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Cuts continue despite growth

first_img Comments are closed. Cutbacks in employment andinvestment in the engineering are occurring despite continued growth in thesector, according to the Engineering Employers’ Federation’s quarterly survey.The survey, whichcovers 1,400 companies, shows that the overall growth figure for engineering in2001 is down to 3.2 per cent from 3.5 per cent in the previous forecast, due tothe impact of the slowdown in the US economy.But growth in thesector is still set to outpace the rest of the economy this year. EEF chiefeconomist Stephen Radley said, “Output and orders have generally held upwell and companies are reasonably optimistic.”Growth prospects areimproving in basic metals, mechanical equipment and transport, but motorvehicle output continues to struggle. Related posts:No related photos. Previous Article Next Article Cuts continue despite growthOn 24 Apr 2001 in Personnel Todaylast_img read more

Passport to a safer workplace

first_img Previous Article Next Article Related posts:No related photos. IOSH has joined forces with the Safety Pass Alliance (SPA) to launch a newpassport to improve health and safety training across industry. Officiallylaunched in London last month in the presence of HSE director-general TimothyWalker, the IOSH-SPA Passport benefits both contractors and client companies. Contractors whose workers are in possession of the passport will gain acompetitive advantage when bidding for work as they will be able to demonstrateknowledge of accredited health and safety training. Clients will be able toensure that induction focuses on the specific needs of their site and project,thus increasing the overall efficiency, economy and effectiveness of theproject. The passport unites the reputation, quality control and resources of IOSH’shealth and safety training provision with SPA’s experience in passport schemeoperation, programme design and client liaison to provide two days of training.Day one is the core day and incorporates seven modules covering basic healthand safety training, including safety, fire precautions, first aid, hazardoussubstances and manual handling. The second day is sector-specific and iswritten and developed by industry. The food and drink industry is the first tooffer the Passport, with the scheme being tailored to further sectors includingengineering and petrol retail. Security and integrity are key features and advantages and the Passportincludes a tamperproof photograph, a special ultra-secure “holocote”finish, a foil hologram and signature strip to help prevent fraud. It alsodisplays details of the individual’s training accomplishments to date. For further information on the IOSH-SPA Passport scheme, contact SarahWalker, Passport Administrator, tel: 0116-257 3180. Passport to a safer workplaceOn 1 Dec 2001 in Personnel Today Comments are closed. last_img read more

…in brief

first_img Previous Article Next Article …in briefOn 19 Feb 2002 in Personnel Today Comments are closed. Related posts:No related photos. This week’s news in briefRules of engagement The European directive on staff consultation has been adopted by theEuropean Parliament. The new rules will oblige companies to inform and consultwith employees on matters relating to the employment situation and companydevelopments. Companies with more than 150 employees will have three years toimplement the changes after it is drafted into UK law.  www.europarl.eu.intBA cuts more jobs British Airways is to cut 5,800 jobs, abandon flight routes and reduce thesize of its fleet in a bid to reduce costs by £650m a year. The cuts, whichinclude a third of head office and support jobs, will take the total of jobsaxed at BA since August 2001 to 13,000 – 23 per cent of the airline’s workforceof 56,700.   www.britishairways.comRoyal Mail strike call Royal Mail management has been accused of ‘provoking unofficial industrialaction’ by the Communication Workers Union, with national postal strikesplanned for March. The union is campaigning for a 5 per cent pay rise but RoyalMail has offered 2 per cent. Options to be discussed include 24-hour strikes,an overtime ban or a refusal to work Saturdays.  www.consignia.comIn work figures high The number of people in work stands at a record high since records began in1979, at 28.2m, according to the Office for National Statistics. Despite this,the number of people out of work in the UK increased by 34,000 in the pastthree months. The figures also reveal the average number ofhours worked inOctober to December 2001 was 32.6 per week.  www.statistics.gov.ukHeritage dispute English Heritage staff are set to decide on strike action over a 3.5 percent pay award. Staff members of union Prospect are being balloted on actionthat could affect hundreds of popular tourist attractions, such as Stonehengeand Battle Abbey. Prospect says the ballot follows a series of low paysettlements at English Heritage.  www.prospect.org.ukHeavy industry woe Pay deals in engineering and manufacturing firms are continuing to fall,according to the Engineering Employers’ Federation. Average settlements for thethree months to January fell by 0.1 per cent to 2.3 per cent compared with theprevious quarter. The EEF said more than 60 firms have frozen their pay. Itclaims the manufacturing and engineering sector is firmly depressed.  www.eef.org.uklast_img read more

