Thursday, 15 July 2010

The HR Case Studies office is closed . . .

. . . while the entire editorial team takes a well earned break.

In our absence, feel free to rummage around.

If you find anything of interest, please just leave a small donation in the jar on the counter.

Note to burglars: the safe is empty and all electrical items have been removed from the premises.

There's nothing of resale value that's worth pinching in here.

Except for ideas. And they're priceless.

Back soon.

Friday, 9 July 2010

The internet, mobile phones and Tesco: all essential for life in the UK

The Joseph Rowntree Foundation has recently published the results of research which indicates that a salary of £14,400 (about £277 per week) is the minimum a single person needs for an acceptable standard of living.

BBC Online: Could you live decently on £14,400 a year?

The report is largely an update on research undertaken in 2008, and is also based on what members of the public consider is needed for an acceptable minimum standard of living.

Joseph Rowntree Foundation: A minimum income standard for the UK in 2010

The following are regarded as essential for survival in the UK:
  • A computer and internet access for all non-pensioner households.
  • Landlines and mobiles paid for through contracts and bundled packages, linked to the internet. (If you’re a pensioner, it seems you can cope with pay as you go).
  • A budget to pay for public transport (including taxis) You don’t need a car.
  • An allowance for “social and cultural participation” e.g. engaging in exercise and entertainment outside the home.
  • A minimum of one week’s holiday per year (spent in the UK).
  • An allowance to mark Christmas or an equivalent festival by exchanging gifts and cards.
  • The ability to shop at Tesco rather than at Aldi, Lidl or Netto. 
Fussy bunch, aren’t we?

Thursday, 8 July 2010

The North/South divide is alive and well

Descended from The Industrial Society, The Work Foundation campaigns to "improve the quality of working life, emphasising practical training interventions that organisations could adopt to do that."

Their recent report "No City Left Behind? The geography of the recovery – and the implications for the coalition" is uncomfortable reading for anyone who belives that the UK North/South divide is a relic of the past.

The Work Foundation: No City Left Behind?

As the report indicates, the recession has widened the gap between successful UK cities and those with weak economies. Those cities which were resilient to the recession were those which had been doing the best in the period beforehand. And those cities where unemployment has increased by the most were those which were doing badly before.

The report has identifed a set of cities which have high potential for future growth as we (hopefully) exit the recession. The cities which are likely to experience considerable growth in the future are those with highly educated populations, high levels of employment in the potential growth sectors and relatively low levels of employment in the public sector.

Top of the Pops for such growth are:
  1. Reading & Bracknell
  2. Cambridge
  3. London
  4. Aberdeen
  5. Oxford
  6. Milton Keynes & Aylesbury
  7. Luton & Watford
  8. Crawley
  9. Swindon
  10. Edinburgh
The low growth cities tend to have very low levels of employment in growth sectors, a high reliance on public sector employment and relatively low skilled populations.
Down in the Bargain Basement we have (getting worse as you move down the list):
  1. Mansfield
  2. Wakefield & Castleford
  3. Hastings
  4. Hull
  5. Blackpool
  6. Swansea
  7. Liverpool
  8. Grimsby
  9. Barnsley
  10. Doncaster
The report comes up with a number of suggestion for alleviating the situation, one of which appears to resonate with the debate that is starting to circulate in HR circles:
Recognise that sustainable growth is about building up and not circulating talent.
Something for us all to think about there.

Wednesday, 7 July 2010

Recruitment Consultancy: the profession that embarrasses everyone

Over the past couple of years, I’ve had a wide range of reasons to speak with recruitment consultants of all shapes and sizes.

The one uniting feature of them all appears to be that they are all embarrassed to admit to being one.

This embarrassment takes its most common form when they utter the immortal words:

We’re not like other recruitment consultants. In fact we’re not really recruitment consultants at all.
Somehow this statement is meant to make me feel much more confident in their abilities, and trust my candidate or job search to them.

But it doesn’t. In fact it does the opposite.

