Mission Impossible

first_imgRelated posts:No related photos. As newtechnology drives the role of HR and external agencies exert greater financialaccountability, HR directors are facing a heavier workload than ever. Here someexperts offer advice on how the industry must seize the chance to evolve andshape the business agenda to suit HR’s future strategy HRdirectors are always being told – or are always telling each other – to stopcomplaining and get on with it. But even the most cursory look at the way theprofession is evolving seems to indicate that many of these complaints may,after all, be justified. Inthe past five years the role has changed and broadened so much that somepundits now claim it is “impossible” to carry it out with any degree ofcomprehensibility. They liken it to asking a GP to run the entire NHS includingall the different medical specialisms, while maintaining an efficient day-to-day practice in the surgery. In a nutshell, they claim, the job has growntoo big for any individual to manage it effectively.Beforewe sanction an official day of hand-wringing, however, it’s worthwhile consideringhow difficult it is to perform any senior management role in the currentclimate, wedged as we are somewhere between what might be termed the ancienregime and the beginnings of a new, yet largely uncharted, business age whosesole defining feature is its unpredictability.Eventhe most celebrated management gurus admit the way forward is so uncertain thatthe only way to read the future, let alone the present, is to concede theimpossibility of it all. “If someone tells you they know the answer, they don’tknow the problem,” concluded CK Prahalad at an HR conference last year. Butfor the simplest exposition of the situation, we may as well turn to managementguru Tom Peters. “Nobody knows what’s going on any more”, is his informedopinion.Thereare two possible options open to companies confronted with this situation,although the first – that of playing a game of wait and see – is widelyconsidered to be out of the question. “Stability is death: somehow the worldhas to adapt itself to a condition of perpetual novelty, at the edge of chaos,”claims yet another management thinker, John Holland. But the second option –broadly summarised as covering all the bases and never making a single bet –means a lot more hard work and insecurity for everyone when translated intoreal life.“Thechallenge of the digital economy means it is much more complex to runbusinesses, simply because timescales have been shortened and you get only onechance to get it right,” claims Colin Carmichael, a partner with theorganisation Consulting Partnership (OCP), which specialises in designing andimplementing management change programmes.Whatsort of impact is this situation having on the lives of managers? Research todate has concentrated on chief executives – and the results are alarming.According to the Harvard Business Review, CEOs are three times more likely tobe sacked today than they were in 1985, and even if they survive this obstacletheir average “life expectancy” in the job has declined dramatically. In somesectors this is now as low as two years.Themain reason for this shift is the rapid growth of influence exerted by externalagencies, most notably the financial markets. Increased activism on the part ofshareholders and the organisations representing them has dramatically alteredthe role of the CEO in many organisations, and this in turn has had a knock-oneffect on other functions. “Weknow that the length of tenure of CEOs is declining, and also that CEOs spendmore time dealing with issues outside the firm and less time managing theinside,” says John Purcell, professor of HR management at the University ofBath. And evidence would suggest that it is the HR function, above any other,which is being called upon to fill the vacuum.Addto this the other major side effect of the information economy – the rise inimportance of “soft” assets such as human capital in determining the value andlong-term health of an organisation – and it is hard to escape the conclusionthat HR is in the ascendancy. Soisn’t this the kind of role and recognition the profession has spent decadescampaigning for? Perhaps, but evidence suggests victory, if it is such, isbeing dished up with a decidedly sour accompaniment.Itis not just that the average HR director’s workload has increased, althoughthis is now beyond question. As Purcell points out, many HR directors areexpected to do at least two jobs. “They do their day job, usually managing thefunction, but they are also responsible for any number of set projects and assignments.And that is very demanding.” Even the so-called day job has evolved into aseries of specialisms far too complex for one person to manage, even with aneffective team in place to help take the strain. Takean issue as seemingly straightforward as improving the calibre and knowledgesets of people in the organisation. According to Linda Holbeche, director ofresearch at Roffey Park Management Institute, that in itself requires multipleskills sets, incorporating recruitment, building career tracks, setting andworking with appropriate performance targets and developing systems andprocesses to underpin the whole thing. “Forme, that’s a big enough focus in itself. You could end up with 20 differentinitiatives all springing off that one thing,” she says. “People expect a lotfrom HR, from getting the basic delivery right – inclu- ding such contentiousthings as directors’ pay – right through to instantly translating decisionsthat are often political into organisational strategy, then delivering it.”KevinRubens, senior European vice-president of Aon Management Consulting, has nosympathy for the “mission impossible” argument – “people find ways of coping”,he says – but nonetheless concedes that the job has certainly got bigger andmore difficult to manage.“HRnow consists of a string of multiple disciplines that need to be coordinated.In any typical [blue-chip firm], the HR department will have business analysts,MBAs, occupational and organisational psychologists, IT people…” he says. Tothese we might add compensation and benefits specialists, employee relationsexperts, staff relocation professionals, employment law gurus, change agentsand knowledge management wizards. In fact, you run out of synonyms for “expert”before you even begin to complete the list.AsRubens points out, in well-run companies technology is beginning to take upmuch of the strain, certainly in terms of administration. And in someorganisations much of the day-to-day responsibility for staff management anddevelopment has devolved to line managers. Moreover, the arrival of specialistHR outsourcing companies such as Exult and e-peopleserve is a trend that mostbelieve will accelerate.Butnone of these developments ultimately absolves the HR director from bearingprime responsibility for the entire people function, in all its differentguises, and this is particularly true when things go wrong. In fact, the job isarguably made more difficult when hands-on control of the situation is placedelsewhere. Thewhole point of outsourcing is to give the in-house function the time and spaceto get on with more strategic objectives. But observers like Holbeche questionthe reality of this. In too many cases, she argues, the outsourcing contract issigned and then forgotten about, with predictably dire results. “You end upspending more time doing damage limitation than anything else,” she says.Unsurprisingly, it is generally agreed that the most important new skill HRdirectors need to take on board, apart perhaps from project management, is theability to manage third-party relationships.SoHR directors have a much bigger workload, a wider set of responsibilities and apressing need to update their management skill-sets. But all these issues,while tricky to get right, by no means make the role impossible to carry out.Where, then, does the real difficulty lie? Theanswer is that HR, above any other corporate function, is being heldresponsible for solving some of the most difficult and seemingly contradictoryproblems posed by the transition into the information economy. Yet in mostorganisations, the function continues to be deprived of the necessary power andtools to accomplish the feat. In other words, HR directors have becomeembroiled in a classic Catch-22 situation.Nowhereis this better illustrated than in the