Firm beats skills shortage with new refugee recruits

first_imgA Shropshire plant hire firm is recruiting refugees in an effort to combatskills shortages. Hawk Plant Hire, which provides heavy machinery and operators across thecountry, is training refugees as dump-truck drivers to combat high staffturnover and problems with recruitment. Dan Evans, operations recruitment executive for Hawk, said four refugeesstarted work at the company this month following a two-week training programme.A further eight are due to start soon. The recruits are from various countries, mainly Iran, but also Russia,Albania and Somalia. “They are paid well, which helps to retain them. They are also providedwith transport – a scooter or van,” said Evans. “If we can attract and train refugees, we are more likely to keepthem.” Evans said the company, which employs 200 drivers, had initially facedproblems recruiting refugees because not enough is done to get them employment.Hawk turned to freelance consultant Simon Coates to find out how to accessrefugee recruits. Coates said there needs to be a more cohesive approach to help refugees intowork. “Employers often have to work quite hard to find refugeeworkers,” he said. Both Coates and Evans backed Personnel Today’s Refugees in Employmentcampaign calling for a national refugee skills database and for the Governmentto make it simpler to recruit refugees. Coates believes many employers miss out on recruiting good quality refugeeworkers because companies are concerned they might have difficulty gettingsettled and have immediate money problems. By Quentin ReadeProgress so far in the campaignPersonnel Today has been campaigning over the past year for the Governmentto introduce a co-ordinated strategy to get asylum-seekers and refugees – whoare often highly-skilled – into employment. Many organisations – from hospitals to blue-chip IT giants – still faceskills shortages, despite the economic downturn. Joint research by PersonnelToday and the Refugee Council showed that 60 per cent of refugees areunemployed for more than a year. Former immigration minister Lord Rooker promised that a skills databasewould be introduced to keep a record of the skills and qualifications ofasylum-seekers, and enable the Employment Service to match refugees toappropriate work (News, 8 January). A Government spokesperson said an integration strategy, which will includeemployment measures, will be released later this year. Personnel Today iscontinuing to campaign for the benefit of employers and refugees. The campaign aims: – Introduce a standard permission-to-work document for refugees – A commitment to cutting red tape for employers who want to recruit refugees– Introduce a skills database for refugees and employers – Produce concrete plans to co-ordinate the employment of refugees Comments are closed. Previous Article Next Article Firm beats skills shortage with new refugee recruitsOn 20 Aug 2002 in Personnel Today Related posts:No related photos.last_img read more

Unfair dismissal claims could reach from the grave

first_img Comments are closed. Arecent tribunal ruling giving over-65s the right to protection from unfairdismissal could open the floodgates to claims from those dismissed in the past– and even from relatives of dead employees.InRutherford vs Towncircle Ltd (trading as Harvest), a male worker in his 70ssuccessfully argued the statutory age bar to unfair dismissal protection wasindirectly discriminatory as the vast majority of those working past 65 are men(see Case Round up, page 8).Thedecision is set to be appealed by the Secretary of State for trade and industryPatricia Hewitt and is likely to take many months to resolve but claims relyingon it could be brought now.Thosedismissed in the past could get round tribunal time limits by arguing it wasnot reasonably practicable to claim before this ruling, said Caroline Noblet, employmentpartner at Hammond Suddards Edge.”Perhapsworse still, in theory, personal representatives of former staff who have nowdied will be able to start unfair dismissal claims under s.206 of theEmployment Rights Act 1996,” she said.Tribunalsare likely to stay these claims until the appeal outcome is known. “Giventhis may be many months or even years away, it may be sensible to make detailedcontemporaneous notes of the reasoning behind the dismissal of staff over65,” advised Noblet.Inthe interim, employers are being advised to proceed on the basis that staffover 65 have full employment rights. Those wishing to remove employees atretiring age should have a fair reason for doing so, backed up by objectiveevidence, and use a fair procedure. “Thefinancial consequences of getting this wrong could be considerable,”warned Noblet. “A tribunal will accept that someone unfairly dismissed at65 or above is most unlikely to get another job and that the loss arising fromthe dismissal is likely to be significant.” Unfair dismissal claims could reach from the graveOn 1 Oct 2002 in Personnel Today Previous Article Next Article Related posts:No related photos.last_img read more

