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Annie Hayes



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News in Brief: The week in HR – Why say ‘pay’ on Wednesday


Catch up on the week in HR including: labour market figures are a mixed bag, why Wednesday’s boss is best, how ‘thank you’ goes a long way and what ((√T + 2W + 2) / (√D + MS)) + ((S + 3R) / (2 (CW * A + 1))) means for health.

W/C 14/11/05
Labour market figures are mixed bag
Latest, official labour market figures appear rosy on the surface with a slight increase in employment but according to the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) swelling benefits claimants is far from good news.

Dr John Philpott, Chief Economist at the CIPD said: “The UK jobs market looks ever more mixed up and confused. Strong growth in employment, more people available for work, and modest growth in earnings seems ideal. But a rise in redundancies, fewer job vacancies and a very sharp monthly increase in claimant unemployment indicates that all is not well.”

Figures from the Office of National Statistics reveal that the number of people in employment has increased by 123,000 over the quarter and by 334,000 over the year, to reach 28.80 million, the highest figures since comparable records began in 1971.

The claimant count, however, has increased for the last nine, consecutive months and is up once again by 12,100.

According to the CIPD’s own indicator, its Labour Market Outlook the position is explained by a modest drop in the demand for labour combined with a large boost to labour supply from migrant workers.

In a warning to the government, Philpott said: “While ministers want Incapacity Benefit to be the central focus of the welfare reform Green Paper they will have to ensure they don’t overlook the plight of the growing numbers of people on Jobseekers’ Allowance.”

Bosses harbour winter redundancy plans
Other headline findings from the CIPD’s Quarterly Labour Market Outlook published this week include plans by one in five employers to roll out redundancies this winter.

Recruitment/pay trends:

  • Just under four out of five employers (79%) responding to the survey intended to recruit staff in winter 2005/06 (November – January).

  • In 36% of cases recruitment will result in an increase in employment levels. This is the lowest figure for net recruitment intentions recorded by CIPD quarterly surveys since they began in spring 2004. The lowest figure previously recorded was 45% in Winter 2004/5. The latest figure compares to 52% in the Autumn 2004 survey.

  • More than one in five employers (22%) plan redundancies this winter.

  • Two thirds of employers expect pay levels to increase on average by between 2% and 4% as a result of their next pay review.

  • There is a 13% positive balance of employers expecting to employ more staff by autumn 2006, down from 18% in the summer CIPD quarterly survey.

Migrant workers:

  • A quarter of employers intend to hire migrant workers this winter. Public sector employers (26%) and employers in London (35%) are those most likely to recruit migrants.

  • EU accession countries such as Poland have become a more popular source of migrant labour than the old European Union, commonwealth countries and the rest of the world. This represents a shift when compared with corresponding figures from last year. Last year’s figures showed that UK employers that recruit migrant labour were more keen to recruit from ‘old Europe’ (66%), the rest of the world (62%) than EU accession member states (52%).

  • 13% of employers expect to target vacancies at migrants in the coming year. Only a minority of employers (8%) have been deterred from hiring migrants because of concern about issues of security.

  • Few employers hire migrant workers mainly to lower wage costs. However, this objective is almost five times more important for employers hiring less skilled (9%) than skilled (2%) migrants.

  • Almost two in five employers (39%) expect the Government’s proposed new points system for managing migration to be a ‘bureaucratic barrier to actively recruiting migrant workers’.

HR puts money where its training mouth is
Over 75% of HR experts believe that training is given the appropriate attention within their organisation and in 80% of firms budgets are set to increase or remain the same in 2006.

These are the findings according to a Capita Learning and Development survey undertaken at the recent Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development’s conference.

“These findings suggest that employers recognise that people are an organisation’s finest assets”, commented Sally Worsley-Speck, research manager at Capita learning and development. “High quality training is in demand and today it’s imperative that employers see newly acquired skills in action and the added value that training brings to that organisation.”

The findings highlight that 93% of senior managers had so far attended a training course in 2005 and that courses in ‘Management and Leadership’ and ‘People Skills and Communication’ (19% each), which are directed at management level, were identified as key skills which organisations would benefit most from. However, sales and marketing training courses received a mere 9%.

Other findings revealed that 40% of organisations use a combination of in-house and external training methods; the most prevalent method of training is on-the-job training; and interestingly, e-learning was the least preferred.

Team building tops training poll
Team building courses have been voted the best and most enjoyable in a survey of HR and training managers.

