+Scott Watson

Friday, 28 October 2011

CIPD Conference 2011 Manchester - Come And See Us

We'll be participating in the CIPD Conference in Manchester during 8 to 10 November - but not in the usual way.

If you'd like to find out more about how your organisation can benefit from our unique, results-focused management training courses and team building events, please email us at Info@SummitTraining.co.uk

10 Job Hunting Tips For Unemployed Adults

As soon as you hear you are being made redundant, start seeking job opportunities immediately. Don't take a break or wait for an appointment at the job centre. By waiting, you could miss vital opportunities.

Regard job hunting as a full-time occupation, albeit temporarily.
Commit to five days a week for seven hours each day, minimum! 
Keep your eyes off daytime TV and Facebook, and firmly on marketing yourself to
potential employers.

There will be days when you'll feel there's little or no hope of finding
a job.  It's days like this when you need to re-focus your mind, your
efforts and your resources to make progress.

Don't explain in your application letter why you are unemployed. There's
no shame in being unemployed and you're not the only one who is. Plus,
the recruiter isn't interested anyway. 

Do your homework.  When applying for a vacancy, explore the company's
web site and identify their plans.  Are they launching new products,
diversifying into new markets or exporting?  The more you know, the
better equipped you are for when the interviewer asks you, 'So, what do
you know about our company

A job application is not about your life story. It is simply a
description of your qualifications, experiences and personal qualities.
Communicate clearly why you are the best candidate to fill the vacancy.

Show recruiters that you are willing and able to keep learning. The
saying 'Old dogs can't learn new tricks' is just an old cliche.  Prove
to the recruiter in your application letter and CV that you are worthy
of an interview by demonstrating your commitment to lifelong learning.

You may have to move home, accept a lower salary and even start at a
lower level than you are used to.  However much this hurts your
self-esteem, isn't it still better to get back on your feet rather than
being unemployed?

If you are a member of the 'Silver Generation', remember that you're not
retired yet.  You are between jobs, and have many years of service to
offer a potential employer. Use your age and experience as a positive
marketing tool.

If you are a graduate without any work experience, it's important that
you communicate how your academic achievements and ability to learn can
add value to the potential employers' organisation.

For more information on how to support staff through redundancy, visit http://www.MyOnlineJobCoach.com/

For more information on interview skills training, please visit http://www.SummitTraining.co.uk/

Thursday, 27 October 2011

Scott on BBC Radio about helping people over 55 find a job with the help of the internet

Scott Watson being interviewed on BBC Radio Leeds on how people over 55 can use the web to enhance their chances of finding a new job.

Main points:
  • The Web is an excellent source for business networking
  • Online resources can be as effective as outplacement seminars
  • Your job hunting skills might not be up-to-date anymore
  • You can build credibility online
  • Calderdale Council have a "Silver Entrepreneurs" programme to help people over 50 to set up in business
Resources mentioned:

Friday, 21 October 2011

Online Resource Launched To Help The Region's Unemployed

A Halifax based human resources expert has developed an online training resource which aims to propel workers facing redundancy back into work. 

Scott Watson, MD of Summit Consulting and Training has launched a web-based training resource, which has been designed as a support tool for individuals in the region who are currently unemployed or facing redundancy.

MyOnlineJobCoach.com offers expert guidance to jobseekers facing stiff competition for jobs in a tough economic climate. 

The service includes more than 50 video tutorials which teach users a wide range of skills such as:

- How to develop credibility with a recruiter

- How to write a CV a recruiter actually wants to read

- How to answer tough interview questions well

- How to deal more effectively with the inevitable setbacks unemployment can bring

The service is already proving a big hit with private individuals, as well as the region's employers, who are intending to include MyOnlineJobCoach as a redundancy support tool for their staff.  

The launch of the service comes at a time when our region is facing an unprecedented jobs crisis, as public and private sector organisations are reducing the size of their workforce due to spending cuts.  

Scott Watson’s own research has identified that business leaders do want to support their redundant staff in securing their next role but either don’t know how to, or have found traditional outplacement support services too expensive and difficult to use.

'Uniquely, the Site enables individuals and families to share their learning and therefore maximise the possibility of their household securing further employment opportunities and financial stability.  As the product is web based, users can access the programme 24 hours a day and have access for a full 12-month period,' says Watson.


Saturday, 8 October 2011

Is Richard Reed Innocent? Absolutely!

Yesterday I had the pleasure of attending a presentation by Richard Reed, co-founder of the Innocent smoothie brand.  The invitation to participate in this event was extended by Prof. John Thompson, Professor of Entrepreneurship at the University of Huddersfield.

It was a refreshing change to listen to an authentic talk which covered the bumps and bruises of developing and running a business rather than the 'Look at me, I've made it' approach so often employed by the self-appointed motivational speakers and gurus.  My view is that most of that crowd are more 'irritational' than motivational, but that's a discussion for another time.

Now, here's the fabulous news for human resources professionals.  Mr Reed is certainly not a HR expert and he wouldn't claim to be, but he has some very clear boundaries and beliefs about how engaging employees (all, not just some) can add significant value to an organisation.  I've detailed the key points from his thought-provoking presentation below.

95% of Innocent employees stated in an anonymous staff survey that they were 'proud' to work at Innocent.

Innocent's purpose is to 'Help people live healthy and die old' and everything they do is centred around this one commitment.

The recruitment policy at Innocent doesn't focus on getting bums on seats to fill vacancies, it focuses on 'spotting, attracting and retaining' individuals who can be passionate about the brand promise' which is to make things a little bit better and a little bit easier for everyone.

The success of Innocent is directly attributed to their commitment to getting the right people for their organisation.  The 'default heart setting' for an employee should be 'YES', I can help, 'YES' I will do all I can to make things a little bit better for everyone.

There will occasionally be someone in your team who doesn't play by the values of the organisation and having these people in your team is toxic.  Mr Reed stated 'Some will piss in the well rather than help draw the water from it' and these people need to be made aware they're not right for your organisation and your organisation is not right for them.

In a world where so many business leaders continue to claim that 'Our people are our most important asset' but fail to translate this old cliche in to an organisational reality (at least from the employees' point of view), it is quite simply inspiring to learn from from this gentleman that even without being a HR professional, clarity of purpose, straightforward recruitment based on authentic values and high levels of employee engagement can build a wonderfully successful brand and profitable organisation.

Wouldn't we all benefit if there were more business leaders who didn't just make the right noises about ethics, integrity and doing the right thing, but actually just made living such values a daily reality within their organisation?

By the way, a BIG THANK YOU to Richard Reed for his kind offer to contribute to the Job Hunting Bootcamp taking place in November.  Your contribution will certainly make things a little bit better for everyone involved in this community centred programme.

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

Influence And Persuasion - Don't Get Caught Out

The ability and willingness to influence and persuade other human beings is a wonderful skill to possess.  Each and every day, we are being influenced whether we realise it or not.