Employment contracts

first_img Previous Article Next Article Employment contractsOn 1 Mar 2003 in Personnel Today Related posts:No related photos. Comments are closed. Inthis series, we delve into the XpertHR reference manual to find essentialinformation relating to one of our features. This month’s topic…Summary–It is important for contract terms to be in writing–Terms may be assumed by the courts to be implied if there are no written terms–The contract should be seen as a flexible compromise between the needs of theparties–The contract assumes great importance when the parties are in dispute–Statutory protection for employees may be dependent on the contract termsImportanceof written termsInevitably,there will be disagreements about the terms and conditions of employment. Thesecan be solved without recourse to litigation if the contract terms are clearand unambiguous. If the terms are verbal, or not even specifically agreed uponby the parties involved, the situation is ripe for dispute, and there isnothing to hand to clarify the terms.Itshould not be assumed that verbal terms cannot be proved. The claimant –frequently the employee – must prove their claim, and if they have someevidence, the burden of proof passes to the employer. The court or tribunalwill then make its decision on the balance of probabilities. In practice, theevidence may be no more than what each party alleges it said or heard.Therefore, both employee and employer statistically have a 50 per cent chanceof success.Ifterms are verbally agreed, it is helpful to have a note of these terms, eithermade at the time, or immediately afterwards. This could be placed on file ortake the form of a letter confirming the agreement or new term. This is notabsolute proof of the term, but it is admissible evidence, and can be valuable.Keyterms, such as work, location, hours, pay, holiday and notice, have to be givento the employee in writing by the end of their second month of employment. Thisis not a contract, but good evidence of the terms as seen by the employer.ImpliedtermsIfthere is no written agreement on a particular issue, the court or tribunal mayassume a term is implied. Thiscould be based on:–The conduct of the parties–A custom in the workplace, trade or area of employment or the region ofemployment–A custom implied in common law –The fact the court or tribunal believes the parties would have agreed to theterm had it been put to themRelianceon implied terms only results in uncertainty, as there can be no guarantee thata term will be implied or what that term will be. As implied terms cannotoverride an express term, it is advisable to put the terms in writing.Aflexible compromiseThecontract does not have to be fair or reasonable – the courts will enforce it asagreed. However, a contract too one-sided is not likely to result in a long orharmonious relationship. The contract is best regarded as a compromise betweenthe (sometimes conflicting) needs of both parties.Thereis no automatic power to change the contract terms. So an employer wantingflexibility must build this into the employee’s contract. Similarly, neitheremployer nor employee should assume that conduct contrary to the contractterms, means the actual contract has changed. Conduct or custom can fill thegaps in the contract, but do not override contract terms. Importanceof the contractThemost generally recognised benefit of the contract – especially a written one –is its usefulness in avoiding disputes. It is decisive in a breach of contractclaim, as the contract terms alone can be taken into account.Itis less decisive in unfair dismissal claims, although it is certainly importantwhen the employee alleges constructive unfair dismissal. This is where theemployee has resigned, but their resignation has been caused by a seriousbreach of contract by the employer (Employment Rights Act 1996, section95(1)(c)). This breach must be a breach of an actual contract term such as inWestern Excavating (ECC) Limited v Sharp 1978 IRLR 27 CA.Butwhen deciding whether the dismissal was fair, the contract terms are notall-powerful. The tribunal may decide the dismissal was fair, even if theemployer has broken the contract.InFarrant v The Woodroffe School 1998 IRLR 176 EAT, the employer insisted on achange of duties, even though it was in breach of contract. The employer hadbeen wrongly advised that it had a legal right to make the change. However,taking all the circumstances into account, the Employment Appeal Tribunaldecided that the dismissal was fair.StatutoryprovisionsSomestatutory provisions are based on the contract terms, and protection againstunfair dismissal is only given to employees. It is dependent on the contractbeing one of employment, and is generally denied to the self-employed. Theyhave some limited rights to claim unfair dismissal, such as when they have beendismissed because they sought to exercise their right to a representative indisciplinary or grievance proceedings (Employment Relations Act 1999, section13 referring to the Employment Rights Act 1996, section 230(3)).Inother situations, statute provides a minimum benefit which replaces any lesserterm in the contract, as with statutory minimum notice in the Employment RightsAct 1996, section 86.PracticeexampleFacts:A shop expected its staff to work additional hours in the run-up to Christmas.The contract made no provision for overtime, simply stating that their hours ofwork were ‘9am to 5.30pm with an hour for lunch’. The staff had worked theadditional Christmas hours for several years without complaint, but this yearthere had been a pay dispute, and the employees were not happy. Theyrefused to work the additional hours, so the employer held a disciplinaryhearing and dismissed them. It was surprised when the tribunal upheld the employees’claims of breach of contract and unfair dismissal.Comment:The contract set out the hours of work. The custom of working the additionalhours did not change the express contract term, so the employer had broken thecontract. It had dismissed the employees for refusing to do something they werenot legally bound to do. This is normally ruled as an unfair dismissal, andwould be here.Theemployer should have carefully considered the work requirements and included acontractual term permitting them to require staff to work overtime. It would bedifficult to change the contract to include such a term as the employees wouldbe unlikely to accept it and there is no automatic right to change the terms.But, having restored good relations with staff beforehand, this is what theemployer needs to do. If this cannot be achieved, then the employer would needto be more conciliatory in its overtime requests.Actionpoint checklist–Remember the contract is the legal foundation of the employment relationship –Put the contract in writing, or ensure there are written particulars or otherevidence of the contract terms–Write contract terms so that they are clear and unambiguous–Make the contract sufficiently detailed so that implied terms will not benecessary–There is no automatic power to change contract terms, so build the flexibilityto vary them into the contractQuestionsand answersWhyare written terms of employment important?Disagreementsover the terms and conditions of employment can be solved without litigation ifthe contract terms are clear and unambiguous. When the terms are agreedverbally, or are not agreed to by both parties, the situation is open todispute. Terms agreed verbally should be noted either at the time of theagreement, or immediately afterwards.Whatare written particulars and when should the employee receive them?Writtenparticulars of the key terms of employment, such as hours, pay, holiday andnotice, must be given to the employee in writing by the end of their secondmonth of employment. That statement is not the actual contract, but providesgood evidence of the terms as seen by the employer.Whathappens if there is no written agreement of the contractual terms?Thecourt or tribunal may assume a term is implied based on the conduct of theparties, a custom in the workplace or the industry as a whole, a custom impliedat common law, or its belief that the parties would have agreed the term had itbeen put to them. Relianceon implied terms results in uncertainty, so it is best to put all contractterms in writing.Canworkplace custom or conduct override the written terms of a contract?Notusually. The courts tend to enforce the contract as agreed. The contract doesnot have to be fair or reasonable. An employer requiring flexibility must buildthis into the staff contract. Neither employer nor employee should assume thatconduct contrary to the contract terms will change the contract. Conductor custom can fill the gaps in the contract, but cannot usually override thecontract terms. However, it is possible for custom to override written terms –if, for example, it has been customary for many years to ignore a written term,and the employees have reasonably come to expect it to be ignored. Inwhat types of dispute are contracts important?Ina breach of contract claim, the terms are decisive. They are less decisive inunfair dismissal claims, although they are important when the employee allegesconstructive unfair dismissal. This is where the employee has resigned, buttheir resignation was caused by a serious breach of contract by the employer. Inredundancy cases, tribunals do not always use the contractual definitions wheninterpreting the statutory redundancy provisions.Arestatutory provisions dependent on the type of contract?Somestatutory rights, such as unfair dismissal and redundancy pay, are dependent onthe contract being one of employment, and are generally denied to those who areself-employed.last_img read more