Team building beat Neuro Linguistic Programming training (second), and management skills education courses (third). Train the trainer courses came fourth in the poll.

Meanwhile Health and Safety courses were voted the worst or least enjoyable, ahead of finance for the non-financial managers and IT skills.

The poll, of over 300 HR and training managers registering to visit the World of Learning Conference & Exhibition, asked respondents to state which were the best or most enjoyable courses they had experienced and also which were the worst or least enjoyable.

For more on this story see: TrainingZONE

Training key to staff retention
More than half of Europeans would quit their jobs over training and development, a new survey reveals.

The poll of 600 employers and 8,500 employees from 10 European countries by consultancy Watson Wyatt, found that 52% of respondents would quit if they felt that they were not getting enough training and development.

And it seems that staff in the UK are among the most likely to jump ship, with 40% saying they were likely to consider leaving their employer in the next 12 months – 5% more than the European average.

The main reasons given for intending to find a new job are:

* Poor job satisfaction – by 77% of employees
* Poor relationship with their manager – by 64% of employees
* Poor job security – by 61% of employees
* Below average base pay – by 53% of employees
* Poor training and development – by 52% of employees.

For more on this story see: TrainingZONE

Managers make better decisions after training
More than two-thirds of managers believe that training has improved their decision-making abilities, according to a survey by the Chartered Management Institute.

The research, which questioned 615 senior executives, found that 45% of respondents felt better equipped to make decisions due to their management status, while, 70% suggested that training has influenced their ability.

Despite nine in 10 were confident in their own abilities, managers were frustrated by an inability to reach decisions. Hurdles to decision-making included, pressure from colleagues, bureaucracy and a lack of resources.

Nearly half – 43% – said they gained confidence from international experience and 64% from undertaking development programmes.

Jo Causon, director, marketing and corporate affairs, at the Chartered Management Institute, said: “Often people are afraid about making mistakes. But it’s worth remembering that, sometimes, more can be learnt from errors than from getting things right. It’s important to accept that you may not always get things right, but by making sure that you are informed and well prepared before making your final decision, you will minimise the potential for errors and wrong choices.”

For more on this story see: TrainingZONE

Bosses call time at the bar
Bosses have revealed concerns related to extensions to drinking licenses, in a new poll conducted by Peninsula employment law firm.

Of the 1,653 employers quizzed:

  • 74% fear an increase in absenteeism as a result of new licensing laws

  • 62% believe 24 hour drinking will see more workplace accidents occur

  • 77% fear a knock-on effect in performance and productivity at work

Mike Huss, employment law specialist at Peninsula commented: “When an alcoholic employee halts their attempts to recover then an employer can take disciplinary action. Alcohol takes a certain amount of time to make its way out the system and with the extension of licensing hours and drinking later, alcohol will not have as long to disperse; the concern is the increased likelihood to be still be under the influence whilst driving to work and during work.”

And according to Huss those most at risk will be drivers and machine operators that could pose to dangers to themselves and others.

“Regardless of the role an employee still under the influence has their judgement impaired and therefore the increased chance of errors in whatever their role entails.

“The extension of licensing hours will give bar owners in particular many headaches in terms of security, higher rates of pay and reluctance amongst workers to work extended hours. Staff safety is also an issue for night workers, especially when public transport (generally speaking) is not available with workers and in particular women being placed in a vulnerable situation.”

Health is wealth in the south west
Workers and bosses in the South West of England enjoy the highest levels of wellbeing at work in the UK of any region.

This is the claim of a new survey conducted by psychologist Dr David Lewis and mathematician Phillip Obayda who have developed a formula to measure health.

The wellbeing@work formula is as follows:
((√T + 2W + 2) / (√D + MS)) + ((S + 3R) / (2 (CW * A + 1)))

The variables relate to eight different factors including the work environment, workload and deadlines, whether the bosses recognised and rewarded special effort by their staff and the amount of control employees were able to exercise over their working day.

The Wellbeing@Work survey quizzed 1,000 respondents.

Thank you goes a long way
A survey has revealed that nearly a third of workers are never thanked or rewarded for their contribution to the business.

While just over half, 57% would stay with their company longer if they received a face to face thank you more often. While a huge three quarters say that a verbal thanks is one of the most valued forms of company recognition.

In a warning to impolite bosses, the study, commissioned by Maritz shows that saying a simple thanks could have a significant impact on productivity. Fifty-two per cent said that hearing the words ‘thank you’ would make them much more likely to go the ‘extra mile’ at work.

