Previous Article Next Article Related posts:No related photos. Swiss Life’s new self-servicebenefits system on its intranet will cut HR costs and improve recruitment andretention, claimed the company’s head of HR at a conference in London.The flexible benefits system,implemented last year at a cost of £40,000, allows staff to monitor and changetheir benefits on the intranet, which include health and travel insurance andchildcare vouchers. Andrew Lewis, head of HR atSwiss Life, said, “The scheme means that we shall be able to retain andrecruit quality staff, which I estimate will save us £250,000 a year in fiveyears.”Swiss Life intends to extendthe flexible benefits system, which took three years to develop, to includeelectronic payslips within a year for the company’s 900 UK-based staff. “When we were setting upthe project we were told that a take up rate of 25-50 per cent would be asuccess but 70 per cent of staff have signed up,” said Lewis at theSoftworld HR and Payroll conference. Lewis believes the system frees up thecompany’s seven-strong HR team from administration duties. He said, “The system takessome running from personnel at the moment but in a year’s time my ultimate goalis that the system will run itself. It means that my team can concentrate onthe important part of HR – people.” By Paul Nelson Comments are closed. Swiss Life enables staff to select benefits onlineOn 13 Feb 2001 in Personnel Today
In a month when LondonUnderground services have been crippled by strike action, at least the Tube’sHR team has managed to come up with innovative ways to recruit. More than 1,400 Cosmopolitanreaders have applied to become London Tube-train drivers. London Undergrounddescribed the response to its single advert in this month’s issue as”exceptional”.Successful applicants will haveto get out of bed for regular 4.45am starts but the £27,650 salary and up toeight weeks’ holiday will sweeten the job. Cosmo’s editor Lorraine Candysaid the interest shown demonstrates that young women are not bound bytraditional career patterns. She said, “I don’t think the job is boring orunsexy and I’m sure the passengers couldn’t care less whether the train is beingdriven by a man or a woman ñ as long as it’s on time.”Women make up only 3 per centof London Underground’s driving staff. Almost taken inby the blarneyLast week, Guru made a flyingvisit to Dublin to attend a conference on internal communication. While Guruhardly had time to sup a pint of the black stuff, there was time to beimpressed by a presentation by the head of HR at RyanAir, Eddie Wilson. Heexpounded a low-cost, no-nonsense approach to HR which was significantlycontributing to the company’s financial success. Wilson claims his staff arehighly motivated by being shareholders in the company and is scornful about theidea of spending money on expensive internal communication strategies (News, 6February). Wilson extolled the virtues ofsaving money at all costs. This attitude extends even to stationery, withWilson explaining that staff had to provide their own pens. Guru was fallingfor this bottom-line approach up to when the time came to board the RyanAirplane home. The plane was delayed for more than an hour. Bullied baldy’sboss bites backGuru would like to applaud thePost Office for standing up for the folically challenged. It cut off the postalsupply to a meat firm in Brighton because its employees persistently teased thepostman, Alan, for being bald. Every morning Alan would arrive at the meatdistribution company to be greeted by shouts of “baldy” and”slaphead”. When he asked his employer tointervene, the Post Office rang the owner and demanded an end to it. Guru’ssupport here is in no way influenced by one’s own “chrome dome”, andis only because Guru supports any and all moves to eradicate bullying at work.Ikea flushedwith success of job advertsGuru has heard and disseminateda lot of toilet humour over the years, but didn’t realise there was also toiletrecruitment. Guru is quick to stress that this has nothing to do with”moments of madness” on Clapham Common, but is a new staffrecruitment technique at Ikea. The company recently attracted 60 applicants byscrawling job adverts in restaurant toilets in Stockholm. “The number ofpeople who responded was 20 per cent higher than when we pay for ads in theusual way, which is quite amazing,” claimed a company spokesperson. Comments are closed. Previous Article Next Article Related posts:No related photos. guruOn 13 Feb 2001 in Personnel Today
Comments are closed. Insurance giant Royal &Sun Alliance has introduced policies to ensure the growing number of itsemployees who work from home receive the same support and feedback asoffice-based staff.The firm drew up the guidelines,which relate to issues including health and safety, communication, performancemanagement and isolation, because of the specific needs of its 1,500homeworkers.Lynne McBride, HRconsultant and home working project leader for RSA, said, “We recognisethat they have unique needs and have issues they have to deal with on aday-to-day basis which office- based workers don’t, such as isolation andintrusion of work on their home life and vice versa.”The guidelines arebased on suggestions put forward by a homeworking project team, comprising ofhomeworkers, managers and HR and union representatives. McBride said that oneof the most important issues addressed was the performance management ofhomeworkers, who are mainly highly mobile claims advisers and inspectors whodon’t need a centralised office base.She said, “It canbe difficult to give people feedback on their role when they are not in frontof you. We introduced a structured approach, which included at least four daysa year with their team leader and more time if they need more.”Another issue tackledis the sense of isolation often felt by those who work from home.McBride said “Wewanted to raise awareness so our staff know their team leader is at the otherend of the phone and there are other homeworkers they can talk to. There isalso an employee assistance programme.”RSA is to introducefurther home working policies on intrusion, team working and learning anddevelopment. By Ben Willmott Sun Alliance guides end homeworkers’ isolationOn 18 Apr 2001 in Personnel Today Previous Article Next Article Related posts:No related photos.