Here's a quick example of influencing and persuasion in action.  We'll take a hotel booking for this example.  Have a think about this so you don't get caught out.

So, you're booking a hotel for your next holiday.  You explore holiday sites online and notice that the rates are so competitive, unreservedly low and you're wondering to yourself 'WOW, this is fantastic, I think I'll be booking'.  But, sure enough, the initial elation turns in to despondency soon after.  And here's why...

The room rates initially offered are starting prices and not final prices.  Ah, you want a sea view room?  Oh, a balcony too eh?  My goodness, that's going to cost you.  And it does!  But you continue.

The rate was for a room only basis. But you'll want feeding, at least breakfast.  And for how many travellers?  Add these fees on to your 'low initial price'.

So, you arrive at the rather nice 4* hotel and are greeted by a welcoming receptionist.  Before you know it, a bellboy has grabbed your luggage, popped them on to a trolley and awaits your departure to your room so he can follow you.  Well, wouldn't it be rude of you to ask for your luggage to be taken off the trolley and returned to you after the so very helpful bellboy has 'been so helpful'.

Get this - He's not being helpful, he's generating income through your tips.  He's gone straight for you as his next customer while your attention is on checking in after your journey.

And, have you noticed that when the check-in receptionist hands you the key/swipe card for your room, you just accept it?  Why do you do this?  It's an automatic, culturally accepted response where you can immediately lose out.  BIG STYLE!  Why simply accept this behaviour, which is simply a 'Go Away' signal from even the best hotels.

If you reached your room and found that it didn't represent what the web site or brochures had indicated, isn't it far more difficult to return to reception to ask for another room?  You've been seen to 'accept' something you've never even seen simply by taking the key.  And you can't even ask your bellboy to sort the problem out as he's soon disappeared (after waiting for your tip).

Lesson?  ALWAYS ask the receptionist 'Which is a better room that is available for the duration of our visit?'  Hotels ALWAYS hold the best rooms back in the hope they can up-sell guests.

So, you're settled in to your room and you fancy a drink.  Oh, there's the mini bar.  You explore the fridge, remove a couple of bottles and return both of them, choosing to visit the poolside bar instead.  But, what you didn't realise was that as soon as an item is removed from the mini bar, it's electronically swiped (as if you had consumed it).  Even if you don't consume the items and return them to the fridge, it doesn't matter.  REFUNDS DON'T HAPPEN!

Now, how about calling home and letting the family know you arrived safely?  There's a phone right by the bed.  And it'll cost you up to 4 times more than a normal landline outside of the hotel to make a call.  Gotcha!

Why not lay back and watch one of the many films available through your television?  They're £7 to £10 per day.  Here's the thing, these prices make the film available for 24 hours - just in case you want to watch the films numerous times.

Room Service?  Make sure that you grab your tray at your door rather than letting the server in to your room.  When they're in your room, they're in your room.  This is where pressure for you to tip comes in to play.

I recently enjoyed a family break in Durham with my family.  As a member of the hotel's loyalty programme we were upgraded to an Executive room. Part of this deal was 'Free Drinks Between 5pm and 7pm.  Thankfully, the range of drinks available included my favourite beer Peroni.

Watch what happens next.  The beer is served in 330 cl bottles, just over half a pint.  It is served in a small glass.   Imagine the shock on the barman's face when I asked for a pint glass and 2 bottles of Peroni.  'Ah, we can't give you a pint glass for Peroni sir' was the claim.  When I enquired why not he replied 'It's not our policy'.

See, you can have something for 'FREE', but you're really not flavour of the week if you want to drink the FREE drink out of a glass larger than they want to offer.  Perhaps their thinking is that if the guest has a smaller glass, they're likely to drink more slowly?

So, have a think about how you're being influenced on a daily basis.  You could lose out if you're not careful.


Client Video Testimonial - Management Training

We've just received another client testimonial on video which you may enjoy watching.  It's less than one minute long and reflects a management training programme and team building events we facilitated on behalf of a NHS regional team.


Monday, 19 September 2011

Tips For School Leavers Joining The Job Hunting Crowd

 Volunteer – show that you are looking for experience and to contribute to society. It also shows maturity

Research – what is the job about? What skills/character traits might they be looking for? If you apply for an internship at a Vet’s, the vet will want to know more than just the fact that you love cuddly animals. How are you with humans? How are your animal handling skills?

Appearance – you will not impress potential employers with the same fashion style that you would use to impress someone your own age. Dress smartly!

Establish reference points – you have done many things in your past. Maybe you were member of a football team or the school choir. How can the experiences you made there be useful for a potential employer?

Be honest – don’t take credit for things you have not done. Share credit with others.

Show potential – you learned how to learn at school. Show that you are willing to learn and develop you skills continuously. It is not important to be the best at having an outdated skillset, but to be able to learn the new skillset the fastest.

Be likeable – we want to work together with people we can get along with. Don’t be a brown-noser, but be polite, friendly, and enthusiastic.

Ask questions – the more information you gain from the prospective employer about the job and the company, the better you can tailor your answers.

Focus on applicable experience – when writing your CV, focus on the things that the prospective employer might be interested in. If you list your hobbies, make sure that they have some real-world application and you can show that you learned useful skills or developed positive character traits from them.

Prepare – what kind of questions might you be asked? “What is your biggest accomplishment so far?” “What are you proud of?” “Tell us about an instance where you screwed up.” Think through questions like that and come up with answers that are honest and show you in a positive light. Sometimes just showing that you learned a lesson and gained maturity will make a very positive answer.

Catch their interest quickly – when writing an application letter, get your main point across in the first paragraph. A prospective employer will receive dozens, sometimes hundreds of application letters and you will need to stand out. If applying for a job in a library, don’t focus solely on your love of books, but on how well you can organise, prepare, administrate, catalogue, and deal with visitors. Think about how your skills and expertise can benefit the employer and put those first in the letter.


Scott Watson is Founder of Summit Consulting and Training Ltd and co-developer of http://www.MyOnlineJobCoach.com/

Wednesday, 14 September 2011

Yorkshire Jobs Disappearing Fast - Time To Do Something Proactive

A report by Lloyds TSB has concluded that the Yorkshire region is shedding jobs faster than any other region in Britain.

According to Martyn Kendrick, Lloyds TSB Commercial Area Director for the region, new business stagnated last month, while backlogs of work also fell sharply.  These findings have fuelled concerns that Yorkshire will bear the brunt of a potential double-dip recession.

Scott Watson, human resources expert and managing director of Halifax based Summit Consulting and Training states that, while there is little which can be done to reverse the trend in the short term, employers should take a proactive, socially responsible stance in efforts to help their employees facing redundancy to return to employment as quickly as possible.

'It is very important for company bosses needing to cut jobs that they remember that corporate social responsibility is not just reserved for the good times, it is perhaps most needed and appreciated by employees when times are hard.  This is why we are encouraging employers to invest a few pounds in ensuring that employees are supported when the time comes to make cuts.'

