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Archive for the '2007' Category

Most Meetings are Unproductive says New Research

Date: 20 November 2007

Source: Personnel Today

Managers throughout the UK are spending five and a half days a month preparing for, travelling to, attending or writing up notes for meetings that are considered by many to be a waste of time.

The research, conducted by Adobe, shows that meetings now comprise of a quarter of the working week, yet respondents consider that they are only attentive for just over half (56%) of a two hour meeting, meaning that in total, UK managers spend 10 days of the year sat distracted in meetings, ultimately costing UK businesses £7.5bn a year.

The most distracting things in meetings were cited as irrelevant content (69%) and meeting length (65%).

With fewer than half of managers admitting they had no formal training on meeting effectiveness, results indicate that many do not put enough thought into meeting content or who the meeting is relevant to.

Further results show that more than half of managers (56%) think they spend too much time in meetings, while two thirds of office workers think that the time they spend in meetings could be more productive.

Solutions to make better use of time include making the most of new technology by using webinars to communicate, as well as creating a strong agenda and sticking to it.

Bullying Still Happening

Date: 19 November 2007

Source: Personnel Today

The TUC has called on businesses to act, based on research conducted the University of Manchester. The study revealed that in the last six months one in 10 workers were bullied, while one in four have been victims in the last five years.

The research, which coincided with National Ban Bullying day yesterday has been highlighted by the TUC.

By producing new anti-bullying guides it hopes to help union safety representatives work with employers to create a new workplace culture where bullying, intimidation and harassment eradicated.

Brendan Barber TUC general secretary said: “People on the receiving end of cutting remarks or verbal outbursts from the workplace bully are the ones paying a heavy price for employers’ failure to deal with the problem.

The stress and anxiety felt by the victims can make them physically ill, lose all their self-confidence and mean that they dread coming into work.”

But it’s not just employees who are suffering. Companies will feel the effects too if they don’t tackle the problem.

“Staff being bullied are likely to take more time off because the harassment is making them ill and the low morale they suffer as a result almost always affects their ability to do their job, making them much less productive,” Barber added.

One in Four Stressed at Work

Date: 7 November 2007

Source: People Management

Employers need to identify and tackle stress in the workplace before it has a negative impact on their business.

The statistics come on National Stress Awareness day, organised by the International Stress Management Association who’s mission is to highlight the coping strategies and sources available to those who want to reduce the harmful effects of stress in their lives.

Vanessa Sallows, underwriting and benefits director for Legal & General’s Group Protection business said: “Work is very important to many people but this may lead to people becoming too absorbed in their daily routine and this can lead to increased pressure and stress.

If this situation is prolonged this may take its toll on a worker’s physical and mental wellbeing and result in a range of health problems such as heart disease, back pain and gastrointestinal problems.”

The research, which questioned 2,000 people and is part of an ongoing study of Britain’s health worries also highlighted that one in five believed that they worked too many extra hours.

Other results showed that almost one in four full-time British workers never take a break during work and 7% do not even take a holiday.

The National Stress Awareness day website includes tips on how to avoid or get rid of stress. Its suggestions include, among others, smiling, exercising, achieving a good work-life balance and seeking professional help.

Workplace is Crucial Battleground for Organizations says Equality Chief

Date: 12 October 2007

Source: Equality and Human Rights Commission

Equality and Human Rights chair Trevor Phillips called for businesses to recognize that diversity should be a key source of energy and prosperity, not a cause of friction, conflict and inequality at the Times responsible business conference today.

Please click here to see the full news article.http://www.equalityhumanrights.com/en/newsandcomment/Pages/Workplaceiscrucialbattleground.aspx

(This link will take you to the Equality and Human Rights Commission website)

Building Relationships and Preventing Conflict at Work

Date: 1 October 2007

Source: Globis

Clive Lewis, Founder and Managing Director of Globis has been invited to address the Gloucestershire CIPD Network. Below are details of the event and a link to the Gloucestershire CIPD website for more information.

Event details:

Mediation in the workplace is set to become one of the biggest topics for UK organisations over the next few years. But what exactly is workplace mediation? Are UK organisations ready for it and how can it add value in places of work?

In this session, Clive Lewis will talk about the background to mediation, the importance of good relationships at work, the likely impact of the Gibbons review and the future for mediation and its links to other organisational processes within the workplace. The event will also be hosted at the new Globis Learning & Mediation Centre. This 2,500 sq ft facility was opened in June 2007 and provides meeting, training and conference space for local regional and national organisations.

