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Agencies: reaching a common standard?

Related posts:No related photos. Agencies: reaching a common standard?On 1 Mar 2001 in Personnel Today Comments are closed. Previous Article Next Article In the 100 years that the recruitment industry has existed in the UK, it hasenhanced the flexibility of the UK labour market, particularly in relation tothe provision of temporary and contract staff. Now, says Frank Morton theGovernment is planning to bring in new regulations covering the industryThe existing regulatory framework for the recruitment industry ispredominately set out in the Employment Agencies Act 1973 and the Conduct ofEmployment Agencies and Employment Businesses Regulations 1976 (the ConductRegulations). The Government considers that the existing legislation is out of date anddraft regulations are being introduced to modernise it to ensure proper conductof those in the industry, improve protection for both work-seekers and hirers,and promote greater competition and flexibility in the labour market. A final draft proposal known as “the Conduct of Employment Agencies andEmployment Businesses Regulations 2001” was released in January 2001. Thefive main objectives of the draft legislation are transparency, accountability,targeting, consistency and proportionality. Simplification of existing provisions The Conduct Regulations deal with employment agencies and employmentbusinesses separately. The recruitment industry is often unclear as to thedifference between the two types of enterprise. In some cases they haveoperated partly as one and partly as another and so different regulations havebeen applied at different times. A recruitment firm may have contracted withthe work-seeker on the basis that they will act as an employment agency in somesituations and as an employment business in others. The Government is seekingto introduce common standards for both types of enterprise. The Government is also concerned that the existing Conduct Regulations areambiguous, for example, regarding the extent to which an agency or employmentbusiness should check a work-seeker’s credentials. Also, the existinglegislation allows the agencies and employment businesses to apply different standardsto foreign and domestic work-seekers and temporary and permanent staff. Clarity of contractual terms Confusion has also arisen regarding the extent to which the ConductRegulations requires agencies and employment businesses to take action before,or upon, entering a contract. The Government recognises that it may bedifficult to determine when the contract comes into existence, so the draftregulations will clarify the situation and should allow work-seekers and hirersto approach different agencies and employment businesses to establish the bestterms. More competitive labour market In the past the industry has attempted to restrict work seekers from takingup employment with the hirer, either by imposing transfer fees on the hirer orrestrictions on the work-seekers. This is of particular concern where it isunder no obligation to provide the work-seeker with work. Conduct Regulationshave always prohibited employment businesses from imposing conditions whichdeter the work-seeker from taking up employment with the hirer. However, thereis no corresponding prohibition on employment agencies. The new regulations will extend this prohibition to employment agencies andbroaden it to include any term designed to deter the work-seeker from terminatingthe contract or taking up employment with any other person. It is not clearwhether this extends to indirect restrictions. Would a restriction on apersonal service company prohibiting its employee taking up employment with thehirer be unlawful under the draft regulations? Little guidance has been issuedon this point, save that the DTI has indicated that such clauses would goagainst the aim of the new regulations, that is, to improve labour marketflexibility. Charges to work-seekers In the past, the recruitment industry has found loopholes enabling it toexploit both the hirer and work-seekers. Practices have arisen where thework-seeker will only be paid in full on the condition that he buys servicesfrom third parties connected to the agency or employment business. The draftregulations seek to curb such practices. Changes affecting temporary workers The draft regulations suggest that the supply of temporary workers shouldusually be provided through an employment business rather than an agency. Typically,the recruitment industry has been reluctant to use the employment business fortemporary workers as there are tax advantages in acting as an agency. An agencycan also pass employment law obligations to the hirer. The most debated part of the draft regulations has been in relation to thepayment of fees, when a temporary worker is offered a permanent position withthe hirer. To protect its commercial interests, the recruitment industry hasestablished the practice of charging transfer fees. The Government considersthat the transfer from temporary to permanent worker is attractive for both theworker and the hirer, yet the effect of transfer fees is to deter hirers fromtaking on temporary workers. Transfer fees will only now be enforceable where the contract offers thehirer the alternative of notifying the employment business of its intention tohire the worker. The hirer could then elect whether to pay the transfer fee orhire the work-seeker for a further period (“the specified hire period”)either on the original terms of the contract, or terms no less favourable forthe hirer. The employment business will then be guaranteed further income fromhire or the transfer fee, protecting its business interests but preserving theflexibility of the labour market. Another area of concern is where the hirer takes on the work-seeker within acertain period following the hire, and the employment business insists thatfurther fees will be payable. This creates a quarantine period during which thehirer is deterred from taking on the temp. Although this restricts the labourmarket. If employment businesses were not afforded this protection, they wouldbe less inclined to pursue placements for temporary workers. The regulations permit quarantine periods, but limit duration. Quarantineperiod will be the longer of eight weeks from the day after the last day ofhire, or 14 weeks from the day on which the worker first worked for the hirerduring their latest supply by the employment business. Where the hirer introduces the worker to another company or the workerbegins further work with the hirer pursuant to an introduction by anotheremployment business, the quarantine period will be four weeks. The practical effect is as follows. – The hirer gives notice to the employment business that he intends to takeon the work-seeker. He opts to take the specified hire period rather pay thetransfer fee. A transfer fee would still become payable if the work-seekerbecomes employed by the hirer before the end of the specified hire period. – If the hirer does not give notice to the employment business and takes thework-seeker on immediately, or if he gives notice but does not opt for theextended notice period, then a transfer fee will be payable, unless the hirercan show that the work-seeker has not been hired by it during the quarantineperiod. If the hirer wants to take on a temporary worker and does not want to payeither a transfer fee or opt for the specified hire period he would have toshow that the work-seeker had not been hired to him during the quarantineperiod. The hirer could offer the work-seeker a permanent contract commencingafter the quarantine period. However, he may need to offer the work-seeker anincentive to remain out of the labour market for that time. This situation will inevitably give rise to disputes regarding awork-seeker’s employment status. The hirer will argue that the work-seeker hasnot been employed or trained during this period. If the work-seeker continuesto attend meetings at the hirer’s premise, or, say, retains his locker there,then the employment business will argue that he has continued to be employed. When the regulations come into force The Government has invited further comments on the proposed draftregulations by Friday 16 March 2001. Subject to parliamentary approval, it isanticipated that the new regulations will be implemented in summer 2001. Frank Morton is an associate at Osborne Clarke Sectors of the private recruitment industryThe private recruitment industry can be divided into four sectors. – Those who supply clients with permanent staff, such as head hunters oroutplacement consultants (employment agencies).– Those who provide temporary staff or contract workers (employmentbusinesses). – Entertainment agents who represent actors or models. – Those whose sole activity is the provision of job vacancy information innewspapers or on Websites. read more

