Thismonth’s lettersDon’tthrow out the babyWiththe e-learning market growing at a phenomenal rate, the future looksincreasingly bright for this latest form of business learning.E-learningoffers the perfect marriage between business needs and technology. But let’snot throw the baby out with the bath water in our enthusiastic attempt toembrace e-learning, but instead consider the potential advantages from teamingit with classroom-based training to provide a system for total learning.E-learninghas numerous advantages in terms of flexibility, cost effectiveness, and efficiency.However, people are still social creatures who enjoy the interactive and softaspects of traditional classroom training. The challenge is how best to achieveblended learning and optimise the enormous benefits of e-learning withoutlosing the essential components of effective training. Inorder to maximise the potential of e-learning, we need to truly understand thekey contributing factors: office culture, both the possibilities andlimitations of information technology, and, importantly, the needs of thelearner and the approach of the trainer. Butno matter which form of delivery you choose, users cannot afford to overlookprogramme content. Engaging content makes for a memorable interactive learningprocess that will not only stimulate usage, but also make it more effective.Content is still king, and it has to be high quality and entertaining –remember, if it does not work offline it will not work online. Ablended approach can provide the perfect environment. E-learning allows thelearner to control the cycle and build on classroom experience so a “best ofboth worlds” scenario is achieved. When new formats are blended, the outcome isa total learning experience that is evolution not revolution.JohnLoweManaging director, Video ArtsMeetpeers in automotivesWouldyou like to meet training representatives from competitors in non-threateningenvironments? Then why not join Elan?Elan– European Learning Automotive Network – is an EU-funded project. The latestphase has been led by Volvo Truck Corporation, with Carl Gregory, training anddevelopment manager at Volvo in the UK, as project manager.Themain objective was to research “innovative approaches to training anddevelopment in the European Automotive Industry”. Core partners with Volvo areFord-Werke, DaimlerChrysler and Volkswagen Coaching in Germany and TRW LucasAutobrzdy in the Czech Republic.Many“extended partners” from automotive and automotive-related industries havejoined. All added value to the experience by meeting training representativesfrom competitors in non-threatening environments, and by being able to keepabreast of leading-edge strategies through the biggest training and developmentnetworking opportunity in the European Automotive Industry.Ifyou are interested in joining the next phase from 2001 to 2004, contact TedOld, Training Adviser – Commercial, Volvo Truck and Bus, Wedgnock Lane, WarwickCV34 5YA, Tel 01926 414501 or e-mail [email protected] adviser, commercial Volvo Truck and Bus LettersOn 1 Jun 2001 in Personnel Today Previous Article Next Article Comments are closed. Related posts:No related photos.
Comments are closed. Get ahead of the game and gear up for new directiveOn 24 Jul 2001 in Personnel Today Previous Article Next Article Related posts:No related photos. Early voluntary deals could pay dividends in light of the incominginformation and consultation laws, By Robbie GilbertThe agreement that EU Member States reached last month requiring employersto do more about information and consultation in the workplace looks like goodnews for employees. But what are the real implications for employers? It means that some form of representative body will have to be set up in allbut the smallest workplaces. In those where trade unions are recognised for collectivebargaining purposes, dialogue with them may be enough, but elsewhere newmechanisms will be required. Although it will probably be 2004 before UK law obliges anyone to act,employers are already asking what systems they need in place. This is sensiblein light of what happened with European Works Councils. Those who acted beforelegal obligations took effect gained much goodwill and often establishedprocedures that better suited their businesses. The main stimulus for the new law is concern over the handling ofredundancies, but will it make any difference? As politicians across Europeknow, redundancies will still happen – the business case for them are oftenoverwhelming. What they hope is that the new law might deal with those cases where peoplelearn that their jobs are going via the media. Some – including the EUCommission – want penal sanctions to apply where structured consultation hasnot taken place first. UK ministers take a different view. They know that noemployer consciously chooses to announce redundancies through the media. Oftenthings go wrong because companies are vulnerable to leaks – sometimes fromthose outside their organisations who they feel obliged to warn, and who then”spin” the story. As Personnel Today readers will know, the vital debate about sanctions isnot over yet. The European Parliament may try to reinsert what the employmentministers agreed to take out. Then employers would face a stark choice – eitherto take the risk that those with whom they share information will respectconfidences about redundancies, or to keep all outsiders out of the loop. The danger with penal sanctions is that they will cause costly delays. Theywould require that people be fully reinstated until the necessary procedure hasbeen followed. This could prove an issue for workers as well as employers –greater involvement will be devalued