Comments are closed. Another week, another announcement from the Labour election campaign team onthe vote-winning issue of work and parents. This time the pronouncement is onflexible working – a topic which finds favour with employees but is less wellregarded by business and HR practitioners. A CIPD survey of 453 HRprofessionals published last week showed little support for mandatory laws onflexible working and six out of 10 thought raising awareness on the issue isthe most effective way of getting employers to act. HR will be relieved to hear that if Labour is returned to government thisweek, it does not propose introducing laws to allow mothers returning frommaternity leave or new fathers an automatic right to part-time working. Insteadit has set up a task force on flexible working to report in November, headed bythe respected outgoing chairman of the Low Pay Commission, Professor GeorgeBain. One of the most contentious areas it will examine is a proposed “harmtest” business will have to follow when an employee asks to work fewerhours. All good employers will listen carefully to such an employee’s requestand will need to justify reasons for refusing it. However, HR managers know flexible working can benefit the business as awhole, especially in sectors which employ a high number of female staff orwhere there are acute skills shortages – but some jobs are more suitable forflexible working than others. If this is all that is in the harm test proposals then it will not be toopainful. What HR does not want is a rigid bureaucratic test imposed on them,which dictates exactly what they can and cannot do. Then they will rightlycomplain about more red tape for business. Previous Article Next Article HR unbending over flexible work planOn 5 Jun 2001 in Personnel Today Related posts:No related photos.
NHS HR key to cutting the nation’s sick absence billOn 4 Dec 2001 in Personnel Today Comments are closed. HR departments in the NHS have a lead role to play in helping reducebusiness’ annual £11bn sickness absence bill, according to a CBI report. Business and Healthcare for the 21st Century, published this week, claimsone of the reasons for the huge cost of sickness absence is the inadequacy ofBritain’s healthcare system. The report calls for improved management of HR in the NHS. It concludes there needs to be more emphasis on flexible work arrangements,increased attention to occupational health provision and enhanced careerdevelopment to help retain and develop key healthcare staff. Tracy Myhill, president of the Association of Healthcare Human ResourceManagement, said the NHS has a role to play in reducing absenteeism, but shestressed managers need to manage absence problems better. “There is a definite link between the quality of healthcare providedand the ability of people to attend work. “NHS as an employer does lack consistency when its comes tooccupational health provision — it should be at the forefront as it has allthe facilities,” said Myhill. Lew Swift, head of personnel at the Walton Centre for Neurosciences,believes the NHS has already embraced many progressive HR practices. “The NHS’ flexible working practices are up there with the best,although, of course, they can be improved. At least 30 per cent of theworkforce is part-time and staff involvement in rostering has been in practicefor years. “The NHS is a 24-hour business that could not manage without flexibleworking.” Swift concedes that the NHS approach to occupational health and careerdevelopment is patchy. He explained, “Nursing, midwife and professional technical staffdevelopment is very good, although management development could do withimproving.” The report also calls for more internal occupational health experts inindustry. www.cbi.org.uk By Paul Nelson Related posts:No related photos. Previous Article Next Article
Previous Article Next Article Can money buy employee happiness? In the first of a series on recentresearch surrounding big HR themes, Stephen Overell looks at the evidence andexplores alternative ways of boosting staff morale Gordon Bethune, chairman and CEO of Continental Airlines, recently returnedto his alma mater, the Jones Graduate School of Management, Texas, to let flysome pearls of wisdom to star-struck MBA students. He described his tactics for turning around the company, which had suffereddire industrial relations, poor customer service and an atmosphere of perpetualfinancial crisis. His aim, he told them, was to enable employees to “findhappiness at work”. How? Monthly $100 bonuses for hitting targets, andperiodic giveaways of Ford Explorers for epic individual performance. Itworked. Rhetorical schmooze aside, his remarks will probably strike readers aseither plain common sense (more money means people’s satisfaction with theirlot improves), or big-headed folly (money can’t buy happiness). But, alas, it’snot so simple. Indeed, some economists would suggest that if happiness werereally the intention, Bethune might have been better advised to slash his workers’salaries in the name of their well-being. Does money matter? The root of the problem is that whenever people are asked what would makethem happier, they answer in economic terms, placing money above both healthand family. Yet academic research into the relationship of income to happinesshave not always confirmed their choice. In one study1, researchers asked 1,000 relatively well-off people to ratethemselves on a happiness scale of one (miserable) to five (joyous) with threebeing ‘can’t complain’. They found the less well-off happier than thebetter-off. Such a counter-intuitive