Q&A

first_img Previous Article Next Article Q&AOn 2 Oct 2001 in Personnel Today Legal questions and answersQ  We have a close sales team, whowork under pressure to demanding targets. There is a lot of “banter”and jokes against individuals which has always been part of their working lifeand has never been objected to by any of the team. A Welsh individual has joinedthe sales team and finds this unacceptable and has raised complaints aboutjokes which have been made because he is Welsh. We are considering terminatinghis contract as he does not seem able to work in this environment. Are we ableto do so? A  Practically there isnothing to stop you dismissing him but you should be aware of certain risks ifyou do. This individual has raised grievances which you are under a duty toinvestigate fully. The banter he is subjected to during his working life is causinghim distress and is capable of amounting to racial harassment, on the groundsthat he is being subjected to jokes which otherwise he would not have to faceon the basis that he is Welsh. The Welsh are a nationality within the meaning of race discriminationlegislation and can therefore be protected against harassment. As with allcases of harassment under discrimination law it is not the motive of the peoplemaking the comments that is the guiding factor, but their subjective effect onthe individual. Dismissal in these circumstances without a full investigation and seeking toremedy the behaviour complained about would leave the individual able to claimthat his dismissal was linked to his nationality and may found the basis of arace discrimination claim against you, in addition to potential wrongful and(in cases where the employee has one or more years’ service with the company)unfair dismissal claims. Equally, where you have received complaints of thisnature and you fail to act, should he resign, he may then be able to claimconstructive unfair dismissal as well as wrongful dismissal and racediscrimination. Q We have reason to believe that an employee has been accessingpornography on the Internet during office hours. Do we have justifiable groundsto sack him? A  Not necessarily. You shouldalways carry out a proper investigation and procedure, even if you consider theactions of the employee amount to gross misconduct warranting their instantdismissal. First, you need to consider what evidence you have that the employee hasbeen accessing pornography. Have you been told by other employees? Can youobtain statements from them? You may want to access his computer but you should consider first whetheryou have a communications policy that lets you do this. Remember thatgenerally, an employer does not have an “automatic” right to accessor monitor an employee’s e-mails or Internet use without consent. If you do not have a policy then, provided the allegations are serious, youwould probably be justified in checking which sites the employee was accessing.You should also check whether it has been made clear to staff that they shouldnot access certain sites. One important point to consider is what the employee has actually beenaccessing. The adage, “One man’s porn is another man’s page three” istrue in cases such as these and, ultimately, it is a subjective decision whichthe company must make. You should always ensure that a proper procedure is carried out, and thatthe employee is given an opportunity to respond to the allegations. Compiled by the legal team at Olswang, www.Olswang.com Comments are closed. Related posts:No related photos.last_img read more