issue of people capital. Certainly theargument for the development of people as “hum-an resources” is won, at leastin theory, but practice continues to lag behind. Atthe heart of the problem is the unwillingness of many management boards –themselves constricted by the greater influence being wielded by marketanalysts and shareholder pressure groups, to commit the necessary funds topeople development – without the promise of concrete evidence that the investmenthas paid off. And HR directors, in their continued efforts to be takenseriously as business partners, have in the main gone along with this.Butthe fact remains that after nearly 30 years of trying, no credible means ofmeasuring the financial value of people has emerged. In fact, there is agrowing school of thought that maintains the quest will remain foreverfruitless on the simple grounds that however much we may hope to the contrary,it will always be impossible to evaluate “soft” assets in the same preciseterms as their “hard” equivalents. “Thishas been the Holy Grail since the 1970s, when it was called Human AssetAccounting, and we are still no closer to finding a solution,” says Carmichaelat OCP. “The concept behind it is certainly important but attempts to measureit have always been thwarted. I have seen several studies [that purported tohave tackled the question successfully] which were clearly wrong.”Unfortunately,the people capital question is only one of several conundrums bedevilling theHR function that will always be impossible to solve so long as companiespersist in their attempt to impose new-economy thinking on old-economystructures and mindsets. The question of mergers and acquisitions – indeed ofany sort of external deal-making – is another case in point. Althoughmost management boards will happily go along with the notion that HR has acritical role to play in the success of any joint venture, they are still notprepared to lend any real substance to the theory by insisting on change. Facedwith the choice of kowtowing to the continuing anti-HR prejudice of Citydeal-makers, or of supporting the long-term interests of their ownorganisations, the evidence suggests that most continue to take the easyoption. The result is HR remains “downstream” of the decision-making and peopleissues are still considered, at best, a nuisance in any negotiation. Yet no-oneneeds to be reminded which department will ultimately be responsible fordriving through the resulting changes.Butperhaps the most pressing problem facing any HR director is still primarilyinternal in nature and can be summarised as tackling what John Bank, lecturerin HR management at Cranfield, calls “the new psychological contract” betweencompanies and employees. “Companies used to look after you like a parent, butit’s tough love now,” he says. “As long as your competencies meet ourrequirements you can stay here and develop. If not, you’re out.” Butmany HR directors are still struggling to manage this new project-basedattitude to work, in which notions of loyalty and reward have shifteddramatically, in the context of often resolutely unchanging corporate models.“Managersare not changing as quickly as many would like because there are systems inorganisations and society that resist that change,” concludes Martyn Brown, abusiness director at Ashridge, in a recent paper. Yet the business environmentis evolving so quickly that companies do not have the luxury of taking aconventionally planned long-term view. Consequently,he says, “The most challenging and scary implication [facing senior management]is that of letting go – as in not having the same kind of traditional control –of their role of planning, control and strategy formation, and of not beingable to predict outcomes.”What,then, is the best means to go about dealing with this series of “impossible”problems? For a start, recommend the experts, get your own house in order.“HRdirectors need to start making some tough choices – choices about what thedepartment will and will not do, what it will outsource, and how it will managethat outsourcing,” says Holbeche. “You also need to look very closely at yourown team: has it got the skills you need? Again, this might be the time fortough choices. Train people to work across boundaries and aim for athree-to-five-year strategy, but be prepared to be flexible with it. Bolsterthis with short-term projects.”Rubens,meanwhile, recommends some inward gazing. “Know yourself. Understand your peaktimes for learning and try to make sure you don’t give up this creative time.”He claims there are three strong core competencies in every successfulexecutive: “Time management, project management and strong internal values, soyou don’t spend too much time agonising over individual decisions when theycrop up”.Butthe real conclusion to all this is clear. For too long, perhaps, HR has beenlambasting itself for a perceived failure in getting to grips with the businessneeds of organisations. Yet the transition into the new economy has alreadydemonstrated the growing irrelevance of many of these structures and mindsets. Insteadof always trying to comply with someone else’s business argument, therefore, itis time HR seized the initiative and began dictating its own terms. If youreally believe the future of your organisation lies in the quality of yourpeople, then you must accept the challenge of reshaping business strategy tofit that goal – and of summoning up the necessary influence to push it through.UntilHR directors realise the necessity of setting the new business agendathemselves, they will continue to play a central role in Mission: Impossible.Difficultsectors for HREvery sector poses its own HR challenges and difficulties. Herewe list a few of the more tricky ones.TelecommunicationsThe current travails of BT demonstrate the speed at which this sector hasshed its comfortable high-value, high-tech past, evolving into a cut-throat,low-margin business. In terms of remodelling business models to cope with thisnew environment, it’s likely to be a case of pain, pain, pain.High-TechThe recent market decline of such new economy stalwarts as Intel, Cisco andDell demonstrates that the industry’s problems extend much further than a fewshakeouts in the dotcom sector. Many of these new-model pioneers have yet to betested by a significant economic downturn – will their structures be resilientenough to cope? Will the previously heavy investment in training prove itsworth if hard times kick in?NHSMorale is up from the depths following a much-needed government cashinjection but recruitment is still the paramount problem. The UK is short ofsome 40,000 nurses. Searching questions need to be asked as to how this declinecan be halted and how it was ever allowed to happen in the first place.FinancialSectorThe financial sector is never immune from the pressure of downsizing andobservers predict new waves in the months ahead as merger and acquisitionactivity continues apace. Increased customer competition in the financialservices arena from sectors such as retail means the pressure to innovate isstill high.ManufacturingManufacturers continue to be dogged by the twin pressures of exchange rateand continued cost-cutting. Employee tension and insecurity is growing in manyindustry sectors. Motivation becomes a real issue when, as happened atsteelmaker Corus, huge improvements in performance lead to – the chop.Tourism,Hotel & CateringThe industry’s perennial problem with recruitment could be replaced bysomething much worse as the wider ramifications of the foot and mouth epidemicbegin to bite. Three weeks into the crisis, and there is already the prospectof mounting international cancellations. The industry is facing very precariousdays indeed.DotcomsMaintaining staff morale in the face of continuing financial losses andlayoffs is proving an uphill struggle for many in the sector. With evenAmazon’s future considered increasingly open to question, expect a rocky roadto come.PharmaceuticalsAgain, merger and acquisition preoccupations abound. Either you’re tryingto rebuild morale and devise new post-merger structures or you’re contemplatingan imminent buyout. Renewed international political pressure on drug patents isanother unwelcome hornets’ nest this sector is having to deal with.TransportHow much time do you have? Mission ImpossibleOn 27 Mar 2001 in Personnel Today Comments are closed. Previous Article Next Articlelast_img read more

