Northern leading light

first_img Previous Article Next Article Northern leading lightOn 1 Oct 2000 in Personnel Today Comments are closed. Related posts:No related photos. Employersand unions are working together in Norway to ensure the success of a nationalon-line learning system. Dominique Hammond compares its experience with theUK’s efforts  Norway,land of the northern lights and the midnight sun, sits on the outer edge ofEurope, not far from the Arctic circle. It has a smaller population than mostof its counterparts, at just 4 million, but like Britain and the rest of theWestern world, Norway is facing the challenges of a changing economy.Theoil and gas fields that have kept it afloat for generations are drying up andit has realised that if it is to find other ways of competing in the globalmarketplace, it needs a highly-skilled workforce.Toachieve this, trade and industry minister Grete Knudsen has launched a nationaltraining project. It is the Norwegian Competence Network (NKN), a nationwideon-line learning system launched in August which will be accessible to all 1.2million workers, through computer terminals in their workplaces.“Wehave a very good education system in Norway, but the pace of change is so rapidthat it is necessary for people to get refills several times through theircareers,” says Tore Egil Holte, chairman of NKN.“Forboth the employer and the employee this is a way that everyone can get thelearning they need flexibly.”Theproject has massive support from the government. It passed a law in 1998 givingevery person in Norway born before 1978 the right to free secondary educationthrough their workplace and to on-going training. This law kick-started thescheme, but it is business and the unions that own it.PartnershipInan impressive example of partnership, the project has been developed and paidfor jointly by the Norwegian Confederation of Business and Industry (NHO) andthe Norwegian Confederation of Trade Unions (LO). Between them they have put uphalf of the 20m kroner (£1.5m) development cost. The rest came from researchcouncils and regional development funds.Thisalliance has not always been comfortable. There has been an on-going row overwho should pay what and they have refused to divulge the final split. Yet thebenefits are considered so important to both sides that they have managed towork together well enough to see it through.Theycommissioned Saba, an American company which has designed e-learning networksfor companies with thousands of staff, such as Ford and Cisco Systems, todevelop the software. Bobby Yazdani, president and CEO, said he could not turndown the opportunity to develop a system for a whole country.“Wehave never seen transactions at this scale on the Internet before,” he says.“Whenwe developed the system for Ford, 30,000 people used it in the first threedays. But this is e-learning for a million people and that is unprecedented. Itis pushing the technology to the limit and that is very exciting.”Sowhat does NKN have to offer? To start with around 200 courses from 40 providerswill be available on the system. These have been chosen based on what is mostin demand and what is easiest to teach on-line. They include courses in IT,health and safety and various business skills. Over the next few yearsthousands of courses covering every skill imaginable will be added, Holte says.“Therewill be three types of offering,” says Holte. “The first will be the standardcourse off the shelf, language courses, for example. The second will be coursesdeveloped by individual companies and distributed to their employees throughour network. “Thethird will be industry-specific courses developed by industrial organisationsand distributed to companies belonging to them. Through this system it ispossible to choose who gets access to particular courses.” Companieswill pay for their employees to use courses. Each employee will have a careerdevelopment plan and discuss with their supervisor which skills they need todevelop based on their aptitude and the skills the company needs. The companywill give staff time off to learn.SavingsNorwegianbusiness currently spends an estimated 20bn kroner (£1.5bn) a year on training.Learning on-line does away with expensive training centres and having to givestaff whole days off to attend. Although some learning will continue to beclassroom-based, providing the bulk through NKN is expected to bring massivesavings.“Wewant to keep our competitive edge and get more for our money. With this schemepeople learn more per kroner,” says Finn Bergesen, chief executive of NHO.“Afew years ago life was in compartments. You had your education, then yourtraining, then your working life, then your retirement. But we don’t live likethat any more. The shelf life of training has become very short. We need toupdate ourselves.“Manyworkers are reluctant to start skilling themselves again, but we are making iteasier by bringing the skills to them. It is the individual’s responsibility tomake sure they update their skills, but it is also the responsibility of theemployer, because he will get left behind and go out of business if hisworkforce does not have the right skills.”Updateon the UKThismonth, learndirect, an on-line learning system set up by the BritishGovernment, will become fully operational in England, Wales and NorthernIreland. Itsmain aim is broadly similar to the Norwegian system – to enable people to learnbeyond school and college and to keep updating their skills through courses onthe Internet, yet unlike the Norwegian system it does not focus principally onbusiness. In fact the vast majority of the 251 learning centres are inlibraries, railway stations and community centres. Just 13 are in workplacesand only two companies – BT and the Army – have signed up to become “corporatelearning hubs”, although this number is expected to grow.AnneWright, chief executive of the University for Industry, the company set up torun learndirect, said it will be driven both by employers and individual’sneeds.“Itis for all adults – those in work, those seeking work and those consideringreturning to work. Its aims are to drive up the demand for learning by helpingadults improve their employability through acquiring new knowledge and skills,so that businesses become more competitive. “UfIhas a target for 1 million people a year to be using learndirect courses by2003.”Thereare 250 courses available and another 250 will be on-line this autumn. Coursesin numeracy, literacy, key business skills, and IT are being prioritised, asare courses for four industry sectors: environmental services and technology,multimedia, retail and distribution, and automotive components.last_img read more