Army’s gender-free training causes women to drop out

first_imgOveruse injuries are the prime cause of woman Army recruits being dischargedon medical groundsWomen recruits to the army are up to eight times more likely to bedischarged with back pain, tendon injuries and stress fractures than their malecounterparts, a study has concluded. The study was designed to look at whether the army’s decision to introduce‘gender free’ training in 1998 has had any effect on levels of medicaldischarge, particularly of women compared to men. Under the new policy, all recruits are expected to reach the same level ofphysical fitness, stamina and strength irrespective of their gender. A study of 225 medical discharges from 1997 found 40 per cent of themrelated to musculoskeletal injuries, of which half were ‘overuse’ injuries –stress fractures of the foot, tibia and femur, back pain and Achillestendinitis. To compare the situation before and after the policy was introduced, twointakes of recruits were followed from 1997 to 1998 and 1998 to 1999. Of 253 medical discharges under the old system, 104 related to overuseinjuries. But when the gender-free programme was introduced, this rose to 421medical discharges, of which 160 related to overuse injuries. Among male recruits overuse injury patterns changed little, but femalerecruits displayed a far greater tendency to overuse injury when trained undergender-free principles, said report author Lt Col Ian Gemmel, an Army doctor. “The proportion of female recruits medically discharged because of anoveruse injury rose from 4.6 per cent to 11.1 per cent, whereas the proportionof such males remained at under 1.5 per cent,” he wrote in the Journal ofthe Royal Society of Medicine. Lt Col Gemmel added: “It is clear that women are experiencingdifficulty with the training in its current format – in short, gender cannot beignored and rigid adherence to equal opportunities legislation is notbenefiting the health of female army recruits.” He recommended improving initial selection tests to help reduce injury ratesand for a review of selection tests and training methods to be carried out. J R Soc Med 2002;95:23-27 www.jrsm.org Army’s gender-free training causes women to drop outOn 1 Feb 2002 in Musculoskeletal disorders, Personnel Today Previous Article Next Article Related posts:No related photos. Comments are closed. last_img read more

Can’t live without: Siemans SX45

first_imgCan’t live without: Siemans SX45On 19 Mar 2002 in Personnel Today Previous Article Next Article What is it? A combined palm- top computer and phone device, which as well asmobile internet access (courtesy of General Packet Radio Service or GPRS) ande-mail facilities, can act as a voice recorder, MP3 player – and, by pluggingin a Casio Flash Card digital camera, a videoconferencing device. It runs Microsoft’s PocketPC software which offers pocket versions of Word,Excel, Outlook, Media Player, Calcul-ator and In-box as standard and features aUSB and serial port for synchronisation with a desktop PC. There’s an infra-red port to communicate with similarly equipped devices anda slot for Bluetooth SD (Secure Digital) cards (not yet available) to allow youto talk to Blue-tooth-enabled devices, too. When used as a mobile phone, you dohave to use a hands-free headset. Do I really need one? It’s not as essential as a mobile phone but if theidea of the mobile internet excites you and you’re on the move more often thanyou are at your desk, it’s well worth a look. There has been talk for some of busy HR professionals reading CVs on theirphones and accessing self-service HR system from the palm of their hands andthis brings it much closer. Technically, it has been possible for a while butthe user experience on some palmtop gadgetry hasn’t been all it’s cracked up tobe. This has one of the best small screens – clear and easy to read. GPRS meansinternet access is fast and it offers all the connectivity and add-onfunctionality you’ll need. SX45 is a bit chunky but all those features have to go somewhere and if youlike to be seen as one of those with the latest kit in your top pocket, it’s afair trade-off. Specifications: size 87x27x134; weight: 300g; memory: 32 MB Ram Cost: Price not available at the time of going to press More details: www.siemens.com Related posts:No related photos. Comments are closed. last_img read more