Business roundup

first_imgThis week’s business roundupJobs go at US City firm Schroder Salomon Smith Barney, the US securities firm, is shedding a numberof staff from its European operation based in London. The group saidrationalisation will affect under 100 staff. SSSB is one of an increasing numberof City firms to cut jobs after the first-quarter downturn in stockmarkets. www.salomonsmithbarney.com3M posts cutbacks The American industrial group 3M is slashing around 500 UK jobs as part ofits strategy to cut 5,000 jobs worldwide. The company has 18 sites in the UK,including the head office in Bracknell, Berkshire. Jobs are likely to gothrough voluntary redundancies. The US conglomerate’s products range fromPost-It notes and Scotch tape to industrial adhesives and fibre-optic connectors.Paul Davies, 3M UK’s HR director said affected employees would receiveoutplacement and financial services support. www.3m.comMerger banks on cuts The future of thousands of jobs in Edinburgh hang in the balance after theBank of Scotland revealed that it was considering a £28bn merger with Halifax,Britain’s biggest mortgage lender. Unifi, the banking union, said that up to 10per cent of the combined 55,000-strong workforce could go. The Bank of Scotlandemploys around 4,000 people in Edinburgh, while Halifax has nearly 5,000 staff,based in Leeds and Halifax. www.unifi.org.uk Comments are closed. Previous Article Next Article Business roundupOn 1 May 2001 in Personnel Today Related posts:No related photos.last_img read more