"To this end, we have developed a comprehensive video based online resource that provides expert coaching on the complete job hunting and recruitment process.  This includes helping the user to identify hidden job opportunities, market themselves more effectively and even how to recover when they screw up during a job interview.' 

Our decade of research has identified that in a crowded jobs market where recruiters are spoiled for choice, it isn't always the best candidate who is successful in securing the job, it is the candidate who is the best prepared and most convincing.  Our comprehensive online resource, MyOnlineJobCoach.com provides a very cost-effective redundancy support solution for employers who are under pressure to cut costs but also want to take a responsible role in helping their employees secure their next job as quickly as possible.

Friday, 9 September 2011

HR Expert urges LEP to focus on outcomes

Last Friday’s Leeds City Region Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) summit identified 4 strategic priorities to deliver sustainable growth into our region.

Key among these priorities is the enablement of a flexible and skilled work force. This is to be achieved by skills investment, the promoting of better information among employers and others and the boosting of employment and productivity.

According to Scott Watson, MD of Halifax based Summit Consulting & Training Ltd, these goals, if implemented in their entirety, will help deliver prosperity to our region, as well as a culture of innovation, entrepreneurship, and aspiration.

‘For this strategic priority to be delivered, employers and LEP executives need to be aware that turning these goals into reality relies not solely on training people in business skills, but also life skills, such as:

-how to deal more effectively with the emotional turmoil that unemployment can bring
-how to deal with adversity more effectively
-developing realistic levels of optimism
-developing the emotional muscle & resilience to not only set personal goals, but also the commitment to achieving them,’ Watson says.

‘This will not be done by basic one-day training events, which espouse the latest trends; it needs to be developed in a manner that endorses and supports an ongoing personal commitment to creating and maintaining a sustainable affinity for lifelong learning,’ he adds.

‘Employers and users need to be emotionally and intellectually engaged when introducing such a project – it is unrealistic to expect LEP to deliver this on its own,’
explains Watson

‘It can, though, be achieved through a stringent procurement process which is more focused on the potential partner’s ability to deliver substantial value in terms of real ground-level value rather than just classroom training which tick a box,’ he concludes.
- Ends -

Wednesday, 10 August 2011

Region’s Growth Damaged by Obsolete Job Hunting Skills

Recent statistics have indicated that the UK’s recovery from recession is faltering, and that nowhere is this more apparent than in the Yorkshire region.

With quarterly economic growth languishing around the 0.2% level, our area runs the risk of falling behind the rest of the United Kingdom in economic terms, as well as vital job creation.

Against this backdrop, one Yorkshire-based company has launched a resource aimed at both public and private sector organisations which, as victims of economic flatlining, are needing to downsize workforces.

Myonlinejobcoach.com has been developed by two local HR experts with a wealth of experience in retraining individuals faced with the spectre of redundancy. The website features intensive video advice and little known tips and techniques for anyone wishing to secure their next job more quickly. It includes advice on searching for the right vacancy, developing credibility with recruiters, writing a CV that a busy recruiter actually wants to read because it stands out from the crowd for all the right reasons, as well as tips on how to recover from mistakes made during an interview.

Scott Watson, international business consultant and founder of Myonlinejobcoach.com, takes the view that many people re-entering the job market have probably not needed to apply for a new position, or even taken an interview, for over a decade. “Not only does this have adverse implications for the applicant, but it can also cause problems for a potential employer, simply because the best person for the job may not have the most up-to-date interview skills. This means that both parties could be missing out on opportunities, simply because of lack of recent training,” he said.

The services offered by Myonlinejobcoach.com are intended to be bought as a license by organisations needing to downsize. The principle is that, as part of an organisation’s legal and corporate and social responsibility obligations, the training package available will then be offered to individuals being made redundant. The site shares with job hunters insider knowledge and expertise which, until now, has only been available to Human Resources bosses and recruiters, explaining how to identify and attract the highest quality candidates.

According to Watson, recruiters are currently spoiled for choice, so they can more easily offer candidates a lower salary package, which will adversely impact on household spending, and hence the local economy. “Although public and private sector businesses sometimes provide one day outplacement training, participants tend to forget all that they have learned within this sheep dip approach. An ongoing support mechanism is required to maximise retention and application of learning through what is often an emotionally turbulent time. Classroom training on its own is definitely not value for money, for a business, for the employee or for local tax payers,” he explained.

“A positive approach is important, but this needs to be supported by a relevant, employer friendly mind set, together with appropriate self marketing skills. It’s vital to remember that you might be the right person for the job but, if you can't demonstrate this to a potential employer, tough. After all, people need to remember that it's not last century’s job market anymore,” Watson concluded.


Editors notes:

Further details of http://Myonlinejobcoach.com are available by visiting the site. In addition you can visit http://www.SummitTraining.co.uk

For interview opportunities, expert comment and opinion, journalists are encouraged to contact Scott Watson by email at Scott@SummitTraining.co.uk or by telephone on 07968 241 818.

Wednesday, 18 May 2011

Helping Get UK Back To Work

Article published in UK print media

A Halifax based human resources consultancy has developed an online training resource which aims to propel workers facing redundancy back into work.

Summit Consulting and Training will next month launch the web-based training resource, which has been designed as a support tool for employers faced with having to make redundancies.

Thought to be the first of its kind in the UK, MyOnlineJobCoach.com offers expert guidance to jobseekers facing stiff competition in a tough economic climate.

The service includes more than 40 video tutorials which teach users a wide range of skills such as how to develop credibility with a recruiter, write a CV a recruiter actually wants to read, answer tough interview questions well and even how to deal more effectively with the inevitable setbacks unemployment can bring. And the service is proving a big hit with a number of employers who have stated their intention to include MyOnlineJobCoach as a redundancy support tool for their staff.

The launch of the service comes at a time when the latest UK Government figures report that more than two-and-a-half million adults are registered as unemployed and an increasing number of public and private sector organisations are reducing the size of their workforce due to spending cuts. Summit director Scott Watson’s own research identified that business leaders generally do want to support their redundant staff in securing their next role but either don’t know how to, or found traditional outplacement support services too expensive and difficult to use.

Commenting on the launch, Mr Watson says: “MyOnlineJobCoach.com is designed to provide users with step-by-step, results-focused training that will help them to maximise their ability to secure worthwhile job opportunities.” As the product is web based, users can access the programme 24 hours a day and have access for a full 12-month period.

Summit has trained companies how to identify, attract and hire high quality employees with clients including international corporations and public sector organisations for more than a decade. In addition to delivering projects throughout the UK, since 2008 it has delivered projects across the Arabian Gulf states.

Mr Watson continues: “This product provides users with the most up-to-date tools, techniques and information available and normally reserved for our corporate clients. “It’s pleasing to know that despite the tough decision company bosses face in making job cuts, so many of them are committed to supporting their staff in finding their next role.”