Campaign to help dyslexics

first_imgA campaign has been launched to secure a better deal in the workplace forpeople with dyslexia. The British Dyslexia Association got together with business people, tradeunionists and advice agencies to start the campaign, which calls for more basicskills tutors specialising in teaching people with the condition. Dyslexics can be highly intelligent and have an excellent grasp of theirexpertise, but struggle to put ideas onto paper, said BDA chief executiveJoanne Rule. “We are bombarded with printed information, but if text is presented ina dyslexia-friendly way, it will be accessible to everyone.” Campaign to help dyslexicsOn 1 Dec 2000 in Personnel Today Previous Article Next Article Comments are closed. Related posts:No related photos.last_img read more

Joint initiative call over drugs at work issues

first_img Previous Article Next Article Businesses and trade unions are being urged to work together to put intoplace more effective anti-drug policies in the workplace. The Government initiative is tied into work already under way by the HSE toestablish the scale and impact of drug misuse on health and safety at work. Keith Hellawell, the Government’s anti-drugs “tsar”, told anemployers’ conference in February, “An effective policy can’t just beinstigated by management. It needs to be a consensus between unions, workforceand management. “We want to encourage an approach which offers support, encouragementand counselling to those who are misusing drugs.” But Graham Johnson, professional development manager at MTL Medical Serviceswarned against a knee-jerk reaction. Businesses needed to be sure they had thought through why they wanted ananti-drugs policy. “The policy needs to be evidence-based. Businesses needto be advised correctly,” he said. Comments are closed. Related posts:No related photos. Joint initiative call over drugs at work issuesOn 1 Apr 2001 in Personnel Todaylast_img read more

Communications staff lack crucial HR skills

first_imgCommunications staff lack crucial HR skillsOn 17 Jul 2001 in Personnel Today Related posts:No related photos. Few internal communications specialists have an HR background or relevantqualifications. The finding, in a report by Business Intelligence, shows that only 10 percent have HR experience and only 15 per cent are fully qualified with relevantprofessional qualifications. Transforming Internal Communication claims that this compares to 50 per centof overseas companies. Most people moving into the sector have joined from other professions,including 26 per cent from marketing and 22 per cent from public relations orjournalism. The study claims that internal communications staff need skills inareas other than writing, communication and research. An understanding of internal communications practice, strategic thinking andchange management are also essential skills, claims the study. Internalcommunications staff must be able to understand business and strategic issuesquickly and explain them to a wider audience. Gavin Green, director of communications for Land Rover, commented on theresearch, “Internal communications is such an involved area. Traditionallyit has been done by HR but if you are dealing with a company newspaper ormagazine I would argue that the major skills required are journalism andcommunication skills. “You do need more than those skills. You need a strategy to getemployees onside. The major factor here is that you need to understand youraudience,” said Green. Simon Lancaster, director of publishing at Business Intelligence, commented,”An internal communications strategy, tailor-made to support corporategoals and developed by skilled communication professionals, is critical tobusiness success. The research surveyed internal communication professionals in over 100public and private sector organisations. Previous Article Next Article Comments are closed. last_img read more