if redundancies delayed by drawn-outconsultations lead to long-term unemployment. Delay is the fundamental worry throughout the directive. The directive talksabout allowing employee representatives “to examine the matterproperly”, submit their opinion and obtain a “reasoned response”as a prelude to consultation about change. That does not look like a recipe fornimble management. Similar laws in Germany mean that decisions can take sixmonths to finalise. But the directive also says that Member States may entrust management andlabour at company or plant level with defining the practical arrangements. Thismeans that, as with European Works Councils, an early deal with employeerepresentatives on the procedures to be used may be the best way forward. Speaking for the Government, Europe Minister Peter Hain has promised that,”When the directive is finally adopted in the UK we shall ensure a smoothintroduction which harnesses existing arrangements as far as possible”. There is always a case for waiting to see what legislation finally emerges,and that is what advisers will normally tell companies. The best advice here isnot to delay. A voluntary deal can give greater scope for the quick decisionsthat are sometimes essential to protect the long-term interests of both thebusiness and its employees. Robbie Gilbert is a consultant specialising in employee representationwith Eversheds, and chief executive of EFSP – the Employers’ Forum on Statuteand Practice
Previous Article Next Article Office rage sweeps nationOn 4 Sep 2001 in Personnel Today Related posts:No related photos. Comments are closed. East Anglia has the angriest employees in the UK with a third havingwitnessed “office rage”. Research commissioned by HR consultancy Eden Brown shows that overall aquarter of staff have experienced angry and violent outbursts at work. The survey of 2,000 employees across the UK shows that other office ragehotspots include Wales and Greater London, with 29 per cent of staff in theseareas having witnessed outbursts. “For office rage to become a fairly recognisable occurrence itindicates a change in work practices, whether due to a more competitiveenvironment or to mounting pressures for results,” said Ian Wolter,managing director of Eden Brown. www.edenbrown.com
Previous Article Next Article The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) isintroducing wide-ranging changes to HR policies to make better use of stafftalents and take on board lessons learned during the foot and mouth crisis. Richard Allen, corporate services director in charge of HR at thedepartment, said he hopes to encourage more flexibility in the use of staffthroughout the department to make the most of individual skills, an approachthat proved effective in the battle against the epidemic. At the forefront of the changes is new training for managers, the plannedintroduction of e-HR, as well as the use of on-the-spot bonuses to encouragestaff performance (as reported in Personnel Today last week). Allen joined Defra in September, midway through the foot and mouth outbreakand only two months after the department was formed when the Ministry ofAgriculture, Fisheries and Food combined with sections of the Department of theEnvironment, Transport and the Regions. He said that because Defra incorporated two departments with completelydifferent personnel systems, he had shied away from simply merging them, as hewanted to establish a more modern HR approach, in line with Customs and Excise– a department he had worked with previously. Allen is still developing thedepartment’s formal HR strategy because environment secretary Margaret Beckettis in the process of drawing up her overall aims for Defra. Allen, who hopes the HR strategy can be presented to the board by the summer,explained: “Though I have views on the sort of thing [the HR strategy]should look like, I need to be clear that it is going to deliver what thebusiness really wants.” He is planning to make the organisation less hierarchical to build onprogress made during the foot and mouth crisis when staff were given increasedflexibility in their job roles and skills were transferred more easily thoughthe department. The HR department is encouraging managers to make the best use of theirpeople’s skills, to be flexible and to give staff more responsibility whereappropriate. As part of this process Defra managers are being put through leadershipprogrammes, which aim to improve their people management by giving them theconfidence to act on their own initiative to match jobs with the staff bestequipped to do them. Senior managers will also be given greater powers to reward staff foroutstanding performance through the introduction of on-the-spot bonuses of upto £300, which will run in parallel with the annual bonus scheme. Directors and heads of department will have about 0.02 per cent of the totalsalary budget to give away for the bonuses, which Allen thinks will helpimprove morale and motivation. He stressed the awards will be monitoredcarefully and reviewed in conjunction with the unions. Allen is also keen to introduce e-HR because it will allow managers toassign employees more efficiently to areas where they are most needed. “What I would like is something where people are encouraged to enterwhat skills they have and what areas they would like to work in, so they aremuch more part of an open market,” he said. Allen said Defra is working with consultants to develop a suitable e-HRsystem, which can also be used to provide online training and development. By Quentin Reade Defra set for policy change in wake of foot and mouthOn 19 Mar 2002 in Personnel Today Related posts:No related photos. Comments are closed.