The site will launch on Wednesday, June 8.



Tuesday, 10 May 2011

Doctor not entitled to legal representation for internal disciplinary hearing

Doctor not entitled to legal representation for internal disciplinary hearing - Puri v Bradford Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust

The High Court has held that, were internal disciplinary procedures are concerned, human rights law will only come into play where the effect of any disciplinary proceedings will have a considerable influence or effect on an employee’s right to practise their profession. While this decision echoes previous decisions on one level (and is arguably unsurprising), the decision of the Supreme Court in another case is eagerly awaited as it could have far-reaching implications for the way in which future disciplinary hearings take place.

As in previous cases on this topic, this case involved a doctor, Mr Puri, seeking to rely on European law to overturn the effect of a disciplinary hearing which he argued would deprive him of the right to practise his profession. The conduct of Mr Puri, a consultant urologist specialising in oncology, was investigated following complaints regarding his abusive and threatening behaviour. A subsequent disciplinary hearing resulted in his dismissal. The General Medical Council (GMC) did not impose any sanctions on him. He appealed the decision to dismiss him but, before that appeal could take place, sought judicial review in the High Court. Relying on recent case law, Mr Puri argued that art.6 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR), which provides the right to a fair hearing, was engaged because the effect of the disciplinary proceedings was to deprive him of the right to practise his profession. He argued that art.6 meant that the disciplinary and proposed appeal panels should have been independent and impartial, rather than being (respectively) predominantly or wholly composed of trust members or employees. At the time of the hearing, Mr Puri was working privately in Leeds, but without opportunities to carry out the high-level cancer surgery in which he specialised.

The High Court stated that in ordinary disciplinary proceedings, where all that was at stake was the loss of a specific job, art. 6 would not be engaged. It is engaged if the effect of the proceedings could be to deprive an employee of the right to practise his or her profession (see Kulkarni v Milton Keynes Hospital NHS Foundation Trust). Referring to Hameed v Central Manchester University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, the High Court concluded that Kulkarni only envisaged art. 6 applying in exceptional circumstances. As regards Mr Puri, the High Court acknowledged that it was difficult for him to find, within the NHS or elsewhere, a post of the same seniority and speciality as the one he had held with the trust before his dismissal. However, it noted that Mr Puri’s contract with the trust was as a consultant urologist, and was not restricted to oncology. In addition, the GMC had decided not to issue a warning against him. Therefore, said the High Court, it would not be impossible for Mr Puri to return to a position in the NHS, and found that this was not a case where the effect of the disciplinary proceedings was to deprive Mr Puri of the right to practise his profession, either within or outside the NHS. Even if he might struggle to work in the future in his sub-specialty, he would still be able to work as a urologist.

The other aspect of Mr Puri’s case was his complaint that although the disciplinary panel was constituted in accordance with the trust’s procedure, neither the panel, nor the proposed appeal panel, were art. 6-compliant, because they were neither independent nor impartial, consisting largely of employees of the trust. The High Court stated that, even if art.6 had been engaged with regard to Mr Puri’s disciplinary proceedings, it would not have held that compliance with art.6 required a disciplinary panel comprised of people external to the trust, or that the composition of the disciplinary panel was non-compliant. The High Court also held that neither the loss of the right to be employed in a particular job, nor the loss of professional reputation, are sufficient 'civil rights' which would engage the fair hearing requirement of art. 6.

The scope of art. 6 is very much a ‘live’ issue in employment law at the moment. Ironically, Mr Puri’s case was not helped by the fact that the decision of the GMC (not to impose any penalty on him) weakened his case in the High Court as it showed that he might be able to secure employment elsewhere. The reality is that the imminent decision of the Supreme Court in R (G) v Governors of X School will be more important than any Court of Appeal judgment in this case as it will hopefully give definitive guidance on how art. 6 should be interpreted in the context of workplace discipline.

Published with kind permission of Craig Gordon, HR Bullets.

Former employer liable to ex-employee for negligently written email

An employer was liable in damages to its former employee for negligent misstatement when it send, six years after he’d left, a disparaging email to his subsequent employer which led to his dismissal. The fact that this information was not contained in a formal reference was irrelevant: it was eminently foreseeable that the damaging information would cause loss to the ex-employee and as such the ex-employer owed him a duty of care.

It’s well known that employers owe a positive duty of care when they provide a reference for a former employee. If the reference is inaccurate or the employee can show that they’ve suffered a loss (e.g. failing to get a job as a result, see for example Bullimore v Pothecary Witham Weld), then the provider of the reference can be liable in negligence.

Mr Mckie, a 58-year-old art historian, had worked as teacher at Swindon College for seven years until he left in 2002 with a glowing reference. In 2008 he started work as the Director of Studies at the University of Bath. The university was responsible for overseeing degree courses at FE colleges and part of Mr McKie’s new duties involved liaising with and visiting Swindon College, his former employer. Shortly after he had started work in his new post, the new HR Director at Swindon College sent an e-mail to the university stating that the college would not allow Mr Mckie onto its premises because it had safeguarding concerns in relation to its students and there had been serious staff relationship problems during Mr McKie’s time there. He added that Mr McKie had left the college before any formal action could be taken and that he understood that similar incidents had arisen at another FE college. The contents of that e-mail resulted in Mr McKie’s summary dismissal by the university.

Mr McKie brought a High Court claim for damages in negligence - as he’d only worked there for a few weeks he couldn’t bring an unfair dismissal claim. The court was satisfied that Mr McKie was a highly respected member of staff while at Swindon College and that the contents of the e-mail were ‘fallacious and untrue’ and its preparation had been ‘sloppy and slapdash’. The court referred to the House of Lords 1994 landmark decision on references, Spring v Guardian Assurance plc, where it was held that an employer who provides a reference in respect of a former employee has a duty to take reasonable care in the preparation of that reference and will be liable to the employee in negligence if the reference is inaccurate and the employee suffers loss as a result. Mr McKie argued that the e-mail was in fact a reference, and that the college owed him a duty to take reasonable care in supplying it. The court rejected that argument as this was plainly not a reference situation: the email had nothing to do with his appointment. But it nevertheless upheld Mr McKie’s claim. He had suffered financial damage by losing his job with the university; the damage was ‘eminently foreseeable’; there was a close enough connection between the negligent e-mail and the damage suffered; and the relationship between Mr McKie and the college was sufficiently proximate to give rise to a duty of care, even though 6 years had passed since he’d worked for the college.

James Tait, employment lawyer at Browne Jacobson, comments: ‘Employers now need to be very careful indeed when providing comments about former employees whether by way of a reference or not. They should not be fooled into thinking that making verbal or e-mail commentary of this nature will simply be forgotten purely because it is not a formal reference. Such comments are equally as important as though provided in the form of a reference. If slapdash comments are made which cannot be substantiated, and if the employee loses out as a result, the employer can be held to account. In some cases, the damages could be significant. Employers would therefore be well advised to review their systems, and ensure that staff are made aware of the fact that if enquiries are made of a former employee then comments, whether by way of a reference or otherwise, should only be made by authorised staff who are aware of the implications of this case’.