Dr Paul Marsden, a social psychologist at the London School of Economics says: ”The emotional need to be thanked may be hardwired into our genes; our brain looks for gratitude and appreciation as a marker that effort is being invested in the right places. That is why thanking employees for their work may improve loyalty, performance and goodwill.”

Although many British businesses invest in discreet reward & recognition schemes, the research also indicates that receiving praise in front of colleagues can be highly beneficial to efficiency and morale. Eighteen per cent of those currently recognised in the presence of colleagues said it makes them feel inspired to put in extra effort and 42% said that it made them feel happy and proud of their work.

Reinforcing a thank you with an appropriate reward is also very important, say the survey authors. This has the additional benefit for an employer of creating a ‘memory-chain’, whereby the reason for receiving the reward, whether an item or an experience, is remembered, encouraging repeat behaviour.

Employees ignorant of pensions position
Eighty-two percent of workers in receipt of an occupational pension scheme are unaware of the level of fund they will need to support them in retirement.

These are the findings of JPMorgan Asset Management who reveal that from a pool of 795 workplace pension holders just 20% understand that it takes a pension pot of £250,000 to secure a pension income of £15,000 a year in retirement.

In addition, almost a third or 32% of respondents admit to having no idea of the link between the size of a defined-contribution pension fund at retirement and the level of income this can be converted into.

This lack of awareness is underlined by the fact that almost a quarter (24%) of respondents do not know whether they hold a defined-benefit scheme or a defined-contribution pension scheme.

Of those that are aware that they hold a defined-contribution scheme, one in five (20%) admit that they have never reviewed the choice of investments or level of contribution into their pension.

Despite this lack of understanding, employees do have good intentions towards managing their pension fund; the survey found that three-quarters (75%) of members of defined-contribution schemes review their scheme at least every three years.

Karen Roberton, Head of DC Investment Services, at JPMAM commented: “As more and more organisations shift to money-purchase type schemes, where the onus is on the individual rather than the employer to monitor their pension fund, provision of a pension in the workplace needs to be supported by proper education. Employees must be confident about how their pension works and how to meet their particular retirement needs.”

Wednesday’s boss is best
Seventy-eight per cent of bosses are more receptive to talking money mid-week; say recruitment outfit Office Angels.

According to their survey this is the best day of the week to pluck up the courage to ask for some extra pennies because by mid-week bosses have had time to balance the books and hold discussions about staff.

While Monday’s are an optimum time to request leave, Tuesday’s are good for breaking bad news, Thursday’s are the ultimate day for sharing new ideas and Friday’s are red hot for asking for a favour.

Paul Jacobs, Managing Director of Office Angels commented: “It is important that both employers and employees understand each other in order for a business to work at its optimum. Although the research indicates certain days are better than others for work ethics, workers mustn’t be hesitant in approaching their boss for assistance throughout the week.”

A total of 1500 bosses were quizzed as part of the survey.

Chief Executive of Union Academy named
The TUC’s union academy has taken another step forward with the appointment of its chief executive. Liz Smith.

Smith, the TUC’s current head of learning services, has spent most of her professional life working in education and trade unions. In 1998 she co-ordinated the TUC task group that created union learning reps and a special government fund to help unions get more and better training for members (the union learning fund).

There are now over 12,000 learning reps and in 2000 Liz was awarded the OBE for services to lifelong learning.

Commenting on the appointment, TUC General Secretary Brendan Barber said: “We are very fortunate to have secured such an experienced and talented individual to lead the TUC’s new academy as we revolutionise the learning at work agenda.”

For more on this story see: TrainingZONE

Launch of IT skills profiler
e-skills UK, the Sector Skills Council for IT, telecoms and contact centres, has developed an online IT skills management service.

Called the SFIA Profiler, it is based on the Skills Framework for the Information Age (SFIA) and aims to provide a description of the skills required by IT professionals, including descriptions of what should be expected at different levels of expertise.

The profile covers 78 skills, at up to seven levels and is designed to help identify skills gaps, create specific job roles for staff recruitment and appraisals, and inform targeted training solutions.

Terry Hook of e-skills UK said: “The service is a key component of a wider collaborative drive to provide SFIA as a skills benchmark for IT professionals across the UK, allowing employers to develop the skills of their employees in line with organisational and market need.”

For more on this story see: TrainingZONE

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Annie Hayes


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