For more on the event please click here:

http://www.cipd.co.uk/branch/gloucester/_events/gloucester-preventconflict-20071101

Clive will also be talking on a similar topic at the CIPD in Oxford early next year.

Can Workplace Mediation Play a Bigger Role in Resolving Conflict at Work?

A response to Michael Gibbons ( Annex to CIPD response to DTI consultation Success at work). 

Date: 1 October 2007

Source: CIPD

Gibbons review heard evidence that early mediation or conciliation in the workplace is the key to resolving disputes before irretrievable breakdown in relations occurs. CIPD wholly agrees with this proposition. The issue is how far it may be possible to place more weight on such “alternative dispute resolution” mechanisms so as to reduce the volume of claims reaching employment tribunals and improve the quality of outcomes. How far can experience of resolving disputes in other areas such as family or commercial law be applied to the field of employment? 

Conflict in the workplace is a reality; anecdotal evidence suggests it may be increasing. The CIPD survey Managing Conflict at Work (See Reference 1 below) found that the main causes of conflict in order of importance were:

  • behaviour/conduct 
  • performance 
  • sickness absence 
  • attendance 
  • relationships between colleagues 
  • theft/fraud 
  • bullying/harassment 
  • sex discrimination.

Workplace conflict damages business performance by reducing levels of employee engagement.

Business case

There is a clear business case for mediation, which can be summarised as follows:

  • Time – mediation is often completed in one meeting, compared with the two days or more typically required for tribunal hearings
  • Legal representation for the parties is optional and, in the absence of a legal framework, less critical to outcomes
  • Proceedings are confidential so that parties are less likely to be trapped by positions adopted earlier
  • Mediation takes a problem-solving approach to complaints, which reduces disruption and future problems
  • Agreement is less likely to mean that one party wins and the other loses, leading to lower employee turnover
  • The process is evidently fair since both parties contribute to finding a solution
  • “Win-win” solutions support trust-based relationships and a culture of good people management.

For many employers, however, the business case will be founded largely on the cost of dealing with tribunal claims. The CIPD survey Managing Conflict at Work (Reference 1) found that the average annual costs to employers of dealing with ET claims (excluding management time) was almost £20k. But management time is highly significant: businesses spend almost ten days on average dealing with an individual claim (including 7.7 days senior managers’ time). 33% of employers also report non-financial negative effects. The Gibbons review quotes data suggesting that the average cost of defending an individual ET claim in 2005 was around £9000. 

Other costs fall on the Government in terms of supporting the employment tribunal system and associated conciliation services, and on individuals who may suffer adverse effects on their health, strain on relationships inside and outside the workplace and damage to future career prospects.

What can CIPD do to encourage and support the wider use of mediation?

CIPD is currently discussing with its members the scope for doing more to encourage the wider use of mediation by employers. We plan to:

  • urge employers to include provision for mediation in employment contracts, and place on our website appropriate forms of words. In many organisations, the procedures relating to individual grievances currently provide for some recourse to mediation or conciliation at an appropriate stage
  • raise awareness and understanding of mediation, for example through participating in conferences, talking to branches and encouraging them to hold workshops on early dispute resolution, undertaking further research into dispute resolution, commissioning publications and writing articles for journals such as People Management. The objective would be to raise awareness and make the business case for mediation
  • undertake, hopefully in partnership with others, a survey and case studies of mediation since evidence about the use of mediation in the UK is currently very limited. This could explore why some employers use mediation and why others do not, and the circumstances in which mediation is most likely to be successful
  • urge the Government to commission a strategic review of the way in which workplace dispute resolution in the UK is managed and funded, and the longer-term role of mediation and other forms of alternative dispute resolution
  • review the take-up of current CIPD commercial training courses on mediation skills for managers, and the implications for course design. We are currently discussing with Acas the scope for developing joint training in conflict management which could be targeted at both HR and line managers. The key to marketing such courses may lie in focusing on themes that are recognisable to employers, such as “difficult conversations”, bullying and harassment, stress and mental health and managing difference
  • discuss with Acas the issue of accrediting mediators, to encourage the use by employers of external mediators
  • review the emphasis on conflict resolution and mediation skills in the context of the current review of the CIPD professional standards.