Information Commission fails to crack the recruitment code

first_img Comments are closed. ‘Open and detailed’ is how the commission sees its new code of practice onrecruitment, while HR views it as unhelpfully complex. So who is right? PaulNelson investigatesThe long-awaited code of practice on recruitment and selection givingemployers advice on how to comply with the Data Protection Act has finallyarrived. The code – the first of four to be issued by the Information Commission –outlines organisations’ responsibilities concerning the handling of personaldata relating to the recruitment process. But employers bodies and HRprofessionals are concerned that the code is too long and misleading. The code was originally due to be published six months ago but was delayedafter employers criticised the draft for being too long and ambiguous. In July last year assistant information commissioner David Smith, told aconsultation conference: “If the code does not make sense and is notunderstandable by HR managers then it has not done its job.” Initial reaction to the 56-page final version of the code suggests there arestill concerns over its usability, which could have serious consequences forHR. The CIPD believes the code does not make a clear distinction between DataProtection legal requirements and best practice recommendations. “It is 13,500 words and 56 pages, which is still too long. It wouldhave a bigger impact if it was more concise, said Diane Sinclair, CIPD employeerelations adviser. “The code is still not clear what is necessary to comply with the lawand what, in the Information Commissioner’s view, is good practice.” The document states that employers must give a staff member responsibilityfor compliance and make serious breaches of the code a disciplinary offence. HR responsibilities under the code include ensuring interview notes on jobapplicants are retained and that records on people’s salaries from previousemployers are destroyed. Employers can only request data about an applicant that is relevant torecruitment and job applicants must give their consent if documents are neededfrom a third party – such as a reference. According to the CBI, many employers will find the code inaccessible.Susannah Haan, legal adviser at the CBI, said: “It is confusing, as some ofthe benchmarks are legally binding and others are just good practice – this ismisleading. In its current state, the only people who will read it arelawyers.” HR professionals are also unhappy with the final version of the code. Alison Warner, head of HR at city law firm Stephenson Harwood, complainsthat the code is too long and its language overly complex. “I can see howsome people might find it difficult and may get lost,” she said. The document’s format is also criticised by Vauxhall personnel directorBruce Warman. He commented: “My first reaction is that it is complicated.It is far too comprehensive and very difficult. It is so long that I do notthink it will be used. It is not user-friendly.” Both the CIPD and the CBI have urged the Information Commission to changethe structure for the final three parts of the code on monitoring, employmentrecords and medical information, due to be published over the next threemonths, to make them more usable. They have called for these to include a simplechecklist format, similar to the Acas code on disciplinary procedure. Employment lawyer Jonathan Chamberlain, partner at Wragge & Co, alsoadvocates this approach. “I don’t see why it can’t be reduced tolegally-binding do’s and don’ts. There is always a conflict between flexibilityand certainty, but the Acas code of practice on disciplinary procedure is onlya few pages and has stood the test of time for 20 years,” he said. The Information Commission defended the code, claiming that it had to be adetailed document in order to be relevant to all employers. “The code provides guidelines on how to process data. It had to be openso it was accessible for all industries and sectors,” said David Clancy,strategic policy adviser at the Information Commission. “We could not have produced prescriptive legal requirements as it wouldhave been impossible. For example, the keeping of data for as long as it isneeded, would differ greatly from sector to sector and at differenttimes.” Clancy said that if the code had been more prescriptive it would have causedproblems with other legislation including the Human Rights Act and theRegulation of Investigatory Powers Act. “We have attempted to produce a balanced approach, producing centralbenchmarks that are a form of loose guidance that if followed will meancompanies are complying with the Data Protection Act,” he said. The code: what HR must do to comply– Make a staff member responsible forcompliance– Make serious data protection breaches a disciplinary offence– Only request data about an applicant that is relevant torecruitment – Only request details of criminal convictions if justified forrole– Ensure job applicants sign consent form if documents areneeded from a third party– Inform applicants if automated short-listing system is thesole basis of decision– Retain interview notes– Establish a retention period for recruitment records based onbusiness need– Destroy information on an individual’s recruitment within sixmonths– Dispose of salary information from previous employers– Only ask for sensitive personal data for successful applicantswww.dataprotection.gov.uk Previous Article Next Article Information Commission fails to crack the recruitment codeOn 26 Mar 2002 in Personnel Today Related posts:No related photos.last_img read more