HR metrics measured

first_img Previous Article Next Article HR metrics measuredOn 1 Dec 2001 in Personnel Today Related posts:No related photos. Comments are closed. ThreeHR directors talk about how they measure HR value within their firmsTheuse of metrics can be a key driver in securing HR’s desired seat at the boardtable. Lance Richards explainsGlobally,HR functions are in the midst of a battle for presence and respect at boardlevel. One of the primary tools at our disposal is the use of strong, wellthought-out metrics, metrics that reflect the value HR adds to an organisation,our contribution to the bottom line of our enterprise, and our understanding ofthe business’ priorities.Overthe last few years I have worked with the development, implement- tation andreporting of metrics at a couple of Fortune Global 500 enterprises. Mostrecently, at BCE’s Teleglobe unit, we successfully launched the use of an ASPthrough eJobs (a US-based e-recruiting firm) to support our requisition andrecruitment functions. With this tool, we were able to slice, dice and decipherour way through real-time reports, tracking data which reflected the mean timeto fill (MTTF) our positions, cost per hire (CPH), requisitions/workload perrecruiter (R/R), and efficiency of our line managers in following through oninterviews.Especiallyhelpful was eJobs’ ability to give us comparative data (blind, of course)against its other high-tech clients. With these comparators, we were able totrack our actual results against those of similar employers in our geographicalarea. With these numbers in hand, we could then report back to our executiveleadership on the efficiency of our work compared with other recruitmentcompetitors.Ona planning level, we had the ability to toggle several levers on an up-to-datebasis. If we needed positions filled more quickly, we could  add recruiters quickly, understanding thecorresponding increase in CPH. Similarly, if we needed to drive a lower CPH, wecould adjust the R/R ratio, although we could expect a corresponding slip inMTTF. Without these solid metrics at hand, we’d have been operating blindly,and without management buy-in.Interms of best practice, the use of metrics can become a key driver in securingHR’s desired “seat at the table”. For companies just introducingmetrics, it is essential that the following are included:–The metrics must be meaningful – they must track something that is important tothe enterprise, while also being clearly understood by those outside HR. Veryfew people are interested in actuarial ratios (methods used in testingcompliance of pension and other contributory plans) from benefitsdiscrimination testing. They want to know that the 50 new hires they plan willcost $5,000 each.–The metrics must be assembled carefully – it’s critical that everyone in HRunderstands what the metrics are, and why they are being tracked. You may haveto tweak the inputs over time, to ensure you are gathering data efficiently.Sometimes, too much data may be bad – if it’s extraneous, it could damage themeaning of your results. Be sure your team is comfortable with thedata-gathering work, as well as how calculations are assembled. –The metrics tracked must be launched in a non-threatening way. This means theinitial data gathering and reporting must be done with a view only to gatheringand assessing. Bear in mind most HR people are not accustomed to beingmeasured. Attaching metrics to people who deal in soft issues can beunsettling. Once the data is in place, and tracking mechanisms are clean, abase line can be established. Don’t launch this by criticising the base line;launch it by pointing and incentivising everyone towards improvement of theresults.–Global comparators must be meaningful. Be very careful before implementing aset of worldwide metrics. Comparing data points between countries is unfair insome cases, and simply meaningless in others. To look at metrics globally,examine local comparators, then compare your local performance against localnorms as a ratio. Don’t compare your business’ metrics across borders. Implementedand managed, a series of carefully designed metrics will increase the perceivedvalue of HR, focus the work of HR professionals, and demonstrate that HRunderstands the business – and is aligned with its direction. Once in place,they become a standing message that HR, like other areas of the enterprise,will stand up to the scrutiny of data. Globalisationis forcing businesses to wise up to how they measure people more effectively.Carolyn Nimmy of Cap Gemini Ernst & Young explains what the company did tohelp measure the ‘hard side’ of HR valueDuringthese tough economic times, the focus on measures is likely to get stronger asbusiness focuses more and more on what creates value.CapGemini Ernst & Young represents the living dichotomy of most modernbusinesses – it is publicly traded and driven to produce shareholder valuewhile at the same time being a services business driven by clients to createever-more value for lower cost and completely dependent on the most volatileresource known to mankind, people power. Itis this balance between drivers that has led CGE&Y to have both a verystrong P&L and HR focus and, as such, to cultivate a strong understandingof critical HR measures.Ina professional services firm, HR management is highly integrated into the roleof every line manager and engagement manager – perhaps more so than in manyother businesses. Often in the past the HR department was seen by the linemanager as business support, an administration/HR services centre looking afterthe “soft side” of business. It is this view that over the last fewyears has made CGE&Y take a look at how it could better measure the bottomline impact – or the “hard side” of HR value. Combined with this, theincrease in globalisation generated requirements for better “peoplemeasurements” at a global as well as a local level.CGE&Yhas been using several tracking methods over recent years to help put afinancial value on human resources. Among the methods utilised are The Employerof ChoiceS Index, Onboarding Success and Talent Loss, which have been designedto help managers understand their personal impact on the company. These toolsbecame even more important during the merger phase between Cap Gemini and Ernst& Young Consulting.Atthe same time as its internal HR teams have been focused on measurements thatadd value, the CGE&Y Centre for Business Innovation has been looking at thegrowing importance of non-financial measures and how market capitalisation hasbecome detached from tangible asset base value. Research CGE&Y undertookshowed that a number of non-financial drivers could account for up to 35% ofits valuation. Among these value drivers are a number of areas that HR can workto measure, the ranking of importance of these value drivers may vary byindustry – but once measurements have been tracked then it is far easier tolook at the measures and figure out what has to be done. Onbrand, for example – the employer branding can be heavily influenced by HR andmeasuring how well the brand is doing from both external sources, such asgraduate surveys, and internal sources such as employee surveys, enablecompanies to understand how well they are getting their messages across. Valuedrivers that HR can influence:–Management–Employees–Innovation–EnvironmentForthe employee, components of the value driver measurements could includediversity within the workplace, employee relations, talent attractioncapability, public reports on Best Places to Work and so on.Oneof the challenges on improving HR measurements at a global level is choosingthe right things to measure – some HR measures are heavily influenced by theregional environment. What is relevant in the US may have no relevance inFrance or Singapore. Thisrequires identifying the ones that will have the most impact everywhere andfocusing on these. Some measures are needed year on year while others may havea short-term focus to be able to prove a business case that then improves thatarea. Anotherchallenge is terminology – the need to be very clear and precise in yourdefinition of the measure you want.Rememberingthat what gets measured gets managed; let’s make sure what we measure matters.Howdo you measure the value created by human capital, seen by some as the mostvaluable asset to the business? Garret F Walker explains Mostbusiness leaders will agree that their employees, the “human capital”are one of the most important parts of their competitive advantage. Many statethis publicly in their annual reports. However, few, if any, have an effectiveprocess to measure the value created by this “most valuable” asset. Inthe next 10 years the source of competitive advantage for most business willcontinue to focus increasingly on the talent within the organisation. Theability to effectively manage this talent is becoming more critical every day. Managementmakes decisions continuously about how to invest in human capital, usually withvery little clear information about how those investments will produce a return.Whatif we could effectively manage the value created by our investments in our employees?We know now how much we pay to reward, hire and train, develop and providebenefits our