Constraints on the use of mediation

How far can mediation be expected to take more of the strain of handling workplace conflict? Some employers, particularly in the public sector, have invested in training their staff to undertake mediation; others make use of mediation services provided by Acas or other external sources. However mediation is not the only option for organisations that seek to reduce or deal with workplace conflict. Investigations by outside persons may help to create a shared understanding of the facts which will facilitate early resolution. Employee Assistance Programmes can also be useful in providing employees with a way of raising issues which are worrying them.

CIPD members have underlined a number of practical constraints on the use of mediation, particularly if it is seen as a vehicle for reducing the volume of claims to employment tribunals:

  • The Gibbons review shows that more than 9 out of 10 individuals leave their employment before or shortly after submitting a tribunal claim. Mediation is unlikely to be attractive to employers as a means of resolving issues affecting people who are no longer employed, or to those individuals themselves 
  • As the Gibbons review fully accepts, mediation is more likely to be effective if it is deployed at an early stage, before attitudes have hardened. But this depends on organisations’ ability to identify and deal with issues at an early stage, which is in turn dependent on the quality and skills of line managers. This can be tackled by raising awareness and providing training but it is important to recognise that this will take time 
  • In any case, by the time issues reach the stage where individuals are seeking to pursue their claim at a tribunal, the scope for mediation to achieve mutually agreeable outcomes will often have been seriously compromised. This does not mean that mediation may not be worth attempting at this stage, but it does mean that it is less likely to be attractive to one or both parties 
  • Some managers are resistant to the idea of mediation since it seems to take responsibility for dealing with issues out of their own hands. Managers may also feel that by accepting mediation they are admitting they may have made a mistake. Managers may prefer that potential disturbance of relationships should be managed and remedied internally, with recourse to third party intervention seen essentially as a backstop 
  • Members distinguish sharply between discipline and grievances as suitable subjects for mediation. Disciplinary procedures are essentially management decision making procedures with provision for appeals; grievances procedures are concerned with addressing complaints and arriving at an acceptable settlement or other outcome. Mediation is seen as less appropriate in disciplinary cases where employers believe existing procedures generally work well. Mediation will generally be less effective where one or other party believes that an issue of principle is at stake. 
  • Will mediation be seen as fair to both sides? Any suggestion that mediation will inhibit individuals accessing their statutory rights will damage the chances of tribunals actively supporting and promoting mediation. If the “sisting” pilot in Scotland (aimed at encouraging parties to use mediation before pursuing claims at the employment tribunal) is judged to be successful, this might encourage the adoption of similar pilots in England and Wales.

There may also be more practical constraints on the ability to increase take-up of mediation significantly in the short term. For mediation to be effective, it needs to be available at short notice. In any case it is not always helpful for mediators to be “parachuted in”, since they will generally be unfamiliar with the background to the dispute. Internal mediators can often be brought in more quickly; however their skills may become rusty if they are not required to be used very often.  

Employers’ use of mediation

More generally, mediation is likely to be most effective where organisations have in place training and support for line managers in people management skills. Our members’ experience suggests that, where such training has taken place, matters relating to alleged breaches of discipline or complaints by employees have been handled competently and concluded effectively. HR managers can support line management to restore trust-based relationships that have been disturbed by complaints including those related to discrimination, harassment and bullying.�
However our evidence based on a survey of members (Managing conflict at work – Reference 1) suggests that such training is not as common as it might be:

  • only 30% of respondents train any employees in mediation skills
  • training is more common in the public services (53%) than in other sectors (manufacturing and production 15%)
  • 1in 4 employers use internal mediation
  • 1 in 5 employers use external mediation (e.g. ACAS).

HR managers need to be proactive in their relationships with line managers, encouraging them to spot problems earlier, and resolve them through a mediation-style approach, including giving managers better communication and feedback skills. Mediation is going to be most effective, and employees are less likely to feel inhibited from taking part, where workplaces are characterised by relationships based on trust rather than conflict. Mediation is not a panacea but one element in a spectrum of practices for preventing and resolving conflict. 

“Transactional” mediation and compromise agreements

A distinction can be drawn between “relational” mediation, which aims to produce a meeting of minds between the parties, and “transactional” mediation, which is primarily aimed at agreeing a settlement figure – perhaps with some conditions – which will compensate the employee for losing his or her job. Where a complaint has been resolved internally within an organisation through relational mediation, a compromise agreement may be considered as a means of endorsing the outcome. With the passage of time from an initial conflict emerging, the chances of successful relational mediation diminish but there may still be value in pursuing transactional mediation as a way of “drawing a line” under the relationship.