result is not borne out by the big nationalhousehold surveys on happiness. In both Europe and the US, rich people arehappier than poor people, as is to be expected. Yet there are idiosyncrasies. Professor Richard Easterlin of the Universityof Southern California argues that if rich people are happier than poor, itmight logically be expected that gains in income would make people happier,with happiness rising over a lifetime in line with increasing income. But thatwasn’t the case2. Further, when national comparisons are analysed, the results are depressing.On accepted measures of happiness (getting people to rate their feelings)happiness peaked in most of Europe in the early 1960s and in America in 1957.Since then it has remained fairly stable or declined, despite massive rises inincome. Only France has become happier. According to a study by two Swiss economists3, international comparisonsshow Austria as one of the unhappiest countries, significantly unhappier thanNigeria. Andrew Oswald, a professor at Warwick University, and the godfather of‘happinomics’ takes the traditional view – that money does indeed bringhappiness. His work into the recipients of windfalls, such as lottery winners,has found that £1,000 can lift an outlook, while £1m harvests permanentjouissance. Yet, even here, there are grim eccentricities: the most unhappyworkers are middle-aged, have a university degree, work for a big company andhave been in their job for a number of years4. Moving goalposts How are we to explain this? Both professors Easterlin and Oswald put thisdown to aspiration rising with income: we have more, we want more. We areprisoners of an insatiable appetite for material wealth, with graduates inparticular suffering constantly inflating aspirations. Samuel Johnson got it right: “Life is a progress from want towant,” he wrote, “not from enjoyment to enjoyment”. The fantasy of both professors is that some kind of co-ordinated slowdown,taking the benefit of increased wealth as increased leisure might result ingreater happiness – one potential explanation of why France, with itsshortening work hours, is happier. Obviously, it would be preposterous for Bethune to cut pay to cheer peopleup. But if the relationship of income to happiness is a little fuzzy, it doesraise the practical question of whether staff can contribute to such ametaphysical thing as happiness. It appears the answer is a tentative ‘yes’. Despite happiness going down andincome going up, among the British workforce generally, there is a fairlypositive attitude to work – although it has declined slightly over recentyears. Pinning down the essence of work satisfaction is easy, and forms a venerabletradition reaching back to the 19th century social reformers. Yet theintriguing implication of some of the modern research is that certain workpractices can add to greater life satisfaction. Oswald suggests that the more autonomy workers have in their roles and overthe tasks they do, the happier they are. The tighter the control over how a jobis done, especially if there is control exerted over the pace of work, thelower measures of life satisfaction are likely to be. Work-life balance Naturally, work is just one aspect in a complicated cocktail of ingredientsfor life satisfaction. Yet the CIPD has also detected a relationship betweenmany of the concepts that make up the bread and butter of HR departments and oflife satisfaction5. Employers have little control over whether people are single or divorced, amajor cause of life unhappiness. But they do have some control over other keyfactors in life happiness: a supportive climate at work, a positivepsychological contract, a sense of employability, participation in decisionsand autonomy in how they do their jobs. Work spills directly into life as far as happiness is concerned. HRpractitioners hoping to radiate beneficence into the world should know what todo. The bad news is that for them, personally, a poor happiness rating seems tobe their destiny. Managers and graduates are not happy – possibly because ofthat constant pricking of aspiration. Given that management does affect happiness so acutely, it is tempting tospeculate that certain jobs have an inherent quality – a measurable impact onwell-being. An absorbing meditation on this subject by the Department of Tradeand Industry in winter 2000 sought to find out if it was possible to measurethe quality of jobs6. Into the calculus it factored ‘external’ characteristicssuch as work time, financial rewards, work-life balance, job security andopportunities for advancement. ‘Intrinsic’ attributes included the role, thecontent of the job, intensity, risk of illness, injury and so on. It was not to be. The DTI report ends by rejecting the idea: “Jobquality as a cut-and-dried concept is not feasible unless one is prepared tomake value judgements about how important different job characteristics are inrelation to each other.” So is Bethune’s strategy for piloting happiness entirely daft? It would seemnot: adding a little is quite probably within his power. Did he go about it theright way with his $100 bonuses and Ford Explorers? Questionable. Doeshappiness result in better work performance? Sadly, we can’t answer that one. References 1. Your Money or Your Life, Joe Dominguez and Vicki Robin, Penguin, 1999 2. Income and Happiness: Towards a Unified Theory, Richard Easterlin,Economic Journal, July 2001 3. Happiness and Economics, Brune Frey and Alois Stutzer, PrincetonUniversity Press, 2001 4. www.oswald.co.uk 5. Public and Private Sector Perspectives on the Psychological Contract,CIPD, 2001 6. Job Quality and Job Security, Labour Market Trends, vol 108, October2001; www.xperthr.co.uk www.xperthr.co.ukStephen Overell is commentary editor of XpertHR, a newweb-based information service bringing together leading information providers:IRS, LexisNexis, Butterworths Tolley and Personnel Today. It features a newButterworths Tolley employment law reference manual, a research database andguidance from 13 specialist IRS journals, including IRS Employment Review. The pursuit of staff happinessOn 22 Jan 2002 in Personnel Today Comments are closed. Related posts:No related photos.