first_imgRelated posts:No related photos. Comments are closed. Previous Article Next Article This week’s guruAussies take the biscuit… againThe Aussies may be able to beat us at cricket, tennis and football, but Guruis glad to hear there is one area where the Brits still take the biscuit… er,biscuit making. The South Australia Government has invited experts from the Campden &Chorelywood Food Research Association (CCFRA) to travel to Perth, Adelaide andMelbourne to train bakers in the finer points of biscuit making. “We may be second best at the moment when it comes to taking on theAussies at sport, but the Brits can show them a thing or two about bakingbiscuits,” said the CCFRA’s cereals director Stan Cauvain. Guru is generally all in favour of exporting UK expertise but in this casehe makes an exception. How long did it take the Aussies to dominate worldcricket after we taught them all we knew about the game? We should keep themignorant of our high-tech dough kneading techniques, so that their Rich Teabiscuits continue to taste like the prison hard tack they depended on duringthe voyage over from the motherland. No room for Sheilas in old boys’ networkAustralia might be a great symbol of the new world but it is facing sometime-worn problems when it comes to modernising its institutions. Just as the drive to reform the working practices of our Parliament has runout of steam, there are clearly problems Down Under. MP and ex-olympic skierKirstie Marshall was banished from the debating chamber of the Victoria StateParliament last week for breast-feeding her 10-day-old baby. She finished thefeed in her office and the ‘bust up’ prompted a review of the parliamentary rules.While Yvette Cooper was the first minister in Blighty to have ever takenmaternity leave last year, Guru cannot envisage this level of change. A reliable source tells him that MPs like working unsociable hours becauseit gives them an alibi for being absent from their spouses at 3am. Guru wonders why that would appeal…Good vibrations from your fellow delegatesGuru is looking forward to using a sophisticated new networking device thatwill help him locate the delegates he wants to talk to at the London BusinessForum Event on 20 March. Spot Me is a pocket-sized device designed to break down barriers betweenconference goers. It has potted biographies and photos of every delegate downloaded on to itso attendees can judge who would be a useful contact and programme itaccordingly. The best thing about it is that it starts vibrating when you comein range of the person you are interested in – delegates might spot Guruwandering around with a glassy look in his eye and a distracted smile. The only downside for Guru is that as well as helping him find the people hewants to talk to, the Spot Me gadget will also assist those delegates who mightbe trying to avoid him.Love of art don’t pay the rentWhen Guru went off to study for a degree in history and politics many yearsago, his grandad told him he should stop ‘skiving’, get a job and learn fromthe university of life. And it looks like the old man had a point. Last week, a study by researchersat the University of Warwick found that graduates in arts subjects, includinghistory and English, can expect to make between 2 per cent and 10 per cent lessthan those who quit education at 18. Professor Ian Walker, leading the study, said: “Feeling warm aboutliterature doesn’t pay the rent.” The research reveals that law, medicine, mathematics and engineering are themost lucrative subjects to study in terms of eventual salary. Guru is considering re-training as a plumber. GuruOn 11 Mar 2003 in Personnel Todaylast_img read more