If you’re a recruitment consultant, here’s a little game to play to demonstrate the effect that your “we’re not like other recruitment consultants” statement has on people.

Simply replace the words “recruitment consultant” with that of any other profession and observe the results.

Here are a few examples I prepared earlier to make it easier for you.

  • You want to sell your house, so you walk into the appropriate office in the town centre, and, after giving your details to the girl behind the desk she says: “We’re not like other estate agents. In fact we’re not really estate agents at all.” Does that make you feel more comfortable? No, me neither.

  • After suffering with painful toothache all weekend you pay a visit to your friendly local orthodontist. The white-coated guy who smiles down as you recline on the chair is new, and introduces himself by saying: “Hi there. I’m not like other dentists. In fact I’m not really a dentist at all.” Slightly nervous? Me too.

  • The Boeing 747 has just reached the end of the runway, and is second in line for take-off. The captain comes over the intercom and tells you that there will be a slight delay while the inbound flight from Los Angeles clears the runway, then adds, “While we’re waiting, I’ll just inform you that once we’ve reached cruising altitude, we’ll be flying at 35,000 feet. And, by the way, you may be interested to know that neither my co-pilot nor I are like other pilots. In fact we’re not really pilots at all.” Seat-backs to the upright position? No chance! Where’s the exit?
There are in fact only two types of recruitment consultants

Good ones and bad ones.

Which are you?

Monday, 5 July 2010

Football: It's a team sort of thing.

Joachim Löw. Germany's hapless manager. At £1.3m per year, makes Capello look like a bargain.

After Germany’s abject 4-0 demolition of Argentina on Saturday evening, questions will inevitably be asked by football pundits everywhere as to why the German team fared so badly.

Questions such as:

  • Paid almost £6m, which German national football manager has been heavily criticised for not justifying his salary?
  • Which German football player was recently stripped of his captaincy of the national side following revelations concerning his affair with another team player’s ex-girlfriend?
  • Following the team’s defeat against Serbia in the group stage, which German player complained that the fans were disloyal for booing, but subsequently felt obliged to issue an apology?
  • Other than Michael Ballack (who is not playing anyway!) which German team members compete in the English Premier League (universally recognised as the best league in the world)?
  • Which German football player participated in an impromptu press conference hinting that all was not well in the camp, and was later criticised for mutiny?
  • Which German player was almost dropped by his national team after allegations of under-age sex with an under-age French prostitute?
  • Which German player was sent home from the World Cup after verbally insulting the national coach during the group phase?
  • What failure in the German national coaching framework has led to Miroslav Klose already scoring more goals in the 2010 World Cup than he has all season with Bayern Munich?
  • Which well-respected England football manager said this weekend, “That was incredible! We really stepped on the gas in the second half and played a liberated style of attacking football. I’ve been proud of my team for a long time, not only today. We played some really great football in the second-half and the team has shown the will of champions. This result and the amount of goals we scored was almost unimaginable before the game." ?

Sunday, 4 July 2010

Ladies and Gentlemen! Put your hands together for the UK HR Blogging Community! 1..2.. 1,2 3,4!

The casual visitor to the world of HR blogging could be excused for thinking that it was solely the domain of the guys and gals from the USA, so to celebrate Independence Day in a topsy-turvy fashion, today’s HR Case Studies item consists of a series of links to blog entries written by the cultural and geographical offspring of Bill Shakespeare.

The only entrance requirement to today's list is that you're living in the UK, and have something (preferably quirky) to say about the wild and wacky world of HR.

The idea behind this is hopefully start some form of wave. We don’t do things big in the UK, so it probably won’t be much of a Mexican Wave. More of a Macclesfield Wave. Or possibly a Melton Mowbray wave, accompanied by joyful flinging of pork pies. But if you’re in the UK and you’re a member of the HR blogging community, make yourself known and let’s make this a regular event. Hopefully something that happens more regularly than we win the World Cup.