employees. However, what we need to do is know where ourinvestments are most effective and valuable. Shouldwe expand our incentive pay programme? Should we outsource our safetyadministration? What is the most effective use for our training dollars? Howmuch should we spend on recruitment? Shouldwe insource, outsource or co-source employee services, buy or build executivebenchstrength? What is the cost in human capital terms to break into a newmarket? Is the acquisition target a good fit and does it add or dilute ourcompetitive advantage in terms of talent? Doour investments in employees match the strategic objectives of the business? Isthe HR organisation a partner with the business to manage our employees asassets?Toanswer these questions, management needs more information than simple costfigures. We need to track our financial results while monitoring progress indeveloping our human capital and acquiring the talent and capabilities we willneed for business success. TheBalanced Scorecard provides a system that leverages the traditional financialand efficiency measures we have available currently for HR with metrics ofperformance from three additional perspectives – customers, internal businessprocesses and learning and growth.HRChallenge & StrategyTheHuman Resource Challenge was to translate the new business strategies andtargeted business results into human capital needs. Recognising that GTE’semployees were a critical component to achieving business goals, GTE HR leadersinventoried the current skills and abilities that would provide value both inthe short-term and into the future. HR professionals then identified thecritical people imperatives necessary to grow that talent to increase the valuedelivered by the workforce. GTE would need new behaviours, actions andcapabilities to drive the business results. Tofocus the HR organisation on the achievement of these people imperatives, GTEdeveloped a new HR strategy to support the specific people requirements of thebusiness strategy. ThisHR strategy was defined in five strategic thrusts:–Talent: enlarge the talent pool, invest in employees’ development, ensurediversity–Leadership: establish a system to assess high-potential employees, providecoaching and development, establish accountability and rewards for leadershipbehaviour–Customer service & support: create an environment that fosters employeeengagement, increase business intelligence within the workforce, providesolutions to retention issues–Organisational integration: create better systems for knowledge management,union partnerships–HR capability: develop core HR competencies, identify key talent for growth anddevelopment, invest in technology, employee self-service, better understand therelationship of HR actions to business outcomes Thepeople requirements define the HR strategy that then translates into specificHR initiatives that should directly support the attainment of HR strategy.Having this clear alignment allowed us to develop a strategy map, whichillustrates the cause and effect linkage between HR strategy and businessobjectives. Using the strategy map as the guide, we are then able to evaluatethe strategic objectives in terms of measures and outcomes. Lagging measuresand leading measures, indicators of future performance.Historically,we had a difficult time communicating to the business and maintaining its focuson the investments and initiatives designed to build employee capability. Strategicskill development, leadership development and employee development programmeswere all discussed with business leaders and generally accepted as valuable.However, when financial pressure was applied, these types of programmes werethe first to go. Nowwith measures, which link leadership development with competitive capability,people can see the relationship between investing in this programme andachievement of long-term business goals. Anearly benefit of the HR Scorecard work was that it provided a process for thesenior HR team to focus on a clear and common objective and establish a commonstrategy for the HR in support of business objectives. Everyone generallyagreed on a high-level strategy, “Be a partner to the business.” However,rarely did all of the HR leadership agree on how to implement the strategybecause each person had a different opinion about what being a business partnerreally meant and who exactly the customer was. Taking strategy and translatingit into a measurement and management model gave specific and operationaldefinitions for being a business partner and targeted business customers. Measuresdo not manage and simply tracking results was not the only intended use of theHR Scorecard. The challenge to use the information provided in the scorecard totake action to influence and improve business performance was the real valueadvantage of this tool. For example, one of the most important areas to managein terms of cost is employee turnover or “churn.” Turnover,particularly within target front-line workforce centres, is critical toproductivity and expense control. High turnover results in lower productivity,higher training, staffing and occupational health costs. The impact is acrossthe board and affects business profitability.Startingin 1998, with a new disciplined process using the HR Scorecard, our HRprofessionals tracked and analysed turnover statistics, determined reasons forturnover, calculated the negative financial impact, prescribed solutions,tracked improvement trends and showed dramatic results. In partnership with thebusiness leadership in targeted call centres, significant costs were avoided byreducing the regretted turnover. Linksbetween business processes and value chains to HR actions and services wereclearly defined as the HR Scorecard became a business tool that was understoodand used across the HR organisation. Not only are human capital initiativesneeded to increase employee value delivered to the business, they arevulnerable to business process changes and the measures taken in isolation canbe misleading. Forexample, in a regional call centre, our external business measures of customersatisfaction were going downwards and accelerating. When HR reviewed themeasures from the call centre from the HR Scorecard, there was no singleindicator that showed any direct relationship to the customer satisfactionissue. However,the measures together with input and analysis with line management pointed toan issue and solution not readily apparent. TheHR metrics showed a very low cost per hire, a very quick cycle time to filljobs and an average employee separation rate. On the surface nothing unusual,in fact the staffing metrics showed a high efficiency and cost control.Drilling deeper we saw a high cost of training, a very high separation rate forshort service employees and declining employee satisfaction for long-service employees.Furtheranalysis revealed that six months beforehand, a significant expense reductioneffort was put in place for this call centre. HR responded to the requiredreduced expense by changing talent pools and reducing the investments inselection methods. This action kept costs low while bringing in applicants whowere ready to start quickly but were harder to train and keep. It was a badtrade-off. It made sense to accept a longer cycle time and more cost to ensurethe right person was put in the right job.TheHR balanced scorecard has made it possible for HR managers to understand howthey align to business objectives. They are able to explain not only what theyare tracking, but also how they are performing on essential strategies for thebusiness. Businessenvironment and the objectives and strategies will continue to evolve and HRmanagers will continue to be flexible and creative in supporting the changes.The value of the HR Scorecard as a tool is that it can get us to the new goalsand measures and through the process ensure continued learning and changemanagement.HowCGE&Y tracked valueEmployerof ChoiceS Index. Cap Gemini Ernst & Young wanted to be able to understandregion-by- region how it rated in its ambition of not just being an”employer of choice” but being the “employer of choices”and one aspect was via its employee surveys. This offered a consistent set ofquestions embedded into all its local employee surveys so that all of itspeople have the ability to respond and that these then made up the employer ofchoiceS index. OnboardingSuccess: How could CGE&Y track and value the importance of the onboardingprocess so that it could focus its managers and leaders on the importance ofquickly enabling people to become productive and, more importantly, connectingthem emotionally to the organisation.TalentLoss: Showing the link between employee dissatisfaction and their manager andthen tracking the cost of talent loss. Showing financial numbers that relate tothis seemingly soft side can help to focus line management on their role inmotivating and retaining talent.LanceRichards is the former director, Global Human Resources at Teleglobe. He is nowmanaging director of Suddenly Global, an international HR consultancy [email protected] is global director, people relationship management, at Cap Gemini Ernst& YoungGarretF Waqlker is director of the IBM Learning Centrelast_img read more