Left hand forward

first_img Comments are closed. InternationalLeft-Handers’ Day takes place on 13 August. To mark it, John Charlton takes alook at the differences between right and left-handers and examines whether‘lefties’ are better suited to certain jobsThey are one of Britain’s most significant minorities, yet very little isdone to accommodate their physical preference. Their numbers in the populationhave risen from three per cent 100 years ago to more than 10 per cent now, butmarkets ignore them and employers pay little heed to their difference.Continuing research indicates that many in their ranks have abilities whichexceed occupational norms. They are, left-handers. And, it seems, for themcareer choices can still be tough. “There are some jobs from which left-handers are almost totallyexcluded – bricklaying, for example. Usually this is due to a lack of toolswhich suit left-handers,” says Keith Milsom, managing director ofSurrey-based retailer Anything Left-Handed. Milsom also works for the International Left-Handers Club. Founded in 1991,its mission is “to help left-handers feel proud of their handedness, andto campaign to remove practical frustrations”. It is set to publish asurvey into various aspects of left-handedness on International Left Handers’Day, on 13 August. Studies into left-handedness have grown in recent years. Many academics and scientistsare keen to identify what makes them left-handed and they’ve got plenty of rawmaterial to draw upon. Some reports have sought to unravel the mysteries of whether beingleft-handed predisposes someone to be better at one type of job or to be disadvantagedin certain posts. But more of that later. According to Chris McManus, professor of psychology and medical education atUniversity College London, just over 10 per cent of the UK and Westernpopulations are left-handed. The percentage of male left-handers is slightlyhigher than that for females. But what accounts for the sudden increase in left-handedness in thepopulation over the last 100 years? The waning of discrimination is one answer.In Victorian times, for example, left-handed children were forced to write withtheir right hands by having their left hands tied behind their backs, or theyhad to sit on their left hands. Biblical interpretations have also castleft-handers under a cloud, with many symbolic associations linking right with ‘good’and left with ‘evil’ – the word ‘sinister’ actually refers to the unlucky side– or left hand side. Such prejudice and discrimination may have meant left-handers married laterand had fewer children. And, as left-handedness tends to run in families, sothe numbers of left-handers fell. In his book Right Hand, Left Hand, McManus says research indicates thatwhere both parents are left-handed, the chance of their having a left-handedchild is 26.1 per cent. Where one parent is left-handed the odds are 19.5 percent, while if both parents are right-handed there is a 9.5 per cent prospectof having a left-handed infant. Charles Darwin, the pre-eminent Victorian scientist and creator of thetheory of evolution, believed left-handedness was inherited. The trait ran inhis family. His wife was left-handed as were two of the eight children whosurvived long enough for their ‘handedness’ to be determined. McManus says it may all be down to genes. He suggests that variouscombinations of two genes may decide handedness, a D (dextral) and a C (chancegene). In brief, those with two DD genes have no chance of being left-handed,those with the CC genotype have a 50 per cent chance and those with the DCgenotype have a 25 per cent possibility. “We think there’s a gene for right handedness which accounts for thefact that most people are right-handed. And so most of us have a double dose ofthis right-handed gene,” says McManus. “The other gene is not aleft-handedness one in any simple sense. Instead, it is what we call a chancegene. People who have a double dose of this chance gene do not end up as beinginfluenced one way or the other. They have a fifty-fifty chance of being right-or left-handed. Other theories for left-handedness include those based on environmentalinfluences and damage caused to the brain during childbirth. Recent research atQueen’s University Belfast into the behaviour of foetuses in the womb foundthat more 90 per cent sucked their right thumb. McManus believes this studyadds weight to his view that handedness is biologically determined. Whatever the cause, what does being left-handed indicate in terms of brainstructure and intelligence-based abilities? First let’s scotch one urban myth – that 20 per cent of members of high-IQsociety Mensa are left-handers. A spokeswoman says the organisation doesn’t howmany of its members favour the sinister hand. Nevertheless, different parts of the brain control various functions. Basicallythe left hemisphere controls the righthand side of the body and vice-versa. Theleft also controls speech, language, logic and maths, while the right sidehouses the creative ‘controls’ which relate to music, art and emotion. Research at the University of California, published in March 2002, assertedthat left-handed people have a different, more flexible brain structure thantheir right-handed counterparts. “There really is a difference in brains that results in a moresymmetric brain in left-handers, where the two sides are more equal,” saysresearch team leader