HR’s changemanagement skills rank highOn 26 Mar 2002 in Personnel Today Related posts:No related photos. Comments are closed. Previous Article Next Article HR is one of the top disciplines requested by interim clients, and is valuedin the current economic climate for its change management role. This is according to Praxis Interim Management, whose research shows thenumber one discipline is finance, followed by HR and IT. The survey also reveals experience and ‘speed of response’ are the two mainreasons companies turn to interims. Other important reasons for choosing an interim manager are: the need toutilise particular skills for a project, the ability to manage change, and theneed for objectivity. Patrique Habboo, managing director of Praxis, said: “Interims seem toprovide a barometer of the economy. Last year HR was the most sought afterdiscipline, but now, with a weakening of the economy, finance-based positionsare most in demand and HR positions are geared more towards change management,training and development.” Habboo added that an increasing number of clients are using interims andtheir providers to fulfil a strategic role. “Historically the main role of interims was in a business contingency –to fill a position. We are increasingly working as business partners with ourclients, who see the use of interims as a strategic resource, not as astop-gap. “In the future, I think that more and more companies will have thevision to use interims at a higher level, as befits their level ofexpertise.”
Previous Article Next Article Whatmay have once been seen as harmless workplace banter could now land employersin court. Dan Lavender looks at ways to safeguard against liability Careless talk in the workplace can prove costly for the employer. Recentcases show that an employer can be made liable for abusive or ill-judgedremarks made by its employees. Even a single case of verbal abuse may result ina claim for constructive and unfair dismissal. It is often difficult, however,to draw the line between conduct for which the employer will be liable and thatwhich it will not. What is acceptable banter in one office might be actionablebreach of contract in another. What type of abusive words can give rise to a claim? There are no hard and fast rules. Some employers might be surprised at thetype of words that can cause problems. Case examples include a local towncouncil that was held liable for the remarks of a councillor who told one ofthe council’s employees: “The sooner we get rid of that bloke the better,then we can all settle down. I shouldn’t talk to that lying toe-rag, he’s notworth it.” (Moores v Bude Stratton Town Council  ICR 271). Another case concerned a manager who said in the presence of his secretary:”She is an intolerable b**ch on a Monday morning.” (Isle of WightTourist Board v JJ Coombes  IRLR 413) and in Courtaulds Northern Textilesv Andrew  IRLR 84, the employer was liable for the words of an assistantmanager who said to another employee: “You can’t do the bloody jobanyway.” Employers have also been found liable where an employee has been unfairlyand improperly accused of theft (Robinson v Crompton Parkinson Ltd  ICR401). The situation in which the words are said is also relevant. In Morrow vSafeway Stores IRLR  9, a bakery manager was criticised by her boss inpublic who said: “If you can’t do the job I pay you for then I will findsomebody that can.” What test will the court apply? It is an implied term in every contract of employment that the employer”will not, without reasonable and proper cause, conduct himself in amanner calculated or likely to destroy or seriously damage the relationship ofconfidence and trust between the parties” (Western Excavating (ECC) Ltd vSharp  ICR 221). Not every incident of verbal abuse will enable theemployee to bring a claim. It is for the employment tribunal to establishwhether a breach is serious enough to ‘destroy or seriously damage therelationship’. Thus, had there been good reason to suspect the employee wasguilty of theft, the employer in the Robinson case would not have been liable. In each case, the test the court will apply is whether the employer isresponsible for conduct which is ‘repudiatory and sufficiently serious toenable the employee to leave at once’ (Lewis v Motorworld Garages Ltd IRLR 465). The correct approach is to decide whether the act complained of isserious enough to be considered as showing that the employer will not be boundby the terms of the contract. If so, the contract will inevitably have beenbreached. The test is objective – not every criticism, even trenchantly expressed, ofan employee’s performance will lead to a claim for constructive dismissal. Inthe Moores case, the court indicated some of the factors that would beconsidered in deciding whether the implied term has been breached: – Was the verbal abuse ‘authorised’? In other words, did it come from somesenior person in the employer’s organisation and thus seem to have theauthority of the employer behind it. – Was a timely retraction or apology offered by the