OH provision is in decline

first_imgHaving access to an OH service is becoming an increasingly rare benefit formany workersJust one in seven workers in the UK has access to comprehensive occupationalhealth support, research commissioned by the HSE has found. The study, conducted by the Institute of Occupational Medicine, found thatonly around 30,000 organisations made use of wide-ranging occupational healthservices to protect and promote the health of their employees. The findings were based on a telephone survey of 4,950 organisations in boththe public and private sectors. Around 44 per cent of large organisations, but only 2 per cent of very smallcompanies, used a comprehensive service, defined as one that encompasseddefining and measuring hazards, publicity, risk management, modifying of workactivities, monitoring trends, and training. But some 15 per cent of companies – employing around 7.5 million workers –did offer more basic occupational health support, including hazard definition,risk management and training. The survey also showed that having access to an OH service is becoming anincreasingly rare benefit for many workers, despite the demographic shifttowards an older workforce. In 1990, 50 per cent of the workforce (more than 12 million workers) hadaccess to an occupational health service. This has now dropped to around 7million workers, or about 30 per cent of the workforce. Some 40 per cent of employers spent under £1,000 a year on occupationalhealth, and only 9 per cent actually worked out whether they were saving moneyor wasting it. Even among employers who paid out more than £30,000 a year, 41 per cent didnot evaluate their expenditure. Employers polled said the main reason for having occupational health supportat all was concern for the health, safety and well-being of their employees. They also reported a fear of litigation and worries about the cost ofdealing with absence if they did not have an OH service. Bill Callaghan, chairman of the Health and Safety Commission, said:”With only 3 per cent of UK companies using all of what we would considerto be the key elements of occupational health support, a lot more needs to bedone to help prevent people becoming ill because of their work.” www.hsebooks.co.uk Previous Article Next Article Comments are closed. OH provision is in declineOn 1 Aug 2002 in Personnel Today Related posts:No related photos.last_img read more

Stress at work is being trivialised

first_img Previous Article Next Article Related posts:No related photos. Employers are at risk of trivialising the dangers of stress in the workplaceby focusing on promoting alternative therapies such as massage and aromatherapyas solutions, a union has warned. “While there may be a place for these types of activities they shouldnot detract from addressing the organisational causes of stress,” saidNigel Bryson of the GMB. The union has published a new guide on preventing workplace stress tohighlight this year’s European Week of Safety and Health, which takes placefrom 14 to 18 October. Too many employers are failing to implement management systems to preventstress, added Bryson. www.gmb.org.uk Stress at work is being trivialisedOn 1 Oct 2002 in Personnel Today Comments are closed. last_img read more

Career track: Coleen Paterson, graduate team manager, Standard Life

first_img Previous Article Next Article Related posts:No related photos. Career track: Coleen Paterson, graduate team manager, Standard LifeOn 22 Jul 2003 in Personnel Today For the next seven months, Personnel Today will be continuing to follow thecareers of two HR professionals at financial services company Standard Life.This week, we hear the latest report from graduate Coleen Paterson, who lasttime out reported on her promotion to graduate team manager (Personnel Today,10 June). Here she outlines the challenges of her new role. I have settled well into my role as graduate team manager, and have enjoyedthe challenge of leading a strong team. No-one warns you that managing otherswill be as eye-opening, entertaining and stressful as it actually is, but theyalso don’t tell you how rewarding it can be when you get it right. I havediscovered a new level of appreciation for all the management theories Istudied a few years ago. Over the past few years, we have enjoyed a significant rise in the number ofgraduate applications to Standard Life’s training programmes. In the world ofonline recruitment, I suspect some graduates have developed a ‘cut and paste’mentality, hedging their bets by applying to a number of graduate recruiterswithout being selective about their applications. Therefore, the rise inapplications has not always led to an equivalent rise in the quality ofapplicants. This has resulted in three issues for my team to overcome: we have moreapplications to manage, we have to make clear to the students what ourexpectations are of them, and we have an increasing challenge in trying toattract the ‘best’ candidates. Attracting the ‘best’ graduates is what every graduate recruiter seeks todo, but I believe the ‘best’ are those that are right for your organisation, sothere is much more to consider than just their academic qualifications. Standard Life has additional challenges in attracting the best graduates aswe are a Scottish-based pensions company, which some may view as unappealing.It is our challenge to convey to students that Standard Life is a greatorganisation to work for, and that a graduate training programme here is a goodstart to any young person’s career. Having worked for the company for threeyears, enjoying my training and gaining a breadth of experience, I am goodexample of that. Since writing this column, Coleen has landed a new job as HR consultantat Halifax Bank of Scotland (HBOS) and has resigned from Standard Life. Comments are closed. last_img read more