A framework for change

first_img Previous Article Next Article Related posts:No related photos. Comments are closed. A framework for changeOn 24 Sep 2002 in Auto-enrolment, Personnel Today IT has come a long way since the days of green screens. But what part doestechnology play in the flexible benefits revolution?Technical innovation in IT shows no sign of abating: product lifecycles areshortening, and more technical demands are being placed on internal ITfunctions and external providers. As well as changes and development in technology, there are the paradigm shifts– step changes that revolutionise what we know and understand. And in IT thesesignificant changes occur frequently. Examples within the last few yearsinclude: the move from centralised mainframe ‘green screen’ systems todistributed PC-based systems; the advent of graphical user interfaces; and theadoption of the internet. Each has heralded major changes in computing andfresh demands on the user community and IT professional. Since the dotcom boom, demand has exploded for software solutions based oninternet and intranet technologies. The tools and architecture have becomeavailable to build such systems, many of which are immature in functionalityand architecture. The internet environment has been a serious constraint to thedeveloper, resulting in a restricted application, with a less rewarding userexperience when compared to client/server systems. The introduction of Microsoft’s .NET Framework, which includes new tools,architecture and languages, hopes to change this situation, providing a newmodel for application development and deployment. .NET is centred on the concept of web services – loosely coupled systemscollaborating to provide applications that ‘consume’ services provided byothers, all via the internet/intranet, utilising the power of the web in aprogrammatic way. Part of this change will also make way for a much more diverse range ofsmart devices, including mobile phones and Personal Digital Assistants (PDAs),for employees to interact with their HR data enabling anytime, anywhere accessand action. The future will see a mixed mode environment where some users will work withwireless mobile devices. New devices will emerge combining mobile phone and PDAfacilities, offering an array of differing form-factors and capabilities. Newapplications must seamlessly adapt to this mixed mode environment clientdevice, without the overhead of having to ‘code’ specific facilities in theapplication to support this variety. This forms the backdrop to the introduction of a new generation of flexiblebenefits software applications solutions. Using .NET, provider RebusHR, is ableto make its flexible benefits applications available as a hosted service or asoftware package for in-house deployment. Deployment Peaks in demand typically occur during the enrolment period when employeesare asked to register their flexible benefit choices. As this typically happensat set periods within the financial or calendar year, in the past it could haveimpacted the hosted service, as there can be many organisations withoverlapping enrolment periods and consequently times when there could be alarge number of active users. The .NET architecture allows the application to easily scale up and out ifrequired. As well as the database configuration options, the use of VisualStudio for Applications means that customer specific business rules can bewritten around organisations’ flexible benefits offering. .NET Remoting is usedfor communications between the front-end, where employees can select theirbenefits, and application servers, where the flex calculations are made,providing for scalable distributed systems. To ensure the integrity of information, customers have no direct access tothe database and all transactions must pass through the business rules withinthe application. However, to improve performance, there are separate databasesfor production and reporting. Ease of use Because of the technology used, RebusHR’s flexible benefits applications canbe web-browser-based, providing full web functionality and a familiar userinterface tailored to meet a company’s requirements. For employees, theapplication is essentially self-service and links directly to benefitproviders’ websites if further information is required in the decision-makingprocess. Policy and other documents are available online for ease of access andreview, and to speed the process of selecting benefits or making claims. Forthe administrators, the processes of data entry and deployment are simplified throughthe use of workflow. Administering flexible benefits in the workplaceThe introduction of flexible benefitshas been held back by fear of an administration avalanche. Developments ininformation-sharing technology mean these issues can be dealt with more easily,with automated systems of administration and web portals for employee access.RebusHR has developed a flexible benefits application using aworkflow system that automates all the processes involved in the flexiblebenefits calendar. The application encompasses benefit supplier details,benefit plans, options and coverage, eligibility rules, date-driven processesand premiums and benefit contributions for employees and employers. It uses thelatest Microsoft .NET technology to allow organisations to open up access topeople across their workforce, and to customise their ‘user interface’ to meetparticular needs.This is how a flexible benefits scheme would work. Theapplication evolves around the five stages in the lifecycle of a flexiblebenefits scheme: plan, contract, data, enrolment and review.Plan An organisation will decide on the range ofbenefits to be made available to employees and the parameters of the scheme,including the proportion of the overall remuneration package that can be spenton benefits, the administrative process and the timetable.Contract During the contract stage, the company willarrange deals with the organisations whose goods and services are availablewithin the flexible benefits scheme, negotiating group discount rates and otherterms and conditions.Data The application is populated both directly and viainteraction with existing systems that hold relevant data. This includesemployee data, which may be held in an existing HR application from RebusHR oranother supplier, employer data and benefits data. The application can alsoprovide access to information, such as claims procedures, stored elsewhere viathe internet.Enrolment Employees are invited to make their flexiblebenefits selections. This can be undertaken on a yearly basis and for specificad hoc instances such as new employees or a lifestyle change (such as marriageor childbirth). This is a self-service process whereby the employee researchesthe options and makes their choices via a web browser interface.The application allows employees to run ‘what-if’ scenarios sothat they can experiment with various combinations of choices. Thisfunctionality will be available via mobile devices such as PDAs enablingemployees to, for example, make the decision with consultation from theirpartners by using the application from home.Review The final review stage is an opportunity for thescheme administrators to evaluate and assess the scheme. This will provide themwith opportunities to, for example, renegotiate benefit provider rates based ontake-up levels from the previous year or address any common areas of confusionby modifying the way the scheme is communicated to employees accordingly.last_img read more

