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News in Brief: The Week in HR – Jobless count climbs


Catch up on the week in HR including more on: official statistics reveal employment levels are slipping, rose-tinted glasses skew HR’s own perception, a lack of testing undermines the PAYE filing standard and why board members are hampering coaching efforts.

W/C 16/1/06
Jobless count climbs
The unemployment rate has increased by 111,000 over the quarter, and by 121,000 over the year to reach 1.53 million, according to latest figures from the Office of National Statistics.

Meanwhile the employment rate has started to fall, down 22,000 over the quarter while in further bad news, numbers claiming Jobseeker’s allowance has increased for eleven consecutive months and is 95,300 higher than the recent low point in January 2005.

In reaction to the findings, Dr John Philpottt, Chief Economist at the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) said that the data revealed clear signs of weaker activity in the labour market with reduced hiring the outcome.

“Perhaps the most depressing feature of the latest figures is the sharp rise in unemployment to above 1.5 million. When combined with the number of economically inactive jobless people who say that they want a job this raises the total number of people who want to work above 3.5 million,” he said.

“This, together with a seemingly inexorable rise in the number of people claiming Jobseekers Allowance, is a worrying backdrop to the government’s forthcoming Green Paper on welfare reform. At a time of economic uncertainty and weaker recruitment, persuading employers to hire more people from the Incapacity Benefit roll could prove an uphill task.”

Rose-tinted glasses skew HR’s own perception
Eighty-five per cent of HR professionals believe that they are represented at board level in their organisation but this is in stark contrast to workers outside HR, of whom just 55% believe that HR is represented at the boardroom table.

The survey by skills management expert InfoBasis has uncovered a widespread misconception about the influence that HR has on the board.

And in further bad news for the function, DLA’s 2005 HR Performance Indicator Survey seems to support the findings revealing that the correct figure for HR representation at board level across UK companies is closer to the non-HR estimate at just 60%.

Ashley Wheaton, CEO of InfoBasis said: “What is frustrating is that so many appear to consider this mountain already climbed, when there is still a huge amount of work to be done.”

A total of 318 HR managers were quizzed as part of the survey.

Lack of testing undermines PAYE filing standard
PAYE software developers are warning of potential online filing problems again this year, with the added threat of £3,000 fines for companies that fail to comply with HMRC’s online filing quality standard.

Under the government’s carrot and stick migration scheme, companies with 50-250 employees will be required to file their P14 and P35 annual returns electronically between 6 April and 19 May this year. Companies with more than 250 employees had to do so last year, while companies with less than 50 employees can opt to file online, and will receive a £250 incentive payment for doing so.

Last year, large companies faced £3,000 fines if they failed to submit returns by the required deadline, or to comply with the quality standard. Many of the returns filed electronically contained errors that prevented HMRC from processing them successfully. No penalties were levied because these errors were only notified to employers much later in the year because of the backlog in processing electronic returns.

For more on this story see: AccountingWEB

Board members dilute coaching efforts
Senior executives are failing to lead by example meaning that many businesses are missing out on the full benefits of coaching.

This is the claim of coaching specialist Full Potential Group whose report Embracing High Performance Culture cites a lack of coaching role models at senior levels as the biggest barrier to achieving maximum performance.

While 71% of senior managers and 63% of middle managers attend courses and receive coaching, just 43% of board members do so. This is despite the fact that 65% of organisations expect coaching to play a major part in the future HR strategy, up from 21% who currently use coaching in this way.

Carole Gaskell, CEO of Full Potential Group commented:

“Those HRDs who want coaching to play a more significant part of their HR strategy need to make a huge step-change in their approach. To make coaching part of an organisation’s DNA it needs to be a natural part of everyone’s day-to-day management style, which is much easier if senior managers apply the tools and techniques with their people and genuinely understand, from experience, the benefits of coaching.”

Volunteering is key to filling skills gap
Individuals who volunteer internationally develop expertise that addresses the UK skills gap, however, very few volunteer schemes are actually done through work.

This is the claim of the Chartered Management Institute and Voluntary Service Overseas.

Out of 100 former VSO volunteers, 80% said they had gained valuable expertise that they would not have gleaned in the UK while 92% said that they were now more capable of handling different cultures and 74% admitted they were better communicators for it. Around half also claimed that voluntary work had developed problem solving abilities (57%) and influencing skills (46%).

But despite these positive findings, managers are still failing to recognise volunteering as a route to careers success, 79% said their main motivator was altruism and the desire to help others.

Mary Chapman, chief executive of the Chartered Management Institute commented: “The findings offer powerful support for the benefits of voluntary activity and it is clear from this research that having a broad skill-set, the ability to communicate well and tackle difficult issues is critical for career success. Individuals should nurture these skills and consider how they record and recognise voluntary achievements in a way that attracts potential employers.”

National policy needed to share good practice – LSDA
The Learning and Skills Development Agency (LSDA) is calling for a national policy to support the transfer of good practice transfer in further education and training.

In a new report Good Practice transfer in post-16 learning: strategies that work the LSDA looks at how colleges and training providers can share ideas, skills and good practice.

It warns raising awareness of good practice through ‘passive’ methods, such as publications, websites and conferences will not change behaviour. To make a real difference, the report says, staff need to engage in demonstrations, coaching and other forms of active sharing.

The report also states that organisations need to develop their own way of identifying excellence, instead of relying on inspectors or external agencies.
For more on this story see TrainingZONE

First aid posters get a revamp
The British Red Cross has released a new range of posters designed to help people deal with accidents in the workplace.

The set of five covers: bleeding, burns, choking, resuscitation and how to deal with an unconscious person using the recovery position.

Annette Holmes, head of commercial training, at the British Red Cross said: “They could be put up next to your first aid kit to act as a quick reference in case of emergency, and they are also a useful reminder to first aid trained staff of how to deal with particular situations.”

The posters cost £8.99 each or £35.99 for the whole set. They can be ordered by calling 0870 170 9110 or online at Red Cross

The British Red Cross has provided first aid in the workplace courses for over 20 years, last year training over 120,000 people. It has over 175 venues across the country offering standard one or four-day first aid courses for the workplace.

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Annie Hayes


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