first_imgThis week’s guruAbsence makes art glow strongerGuru has been following the debate in Personnel Today’s letters page onwhether GPs are contributing to sickness absence rates by their willingness toissue sicknotes. There is no doubt that managing absence is one of the biggest challengesfacing HR as organisations, reluctant to recruit in the face of the ongoingeconomic downturn, are under even more pressure to make the most of theirexisting workforce. Guru has always explained to his line manager that the reason for hisoccasional absences is that he is like a finely-tuned racehorse – prone toinjury, but worth persevering with because he is capable of first-classresults. But the subject presents a tricky challenge for HR in striking a balancebetween providing support, advice and understanding to genuinely ill staffwhile cracking down on those who try and take advantage of employers. Guru invites readers to contribute to the debate – but there is one catch –comments must be made in limerick form. To get you started, Guru has outlinedhis no-nonsense approach: If your workers are taking the mick And signing them selves off sick A Victorian state You should quickly create And beat them about with a stick Published efforts will receive a beautifully handcrafted Guru mouse mat. Guru brews some prize penicillium Guru is not usually competitive but he has at last found a challenge he hasa genuine chance of winning. Scientists have launched a search for Britain’s most stomach-churningunwashed coffee mug. The Royal Society of Chemistry wants to inspect the most spectacular growthof green gunge to be found in a forgotten mug at work. To qualify, the mouldfloating on the top of the left-over coffee must be clearly discernible. It organised the contest to mark the discovery of penicillin 75 years ago.And although coffee cup cultures are often green, any disgusting range ofcolour is acceptable. Staff in offices, factories and other workplaces are being asked to submitphotos – but not to have the rank mugs delivered. Guru is confident his coffee mug will win – rotting globules of coffee, milkand tea have been carefully nurtured over three years to form a germ culture sovirulent it has mutated into a life form, which he affectionately calls‘Brian’. Photographs should be e-mailed to [email protected] the wind up Swedish tribunals A lot of employment disputes end up at tribunal because one side or theother ends up talking hot air. However, in a recent Swedish employment tribunal case hot air proved to bethe pivotal issue the whole workplace disagreement centred on. Computer technician Goran Andervass was awarded nearly £60,000 compensationafter being sacked for telling off a colleague for breaking wind. He took theSwedish Bank at Riksbanken to an industrial tribunal for unfair dismissal. Andervass said he rebuked his un-named co-worker as he believed he haddeliberately broken wind in his office. The colleague complained to management who suspended Andervass and latermade him redundant. Guru’s colleagues agree with Krister Skoglund of the Swedish WorkEnvironment Authority, who commented: “If a fart is done on purpose whengoing into somebody’s office it is important that management takes the matterseriously.” Related posts:No related photos. Previous Article Next Article Comments are closed. GuruOn 9 Sep 2003 in Personnel Todaylast_img read more

Great strides at Levi’s

first_imgRelated posts:No related photos. Previous Article Next Article When Bruce Robertson joined Levi’s as the UK’s HR director, he found acompany culture at variance with the sociable image of the brand. Paul Tyrrellreports on how he began to transform its people practicesLevi Strauss & Co, the jeans-maker, whose advertising included a famouslaunderette striptease by Nick Kamen, celebrates its 150th birthday this year. It is one of the best-known brands in the world, and an innovative employer– the first multinational company to develop a code of conduct to ensure fairtreatment of all its staff, and one of the first to offer flexible workinghours. However, the company no longer looks invincible. Worldwide sales fell from apeak of £4.25bn in 1997 to £2.45bn last year, largely due to a massive rise incompetition in the jeanswear market, and a fall in the amount spent by youngpeople on fashion. Since early 2002, Levi’s has axed around a quarter of itsstaff, taking its total number from about 16,600 to around 12,400. Last year’s redundancies included 650 in Scotland, where two factories wereclosed as part of a manufacturing shift to Hungary and other low-wagelocations. The closures were announced in January, and it was shortlyafterwards that a new UK HR director, Bruce Robertson, was recruited from PretA Manger. “The closures in Scotland were dealt with in Brussels [at Levi’sheadquarters for Europe, the Middle East and Africa],” Robertson says. “Following the resignation of my predecessor,” he addseuphemistically, “the company took the opportunity to bring in more HRexperience to raise the profile and involvement of HR in the UK business.”Robertson is a retail specialist who worked at Pret A Manger from early1999, when the sandwich seller had more than 2,000 staff and 20 new shops wereopening every year. Prior to that he was head of personnel at high-streetclothing chain Jigsaw for 18 months. He also worked at Harrods for eight years,where he climbed his way up to head of human resources after completing themanagement training scheme. Now settled in a bright and orderly London office, overlooking CarnabyStreet and just a stone’s throw from the company’s flagship store on RegentStreet, he is responsible for Levi’s employees in the UK, Ireland andScandinavia – about 450 staff in total. Most perform head-office functions suchas marketing and IT. Only around 184 are actually in retail, as Levi’sfranchises most of its UK stores. Think global, act local “Many US companies would enforce a standard model across theirinternational divisions, but Levi’s has never done that,” Robertson says.”Part of the strategy contained in the ‘LS&Co way’, the values andvision of the company, is to operate globally, but act locally.” He adds that freedom to make meaningful changes was one of the key thingsthat persuaded him to join the company. “We have a central ‘reward and recognition’ team that standardisesthings across the markets, but it’s up to the local HR function to work out,for example, how to tailor compensation packages to their market. “Even in the product portfolio you will see a very different range inEurope than in the US or Japan. Locally, we also decided to use theimplementation of the ‘LS&Co way’ as a tool to trigger a change in the UK’sinternal working culture,” he says. The need to respond to local trends is particularly vital in the UK, whichis seen by Levi’s and many other fashion retailers as the most competitive andcontinually evolving market in the world. So making Levi’s UK sales team”more proactive and less reactive” was highest on Robertson’s list ofpriorities. He quickly increased the number of key account managers from four to six,relieving the administrative burden. He also created a new UK role of salesdirector, a move that has since been copied in other Levi’s territories. “We had two UK sales managers and needed to amalgamate them into a UKsales director’s role, someone who could deal with House of Fraser, forexample, at a more senior level,” he explains. “Bringing in a sales director gave the new managing director for the UK& Ireland – Mat Mycock, recruited from Diageo – a chance to step back anddelegate some of his ambassadorial role.” Talking the talk It was during this restructuring that Robertson became aware of acommunications problem – not just between the offices in London, Northamptonand Dublin, but even between workmates in the same offices. “There were cases of people e-mailing each other across the office oreven the room,” he says. “There was often a lack of human interactionand a certain lack of trust.” Robertson learned a lot by simply talking to the IT department about the waypeople used their computers. “I was surprised by the number of people who asked for receipts fortheir e-mails,” he says, referring to a feature of e-mail software such asMicrosoft Outlook that enables users to be notified when their messages areactually read, rather than merely received. Clearly a ‘pow-wow’ was required and, in partnership with local managers,Robertson decided to increase the number of divisional get-togethers from oneto four every year. At the first of these new-style meetings, the entire team was shuffled intoseven groups and asked to come up with high-impact, low-cost initiatives toimprove the Levi’s working environment. The feedback was consistent: staffwanted better interaction, fewer e-mails and more phone calls, and ‘photoboards’ on which to display the new recruits, first on office walls and thenonline. “Now we have an informal rule,” Robertson says. “If youhaven’t spoken to someone in the UK, then you must pick up the phone and talkto them before you e-mail them.” Uniting behind the brand Small measures like this have proved very successful, Robertson says. But ontheir own, they would not be enough to get people thinking as a team. Too manypeople in the company could only describe their role in isolation, and not aspart of the business of actually getting jeans into the hands of the customer,he says. They needed to be united behind the brand. His solution was an ongoing programme of ‘reinduction’ for everyone in thecompany. This involves groups of up to eight people learning about thefinancial aspects of Levi’s worldwide and in the UK, as well as its values andvisions. And every employee now spends a day at the flagship store, at headoffice, with an account manager, or at a distribution centre, observing whathappens at the coalface. The aim, Robertson says, is to “reinvigoratepeople about Levi’s”. “There’s a lot of pride at this company, and people still get nostalgicabout the Nick Kamen ad,” he says. “But previously they didn’t haveenough information given to them to reconnect to the brand.” Of course, while Robertson wants to get his staff into a sociable mindset,he does not want them to get too casual, as Levi’s is currently in the middleof what it calls ‘The Great Turnaround’ pack. Shedding staff was part of thepainful march back to growth. So from 7 April 2003, employment contracts werereissued under new terms and conditions that, in Robertson’s words, are”less employee-centric”. “When you’re in a turnaround situation, you need to be flexible,”he says. “One change, for example, concerned our Northampton office, whichused to close down on a Friday at 1pm – a legacy from past years. This sentvery mixed messages to the rest of the company, and more importantly, to ourcustomers.” Overall, it is a series of small, but fundamental measures that have helpedto transform the division’s culture. They were made possible by a seniormanagement that trusts its regional executives to act locally, but also,Robertson explains with relish, because there was no UK managing director atLevi’s when the new contracts were being negotiated. “I had to lead and, in many cases, go beyond neutrality, so it was agreat challenge. It’s one of the best examples to my mind of a company where HRhas been allowed to be truly influential.” Trackbacks/Pingbackscenter_img Flashback: Great Strides at Levi’s – 1 Jul 2020 […] A flashback to the culture change work at Levi Strauss: https://www.personneltoday.com/hr/great-strides-at-levis/ […] Great strides at Levi’sOn 7 Oct 2003 in Personnel Todaylast_img read more