Forward-thinking HR should head off shareholder rebellion

first_img Previous Article Next Article As shareholders’ dissatisfaction with directors’ benefits grows, HR willneed to demonstrate a clear link between rewards and company performance if itis to throw off accusations of fat cat pay-offsThe furore on thesubject of executive pay and incentives has made this year’s AGM season highprofile. Companies in the spotlight for handing out fat cat pay have foundthemselves alienated from their shareholders and employees. The press has been keen to pin the blame for excessive incentive payments onremuneration committees and their advisers, but in most companies, the HRdirector will be a pivotal internal figure. The fat cat fuss is not going todiminish – in fact, it will increase significantly. It will become vitallyimportant for companies to ensure their future reward strategies add, ratherthan detract, value. This is the time for HR directors to make a significantimpact on their companies’ reputation and effectiveness. The HR director will have to deal with two major changes to the executivepay scene. The value of share options will hit companies’ profits and lossesand the new lifetime limit on pensions will prevent them from paying anythingfurther into some senior executives pension schemes. As a result, we shall witness growing shareholder dissatisfaction overexcessive executive pay; unfavourable reaction from other stakeholders –including employees; the staple parts of the executive pay package-options anddirect benefit pensions under threat; and the inevitable disclosure of everyaspect of executive reward. The chairman of one major company’s remuneration committee told me recentlythat in his experience, companies tend to deal with executive remuneration on apiecemeal basis “…tinkering each year to keep up or follow the latestfashion”. He said it is time to take an overall look at the whole issue. In many cases the problem lands in the HR director’s lap, and will do soincreasingly in the future. Does he or she see this as a threat or anopportunity? I believe the forward-thinking HR director will opt for the latterand use it as a catalyst to initiate some fundamental thinking. They should first consider that there would be little criticism for rewardsthat are clearly linked to performance. Therefore, companies must ensure thisis demonstrably so. Executives do not exist in isolation, and therefore theirrewards must have a general and total relationship to those of other employees.A reward programme should also be looked at as a whole, and the merits (orotherwise) of individual components such as base pay, incentives, shares orpensions need to re-evaluated. The need to change a pension deal because of the proposed lifetime limitwill give a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to change the way packages arestructured. An increasing number of organisations are already instigating reviews of thefundamentals of their remuneration programmes, and are developing robust modelsto assist them in determining what is linked with, and what encourages, goodperformance. A compellingly attractive study shows performance is boosted when there is arelationship between total employee cost and shareholder value. The latterincreases employee reward and should maintain its share, while the growth inemployee reward is shared by directors and other staff. From these three factors the appropriate levels of reward and return can befairly established and all parties can sing from the same hymn sheet. Thechallenge now for the HR director, is to establish what is right for theircompany, and to win support from above and below for its implementation. Get it right and an organisation’s performance and reputation will grow. Getit wrong and…By Richard Cockman, Partner, Watson Wyatt Related posts:No related photos. Comments are closed. Forward-thinking HR should head off shareholder rebellionOn 3 Jun 2003 in Personnel Todaylast_img read more