Daniel Geschwind. The findings were based on brain scans of 72 pairs of identical male twins.The brains of identical right-handed twins were very similar in size andstructure, but when a left-hander was part of a twin set, the brains weredifferent. In another recent US study, by Toledo University in Ohio, researchersStephen Christman and Ruth Popper and described in the journal Neuropsychology,gives evidence that left-handers tend to remember events better thanright-handers, who are better at recalling facts. The researchers believe theirwork indicates the two halves of the brain work together in episodic memorywhich helps left-handers recall events better than facts. This won’t surprise the International Left-Handers’ Club’s director KeithMilsom. He believes creative thinking and problem solving are the best featuresof the left-handed. So what about left-handed people’s predetermined suitability for certainprofessions? The 27,000-member club is analysing questionnaires for its surveyof left-handedness. Results based on the 2,400 completed to date haveintriguing occupational indicators and show perceived advantages anddisadvantages in some careers and occupations. Overall, 31 per cent of respondents feel left-handers are at a disadvantageat work. Mostly this was due to practical issues such as workplace layouts andtools designed for right-handers. However, some 16 per cent felt left-handershave some advantages in their jobs. Respondents feel left-handedness is an advantage to those working in IT, thearts, music and sport. They perceive it to be a disadvantage in manual jobs,healthcare, education and administrative jobs. However, some 45 per cent ofstudent respondents feel at a disadvantage because they favour their left hand.The survey indicates that left-handers may not be evenly distributed acrossdifferent working environments. Some 39 per cent of respondents feel there areless than average numbers of left-handers in their work groups while 34 percent say there are more. Respondents who work in IT claim left-handers are better at design,structuring and analysing data, visualisation in three dimensions andproblem-solving. Left-handed management consultant David Parry, who has worked in IT for morethan 25 years, agrees. “There is certainly a high proportion ofleft-handers working IT – about 20 per cent, I reckon. I think left-handers arebetter at data modelling and design. It was easy for me to grasp and apply dataanalysis, information modelling and database design skills. It wasn’t so easyto learn technical skills such as programming. “Left-handers also have an edge in spatial awareness – which helps indrawing a conceptual data model – and attention to visual detail,” saysParry. The Left-Handers’ Club survey does throw up some intriguing points. But itwould not stand up to stringent examination. For one, its respondents areself-selecting and skewed towards females, especially those with left-handed children.Yet the points it makes, allied to evidence from research, academic studies andanecdotal sources, indicate there is room for progress in making life a littlemore equal for those of a left-handed persuasion. However strongly left-handed employees feel beleaguered by work stations,telephones, scissors, notebooks and other items skewered in favour of therighteous right-handers, it is not yet considered to have a serious impact atwork. As a spokeswoman from the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Developmentcomments: “Left-handedness is perceived to be a minority issue by societyand HR departments cannot really be expected to make this a serious issue. “If the Left Handers’ Club believes it to be an issue it should perhapsencourage its members to lobby their employers. If it [left-handedness] is morerelevant in certain sectors, then employers would welcome guidance. There islittle to suggest HR departments need to measure ‘handedness’ among staff,although, common sense guidance about meeting the needs of left-handers wouldbe welcome.” Weblinkswww.left-handersday.comwww.wmin.ac.uk/marketingresearch/graphology/lefthand.htmwww.anythingleft-handed.comwww.lefthandedguitars.co.ukAll the presidents’ handsSix of the 42 US presidents have beenleft-handers – four of them in the past 30 years. Gerald Ford, Ronald Reagan,George Bush senior and Bill Clinton.In the 1992 presidential election all three candidates (Bushsenior, Clinton, and Ross Perot) were left-handed. Two left-handed presidents, Harry S Truman and Ronald Reaganwrote with their right hands. Among the 14 vice-presidents since 1900, but excluding thosewho became president, only one, Nelson Rockefeller, was left-handed.Famous leftiesLeonardo da Vinci painted La Giacondawith his left hand. Sir Paul McCartney plays left-handed guitar while JimiHendrix played a right-handed guitar upside down. Napoleon, Charlie Chaplin and Albert Einstein were lefties. Andthe second man to walk on the moon, Buzz Aldrin was left-handed.Prince William is left-handed as was his great-grandmotherQueen Elizabeth the Queen Mother. George VI – a natural left-hander – wrotewith his right-hand, stuttered (a more common complaint among ‘lefties’) andplayed tennis with his left hand. As did tennis legend John McEnroe, whosmashed his racquet with his. Left hand forwardOn 5 Aug 2003 in Personnel Today Previous Article Next Article Related posts:No related photos.last_img read more