Published with kind permission of Craig Gordon, HR Bullets.

Trust in leaders at a record low

Employee confidence and trust in senior leaders has dropped to record lows as the economic downturn continues to erode workers’ standard of living and undermine job security, according to the CIPD’s spring 2011 Employee Outlook survey. The proportion of employees saying their standard of living has worsened in the last six months has increased to 37% from 31% in the previous quarter. Public sector employees are most likely to say their standard of living has worsened (47%) compared with 35% of workers in both the private and voluntary sectors.

Although job insecurity has edged up since the previous quarter, with 21% of employees thinking it likely they could lose their jobs as a result of the downturn compared to 20% last quarter, there is again a big difference in the sectors. Almost one in three (30%) public sector employees say it is likely they could lose their job compared to 19% of those in the private sector and 27% in the voluntary sector. In all, 21% of respondents say their organisation is planning to make redundancies, rising to 58% among public sector respondents. In all 29% of voluntary sector employees say their organisation is planning redundancies, as do 10% of those in the private sector.

Perhaps not surprisingly against this backdrop, the net proportion of employees agreeing they have confidence in their senior leaders has fallen to a record -31 from -23 for the previous quarter, while the net trust score has also fallen to -8 from -1 over the same period.

The survey also finds that job satisfaction has fallen over the last three months from +39 in the last quarter to +34 this quarter - its lowest level since the CIPD started the survey in spring 2009. Employees working in the voluntary sector remain the most satisfied (+44), followed by public sector workers (+38), with private sector staff least satisfied (+33). On top of this, the proportion of staff looking for a new job with a new employer has increased to 24% from 19% for the previous quarter. Like last quarter, respondents from the public sector are least likely to be looking for a new job and those in the voluntary sector most likely to be doing so.

Employer attitudes to CSR are crucial for employee engagement

Employer attitudes to CSR are crucial for employee engagement

Most employees want their employers to do more towards CSR (corporate social responsibility) and charitable giving, according to a survey conducted by LeapCR – and nearly two-thirds of them believe that having paid time off during working hours to commit to charitable initiatives would significantly improve employee engagement.

‘This correlation between employee engagement and CSR initiatives can’t be ignored by employers wanting to increase the productivity of their company’, said Malcolm Scovil, CEO of LeapCR. ‘If employers don’t get to grips with the expectations of employees then they face punitive recruitment costs and unsatisfactory levels of productivity from a workforce that feels its motivations are being ignored’.

Among the other key findings were that:

* 49% of employees said they were more likely to stay with an employer that encourages its workforce to donate time or raise money for charity within working hours
* 75% of employees want their employer to balance commercial success with good CSR strategies, including supporting charities
* 52% of employees believe that their employer should do more to encourage charitable giving during working hours
* 51% of employees felt that companies have a duty to commit to charitable acts and CSR
* 59% of employees of all ages said their ideal employer would consider allowing interested staff to take one (paid) day off every month to support charitable initiatives
* 15% of employees would take a significant pay cut to work for a company that has the right attitude towards charities/CSR
* 69% of Generation Y (aged 20-30) said that there were more engaged with their employer when they can undertake charitable initiatives within the workplace
* more than half (56%) of the Generation Y respondents said that senior management was ‘out of touch’ with their age group

It was also evident from the survey that UK employers are either not taking CSR seriously or failing effectively to communicate what they are doing to their staff. Just 58% of all employees know if their company has a commitment to CSR and a similar percentage (57%) felt their employer could do more in that area.

Malcolm Scovil said: “The reality is that the UK workforce passionately cares about CSR and expects their employer to share that commitment. If employers fail to meet these expectations, either through a lack of CSR initiatives or a failure to communicate what they are doing to their staff, then they will find themselves struggling to remain competitive’.

Published with kind permission of Craig Gordon, HR Bullets

Sunday, 24 April 2011

Contractual notice runs from the day after it’s given (Wang v University of Keele)

Unless the contract of employment states or can be construed otherwise, contractual notice, whether or oral or written, runs from the day after notice is given.

As is often so in such cases, this case concerned whether an employee’s unfair dismissal claim had been presented within the 3-month time limit. This entailed working out his effective date of termination and this depended on what date his notice began to run.

Dr Wang received an email, which he opened and read, on 3 November 2008 giving him 3 months’ notice of termination. The covering letter, dated 3 November but which could not have been received by post until 4 November, was received a few days later, stating that he would only be paid up until 2 February 2009. Dr Wang presented his unfair dismissal claim on 2 May 2009. The employer argued that his claim was 1 day out of time, because Dr Wang knew that his last day of employment would be 2 February, the effective date of termination of employment was 2 February and therefore his claim should have been submitted by 1 May. The tribunal dismissed Dr Wang’s claim as a day out of time as it said his notice ran from 3 November to 2 February. Dr Wang appealed, arguing that even though he was aware of his dismissal on 3 November, part days did not count when calculating the notice period, so notice did not start until 4 November.

The EAT agreed with him. The only issue for the EAT was when Dr Wang’s notice period started. It reviewed many of the cases on this subject and held that the principle in the 1987 case of West v Kneels – that when verbal notice is given, notice starts on the following day – applies equally to written notice. Part days do not count and notice does not always run from the moment it comes to the attention of the employee. The EAT could see no reason in principle for distinguishing between oral and written notice – ‘the message is the same and the difference in medium of communication seems ... insignificant’. Therefore notice did not start to run until 4 November (with dismissal taking effect on 3 February) and Dr Wang’s claim was in time. It was irrelevant that he had only been paid to and stopped work on 2 February; notice once given cannot be shortened without agreement.

The EAT pointed out that if the employer makes the dismissal date ambiguous, then the notice should be construed in favour of the recipient. It also observed (without recommending it) that written notice can include ‘methods of communication such as the SMS text message, internet based so-called instant messaging and email’.

Wang v University of Keele

Effect of Failure To Consult under TUPE and whether employee 'assigned' to undertaking transferred

Marcroft v Heartland (Midlands) Ltd
Although a failure to consult under TUPE gives rise to a claim for compensation, it cannot make the entire transfer ineffective. And a person who gave his notice shortly before the transfer continued to be ‘assigned’ to the undertaking transferred despite not attending his office and only doing a small amount of work from home.