Order to reduce trust’s staff stress levels may impact OH

first_imgRelated posts:No related photos. Comments are closed. Order to reduce trust’s staff stress levels may impact OHOn 1 Sep 2003 in Personnel Today Previous Article Next Article Anunprecedented move by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) to order an NHStrust to reduce the levels of stress faced by staff could have wide-reachingimplications for occupational health professionals.WestDorset General Hospitals NHS trust was issued with an improvement notice by theHSE in August.Itis the first time the HSE has issued such an order for stress against anorganisation, and was prompted by a complaint from a former employee. Thetrust, which is in line to achieve foundation status, has been given until 15December to reduce the stress levels of its staff or face legal action underthe Health and Safety at Work Act, which could mean unlimited fines.However,the Department of Health (DoH) was at pains to emphasise the notice did notmean the trust’s 1,100 staff were necessarily more stressed than others in thepublic sector, just that its “systems of work” – particularly the fact it didnot have a work-related stress policy in place or a risk assessment ofwork-related stressors – needed addressing.“Thetrust has been working with the HSE and staff representatives to understand thereasons for workplace stress, and plan to develop a survey in conjunction witha local university. While staff already have access to OH and counsellorservices, the trust will now also be using management standards developed bythe HSE as a way to begin to tackle work-related stress,” said the DoH. Thetrust has said it will take action, arguing it is committed to reducing stressand will build on an existing plan to try to improve the working lives of itsstaff.Byacting so publicly and decisively, the HSE has brought concerns about stressand, crucially, the role of OH in tackling it, firmly on to the businessagenda, argued Alyssa Armstrong, manager of corporate well-being services atBupa Wellness.“Bymaking this statement, the HSE is showing it is serious about trying to combatstress. Companies will pay much more attention, although it is a shame that ittakes an event like this to cause them to take notice,” she said.“Organisationswill now start to take notice of what OH has been saying for years. There willbe much more readiness to go with what OH is saying,” she added.last_img read more

Training news

first_imgTraining newsOn 10 Aug 2004 in Personnel Today Related posts:No related photos. Comments are closed. This week’s training newsTraining opportunity passes by one in five workers Two-fifths of workers across the UK are still not getting the opportunity totrain sufficiently for their jobs, according to research from the Department ofTrade and Industry (DTI). More than half of workers (55 per cent) believestructured training would make a significant difference to their productivity,yet two-fifths (37 per cent) admit their employer does not give them theopportunity to ask for a tailored training programme, which many believe wouldhelp improve their overall performance. The survey, which questioned 1,000 fulland part-time workers, also reveals that while employees are aware of the valueof training, they may not be translating that training into success – 85 percent of employees admit they often don’t make the most of it. scheme success leads BBC to adopt online route BBC staff will be trained using two new online leadership skills coursesafter the successful completion of a pilot scheme. The leadership courses showhow teams can be more productive when managers use facilitation skills toclarify objectives and improve team relationships. “We believe ourmanagers will be more effective and achieve greater buy-in from their teams ifthey use a facilitative style of leadership, rather than a command-and-controlapproach,” said Louise Katz, learning executive at the BBC. The pilotresults showed that 75 per cent of the participants learned a ‘significantamount’ from the courses. “The feedback was very positive,” saidKatz. “The courses give a very good understanding of facilitativeleadership and team dynamics.” The courses were developed by trainingcompany Balance Learning and ran on the BBC intranet. Council expands in-house social worker programme Barking and Dagenham Council has secured funding from the Department ofHealth to expand its ongoing social workers training initiative. SocialServices in the Borough runs a sponsorship programme for staff at the Councilwishing to undertake a degree in social work. Known as ‘Grow Our Own SocialWorkers’, the programme helps to both increase the number of social workers atthe council, as well as encouraging staff to expand their skills. Tim McCarthy,training and development manager for social services, said the programme, whichcurrently supports 25 people aiming to qualify as social workers, will beexpanded to help more than 40 switch careers. Employees across all councildepartments can apply for sponsorship and McCarthy said the response rate hasbeen good. Health service staff happy with training provision Ninety per cent of NHS staff have received training and development in thepast year, according to a survey of more than 200,000 healthcare staff.However, the just-published 2003 NHS Staff Survey also reveals that just two infive have received health and safety training in the same period. Despite this,most NHS staff are generally satisfied with their jobs. However, staff citedseveral areas where improvement could be made – including addressing violencein the sector, the amount of work-related stress and injuries, work-lifebalance issues, and communication and feedback. The survey shows thatthree-quarters of staff work more than their contracted hours, with one in 10working more than 10 extra hours a week. However, two-thirds believe the NHS ismaking efforts to address the work-life balance issue. The full report isavailable online. Previous Article Next Articlelast_img read more