Union secures Levi’s severance dealOn 2 Apr 2002 in Personnel Today Previous Article Next Article Workersat Levi Strauss’s two Scottish plants have accepted a severance package”second to none” in the textile industry, according to the GMB union.Theproduction centres at Dundee and at Bellshill in Lanarkshire are to close nextmonth due to economic pressures.GMBScotland senior organiser in the clothing and textile section, Ian King, saidthe union had fought to keep the plants open, but a report produced byProfessor Robert van der Meer, of Strathclyde University’s Business School, hadmade it plain that this was not feasible.Professorvan der Meer said currency exchange rates were the deciding factor in thedecision to close the factories – not poor workforce performance. Kingsaid: “The agreement is the same for workers at both plants. We have beenable to negotiate a significant package for our members.”Hesaid Levi’s has ordered a payout substantially higher than is required by law.”Itis a really good deal and we expect some members to receive more than£30,000,” he said. “Talks have reached a satisfactory conclusion andwe have secured a severance pay deal second to none in the clothing and textileindustry in Scotland.””Allour energies were devoted to getting the best deal possible for ourmembers.” Related posts:No related photos. Comments are closed.
Termination takes a strategic turnOn 1 Jul 2002 in Personnel Today A new survey reveals that redundancy is increasingly seen as a quick fix forturning around struggling businesses. Jessica Davey and Vanessa Molyneux reportIt is a sad fact that businesses, under constant pressure to perform in thecurrent economic climate, are now making redundancies on some scale. Recentpress reports suggest up to 20,000 imminent job losses in the City, forexample. In this difficult climate, international law firm Allen & Overyhas conducted a survey of employers to establish current trends in redundancypractice. On the whole, the results demonstrate that most employers have a goodunderstanding of the legal requirements on both collective and individualredundancies. Nevertheless, some results were surprising. In some sectors, collective consultation on redundancies has yet to catchon. Within the financial sector, almost half of the organisations surveyed saidthey never consulted collectively. The situation was dealt with on anindividual basis and, in the case of more than a quarter, by increasingcompensation packages to buy out the risk of a compensation award. Also revealed was the fact that the days when UK employers selected forredundancy on a ‘last in first out’ basis are over. Performance and skills arenow key factors in the selection process, with employers taking a morestrategic view in the highly competitive market conditions by retaining thoseemployees most able to drive their business forward. The organisations Taking part in the survey, conducted by Allen & Overy’s WorkplaceRepresentation and Consultation Group, were 125 organisations, of which themajority (68 per cent) had 500 employees or more, 27 per cent had 51 to 500employees, and employers with fewer than 50 employees made up 5 per cent. Respondents were from a wide range of organisations, from FTSE 100companies, investment banks and City of London institutions to charities,universities, regulatory bodies and small businesses. The questionnaire alsocategorised respondents by industry sectors covering finance, manufacturing,technology, media, retail, pharmaceuticals and leisure. The largest responsecame from the financial sector (39 per cent). Redundancy policies Almost three-quarters of respondents had some form of redundancy policy inplace, either oral or written. What was surprising is that as many as 36 percent had a contractual policy. Adopting a contractual policy restricts anemployer’s flexibility in tailoring redundancy programmes as it means they haveto act in accordance with the policy at all times. Failure to follow acontractual procedure could give rise to breach of contract cases and alsoincreases the likelihood of unfair dismissal claims. Definition of ‘establishment’ Where between 20 and 99, or more than 100 redundancies are proposed at one‘establishment’ within a 90-day period, collective consultation with employeerepresentatives is required for a minimum of 30 or 90 days respectively. The sameadvance notice must be given to the DTI. However, it is not always straightforward to define the relevantestablishment, and the approach adopted by employers may be different for thepurposes of notice to the DTI and for consultation. For example, employees inone location may be employed by different legal entities. This means twonotices would have to be submitted to the DTI, even though there would probablybe one overall consultation exercise. The DTI’s approach is to request one notice per employer per officelocation. However, tribunals have held that one establishment may include anumber of different premises where the organisation