Mr Marcroft worked for PMI Health Group (PMI), responsible for sales in the commercial insurance department. His contract contained a restrictive covenant which he is alleged to have breached by approaching clients of PMI whose accounts he had managed or about whom he had acquired knowledge while with PMI with a view to their transferring business to a rival company. In August 2009, PMI started negotiations with a view to disposing of the commercial insurance part of their business to Heartland. On 15 September Mr Marcroft gave notice of his resignation and it was agreed that his notice would expire on 26 October. On 25 September Mr Marcroft was officially informed by the directors of the proposed sale to Heartland. It was agreed that he need not attend the office to work, as there was very little work to be done in the commercial side of the business, but that he would be ‘on call’ at home, if it became necessary. There was no consultation with him about any actual or prospective transfer to Heartland or to anyone else, nor did he receive any documentation about the transfer. Between 25 September and 2 October (when PMI formally agreed to sell to Heartland), Mr Marcroft did little work other than fielding some calls and finalising some account details. At issue here was who - Heartland or PMI – benefitted from the restrictive covenant in Mr Marcroft’s contract. Heartland claimed that Mr Marcroft’s contract transferred to it by virtue of TUPE which entitled it to sue him for breach of the covenant. Mr Marcroft initially sought to rely on the TUPE transfer to Heartland but then changed his tune. He argued that TUPE did not apply, that there was no relevant transfer, that he was not employed by PMI, that he was not assigned to that part of the undertaking transferred, that he had ceased to be assigned before the date of the transfer and that PMI had deliberately breached its duty to provide him with information about the transfer, thereby by depriving him of the opportunity to object to it and rendering the transfer of his contract of employment ineffective.

The judge held that there was a relevant transfer by PMI to Heartland under TUPE, reg. 3; that Mr Marcroft was employed by the transferor PMI; that he was assigned to the business of the commercial insurance department at PMI which was transferred to Heartland; and that he had adequate opportunity to object to the transfer.

The Court of Appeal had to decide whether, at the date of the transfer, Mr Marcroft was assigned to PMI's commercial insurance undertaking ‘on a temporary basis’, in which case he would not have transferred under TUPE, or whether he was fully assigned at the date of the transfer, in which case he would be TUPE-transferred. It had no doubt that the original judge correctly decided that he was assigned and could not bring himself within the temporary assignment exclusion. The court understood why it could have been said that ‘in the fag end of his contract’, there was a temporary quality in the timescale of Mr Marcroft’s work with PMI. However, the mere fact of his handing in his notice (and the subsequently much reduced workload) did not change the nature of the work he was performing: it ‘cannot be right, in principle, that an employee is automatically assigned on a temporary basis, thereby losing the protection of TUPE, simply as a result of handing in his notice’.

On Mr Marcroft’s claim regarding the failure to inform and the denial of his right to object, the Court of Appeal said that he faced a number of insuperable problems:

* There was no conspiracy by PMI and Heartland to evade TUPE which would disentitle Heartland from saying that there was a TUPE transfer. Mr Marcroft was informed of the proposed transfer by PMI on 25 September. He did not object to the transfer either before or after 2 October 2009. On the contrary, he asserted through his solicitors in a letter of 26 November, by which time he was fully aware of the circumstances, that TUPE applied to transfer him from PMI and that Heartland had the benefit of any restrictive covenant that he was alleged to have breached.

* There is no legal basis for saying that the transfer of his contract was ineffective. There is a duty (under TUPE, reg. 13) to provide the representatives of the affected workers with certain information (which does not, however, include the right to object). It is not an obligation to provide the information to Mr Marcroft personally. But even if such a duty could somehow be spelled out of that regulation, the duty rested with the PMI, not Heartland since they were not his employer. The remedy for breach of the reg. 13 duty is a claim in the tribunal by union or employee representatives, not an avoidance of the transfer that has taken place.

* Compliance with reg. 13 is not a precondition to an effective transfer of a contract of employment. If it were, there would be no point in TUPE conferring the right to object, since the transferor employer in the position of PMI could always prevent a transfer by the simple device of not providing the employee’s representative with information in compliance with reg. 13. Such a construction would undermine the protective purpose of TUPE.

* There is no basis in fact or law for the suggested implied term in the contract of employment that would render the transfer of it ineffective unless the employee has been provided with information by the employer about the transfer.

Published with kind permission of Craig Gordon, HR Bullets.

Compromise Agreements - McWilliam v Glasgow City Council

Compromise agreements Friday, 15 April 2011
McWilliam v Glasgow City Council

The EAT in Scotland has held that compromise agreements entered into by Glasgow City Council to settle equal pay claims prevented the women affected from pursuing those claims, even though their solicitors had not advised whether or not the settlements on offer were a ‘good deal’. There is no obligation on advisers to comment on the potential value of a claim or assess the likelihood of its success – all that is required is that the employee is advised what the terms of the compromise agreement are and what they mean.

Glasgow City Council were faced with many thousands of equal pay claims and arranged for local lawyers to advise its female staff about their rights under equal pay law. The council then offered compromise agreements to these staff on the basis that the solicitors would act for these employees (not the council) in giving legal advice. The solicitors held a series of mass presentations to advise the female staff about compromise agreements, and offered one-to-one sessions with individuals on their own contracts so that, if they wanted to, they could sign compromise agreements (which stated that they would not bring equal pay claims covering a specified period). The lawyers specifically emphasised that:

* they could not advise on whether or not the deal offered was a good one for the employee concerned
* the employees could not bring a tribunal claim if they concluded a compromise agreement, and
* the employees did not have to sign the agreements that day, and if they were unsure, they shouldn’t sign

The applicable law (at the time) was s. 77 of the Sex Discrimination Act which set out the criteria which must be met for a compromise agreement to be used as a valid and effective means of waiving claims. In particular, it specified that the compromise agreement must relate to a ‘particular complaint’ and that the employee must receive ‘advice’ from a ‘relevant independent adviser as to the terms and effect’ of the agreement before it is entered into.

Ms McWilliam and some of her co-workers did try to bring equal pay claims against the council and the Glasgow tribunal had to decide whether it could hear their claims. This turned on the efficacy of the compromise agreements. The tribunal (ETS 132316/07) unequivocally upheld the validity of the compromise agreements. Ms McWilliam appealed to the EAT and lost.

The EAT held that:

* The term ‘particular complaint’ does not mean that a tribunal complaint has to be lodged before that complaint can be waived under a compromise agreement. What’s more, the complaint does not even need to have been articulated by the employee before the agreement is entered into. What matters, said the EAT, is that both parties know to which particular complaint the compromise agreement relates (i.e. both parties are aware that particular matter cannot be litigated in future) – there doesn’t need to have been a history of dialogue or communication about the complaint.

* The advice offered was ‘independent’ - the fact that the lawyers’ fees were paid by Glasgow Council was standard practice and in no way altered the fact that they were acting for the employees. Also, the fact that the lawyers had met with the council to discuss the logistics for the mass advice sessions was irrelevant.

* When giving advice to an employee on the terms and effect of the compromise agreement, the independent adviser does not need to offer a view as to whether or not the deal on offer is a good one or whether or not the employee should accept the offer given his or her particular circumstances. All that is required is that the employee is advised what the terms of the compromise agreement are and what they mean (e.g. the scope of the claims, what claims are being compromised, how any payment would be treated for tax purposes, etc.).