first_imgLettersOn 9 Sep 2003 in Personnel Today Previous Article Next Article This week’s lettersInvolving middle managers can raise the strategic gameCheer up HR. There is an obvious antidote for the depressive HR profession(Off Message, 6 July), which can add meaning, prove the worth of your existenceand add value to your organisation in business transformation. It’s called‘being more strategic’ and has proven highly effective for middle managers inHR – and for their counterparts elsewhere in the organisation. Traditionally, HR has targeted the middle management layer as an easy optionwhen downsizing. However, there is high risk in taking out a pool of talent andexperience that in reality could be leveraged for moving the organisationforward. Why should senior managers and executives be expected to come up withall the answers when they yearn for more information to be fed upwards to makebetter, higher quality strategic decisions? The wake-up call to the profession – and the key finding of PersonnelToday’s UK Line Managers Survey – is that line managers do not have thenecessary skills to drive their organisations forward. At Roffey Park, our ownManagement Agenda Survey 2003 echoes these results, highlighting that middlemanagers are not providing a clear direction to their team – and that this isholding organisations back from high performance. So how does HR look outward and be less operational, more strategic? Wewould suggest that middle managers in HR can help themselves and ultimately theorganisation by seizing more opportunities. External and internal scanning ispart of this, but they should also engage in the language of strategy andcommunicate in a way that ensures alignment to business goals. The language of strategy used in organisations can be confusing. Forexample, take the word ‘strategy’. Ask for a definition and several answerswill be forthcoming. This will be the same for ‘vision’, ‘goal’, ‘purpose’,‘objective’, and so on. HR can play a meaningful role by ensuring that thesedefinitions are discussed and agreed. A number of HR activities can be defined as strategic, such as successionplanning. However, middle managers should also be assessing and communicatingthe business implications of new information to senior managers. They should besearching for new opportunities and bringing these to the attention of seniormanagers, easing policies and procedures to get new projects started andmonitoring activities to ensure they support top-level management objectives. HR middle managers must understand the link between strategy and change.Their role should not just be to implement policy; they should understand theneed for change, help prepare for it, stimulate it and manage it. This hasimplications in terms of updating role descriptions, performance measurementand ultimately pay. However, it’s a real opportunity to add value and beinstrumental in achieving business goals. HR can take a lead role in encouraging its own middle managers to seek anenhanced role for themselves in addition to encouraging middle management intheir organisation. Yes, this will make it more challenging for HR to identifyin tough times where downsizing needs to occur. But it is far better to createa management force that will ultimately be able to get the organisation whereit needs to go. There are obviously strong business benefits in getting a wider group ofpeople thinking and acting strategically and able to contribute to thestrategic development of the organisation. By supporting the involvement of middlemanagers, HR can help organisations create a higher sense of purpose, improvethe quality of strategic decision-making and increase, through more ideas,strategic options. Middle managers themselves will be able to add further value to theorganisation and will have a greater sense of ownership of the resultingstrategy. So HR middle managers, take heart. Being more strategic could be your answerto looking outwards instead of inwards and thus finding more meaning in whatyou do. Claire McCartney, Researcher Linda Holbeche, Director of Research Roffey Park Editor’s reply: Look out next week for our continuing new series onHR Strategy, which offers our readers a unique chance to solve strategicdilemmas. Count to 10 to keep stress levels down For industry, the signing off of employees as sick can create a considerableburden, both financial and in terms of day-to-day production. And employees aretoo often being signed off with no consideration given to whether they are fitor not to do their jobs (news, 19 July). The system as it stands needs to be radically changed so that those doctorssigning people off sick are held more accountable for their actions. Onesolution could be that the hospital, practice or clinic foots the statutorysick pay bill for the duration that the person is ill, unless the illness isdirectly attributable to the ‘sick’ person’s work environment – ie, a workplaceaccident. We currently employ staff in a manual capacity that involves the repetitivestacking of product. The basic requirement is that they can count to 10. Whereis the stress in that? It would appear, however, that our local GPs feel that this is aparticularly stressful line of work judging by the sick notes received forstress, depression and so on. Stressed out personnel manager Details supplied Heal thyself: get an on-site physician I could not agree more with your front page article (News, 19 August). GPs should be held more accountable for their inability to diagnoseproblems. And it is not simply a question of signing someone back to work ornot. The reasons provided are at times insulting to the employer. For instance,diagnosis comments such as ‘sore knee’ or ‘bruised hand’ are surelyobservations more than anything else. But who are we to argue as their word ison its own