and management of thebusiness is such that the individual locations are merely constituent parts ofone establishment. Absurdly, this can lead to different notice and consultation periods on thesame redundancy programme. The majority of respondents to Allen & Overy’ssurvey adopted a pragmatic approach to this problem. More than half defined‘establishment’ by reference to office location, although a significantproportion, 29 per cent, defined it by department or division. DTI notification Fifty-two per cent of respondents indicated they notified redundancies tothe DTI within the last two years, suggesting that the majority of recentredundancy programmes have been collective. Forty-three per cent did not notifythe DTI and a small percentage were unsure. The overwhelming reason for non-notification (86 per cent) was thatorganisations were making fewer than 20 employees redundant and therefore theobligation to notify did not arise. That still leaves 14 per cent that didn’tnotify the DTI for other reasons. When this statistic is examined with the responses on definition of‘establishment’, it suggests that the confusion over the statutory definitionis a real issue and a percentage of employers are not notifying the DTI becausethey are assuming that the obligation is not triggered. Another reason for non-notification is there is an increasing trend foremployers to look for voluntary redundancies, which do not count towards thethresholds. Half the respondents indicated they have sought volunteers,although 92 per cent were not obliged to accept them. This demonstrates thatemployers appear to be using many devices to take control of the redundancyprocess, retaining those they need for the business going forward withoutbreaching statutory obligations. Consultation Where collective consultation took place, most respondents (76 per cent)indicated that they published minutes of meetings, 22 per cent by e-mail and 11per cent by intranet. A Q&A format was used by 25 per cent, memo by 16 percent and feedback sessions by 26 per cent. Most respondents (79 per cent) gaveguidance to their employee representatives as to their duties and the scope oftheir role, making the process more efficient. Within the financial sector, 47 per cent of respondents said they neverconsulted collectively. The lack of collective consultation was dealt with byindividual consultation and by increasing the compensation packages to buy outthe risk of a protective award (compensation for failure to consultcollectively) in the case of 27 per cent. Although it is not possible toprevent a claim for a protective award in a compromise agreement, the surveyresults indicated that claims for protective awards were rarely pursued. Individual consultation Whether or not collective consultation and notice to the DTI is required,individual consultation is a fundamental requirement of fairness on anyredundancy. Most employers who responded to the survey conducted individualconsultation, although the extent of consultation varied considerably. Nine percent had one meeting, most organisations (40 per cent) had two consultationmeetings (including the one where notice of redundancy was given) withindividuals, 32 per cent had three meetings and 18 per cent had more than threemeetings. Maternity and sick leave absences Failure to consult about redundancies on an individual basis with employeeson maternity leave or long-term sick leave makes any resulting dismissal unfairand may also lead to claims for sex or disability discrimination. Yet 16 percent of respondents failed to consult with these employees. This may be becauseemployers are reluctant to intrude upon the privacy of those that are sick orhave young babies but, if claims are to be avoided, these employees should beconsulted in the same way as any others. Garden leave Many employers place employees on garden leave either during theconsultation period or during notice once redundancies have been confirmed.Although this increases the risk of claims – for breach of contract or forunfair dismissal if the consultation process is perceived to be a sham – thestatistics show that employers are concerned to protect the business frommisuse of confidential information or IT systems by aggrieved employees duringthe redundancy process. Selection criteria The selection process is probably the most important aspect of anyredundancy process. No amount of consultation will protect the business fromunfair dismissal claims if the selection process is flawed. Selection criteriamust be objective, relevant and appropriate and applied fairly. The survey revealed that the days of redundancy selection on a ‘last infirst out’ basis are over. Instead, performance and skills are key retentionfactors in redundancy selection, with employers taking a more strategic view inthe current highly competitive market conditions by retaining those employeesmost able to drive their business forward, irrespective of their length ofservice. Most popular selection criteria were: skills (63 per cent),performance (54 per cent), relevance to future business need (50 per cent),experience (45 per cent), discipline (43 per cent) and attendance (38 per cent)– ‘last in first out’ was used in only 14 per cent of cases. Compromise agreements Most organisations (54 per cent) required compromise agreements. Thisstatistic supports the commercial approach of employers. Generous packages arebalanced against the security of knowing that tribunal claims are an unlikelyconsequence of the redundancy process. Fifty-seven per cent of respondentscontributed to legal fees with