Employers relieved at fixed-term rules delay

first_imgEmployers relieved at fixed-term rules delayOn 28 May 2002 in Personnel Today Previous Article Next Article Comments are closed. Employers’ organisations have welcomed news that the Fixed Term EmployeeRegulations, due to be implemented on 10 July, have been delayed to 1 October. The Government announced the delay last week because of concerns that theEmployment Bill, in which the legislation will be included, has not yetreceived Royal Assent. The CIPD and CBI believe the delay will give employers much-needed extratime to prepare for the legislation, which will mean organisations will have toprovide workers on fixed-term contracts with pay and pensions comparable tothose of permanent staff. CIPD lead adviser on public policy, Diane Sinclair, is relieved theDepartment for Trade and Industry has put back the implementation date. “It seems a sensible move to delay the date that the regulations comeinto force. This will help practitioners grappling with the issuesinvolved,” she said. And Anthony Thompson, senior policy adviser for the CBI, said the employers’body had lobbied for the delay. Related posts:No related photos.last_img read more

HR must act now to stem the tide of internet abuse

first_imgHR must act now to stem the tide of internet abuseOn 9 Jul 2002 in Personnel Today Related posts:No related photos. Previous Article Next Article Comments are closed. Before the internet, business technology was often exploited for personaluse – but it provided few opportunities for entertainment. The web has changedall that. Now office systems give staff access to shopping, sport, gambling, gameplaying and so-called adult entertainment. And, as our survey shows, many staffhave extended their interest in pornography into office hours. The principle behind banning porn at work is a no-brainer: it is neverappropriate for staff to download material which could cause offence to otheremployees. Offensive material, and racist content falls into this category too,can damage the reputation of the company and leave the employer open to legalaction. And when staff break the law the employer must take disciplinaryaction. The challenge for HR departments is the sheer scale of internet abuse. Itshows that it is not enough to have water-tight policies – HR must alsocommunicate these regularly to staff. The emphasis should be on preventionrather than policing, but those who continue to breach policy do need to bedisciplined. Motor giant Ford took a sensible approach in March this year when it gavestaff a two-week amnesty to remove offensive material from business systems,and also gave instructions on how to delete downloaded files. There are times when personal use of the company’s business systems isreasonable – some HR teams actively encourage staff to use the internet foronline shopping as a way to boost the use of e-HR, for example. In these cases,HR must strike a balance between ensuring good levels of productivity on theone hand, and helping employees balance the demands of work and home on the other.But where porn and racist material is concerned, HR’s job is clear cut: itmust get the message across loud and clear that downloading offensive materialwill not be tolerated. last_img read more

… in brief

first_img… in briefOn 2 Jul 2002 in Personnel Today This week’s news in briefFamily flexible firms Larger companies are more family friendly and offer more support and betterflexibility to parents, according to a survey of 1,200 mothers. The research,conducted by the National Childbirth Trust, reveals that 86 per cent of mothersworking at firms with more than 500 staff feel their employer is family friendly– offering part-time work, flexible hours and good maternity packages.  www.nct-online.orgForced lock-in Retail giant Wal-Mart has been accused of forcing staff in its US stores towork extra hours for no pay, and in some cases locked staff inside stores untilwork was completed. Reports in The Times allege the retailer forced staff towork unpaid after they had finished their agreed shifts and had hours deletedfrom timesheets to keep them under 40 hours per week.  www.walmart.comGP timewasters Employers demanding sick notes from staff missing work through illness havebeen accused of wasting GPs’ time, according to a new Government report. TheCabinet Office’s Regulatory Unit, responsible for easing the bureaucraticburden doctors face, said employers that ask staff for sick notes within sevendays of falling ill are wasting 2.4 million GP appointments.  www.cabinet-office.gov.ukImmigrant approval More than 300 immigrants have been approved for work in the UK under the Government’snew fast track Highly Skilled Migrants Programme. The scheme allows talentedimmigrants to look for work without the sponsorship of an employer.  www.homeoffice.gov.ukInsecure Brits Only employees in South Korea suffer more job insecurity than employees inthe UK, according to research. A new survey covering 24 countries by theOrganisation for Economic Co-operation and Development reveals that 41 per centof staff in the UK don’t think they have job security, while 46 per cent of Koreanworkers are unsure of their jobs.  www.oecd.orgOnline business plan The DTI has launched a new website, Corporate Venturing, which will allowlarge and small firms to identify potential business partners and benefit fromeach other’s resources. The launch is backed by a £1.5m Government investmentand hopes to enable small firms to gain management experience from largeremployers, greater access to research and development, and bigger employers tobenefit from an equity stake of intellectual property.  www.dti.gov.uk Related posts:No related photos. Previous Article Next Article Comments are closed. last_img read more