unquestionable. Therefore, the only effective route is for companies to use either in-houseor contracted occupational physicians. But lets not tarnish all GPs with the same brush. It is a few, and theretends to be a pattern especially with localised surgeries and particular GPs. Jonathan Moffat HR manager, OCS Security Services High-stress culture is often embedded The reaction of the Institute of Directors (IoD) and the CBI to the healthand Safety Executive’s (HSE) landmark enforcement notice against West DorsetHospitals NHS Trust – requiring it to assess stress levels among its doctorsand nurses, and introduce a programme to reduce these or face prosecution if itfails – is at the best misguided and at the worst misleading (News, 19 August).Not all managers are as caring for their employees as the IoD and CBI wouldlike them to be, and there are organisations in which a stress-inducing workculture is as ‘institutionalised’ as racism or sexism were until similarlegislation was introduced to stop them. Some managers are even proud of thisfact, believing that unrealistic deadlines and work pressures are the best wayof getting their employees to perform. This is not the way forward for UK plc. To create an environment thatfosters old-fashioned tenets such as loyalty and commitment, employers andemployees need to work together for the overall benefit of the business. Thoseorganisations that fail in this regard should rightly face prosecution, as theHSE is proposing. The HSE’s actions have been interpreted in some quarters as supporting therights of employees against those of employers. Yet the fact is that bullied,overworked and mismanaged employees will not be as productive as those who workin an environment that encourages health, well-being and resilience. By forcingorganisations to take positive action to ensure this, the HSE is acting in thebest interests of employees and employers alike, and should be applauded fordoing so. Carole Spiers Business Stress Consultant, Carole Spiers Group Long hours do not cause extra stress The Government is suggesting longer holidays. The EU wants a shorter workingweek. The courts have ruled workers can sue for stress. These stories are saidto be symptomatic of an overworked Britain. In fact, the latest survey shows that 41 per cent of Britons are ‘verysatisfied’ at work, compared with only 25 per cent of the French, whose workingweek is capped at 35 hours. In our experience in the recruitment industry, long hours and responsibilitydon’t cause stress by themselves. When work is enjoyable and rewarding, hoursfly by. Problems occur when people are placed in the wrong positions. Afterall, one person’s stressful situation is another’s exciting challenge. We have a responsibility to help more people find fulfilling roles. Thatway, we will create a more prosperous economy and a happier country. Julia Fraser Managing director, Recruitment Solutions Group Top-level stagnation holds back UK plc I was not at all taken aback to see that research released this month foundthat just one in five senior managers throughout FTSE100 companies have atechnical background, whereas 90 per cent of chief executives are degreeeducated. At a time when boardroom diversity is under the spotlight, particularlyfollowing the publication of the Higgs Report, this survey highlights the greatextent of the skills divide at the top. And this should come as no surprise to HR practitioners, who for decadeshave been considered secondary to other disciplines when it comes to board promotion.While the situation has improved to a great extent in recent years, the valuethat a strategically focused HR practitioner can add to a business has yet tobe realised by many senior management teams. Given that technology and people form the backbone of almost everyorganisation, it does confound that such little emphasis is placed upon theirmanagement at the highest level. It appears shortsighted and stagnant thatBritish business has failed to transform the make-up of management inaccordance with changing business processes. Some may argue that technically-minded professionals and HR practitioners donot have the skills necessary to ascend to the board. However, while there is aneed for an understanding of the intricacies of the corporate world, of equalimportance is the sheer wealth of knowledge and ability to manage complexprocesses and issues that they bring. Certainly, I wouldn’t suggest that all management professionals besuperceded by IT and HR specialists, but in light of the present imbalancechange does need to occur. Balance sheets, profit and loss and financial reporting are essential to thecontinuation of a business, but equally important are the people that make ithappen. Ian Sharland Managing director, LogicaCMG Enterprise Services Related posts:No related photos. Comments are closed. last_img read more

Business-related crimes on the increase

first_img Comments are closed. Related posts:No related photos. Previous Article Next Article Malicious damage to UK businesses increased by 40 per cent in the secondquarter of this year, accounting for half of all crime-related insuranceclaims. A report by insurance firm Axa analysed the trends of crimes committedagainst British businesses from 900,000 insurance claims made over the past 12months. It shows that more than 400,000 UK businesses were victims of maliciousdamage, such as broken windows and graffiti. After analysing the results of the report, Axa fears that angry workers arecommitting crimes against their employers. Cardiff had the highest percentage of crime-related claims in the UK, with30 per cent of insurance claims made on the grounds of crime. London had thesmallest percentage of claims. Weblink www.axa4business.co.uk Business-related crimes on the increaseOn 23 Sep 2003 in Personnel Todaylast_img read more