While this case related to the statutory requirements in the ‘old’ Sex Discrimination Act, these requirements are replicated in other statutory provisions on compromise agreements, e.g. the Equality Act 2010. They are also much the same as those in the Employment Rights Act 1996.

Re-published with kind permission of HRBullets.co.uk

Friday, 8 April 2011

‘Confusing’ policies led to unfair dismissal - A lesson in clarity?

Liberty Living plc v Reid


An employee summarily dismissed for drinking alcohol off work premises during working hours was unfairly dismissed. His employer’s policies (one dealing with alcohol and drugs and the other with disciplinary issues) were inconsistent and had only been drawn to the employee’s attention after his dismissal.

Liberty Living (LL) owned and managed various student properties where Mr Reid worked as a maintenance caretaker. LL had two employment policies which related to alcohol consumption during working hours. The Disciplinary Policy referred to the possibility of summary dismissal if the employee is found to be ‘under the influence of alcohol’ during working hours, which amounted to gross misconduct. Its Alcohol and Drug Policy stated that ‘consumption of alcohol or being under the influence of alcohol while performing company business or in the workplace is prohibited’ and that ‘violation of this policy can result in disciplinary action up to an including discharge’.

Mr Reid was caught by LL’s general manager drinking in a local pub during working hours. He was given a letter summoning him to a disciplinary hearing for ‘being under the influence of alcohol during working hours’. A copy of LL’s Disciplinary Policy was enclosed with the letter but its Alcohol and Drugs Policy was not. At the end of the hearing Mr Reid was told he was being summarily dismissed, the reason given being that consumption of any alcohol at all during the working day constituted gross misconduct. A subsequent dismissal letter then stipulated that he was dismissed both for having had an alcoholic drink during working hours and for being under the influence of alcohol during working hours. Mr Reid appealed on the basis that he’d only had a pint of lager shandy and that he had not been ‘under the influence’. His appeal was dismissed because he had consumed alcohol during working hours.

By a majority, a tribunal upheld Mr Reid’s unfair dismissal complaint because he’d been unaware of LL’s Alcohol and Drugs Policy and the policy was, in any event, confusing. LL was patently unclear as to what its policies actually were and had created confusion at the disciplinary hearing by referring to both a prohibition on being ‘under the influence of alcohol’ and against any ‘consumption of alcohol’. LL appealed on the grounds that the tribunal’s decision was perverse and that it had substituted its own view for that of a reasonable employer.

The EAT rejected LL’s appeal and upheld the finding of unfair dismissal. It was not open to LL to say that, although it had charged Mr Reid with being under the influence of alcohol, that covered a situation where he had had a single alcoholic drink. Not only did LL not apply its own policies but it clearly didn’t know what they were. The Disciplinary Policy said that it was only being ‘under the influence’ during working hours that could be categorised as gross misconduct leading to summary dismissal. And while the Alcohol and Drugs Policy stated that consuming alcohol while on company business or in the workplace was not allowed, it was not expressly designated as gross misconduct. LL’s cause was not helped by the charges it brought against Mr Reid being different from what he was actually dismissed for.

Here are some suggestions as to what HR can learn from this case:

-Have policies which are consistent and not contradictory.

-Avoid phrases such as ‘under the influence of alcohol’; it’s pretty meaningless unless you are going to spell out precisely what it means.

-Make sure policies are brought to the attention of staff, e.g. get them to sign and date that they have received, read and understood them.

-Make sure your managers know what your policies say – in the case above the dismissing manager wrongly told Mr Reid that because he had had a drink during working hours, this was gross misconduct; neither policy actually said this!

Liberty Living plc v Reid

Republished with the kind permission of Craig Gordon, HR Bullets

Tuesday, 22 March 2011

Flexible working now the norm

Four fifths of UK companies are now offering their staff flexible working, according to Flexible Working Goes Global from Regus.

But trust remains a major hurdle for many companies with over a third of UK businesses only offering this privilege to senior staff. Those companies embracing flexible working practices are reaping major benefits: 40% report improved staff productivity; 67% say staff achieve a better work-life balance; and 55% acknowledge that flexible working costs less than conventional, fixed office working.

Flexible working can incorporate office hours and/or location. Indeed, a quarter of respondents pointed to the recruitment benefits of mobile or home working, claiming flexibility in location helps them access a wider talent pool and attract staff based in remote areas. Rising oil prices are likely to further focus attention on remote working in the coming months, as UK employers face pressure to help commuters reduce their monthly transport costs.

The key findings of the research as it relates to the UK are:

83% of firms offer flexible working, whether related to office hours or location
38% only offer flexible working as a privilege to senior staff
proportion of firms reporting that flexible working
costs less than fixed office working (55%)
improves employee productivity (40%)
enables a better work-life balance ( 67%)
is more family-friendly (81%)
makes staff more motivated (36%)
helps attracts a wider talent pool (21%)
in terms of location (remote working) enables them to employ valuable people that live in more remote parts of their country (24%)
is pivotal in achieving business scalability as we emerge from recession (22%)
encourages staff to be more self-sufficient and pro-active in their work (37%)

Article published on this blog and 'Britain's Got HR Talent' Linkedin group with kind permission of Craig Gordon of www.HRBullets.co.uk

Corporate learning and development priorities 2011

Investment in HR as a discipline has fallen dramatically in comparison with last year but investment in people development as whole remains a top priority according to Corporate Learning Priorities Survey 2011 from the Henley Business School. Talent retention and managing change are the other two top priorities.

While developing the HR team is not seen as a priority, 74% of respondents said that developing people to achieve growth and competitive advantage is paramount (up from 69% in 2010). Retention of talent is the second highest priority for development activity with 73% identifying it as crucial, a rise from 63% last year, and concern about managing change, reflecting a continuing volatile economy, came third with 64% naming it as a learning objective, compared with 60% in 2010.

The survey, of 2,500 HR and non-HR senior managers from private and public sector organisations employing in excess of 500 people, captures a snapshot of learning and development priorities at a time when public sector organisations are implementing severe cuts and the private sector is facing increased competition and having to do 'more with less'.

Despite the apparently positive attitude towards development as a whole for next year, there seems little appetite to focus on HR capability with the development of HR teams plummeting in the priority list from 34% in 2010 to just 3% in this year’s survey. HR and non-HR respondents also have a very different view on Learning and Development spending this year with 24% of respondents in HR roles saying they will spend more in 2011 as against 32% of those in non-HR roles.