Where the aim is to agree a compensation figure in return for an employee leaving the organisation, whether or not there is a process of mediation, employers increasingly rely on concluding a compromise agreement with the employee. This is in order to ensure that no further statutory claims can be brought against the employer in respect of the employee’s service with the employer. The Government should recognise the value of compromise agreements in resolving issues in a way that meets the interests of both employer and employee, without the use of statutory machinery, provided that the employee receives independent advice.  

Conclusions

CIPD believes that:

  • there is a strong business case for mediation, and the Institute will take action as outlined above to encourage and support employers in making more use of mediation and other methods of resolving conflict at an early stage
  • mediation is a better and more cost-effective method of resolving workplace issues than dealing with claims through employment tribunals, and produces better outcomes for both employers and employees
  • small firms in particular will be dependent on external sources of mediation, and significant investment of public funds through Acas will be needed to support increased uptake. Without such a commitment by the Government, no significant increase in the use of mediation is likely to occur, with the resulting impact on the costs of employment tribunals
  • the Government should recognise that many employers use compromise agreements as a means of escaping the straitjacket of statutory enforcement mechanisms and should focus effort on ensuring that employees who sign such agreements do so on the basis of qualified and independent advice.

Interest by employers in mediation is part and parcel of good people management. Its successful use relies on line managers’ ability to identify emerging problems and take effective steps to deal with them. Mediation does not offer a quick fix to stem the flow of applications to employment tribunals. Promoting the wider use of mediation is a long-term process that can most effectively be undertaken in the context of a wider strategy for improving people management practice generally.

Workplace Mediation Needed as Employment Tribunals Increase

Date: 04/09/2007   

Source: Personnel Today

 

 
 

There was a significant increase in the number of cases brought to employment tribunals in the UK last year, according to figures released yesterday.

The latest figures from the Tribunals Service, an executive agency of the Ministry of Justice, have revealed that the number of employment tribunals in the UK rose by 15% in 2006-2007 to 132,577, from 115,039 in 2005-06.

According to the Tribunals Service there has been a huge surge in the number of cases regarding equal pay, which rose from 17,268 in 2005-2006 to over 44,000 last year. The number of sex discrimination claims also doubled from around 14,000 to more than 28,000.

The figures also show that there have been 972 age discrimination cases following the introduction of new anti-ageism laws last October.

Jeanne Spinks, chief operating officer of the Tribunals Service, which administers employment tribunals, commented:

“The significant reason for the increase in employment tribunal cases in 2006-07 is a 155% increase in equal pay claims.”

However, Spinks added that, although the number of cases has increased overall, the Tribunals Service is working alongside the Department of Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform (DBERR) to make the dispute resolution procedure more streamlined and less time consuming.

She added: “Despite an overall increase in cases this year, we’ve also managed to reduce the waiting times for single cases appearing before employment tribunals.

“During 2006-07, the Tribunals Service also piloted an early dispute resolution scheme in a number of our employment tribunals and we’ve worked closely with the new Department of Business, Enterprise & Regulatory Reform (formerly DTI) on their plans to revise employment dispute resolution procedures.”

Clive Lewis of Globis says “this is more evidence that demonstrates the business case for workplace mediation and investing in building relationships at work is sound”.

Poor Relationships Between Office Workers

Date: 14 August 2007

Source: Personnel Today

Thousands of office workers don’t get on with their colleagues, according to research involving 2,500 people.

Nearly 30 per cent of office staff find it so hard to get on with others at work they have even quit their jobs.

Over 40 per cent of workers don’t get on with at least one colleague, with almost one in ten admitting they dislike the person they sit next to.

More than 23 per cent hated their desk buddy so much they found an excuse to move seats to get away from them.

Escaping colleagues

For some, it is so bad they wish they could work elsewhere with 27 per cent admitting they think about quitting their jobs daily, while another 19 per cent consider it at least once a week.

But some are finding ways of avoiding some of their colleagues – more than 60 per cent admit to pretending to be busier than they are and a third have acted like they haven’t heard when someone has spoken to them.

More than 35 per cent have even picked up the phone to make a pretend call to avoid a conversation.

And the main reason for not liking a colleague is laziness, with 46 per cent saying this is the biggest fault about their co-worker.

Too much talking

Another 40 per cent reckon they talk too much and more than half of people surveyed say they also feel excluded because there are too many cliques in their workplace.