the majority (56 per cent) contributing between£250 and £500. Tribunal claims Finally, the merits of compromise agreements were borne out by the lowpercentage of claims. Only 22 per cent of respondents indicated that tribunalclaims resulted from their redundancy programme, most of which (67 per cent)were for unfair dismissal. Sex discrimination accounted for 14 per cent ofclaims, race discrimination 11 per cent and disability discrimination 6 percent. Protective awards hardly featured at all. Jessica Davey and Vanessa Molyneux are associates in the employment,pensions and incentives department at Allen & Overy Find out more… – on Employment Relations Act 1999 at www.dti.gov.uk/er– on CAC decisions at www.cac.gov.uk/recent_decisions– On information and consultation proposals at www.dti.gov.uk/consultation Comments are closed. Related posts:No related photos. Previous Article Next Article
Comments are closed. Previous Article Next Article Related posts:No related photos. While the people management issues of developing an e-business are critical,many companies neglect them. Claire McCartney examines how leading companieshave tackled…We are living in a business world that is characterised by constant change.We have witnessed the advance of mergers and acquisitions activity,globalisation, strategic alliances and, currently, a shift towards organisationalrestructuring and downsizing. Change has been accompanied and facilitated by a new technological age, inwhich organisations are increasingly reliant upon IT and the internet toadvance their business processes. Established organisations are realising thepotential that e-business offers them despite the dotcom downturn. Indeed, manycompanies are urgently implementing e-business initiatives so they may competein their markets and improve organisational performance and productivity. A new report by Roffey Park, exclusively released to Personnel Today, showsthat organisations entering the world of e-business have to contend with awhole array of new practices, ways of working and challenges. The humanimplications of buying into this change conversely seems to be the area that ismost often neglected by organisations. Organisations need to tackle the humanissues directly in order to create successful e-businesses. The role of HR iscritical within organisations adopting e-business, as change relies heavily onhuman transformation. E-business success is dependent upon effective recruitment and retention,implementation of wide-scale training and support, consistent and frequentinter-communication and by initiating culture change. There is no single, universally accepted definition of the term e-businessbecause it represents a newly emerging and constantly evolving area ofbusiness. However, throughout Roffey Park’s research, the term e-business isused in its broadest sense, referring to the integration of systems, processes,organisations, value chains and entire markets using internet-based and relatedtechnologies. The report, E-Business: What are the Human Implications of Transformation?features six case studies of companies that have developed varying approachesto integrating e-business into their organisation. It shows how the EmploymentService, Sainsbury’s and an anonymous financial organisation have createdseparate e-business initiatives, and how BT, Cable & Wireless and IBM transformedtheir entire organisations through its use. They faced HR challenges in five key areas: 1. Recruitment and retention For many of the organisations, the effective recruitment of new skillsrequired for changing business needs was a real issue that needed to be tackledduring the hype surrounding dotcom start-ups. One of the key challenges was theneed to entice people from attractive, smaller, innovative web companies.Although the subsequent loss of confidence and eventual demise of the dotcoms didmuch to enhance the attractiveness of traditional, secure organisations, firmsstill have to address a number of issues in this area, and need to think aboutother ways of winning the war for talent. Many of the featured organisations are seeking employees with relevantexperience and, equally importantly, with the right attitude and mindset to fitin with the emerging e-business culture. Employees have to be able to adapt toworking in a constantly changing environment, an uncertain market, and for companieswhere work roles often have blurred boundaries. The financial organisation’s e-business initiative not only offers a numberof different terms and conditions to its parent organisation in an attempt toattract the type of talent the business requires, but also to caterspecifically to the e-business environment. In particular, the e-businessinitiative offers employees with these skills benefits such as a £3,000development allowance and a company performance-related bonus if they remainwith the organisation for a specified period of time. Recruitment and performance measurement within the financial e-businessinitiative, is conducted against a defined set of behaviours linked to thebusiness environment. The recruitment team is looking for potential employeeswith appropriate experience and an attitude that fits with the company’sculture. Many of these behaviours interlink with the traditional side of thebusiness such as driving performance and building pride and passion, but theevolved organisation particularly emphasises the need for innovation and fun inaddition to hard work. Sainsbury’s to You, the chain’s home delivery grocery service, purposelyformed a team blending people with web and marketing skills with