Position Descriptions of Christmas Past

first_img Comments are closed. Are the multi-skilled, or the specialists among us, more future-proof & better equipped for organisational evolution?I believe there are two trains of thought on this. These days with organisations advocating agile or iterative processes, we have witnessed a shift in not just how we meet deadlines and time restraints but in our professional mentalities. Everything is quicker, processes more streamlined and we are always looking for ways to create new efficiencies as we all deal with ever changing goalposts on a day to day basis. With this we of course become more than just what our defined position descriptions would have meant 5 to 10 years ago and instead we must be broader skilled, dynamic, out-of-the-box problem solvers who have to turn our hands daily to tasks which historically wouldn’t have been ours.On the other hand, we have a growing trend of positions being broken up into several roles where in the past they may all have been taken care of by one position. An example of this could be the role of an internal recruiter. In years gone by, a recruiter would be responsible for the end to end process of finding candidates for any given role – engaging them, appropriately screening them, interviewing them, coordinating interviews with relevant hiring managers – and thereafter would also be responsible for “closing” or hiring. However these days, a large number of recruitment roles are broken up more distinctly into sourcing, recruiting and account managing.There is merit in both methods but I will be interested to see moving forward whether it is the specialist or the broader-skilled that demonstrates more staying power. Previous Article Next Article Related posts:No related photos.center_img Position Descriptions of Christmas PastShared from missc on 19 Dec 2014 in Personnel Today Read full article last_img read more

SoftBank to invest $100M in Miami startups

first_imgClaure is also chairman and part owner of Inter Miami CF, Miami’s major league soccer team, and runs Club Bolivar, Bolivia’s soccer team. The Inter Miami CF ownership group, which includes soccer superstar David Beckham, is planning to develop a major mixed-use soccer, entertainment and tech hub development on the city-owned Melreese Country Club site near Miami International Airport.Claure and his family live on the waterfront in North Bay Road in Miami Beach. In August, Claure paid $11 million for a waterfront teardown in Miami Beach where he plans to build a new mansion.SoftBank also owns Fortress Investment Group, which owns the high-speed rail Brightline that runs from downtown Miami to West Palm Beach with plans to expand throughout Florida.Contact Katherine Kallergis Email Address* Share via Shortlink Full Name* TagsFrancis SuarezMarcelo Clauresoftbankstartups Suarez has been working to court tech and venture capital investors to Miami via social media, engaging with Elon Musk, PayPal investor Keith Rabois, Shutterstock founder Jon Oringer and others.Read moreParadise found: Can Francis Suarez make Miami the next Big Tech mecca?Plug and Play to open downtown Miami officeSpotify inks lease for South Florida headquarters in Miami’s Wynwood Share on FacebookShare on TwitterShare on LinkedinShare via Email Share via Shortlink SoftBank Group COO Marcelo Claure and Mayor Francis Suarez (Getty; iStock)SoftBank Group COO Marcelo Claure is launching a $100 million initiative to fund Miami-based tech companies and those moving to the Magic City.Claure, who is also CEO of SoftBank Group International and executive chairman of WeWork, made the announcement on Miami Mayor Francis Suarez’s Cafecito Talks series, streamed live Wednesday on Twitter.Claure, a Miami Beach resident, said SoftBank will invest $100 million into venture capital-backed tech companies in Miami, and announced that it selected its first startups to invest in, including Doral-based Lumu Technologies, a cybersecurity firm. The investments will represent a re-allocation from existing SoftBank funds, according to a source familiar with the matter. Message*last_img read more