Nick Kemsley, the co-director at Henley's Centre for HR Excellence, believes that while focus on HR capability may have become a victim of the times it is vital that HR continues to develop and transform in 2011. He believes HR functions have to address gaps in their content, structure, process, system and skills to ensure they are meeting the needs of organisations - or risk being side-lined. He says: ‘This change must happen quickly. HR will need to live the values of the post-downturn world – speed, pragmatism, tangibility, impact – in its own evolution, or else risk being left isolated in a business world which has to get on with things with or without its help. If HR can pull this transformation off, then the kind of work which happens within the function will be genuinely business-critical and offer both enormous opportunity and challenge for those who want to, and are able to, work like this. HR would be a place where a connection with business strategy and performance was immediate and tangible’.

Other key findings of the research include:

Attracting new talent - 64% said this was important, compared to 52% in 2010
The development of middle managers remains significant with 43% naming this as a first or second priority

Just over a third (35%) of respondents place developing senior managers in first or second place, while 31% identify developing the management skills of new leaders
The overwhelming majority of respondents will be doing more, rather than less, learning and development activity in 2011 – specifically many will be ‘doing it for themselves’ with 62% of respondents saying they would be doing more informal knowledge sharing between peers and 59% more mentoring between peers in 2011 than in 2010

Article published on this blog and 'Britain's Got HR Talent' Linkedin group with kind permission of Craig Gordon, www.HRBullets.co.uk

Use of compromise agreements increases significantly

More than half of employers surveyed by the CIPD say that their use of compromise agreements has increased in the last two years, with more than two-thirds saying they use such agreements, even in the absence of an existing claim. This is one of headline findings of the CIPD’s Conflict Management survey. The median compensation payment was £10,000 but one in five employers reported that the typical payment was £25,000 or more.

Albeit on a relatively modest sample size of 206 organisations with an average number of staff in each of just over 2,000, the CIPD’s survey reveals that more than two out of three employers (69%) say they have no effective protection against employees making wholly unjustifiable claims to employment tribunals. The report shows three in five respondents (61%) have experience of an employee claiming unfair dismissal and ‘tagging on’ a discrimination claim in the hope of getting more compensation. Over half of employers (55%) say they have endured a complaint against their organisation on malicious grounds. More than half think the law on unfair dismissal should be amended to make it easier for employers to dismiss. A similar proportion (54%) also support more effective case management to identify ‘vexatious’ claims, with exactly half supporting the move to require tribunals to award costs against losing claimants.

Mike Emmott, Employee Relations adviser at the CIPD, said: ‘This survey reflects the strength of feeling among employers about the failings of the current system for resolving workplace disputes. [It] also suggests that recent plans outlined by the government – to increase the minimum period employees serve before they can claim unfair dismissal from 12 months to two years – will have only limited impact on the number of claims. This is because many claims are linked to discrimination claims which can be made from day one of employment. The real problem is that the employment tribunal system itself is broken and its costs and benefits are wholly out of line. The government needs to take a radical look at the existing machinery for protecting employment rights’.

Other findings include:

The number of days management and HR spent on managing both disciplinary and grievance cases as gone up since 2007, the last time the CIPD conducted a similar survey: from 13 to 18 days (disciplinary) and from 9 to 14.4 days (grievance)

There are significant differences between sectors – the number of days of management time (excluding HR) spent on handling grievances in the public sector (9 days) is much higher than private services (5.5 days)

There have been significant increases in the use of most forms of managing conflict, internal and external. Almost half of respondents say their organisation has increased its use of disciplinary action (50%) and grievance procedures (48%)

More employers seem to be using mediation to resolve workplace issues (some 80% in the public sector and nearly 50% in private services. Those who don’t use mediation cite its costs and their belief that there is no clear business case

Three out of five (62%) say their organisation is making increased use of training line managers in handling difficult conversations

Major reasons for using compromise agreements (other than to settle an existing claim) are to remove an employee on grounds of poor performance or misconduct (39%), to avoid legal challenge in relation to redundancy (26%) and to make it easier to remove senior staff without embarrassment (24%)

The median cost of management time for dealing with a typical compromise agreement is reported as £1,000; the median cost of legal advice in drawing up an agreement is £750. Looking at the total costs involved, including compensation, the median was £11,000 and the maximum £110,000

Article published with the kind permission of Craig Gordon or www.HRBullets.co.uk

Wednesday, 9 February 2011

A Negotiation Skills Masterclass from Blackpool FC

Blackpool Football Club bosses pulled off a master stroke on transfer window deadline day for British football.

For many months, there's been speculation surrounding Mr Adams and the keen interest being express by clubs such as Liverpool, Manchester United and Chelsea. OK, there's been 'speculation' and that's very different from a genuine offer being made to Blackpool FC to secure Mr Adams' services. On a day when Fernando Torres left struggling Liverpool to join Chelsea FC (who are also struggling but still in the top 5 league positions) for an astounding £50 million fee, youngster Andy Carroll leaves Newcastle FC to join Liverpool for a staggering £30 million - remember that Mr Carroll has played less than 45 minutes for the England national side and his transfer fee is only £10 million less than that paid for master footballer Zinazin Didane over a decade ago, don't you just wonder where, in an environment of austerity and cutbacks, how much does one club have to pay for a player from a competitor?

The master stroke from Blackpool FC? It's a wonderfully simple, if not perhaps unethical approach to retaining the services of a very influential player. What did they do? Well, Sky News reported that an offer for Adams had been received from high-flying Tottenham Hotspur (remember, it's deadline day and more 'last minute' deals get done on this day than at any other time during the transfer window), but a deal was not able to be done due to the fact that several Blackpool FC shareholders weren't available to sign documents which would have approved the deal before the 11pm transfer deadline.

Isn't this a fantastic strategy? A well established negotiation tool is to 'refer to a higher authority' if you want to get something done more quickly and easily. But Blackpool FC turned this approach on its head. They appear to have ensured that the 'higher authorities' were unavailable, whether they be in different locations or just not contactable by phone. Well done Mr Holloway, you've kept the player you never wanted to sell and let other clubs know what challenges they'll face in future when you don't want to sell one of your players.

Can't we all learn something from this that relates to the world of business?

A key tool when influencing another person or group is the element of scarcity. Whether it's a scarcity of funds, resources or time, creating the illusion of something or someone not being available for long tends to create an element of urgency in the other party. Look at how Ian Holloway played out this drama. And he did it fantastically well! He started with the approach of 'Don't ask us to sell our player as he's not for sale.' In an interview a few weeks later he stated that in his opinion, his player could be worth up to £48 million. How crazy is that valuation? and that's possibly what he wanted his intended audience (other Premiership managers) to think. And are you guessing what's next? Even though £48 million is ridiculous as a transfer fee, if you do want to buy the player and you get him for £20 million - doesn't it then look like more of a bargain?

Remember, in business, whether you're a leader, manager, sales person or customer service agent, you are ALWAYS negotiating. And if you're not using effective negotiation and influencing tools and techniques, you could lose out. And, with great respect for Mr Holloway, if you don't want to sell out, make it amazingly difficult for the other party to access the relevant resources (in his case, the shareholders) to approve such a deal.

Find out more about negotiation skills training courses at http://www.SummitTraining.co.uk/