Long work hours increase heart attack risk

first_img Comments are closed. Long work hours increase heart attack riskOn 1 Sep 2002 in Personnel Today Doing too much overtime and not getting enough sleep may put workers at anincreased risk of heart attacks, scientists in Japan have concluded. Researchers at Kyushu University in Fukuoka studied the cases of 260 menaged 40 to 79 who were admitted to hospitals suffering from acute myocardialinfarction (AMI) between 1996 and 1998, and measured their results against acontrol group. They found there was a link between the amount of hours and overtime workedand the increasing odds of suffering AMI. Men who worked more than 60 hours a week doubled the risk of suffering aheart attack than those working 40 hours or less. A lack of sleep (fewer than five hours a night) and a frequent lack of sleep(two nights or more a week on fewer than five hours) were also associated witha two to three times greater risk of AMI. “Overtime and insufficient sleep may be related to increased risk ofAMI,” the study concluded. Occupational and Environmental Medicine 2002;59:447-451 Previous Article Next Article Related posts:No related photos.last_img read more

Be a unique employer

first_img Previous Article Next Article Simply having the biggest carrot on offer will not attract the bestcandidates, says Andy BattThe ever-uncertain economic climate means that for many organisations,concerns about skills shortages and employee turnover have been superseded inthe short-term by questions of how to manage costs and raise productivity. But the longer-term agenda remains. Creating a well-managed, effectiveworkforce, able to deliver its best for the future, cannot and should not beleft to chance. Employers will need to be smarter about managing all their employee ‘talent’effectively – not just the high-fliers they may have focused on in the past. The problems caused by a mismatch of need and available resources in thelabour markets are all too familiar. The IT industry has illustrated thisdifficulty, with repeated periods of high salary inflation and employeeturnover. In the UK and Germany, governments have taken radical steps to dealwith such shortfalls, offering easily obtainable work permits to thousands ofskilled IT staff from outside the EU. These are the wanted ‘economic’ migrants.Population growth trends indicate that in the absence of other changes – forexample, substantial increases in immigration or relocation of jobs to othermarkets – skills gaps could become widespread throughout Europe. How employers can prepare Employers need to market themselves to existing and future employees with asmuch vigour as they do their products and services. The most successfulorganisations will have already addressed many of the following: – Develop a distinct employer brand Organisations with a clearly defined employment brand proposition andpositive image find it easier to attract new staff. Those who have not investedin building their reputation will naturally find it harder to recruit, and mayend up paying a premium to persuade employees to join them. Think about ways in which you can differentiate your employment offer fromthe rest. Benchmark yourself against organisations rated as the best to workfor in your markets. – Expand the ‘marketplace’ you recruit from Every employer strives to hire the best possible people. Yet in a tightmarket, a compromise may need to be reached between ‘the ideal’, and what isavailable at a reasonable cost. Review your hiring policies to ensure they arenot unnecessarily restrictive. This might include: – Understanding age limitations – A simple way of increasing the supply ofskilled workers is to keep existing employees in the workforce for longer.People in their 50s have considerable experience and wisdom, and may well bemore loyal than someone in their 20s. There are well known executives beyondnormal retirement age who are energetically running successful businesses –such as Warren Buffet and Rupert Murdoch. The EU has set goals for countries to extend the average retirement age. Anumber of retail organisations, notably B&Q in the UK, have already takensteps to encourage older employees to remain or rejoin the workforce.Increasing your own organisation’s effective retirement age can haveimplications for pension provision, such as increased benefits payable for ashorter period and the financial consequences of this need due care andattention. The Nationwide Building Society in the UK has revamped its pensionscheme to remove disincentives to employees delaying retirement or workingreduced hours at the end of their career. – Encourage female employees – Along with older workers, the EU is committedto increasing the number of women in the workforce. Family-friendly policiessuch as part-time working, term-time working, home working, parental leave andchildcare support all play a role in achieving this aim. While mostorganisations now have family-friendly policies in place, the culture does notalways lend itself to people taking them up without guilt. A positivemanagement attitude to this is essential. – Appreciate the difference between competence and knowledge – It is all tooeasy to seek specific past experience or qualifications when looking for a newrecruit. Yet many studies have demonstrated that the way people work is thestrongest indicator of future performance. For many roles, specialist technicalknowledge can be learned far more easily than behavioural changes. – Learn about unfamiliar qualifications – When recruiting