employer? – If an apology was offered, was the employee too sensitive or inflexible intreating the relationship as having irretrievably broken down? – Could the incident have been reasonably foreseen and, if so, avoided? It stands to reason that the tribunal will also take account of theemployee’s conduct. This may be relevant in showing there was ‘reasonable andproper cause’ for the employer’s remarks or in order to demonstrate that acomplaining employee uses equally colourful language or abusive words. What issauce for the goose will, inevitably, be sauce for the gander. Even so, there must be a limit to the abuse that any employee can beexpected to tolerate. Where there is persistent unjustified criticism or verbalabuse and where the employer, knowing of it or having good reason to suspectit, has taken no steps to prevent it, the tribunal is more likely to treat theverbal abuse as ‘authorised’, more likely to treat the apology as necessary andmore likely to treat the harm done as irremediable. The message appears to bethat employers who ignore abusive behaviour or a bullying manager do so attheir peril. What is the test for racial or sexual harassment? A different test applies in racial or sexual harassment cases. In these thetest is subjective. In the leading case of Reed v Steadman  IRLR 299, forexample, the Employment Appeal Tribunal held that, in relation to sexualharassment, the issue is whether “the words or conduct [are] unwelcome tothe victim and it is for her to decide what is acceptable or offensive. Thequestion is not what (objectively) the tribunal would or would not findoffensive.” When will the employer be liable? Although many cases relate to abusive remarks made by directors or senioremployees, the courts will often make an employer liable for the conduct ofmiddle managers or, on occasion, more junior employees. Whether such liability is imposed will depend on whether it can be fairlysaid that the conduct complained of took place ‘in the course of employment’.It will usually be necessary to consider whether the act complained of wasreasonably incidental to the duties of the employee. The courts have oftenapproached ‘vicarious’ liability as a question of whether it can be said theemployer exercised ‘control’ over the employee in respect of the activity atissue. In relation to constructive dismissal, it has been made clear that anemployer can be liable for the conduct of any ‘supervisory employee’ whether ornot that person had the power to dismiss other employees. “If thesupervisory employee is doing what he or she is employed by the employer to doand in the course of doing it he or she behaves in a way which, if done by theemployer, would constitute a fundamental breach of contract between theemployer and the applicant, then in our judgement, the employer is bound by thesupervisory employee’s misdeed.” (Hilton International Hotels (UK) vProtopapa  IRLR 316). In practice, the more junior an employee, the less likely it is that theemployer will be held liable for a single incident of verbal abuse – althoughemployers should note that liability could still arise where persistent abuseis tolerated and not acted upon. Dan Lavender is a solicitor with Macfarlanes Guidelines for preventing liability– Have a clear policy that abusivecomments will not be tolerated and, where appropriate, take disciplinary actionagainst wrongdoers.– Implement the policy for all staff,taking care that all supervisory employees are aware of their responsibilitiesand are trained to manage issues concerning verbal abuse in the workplace.– Where verbal abuse does occur, tryto limit damage by apologising and making clear that the conduct is notauthorised. Comments are closed. Dangerous TalkOn 1 Apr 2002 in Personnel Today Related posts:No related photos.
Workers move one step closer to equal pay questionnairesOn 14 Jan 2003 in Personnel Today Previous Article Next Article The consultation period on the equal pay questionnaires, which will givestaff the right to request pay information on a colleague of the opposite sexat the same level, closed on Friday. The new questionnaire, due to come into force as early as April as part ofthe Employment Act, will enable individuals to request key information fromtheir employers to establish if they are receiving equal pay and, if not, thereasons why. Based on the response, employees will be able to decide if they have alegitimate claim for a tribunal. Employers will not have a statutory obligationto provide answers, but a tribunal will be entitled to take a negative view oforganisations that refuse to answer or evade the questions. Audrey Williams, employment law specialist at Eversheds law firm, warnedcompanies to be prepared. “Although employers will be familiar with thequestionnaire method, some might find this open approach something of a cultureshock. “They should look closely at their procedures for monitoring pay scalesto ensure they will not encounter any problems if presented with aquestionnaire,” she said. Related posts:No related photos. Comments are closed.