others who hadworked for Sainsbury’s in retail and in the supply chain, and understood thelogistics of the business. It recognised where the skill gaps were within thecompany and recruited externally. Sainsbury’s, for example, highlights theimportance of building a strong team with a combination of different skills andexperience to move the business forward. It also reinforces the necessity ofgetting the right ’employee mix’ for e-business. Succession planning is also important for e-business organisations –particularly for those that have a flatter structure where there is less roomfor individuals to progress within the business. This is particularly the casewithin the financial organisation where the step up to the executive tier isquite substantial. Staff retention and recruitment needs to be monitoredclosely and resource planning needs to be implemented. Instead of thinking twoweeks ahead, organisations need to focus upon what they will be needing in sixmonths time. BT was acutely aware that it needed to offer employees attractive andinnovative packages to win the war for talent. The organisation thereforefocused upon using technology to develop flexible working solutions and toensure a greater work-life balance for its employees. 2. Employee buy-in Employees have to buy into the concept, values and key objectives of the newbusiness to make it a success. The e-business organisation can only thrive witha motivated and loyal workforce who believe in the company and the quality ofits output and/or products. Once on board, employees are potentially the mosteffective champions of new products, services and technology across theorganisation. At Cable & Wireless, employees are bought into the project and motivatedby the promise of what e-business will mean to the company in the future. Theyare also motivated by being part of something new and exciting with greatpotential. Employees benefit by adding to their skills, gaining experience andworking in a setting where change is constant. Similarly at BT, employee buy-in is achieved by emphasising the benefitse-business provides for individuals as well as the business. Staff buy-in tonew ideas is gained by involving employees fully. Employees are involved in theadoption of new packages and services, or are introduced to them via thetesting of products on specific populations and then by word-of-mouth. Finally, at IBM, e-business information is distributed via frequentcommunication and buy-in is sought from ‘champion users’ or cross-representationfrom the user community. 3. Redundancy and boosting morale Transition to e-business and the unpredictable nature of the business meansredundancies are more common. This can be an extremely difficult period formany organisations that often have to lose effective and highly committedworkers. Constant change and the threat of redundancies in an e-businessenvironment can undermine staff confidence and make boosting staff morale apriority. HR plays an important role in confidence building throughout suchperiods. The key to boosting morale at Sainsbury’s to You centres around sharinginformation and celebrating successes. In such a busy business environment suchthings are quite easily overlooked, so the company seeks to ensure that managersreinforce these practices. Through periods of uncertainty and redundancy, HR, in conjunction withmanagers, should give the remaining employees incentives for the future. When the e-business initiative of the financial organisation went through asimilar situation, they tried to give employees what they termed as ‘goodstuff’ at the end of the process so those who stayed had something to lookforward to. Some of this ‘good stuff’ has actually been put in place, such asmaking Christmas Eve a day’s holiday for everyone and giving National Lotterytickets in Christmas cards – little things to make people feel better. 4. Communication Strong communication is another vital element for creating a successfule-business organisation. In a business environment that is characterised byuncertainty and constant change, effective communication has to be a constant.Organisational changes, whether large or small, have to be supported byconsistent and frequent communications. The HR team within the financial e-business initiative assesses theeffectiveness of internal communication to employees through an annual staffsurvey and feedback is gained on how it can be improved. At BT communication levels have also been developed – press announcementsare published simultaneously for everyone to see and the online news channelfor BT staff, BT Today News desk, is continuously updated. This effectivecommunication system enables the leadership team to get clear messages acrossto its audience. Cable & Wireless has learnt that communication is vital when anorganisation is undergoing so much change. In the past, it had been accused ofhaving ‘fuzzy communications’ and it has learned from that. The company now hasa communications department that has a good feel for what the business needs.The head of internal communications sits within the HR department, so the HRgroup is able to work with him through all the initiatives that are running. 