Let’s introduce the members of the band and start to rock the joint (quietly of course – we don’t want to upset the neighbours, do we)
On lead vocals we have Charlie Duff (Editor of HR Zone) singing Your future office is Starbucks a tuneful little ditty exploring the innovative power of the UK workforce in the face of adversity and severed power cables. Think Hayley Williams. Think Paramore. But louder.
Put your hands together for Jon Ingham on lead guitar, adding some searing fret-melting pyrotechnics between the verses of Chasing Stars and Socialism (a song inspired by the abject failure of England to perform in the World Cup) When not dressed in torso-hugging red spandex jeans, Jon is the driving force behind Strategic Dynamics Consultancy Services Ltd.
Providing rock-solid support on Fender Precision Bass is Gareth Jones. His reliable-as-heartbeat playing on Stiff upper lip HR… adds the perfect accompaniment to his self-penned (and probably autobiographical) anthem concerning an HR professional, consultant, recruiter, marketer, techy and wannabe futurologist.
Submerged behind his array of keyboards, and dressed in a glittery cape that would be the envy of Rick Wakeman is Michael Carty. His concept album Delivering "HR with attitude" in 2010: UK HR's finest hour? has already been described by Rolling Stone Magazine as "the sort of musical epic that only someone who was XpertHR’s benchmarking editor could have written"
It's a little know fact, but wild-man Bez from the Happy Mondays actually learned all of his maraca-playing skills at the feet of the master himself: Andy Spence. Just listen to the persistent psychedelic groove on Why England Lose - Talent Management Insights from Football and you'll see why Andy is not only Glass Bead Consulting’s founder and Managing Director, but a much sought after performer at festivals and raves.
And who's this windmilling to the front of the stage with a lightning bolt tattoo zig-zagging across his face? It's none other than Courtenay HR's Gibson Les Paul wielding Mervyn Dinnen. His power chords at the beginning of  Generation Bowie – the original flexible workforce? seem likely to be the soundtrack to the summer of 2010.
If any members of the audience need further information on the new musical direction currently being taken by the UK HR blogging community, the musical directors of HR Case Study have produced a helpful guide entitled: 1,000 Places To Visit Before You Die. Number 1,001: HR Shire
Now: Dim the lights. Cue smoke. Cue Lasers. Amps up to Eleven.
Ladies and Gentlemen: Put your hands together for the ultimate Rock Band: The UK HR Blogging Community.

1,000 Places To Visit Before You Die. Number 1,001: HR Shire

With the holiday season almost upon us, HR Shire is likely to feature on the travel plans of many seasoned adventurers and explorers.

The editors and staff of HR Case Studies have therefore produced this handy guide for those who have grown weary of sun, sea, sand and streptococcal infections.

HR Shire is a small independent nation within the United Kingdom, consisting of a population of around 50,000 all of whom are members of the HR Profession.

HR Shire is mentioned in the Domesday Book and the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, where it was known as Personnel Shire. The customs, practices and laws of HR Shire are actually indistinguishable from those of Personnel Shire.

The weather (and the natives) are constantly miserable.

All citizens of HR Shire speak Jargon, and also a local dialect called Cobblers. For visitors to HR Shire, here are a few useful translations into everyday English of common HR Shire terms:

HR Business Partner
Personnel Manager

Long-term organisational capability framework
Training Plan

War for Talent
Slight difficulty in recruiting half-decent employees from the pool of 2.5 million unemployed

Learning organization
No known translation

Most inhabitants of HR Shire are members of the Church of Indecisive and Paranoid Debaters (CIPD) The CIPD describes itself as a “Broad Church” which basically means that it welcomes members with any form of belief. Or none. Or possibly both at the same time. The only commitment demanded of members is that they regularly question why they exist. Or in fact if they exist. (Reminder: subscriptions due in July)

National Days
There are several celebrations of the HR Shire’s ability to attract new residents. These are known as the National Recruitment Awards, where natives who live on the very fringe of HR Shire gather, praise each other, get embarrassingly drunk and are pictured the following week in one of HR Shire's glossy publications.