Previous Article Next Article Comments are closed. Related posts:No related photos. Amajor survey of stress levels among OH professionals is to be carried out inthe autumn, amid fears that rising workplace pressures are leading OH nurses tooverlook the symptoms of stress in themselves.SafetyFirst Aid Group, which provides first-aid supplies and training and OH jobsthrough the agency OH Recruitment, hopes to conduct the survey of 3,000 OHprofessionals and job seekers during August and September.“Evenif we just get a 10 per cent response rate, it will be worthwhile,” said PaulThomas of Safety First Aid. “People within OH are becoming much more interestedin their careers, and so are more interested in these issues.”Thestudy will ask detailed questions about the things that stress OH nurses in theworkplace, and the sort of support mechanisms available to them.Ithas been prompted by a snapshot survey carried out by OH Recruitment that finds71 per cent of OH nurses blame their bosses for their own workplace stress.Theinternet survey of more than 400 OH professionals shows demanding schedules,were high on the list of workplace stressors, cited by 21 per cent ofrespondents. Long hours, at 5 per cent, and work colleagues, at 3 per cent,were seen as lesser issues.SueLamb, director of OH Recruitment, said the fact that so many OH nurses had beenprepared to take part proved stress is an issue for the profession.“OHnurses regularly advise on a wide variety of simple and complex health andsafety issues in the workplace,” she said. “Sadly, sometimes they are too busyto remember to look after themselves.”Othersin the profession put the blame squarely on employers, arguing that a lack ofreal understanding about what OH does and too few resources, exacerbatedworkload and stress levels. Stressconsultant Carole Spiers said: “OH nurses and personnel need to look at what ishappening in their own departments. It’s all very well being the expert onstress, but do they give that support and time to their own teams?” Rise in stress levels prompts major survey of OH workersOn 1 Aug 2003 in Personnel Today
Previous Article Next Article Comments are closed. House of Lords warns against workplace stress complacencyOn 1 May 2004 in Personnel Today Employers must not become complacent on workplace stress despite afavourable House of Lords ruling limiting the circumstances when employees canmake a claim against their organisation. House of Lords guidance effectively means that individuals can now only windamages for workplace stress if their employer knows they have suffered aprevious breakdown or if they have told bosses they think that stress is goingto cause them ill-health. The guidance also states that organisations will usually be able to defendthemselves from stress claims by providing employees with a confidentialcounselling service. Although the Law Lords ruled in favour of teacher Leon Barber in the case,awarding him £72,547 in compensation, they also decided that the Court of Appealsworkplace stress guidance was valid. However, Ben Willmott, employee relations advisor at the Chartered Instituteof Personnel and Development, said the ruling must not lull employers intoignoring the dangers of workplace stress. He warned that high levels of stress would hit employee morale andproductivity while increasing staff turnover and absence levels. Willmott saidthat these organisational problems would cause far greater damage thanindividual claims through the courts. “Managing stress is about managing people properly. This means ensuringthat employees have reasonable work demands, achievable targets and the supportand training needed to achieve those targets,” he said. Companies that fail to manage workplace stress also risk enforcement actionby the Health and Safety Executive under the Health and Safety at Work Act. Go to www.parliament.the-stationery-office.co.uk/pa/ld200304/ldjudgmt/jd040401/barber-1.htm Related posts:No related photos.
Previous Article Next Article Help us to expose the prevalence of bullyingOn 13 Jul 2004 in Personnel Today Comments are closed. This week, we need your help to understand better the scale of bullying inthe UK workplace. Personnel Today is conducting new research with the Andrea Adams Trustcharity to provide data to compare with a similar survey we did five years ago.We need to know whether you have ever been bullied, what your own personalexperiences of it have been, its prevalence in your business, the consequencesand how your HR department handles it. All responses will be treated in thestrictest confidence. Since we last surveyed the HR profession, there has been a significant shiftin attitudes, with much more effort centred around tackling bullying head on.The £1.8m campaign by the DTI and trade union Amicus, announced a few monthsago, is a great example of this. Its message is to educate employers and encourage them to launch ‘dignity atwork’ policies, look for early warning signs, investigate bullying claimsthoroughly and train their managers. Anecdotal evidence suggests that offensive, intimidating, malicious orinsulting behaviour is still very much a part of working life, despite theintroduction of formal bullying and harassment procedures in some quarters. Anew trend is e-mail bullying, most common higher up in the organisation whentempers run high. Many employers are paying too heavy a price through lost productivity,sickness absence and payouts for damages. In a typically frank moment recently,one senior executive admitted that bullying was endemic within the Royal Mail,and just one of the many challenges it faces in its relationship withemployees. Workplace bullying could be responsible for up to half of all stress-relatedillnesses. Personnel Today would like to get a real measure of the problem fromthe people that should know the truth – the HR profession. So visit thePersonnel Today website and take a few minutes out to complete ourquestionnaire. Full survey findings will be published in the magazine and onpersonneltoday.com shortly. http://b2bresearchonline.com/bullyingByJane King, editor Related posts:No related photos.