staff from anothercountry, it is important to understand some of the differences in their localeducation system. A German graduate may well have only just started theirworking career at the age of 30, while a UK graduate could well have eightyears work experience by then. – Understand internal customers Any external marketing expert recognises that the better you know yourcustomers, the easier it is to understand their needs. Make sure the sameapplies to your organisation internally. Line managers should regularly talk totheir teams about how they feel about their working environment, and act ontheir feedback. Encourage ‘open door’ policies where employees have theopportunity to speak freely. Conduct regular employee attitude surveys – withweb-based surveys this is not an onerous process. The use of a short,consistent questionnaire enables trends to be tracked over time withoutoverloading employees. Gathering data from leavers about why they left, or fromnew recruits about their experience of your hiring process, will create anaccurate picture of your company culture. – Improve the ‘product’ you offer Once you understand what people want, or what other organisations do well,the next step is to take advantage of the opportunities identified. Somepositive steps are: – Consider how you could be more flexible about when, how and where staffwork. With modern telecoms technology many employees can and increasingly arekeen to operate from home, at least some of the time. – Consider segmenting your offer to appeal to different employee groups. Forexample, an internationally mobile employee might not value membership of alocal pension plan with lengthy vesting provisions, but they may value taxplanning advice. Another example is providing flexibility for employees tochange the construction of their package as their personal circumstances changeduring their career. – Tailor your offering by market For organisations operating in multiple markets, there are clear practicaladvantages to having common policies and systems. It enables communication andHR systems development to be shared. However, it is equally important to beaware of the different regulatory and tax regimes, employee expectations andmarket norms. Offering stock option programmes on exactly the same terms inBenelux, France and the UK would create big differences in income tax andemployers’ social security liabilities in each country. With some tailoring,these programmes could be delivered far more efficiently. – Communicate your offering effectively (and often) It is no use having a great proposition if you do not communicate it tocurrent and prospective employees. Simple tools such as total compensationstatements can be powerful in ensuring employees understand and appreciate thevalue of their current total package. Equally, where employees need to makechoices about package elements, flexible benefit programmes can significantlyimprove understanding. Web-based communications provide a simple way for employees to look thingsup or to disseminate information. This can also have the added benefit ofremoving transactional workload from HR teams. For prospective employees and new recruits, a set of well-packaged materialsabout the organisation and the total employment offer presents a slickprofessional image, and is more likely to be read and appreciated. Retain existing customers Many of the actions above will improve the overall employment offer and helpretain staff. Hay Group research on what drives a genuinely ‘engagedperformance’ from an employee frequently shows that the extent to which theyperceive opportunities for personal development and growth is a key factor indeciding whether to stay or leave an organisation. Allowing unpaid career breaks, job rotations, secondments and support forpersonal study such as language courses, MBAs and so on can all contribute toincreasing the loyalty and commitment of employees. Encouraging employees totake responsibility for their own development can also be seen as positive.Combined with e-learning tools, this can be an efficient method of enhancingthe skills and satisfaction of your workforce. Handling severance well should not be overlooked. As well as focusing onmaking the working environment and employment offer attractive for current andnew employees, ensure leavers and unsuccessful applicants are treatedreasonably – you never know when you might need them or one of their ‘network’in the future. Train your salesforce Managers who interview potential employees are the public face of theorganisation. This also applies to external recruiters. Training andcommunication is important, not just to deliver a high-quality hiring process,but also to ensure a consistent, truthful and positive message about yourorganisation is presented to prospective employees. As outsourcing of HRactivities grows, it is critical the quality of suppliers is monitored. Despite current unemployment variations across Europe, the most likelylong-term trend will be a shortage of skilled employees. Employers who areproactive in understanding the implications of this, and start identifyingpractical solutions that continue to meet both the business and the reputationobjectives are likelier to recruit and retain more talented people than thosewho ignore the longer-term trend. The authorAndy Batt is a consultant for Hay Group, a people management consultancyResourceswww.haygroup.co.uk Be a unique employerOn 1 Nov 2002 in Personnel Today Comments are closed. Related posts:No related photos.last_img read more