Almost 57 per cent also dislike their colleagues for being friendly sometimes but completely ignoring them another time.

More than two thirds are so desperate to get away from their colleagues they spend the day clockwatching until it’s time to leave.

But bosses ought to be careful as not only are workers counting down the minutes until the end of the day but a quarter believes their productivity suffers because they are unhappy with their colleagues.

With so many people desperate to leave work, it’s not surprising that 59 per cent of the 2,500 people polled refuse to socialise with their colleagues outside of the office.

No social network

More than a third of those aren’t even brave enough to admit they aren’t going to show up to social event and say they will be there, knowing full well they won’t turn up.

Clive Lewis, managing director of Globis said: ”These results confirm what we have known for some time, which is that many relationships at work need to be improved. There is a clear business case for doing so. We spend more of our waking hours at work than we do at home and it can be difficult if you don’t get on with your colleagues.”

The survey also revealed that more than half of respondents see their job purely as a way of making money and 16 per cent are just filling in the gap until something better comes along.

Only 24 per cent say their job is important to them.

Businesses Urged to Embrace Diversity

Date: 09/08/2007

Source: People Management

UK businesses are being called upon to have formal diversity policies in place, after figures showed an increase in discrimination-related employment tribunals.

According to the Chartered Management Institute (CMI), figures show that claims of sexual discrimination rose by 2,524 to 14,250 last year, and racial discrimination cases increased by 786 to 4,103 over the same period.

What’s more, the figures showed that just 86,083 of the 115,039 claims made were disposed of, leaving 28,956 claims unresolved.

In response to this increase in disputes, the CMI has released guidelines to help employers manage a diverse workforce.

The guidelines, called ‘Embracing Diversity’, call on all UK businesses to have formal diversity policies in place.

However, they also highlight the positive effect a diverse workfoce can have on performance and productivity, by giving companies access to a wider talent pool and a more varied skills base.

“Clearly, discrimination on the basis of difference is unacceptable at any level,” said Jo Causon, director of marketing and corporate affairs, Chartered Management Institute.

“But in many cases, resistance to change is due to a lack of understanding of the benefits it can bring.

“Organisations should ensure that diversity policies are clear and well communicated to their staff, or risk losing out on the performance gains it can generate.”

The CMI recommends ensuring top level support within the organisation, idenitifying areas where change and support is needed and compiling a diversity action plan which is monitored and reviewed regularly.

The guidelines also recognise the potential barriers to diversity in the workplace and offers ways of tackling internal resistance, such as integrating diversity into training and development programmes and creating forums where issues can be discussed by employees.

*Gender Equality Will Take Decades to Achieve* Finds the Equal Opportunities Commission

Source: Personnel Today

Date: 26 July 2007

Gender equality is still generations away and needs urgent action across all aspects of life to close the stubborn gaps in the next 10 years, the Equal Opportunities Commission (EOC)  has warned.

Completing the Revolution, the EOC’s final report before it is absorbed into theCommission for Equality and Human Rights (CEHR) on 1 October, identifies 22 leading indicators that measure the state of the nation in terms of gender equality.

The indicators show gender gaps across all areas of life, and at the current rate of progress change will be painfully slow. For example:

  • The “power gap” for women in Parliament will take almost 200 years to close and it will take up to 65 years to have a more equitable balance of women at the top of FTSE 100 companies.
  • The “pensions gap” will take 45 years to equalise: retired women’s income is currently 40% less than men’s.
  • The “part-time pay gap” will take 25 years to close and the “full time pay gap” 20 years. Currently, women working part-time earn 38% less per hour than men working full time. Full time female employees earn 17% less per hour than men.
  • The “flexible working gap” is unlikely ever to change unless further action is taken. Even though half of working men say they would like to work more flexibly, currently women are much more likely than men (63% more likely) to work flexibly.

The publication of today’s report coincides with the launch of the EOC’s Gender Agenda campaign, which highlights the work left to do on the eve of the transfer to the CEHR.

Jenny Watson, EOC chair, said: “A country that channels women into low paid work fails to adequately support families and forces people who want to work flexibly to trade down in jobs, pays a high price in terms of child poverty, family breakdown and low productivity.

Click here for Equal Opportunities Commission http://www.eoc.org.uk/

Click here for CEHR http://www.cehr.org.uk/

Click here for Gender Agenda campaign http://www.gender-agenda.co.uk/




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