5. Training and support HR must develop a comprehensive training and development programme tosupport all employees through the technological and cultural changes thataccompany the shift to e-business. Several of the case study organisations have provided employees withtechnological support to help them adapt to new working practices and acquirethe necessary skills to work in the new environment. BT ensured that employeeswere provided with booklets to guide employees through all new onlineprocesses. This was particularly useful for staff who lacked either the confidence or experienceto use the new system immediately. A development and training portal, the BTAcademy, was also launched to improve transition employee skills. Additionally, at IBM the collaborative computing team run a series ofnon-traditional events in an attempt to illustrate how people can make the bestuse of technology in the business environment. The events are designed toimprove ways of working and increase productivity and efficiency. Seminars andworkshops encompass technology, knowledge management, creativity andconsultancy. HR must also develop an effective cultural change programme to encouragesuch transformation. Cable & Wireless is engaged in development andtraining around cultural differences, culture change, managing change andmanaging cross-global boundaries. It has developed a comprehensive series ofinternal and external seminars and programmes to tackle such issues. It isencouraging for the organisation to note that this has been successful and thatthese types of behaviours and ‘global mindsets’ are starting to filterthroughout the entire organisation. Also at Cable & Wireless, but specifically within the HR department, aseries of programmes have been run this year around themes such as ‘the way wework’, and ‘the way we’re going to work’. Internal seminars have also beendeveloped on ‘what we want to see’ and ‘what we don’t want to see’ to reinforcethe key aspects of the new culture. Awareness sessions – lunch-and-learn, webcasts, and executive conferencecalls, for example – are available to all employees and are taken up by asignificant number of them. E-learning materials are also widely available onvarious topics. Sainsbury’s to You transitioned the skills of current employees byconducting training around working in teams and learning cross-functionally toeducate people on e-business and to bring them up to speed. The way ahead The research indicates there are a number of challenges involved in workingwithin an e-business environment. A recurring theme throughout all of the casestudies is the challenge of getting the ‘people bit right’. Human issuespermeate all of the key issues. The role of HR is crucially important within e-business organisations wheretransformation is so strongly dependant upon people skill transition. Effectiverecruitment and retention schemes need to be developed to secure talent andkeep staff motivated and loyal. HR needs to develop the right ’employee mix’for their businesses – blending employees with the right combination of skillsand experience. HR must also develop comprehensive training and development programmes tosupport employees through the technological and cultural changes that accompanythe shift to e-business and create strong communication channels throughout theorganisation. In particular, HR should follow the 10-point guide of workingwithin an e-business environment. E-Business: What are the Human Implications of Transformation? by ClaireMcCartney is available from Roffey Park priced £30.00. Contact Pauline Hinds on01293 851644 or by e-mail: [email protected] McCartney is a researcher at Roffey Park. Roffey Park is running a freee-business seminar on 25 September. For details contact Pauline Hinds as above.HR’s 10-point guide to sucessful e-business1. Create an attractive set ofbenefits and terms and conditions to secure talent with appropriate e-businessskills2. Create the right ’employee mix’ – a blend of people with thenew skills required and those with solid experience of the business3. Make sure both sets of people feel equally valued 4. Monitor staff retention and recruitment closely – instead ofthinking two weeks ahead, focus upon what you will need in six months time5. Gain employee buy-in to the new business by fully involvingstaff – once on board, employees will be your most effective champion of newproducts and services6. Celebrate successes no matter how small7. Boost employee morale in periods of uncertainty and downturn8. Communicate all changes whether large or small, good or bad9. Provide comprehensive training and support to help employeesadapt to the new business environment, including– Technological support– Culture change training10. Provide constant support to business leaders, managers andemployees working in an environment ofconstant and rapid change The human factorOn 17 Sep 2002 in Personnel Today
Related posts:No related photos. Previous Article Next Article Comments are closed. The chairman and managing director of Kodak, who also doubles as the firm’sHR director, is the 500th member to join Personnel Today’s HR Directors’ Club. Peter Blackwell worked his way to the top after joining Kodak in 1970straight from university. After a varied management career spent working indifferent parts of the business, including marketing, sales and manufacturing,he was appointed Kodak’s HR director for the UK in May 2001. He was then appointed to the role of UK chairman and MD in July the sameyear. The HR Directors’ Club, which is free to join for director-level HRprofessionals, is designed to provide business inspiration and networkingopportunities via a series of high-profile breakfast briefings and a dedicatedwebsite. The site gives members free access to speakers’ notes, editorialcomment, an events diary and a notice board that provides a point of contactbetween members. www.hrdirectorsclub.com Kodak MD put in the picture at HR Directors’ clubOn 22 Jul 2003 in Personnel Today