisfaction. The research findings suggest that we need to give urgent attention to improving the quality of all jobs, including those of permanent workers.”

A total of 642 staff were quizzed as part of the UK research.

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Industrial strategy must take next step, say TUC
The Trades Union Congress (TUC) is calling upon the government to revamp its industrial strategy.

In a new report An Industrial Policy for the United Kingdom submitted to ministers at the DTI the TUC say that manufacturing matters because of its importance to international trade and because large scale manufacturing closures cause social dislocation as well as having an adverse economic impact.

According to the TUC the government needs to heed lessons from the ‘smart support’ offered in Europe and parts of the US where skills support and investment in R&D and innovation are key.

In particular the paper calls for recognition of ‘national champions’ that will be eligible for government support, either in response to a one-off financial difficulty or to restructure in times of economic change.

TUC General Secretary Brendan Barber said: “Industrial policy in the UK is too often presented as two extreme alternatives. On the one hand large-scale nationalisation or picking winners and at the other extreme hands-off laissez faire. Other countries do not have these hang-ups and can combine market incentives with smart support for key strategic sectors, getting the best of both worlds. We should do the same.”

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Olympic organisers seek HR Director
The London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games (LOCOG) has begun its search for a Human Resources Director.

By 2012, LOCOG envisage a workforce of 3,000 with 70,000 volunteers.

Reporting to the CEO, the six-figure HR Director will be responsible for:

  • Preserving the momentum and great spirit created by the winning Bid team, and transforming it into a world class delivery organisation.

  • Making LOCOG the destination of choice for attracting the diversity and talent necessary to achieve the Vision.

For further information on how to apply go to: www.london2012.org

Applications are to be received by Friday, 10 February 2006.

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Schools ‘failing on character development’
Schools are failing to teach the skills that employers want, according to a leading education expert.

Director of the Young Foundation Geoff Mulgan reported that schools are threatening the UK service industry by focusing too heavily on academia at the expense of character development.

Speaking at the Learning and Skills Development Agency’s annual New Year lecture, Mulgan said that confidence, self-discipline, persistence and reliability were the qualities most employers look for.

Mulgan said: ”The mismatch between the skills young people are receiving and the demands of the market …can be seen in every hotel or restaurant in London, Glasgow or Birmingham where the jobs are filled by Estonians, Australians and Poles rather than unemployed locals, who employers see as ill-suited to service work.”

Mulgan, a former number 10 policy adviser, advocates a new type of educational programme with greater focus on personal development and social interaction.

For more on this story see: TrainingZONE

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Talent drain hits UK plc
Businesses in the UK are struggling to recruit, manage and retain key talent, a new survey reveals.

A lack of high quality staff at senior level together with an absence of procedures for managing talent is a significant problem, according to 1,500 managers.

The public sector suffers more than private industry, with local government and the health sector facing the greatest challenges in employing and retaining able workers.

The survey, conducted by the Society of Chief Personnel Officers (SOCPO) and leadership and executive recruitment consultancy Veredus, found that over half of the managers quizzed (55% in the public sector, and 58% in private) felt there was a shortage of talent amongst senior staff.

For more on this story see: TrainingZONE

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London Olympics launches skills search
Extensive research is being undertaken into the skills needed to deliver a successful London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic games.

The study will consider which talents and training criteria are required to build the Olympic Park and stage the Games.

The enquiry, commissioned and funded by the London Development Agency (LDA) and the Learning and Skills Council (LSC), will target potential skills gaps and consider likely demand. They claim this will help delivery companies to plan effectively for the Games.

The study will analyse the experience of previous Olympic and Paralympic games, drawing from past practice to form a strategy for 2012.

David Hughes, LSC Regional Director in London, said: “We will seize this opportunity to help local people gain new skills, which will remain a fantastic legacy for London and its residents.”

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Trainers tackle bullies online
Bullying at work could soon be stamped out according to a technology company that is offering free online training to combat the problem.

The company is providing three courses to help employees address harassment, hostility and aggression in the workplace.

Bullying is responsible for 30 to 50 per cent of all stress-related illness at work.

Kevin Young, Managing Director of SkillSoft, said: “The issue of bullying at work is a serious matter and the extent of harassment in the workplace appears to be widespread. Even worse, new research emerges constantly which suggests that the problem is escalating.

“This situation has to be addressed, not only to help employees who are at the receiving end of such destructive behaviour, but for the sake of UK productivity, which is adversely affected as a result.”

The free courses will be available until the end of July 2006, and can be accessed at www.skillsoft.com/bullying

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CIPD take lead in NHS drive for improved performance
The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) is leading a study looking at the impact of people management practices on the efficiency of the NHS.

The study aims to identify the human resource strategies that will improve the system, and the cultural developments needed to produce effective management.

The two and a half year enquiry will examine the results of consultations with over 40 NHS staff, reporting on existing practice within the system and looking at case studies.

The event was formally launched on 26 January, where leading speakers outlined their plans for coordinating this large review.

For more on this story see: TrainingZONE

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Management hog training limelight
Employees at the top of the career ladder benefit most from allocated training funds, leaving those on the lower echelons vying for funding.

This is the claim of a new study which says that while many organisations deliver training at all levels, for others it is management that benefit most from career development funds.

The research, conducted by Cegos UK, a learning and development provider states that 61% of respondents say that priority is given to senior staff at the expense of lower level employees.

Over half (53%) said their boss failed to give them clear training goals to assist career development while three quarters felt that the programmes they were offered were either useless or irrelevant to their goals.

For more on this story see: TrainingZONE

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Cupid’s arrow strikes at work
Sixty-eight per cent of people quizzed in an online poll admitted to fancying a co-worker at some point in their career while almost half said they had fantasised about their boss.

The survey conducted by health and beauty e-tailer, halfpriceperfumes.co.uk found that 27% of people had met their partner at work but just 6% still work together while for 17% employer pressure had caused the relationship to break-up.

Fear or public humiliation and job insecurity is preventing 77% of people confessing all to their loved one while 23% said they hadn’t acted on their emotions because they were already in a relationship, while 15% admitted to adultery with a colleague.

Jason Zemmel, owner of halfpriceperfumes.co.uk said: “With so many of us spending more time at work than at home with our friends and families, it isn’t surprising that the office has become a hotbed of desire.

“However, the stigma of mixing personal and professional lives, and increasing importance on career progression, also means fewer people are likely to pair up with co-workers now than they were in the past.”

Valentine’s Day is celebrated on 14 February 2006.


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