Large numbers of HR Shire inhabitants also gather together once per year at a large religious service organised by the CIPD. The main purpose of this meeting is to listen to ministers of the CIPD from across the world, and learn new terms of Jargon and Cobblers to use back in the workplace.

Patron Saints
There are two saints that are revered by the inhabitants of HR Shire. The most important is Saint Ulrich of Michigan whose writings are almost treated as scripture. His coat of arms consists of a box divided into four sectors, although some of his disciples who have formed a breakaway sect believe that the box should only be divided into three.

Of slightly lesser importance is Saint Gawain de Brockbank who was himself a follower of Saint Ulrich.

Like many figures from ancient history, there is no certainty that either Saint Ulrich of Michigan or Saint Gawain de Brockbank actually existed. Scholars have pointed out that there is no record of either of them ever having been in full-time employment as an artisan, so they may in fact be mythological figures devised to give weight and support to some of the unusual beliefs followed by the inhabitants of HR Shire.

In HR Shire it is not generally necessary to tip, unless of course you want something done.

Getting Around
A booklet written in both Jargon and Cobblers entitled “Seeing HR Shire by Bike” is available in all good bookshops as well as the casualty ward off all Public Hospitals (closed Wednesday to Sunday and on Bank Holidays)

Internet access has been slow coming to HR Shire, and at a top rate of just 17bps, many visitors find that post cards arrive faster than their e-mails

Events Calendar 2010
July 4th: Launch of UK HR Blogfest
July 11th: National Day of Mourning (coincides with Final of FIFA World Cup)
August: During the month men take over cooking duties (BBQ only) and celebrate the late arrival of summer with music, (Abba) dancing (badly) and each others’ wives
November 5th: Bonfire night. Said to be the origin of the phrase to describe many HR initiatives: Up like a rocket, down like a stick

Thursday, 1 July 2010

Ten explosive myths of pay and value

The Radio 4 programme The Moral Maze is never reluctant to address some of the big issues affecting society, and last night’s edition was no exception.

Taking as a starting point the issue of how it can be that football players earning such astronomical salaries can perform in such an abject manner when representing their country, the programme went on to consider whether there can ever be any justification for the extreme disparities in pay rates between the lucky few at the top and the unfortunate many at the bottom of many organisations.

I’m not sure if many HR professionals specialising in reward will ever question if it’s part of their remit to make a link between virtuous effort and just reward and if so, how, but these were some of the issues covered in the programme.

One of the major contributors to last night’s The Moral Maze was a spokesman from the new economics foundation. The foundation is “an independent think-and-do tank that inspires and demonstrates real economic well-being”

New economics foundation website

Of particular interest for any of us with an interest in answering the question of the extent to which the amount an employee is paid actually confers any degree of “worth,” I defy you to glance at the findings of the new economic foundation’s “A Bit Rich: Calculating the real value to society of different professions” and not be either inspired or enraged (or possibly both!) The report sets out to shatter some myths about pay and value. Chief among them is to show that there is not a straightforward relationship between high financial rewards and good societal outcomes.

New economics foundation: A Bit Rich

How about these explosive statements to get the intellectual juices flowing?

  • Myth 1: The City of London is essential for the UK economy
  • Myth 2: Low paid jobs create a ladder for people to work their way up – opportunities to advance are open to all
  • Myth 3: Pay differentials don’t matter, so long as we eradicate poverty
  • Myth 4: We need to pay high salaries to attract and retain talent in the UK
  • Myth 5: Workers in highly paid jobs work harder
  • Myth 6: The private sector is more efficient than the public sector
  • Myth 7: If we tax the rich, they will take their money and run
  • Myth 8: The rich contribute more to society
  • Myth 9: Some jobs are more satisfying, so they require less pay
  • Myth 10: Pay always rewards underlying profitability

Let’s have some comments!

Because you’re worth it!