The diatom genusprobosciain subarctic waters

first_imgReferences CitationsMetrics Reprints & PermissionsGet access Abstract A study of modern pelagic subarctic Pacific phytoplankton has revealed the presence of three distinct species of Proboscia Sundstrom, including the type species P. alata and two new species with historical complications. P. subarctica (= Rhizosolenia alata f. curvirostris Gran) is markedly different in proboscis and valve morphology from the type species and in fact bears more resemblance to fossil members of the genus. P. eumorpha (= R. obtusa Hensen sensu Ostenfeld) resembles the austral species P. inermis, but may be distinguished easily from it by its more elongate proboscis and its less truncate valve shape. SEM observations and taxonomic discussions on both these new species are presented. Samples derived from time-series sediment traps, deployed in this region (September 1982-August 1986), have revealed strong temporal flux variations. P. alata flux represents summer-fall maxima, whereas P. subarctica is highest during spring followed by a gradual decrease towards winter.last_img read more

Foraging behaviour of Antarctic fur seals during periods of contrasting prey abundance

first_img1. Foraging behaviour of Antarctic fur seals rearing pups at Bird Island, South Georgia, was assessed using at-sea activity patterns measured by electronic time-depth recorders. Information was obtained for a total of 75 individuals and 191 foraging trips to sea over five reproductive seasons from 1988/89 to 1992/93; this included one season (1990/91) of low prey abundance. A method was developed to divide the diving record up into logical units or bouts which differed from past methods used for defining bouts of behaviour. 2. Foraging trips were significantly longer in 1990/91 than in the other years. There were significant differences between years in the proportion of time spent foraging when at sea and in the distribution of foraging through the day and night. These differences probably represent behavioural responses to changes in prey distribution and abundance and were reflected in the frequency of occurrence of different types of foraging behaviour. 3. Four types of foraging bout were recognized using a cluster analysis. Type I (short) bouts were of short duration (17 min) and occurred mainly during daytime and at dusk. They probably represented exploratory behaviour. Type II (long) bouts occurred mainly at night and were of long duration (80 min). They increased in frequency in 1990/91 when food was scarce and 61-73% of time spent foraging was in these bouts. Type III (shallow) bouts occurred mainly at night, were of short duration (12 min) and represented feeding close to the surface, possibly in association with other, surface-feeding krill predators. Shallow bouts accounted for 8-14% of time spent foraging. Type IV (deep) bouts were of medium duration (19 min) and represented feeding at greater depth (40-50 m) than other bout types. They were most abundant around dawn. 4. Mean dive duration during bouts exceeded the theoretical aerobic dive limit on > 30% of occasions for short, long and deep bouts. There were positive correlations between mean dive duration and surface interval duration for most of these bout types in most years. This suggested that long dives incurred a cost in terms of the amount of time spent at the surface between dives. 5. The study demonstrated that female fur seals invest a significantly greater effort in foraging during periods of low prey abundance by both increasing the time spent foraging and by increasing activity during foraging. This could represent a 30-50% increase in the costs of foraging during years of low food abundance.last_img read more