Archives for: October 2008
Generation Y in the modern workplace
How do you guarantee job satisfaction for Generation Y employees in an age when they are much more at home with new technology than their older counterparts?
It’s been said that this new breed of employee has a lack of loyalty and gets bored easily. In some cases they appear to look on work as an extension of their social network and as such teamwork and general office camaraderie are all important. Unlike the generations that have preceded them, they ‘work to live, not live to work’
Generation Y employees need constant feedback, benefit from a work place mentor and want a manager who is interested in their personal development as they have ambitions to climb up the career ladder quickly.
So how well do they fit into the workplace and what can we do to stimulate them? Mentoring can be a tricky one. Some surveys tell us that up to 70% of older employees are dismissive of their younger colleague’s abilities. Is that really true or are they secretly worried that the younger generation may be able to teach them a thing or two?
Generation Y employees are also likely to face resentment from their older counterparts if they push too hard for rapid advancement. What’s wrong with starting at the bottom of the ladder and working your way up? How can you ‘people manage’ if you don’t understand how the people fit in?
Companies like KPMG and Price Waterhouse Coopers are offering enticements such as early international career opportunities, social-responsibility initiatives, development and educational opportunities within the company and flexible working. But is that going to solve the problem?
Come on Gen Y guys! If we’re all going to work together we need to know ‘What makes you tick?’
How important is flexible working to employee morale?
Peter Mandelson, the new business secretary, has ordered a review of recent Government policy announcements – which includes flexible working plans for parents.
However, Sarah Jackson, the Chief Executive of Working Families, commented:
“Peter Mandelson rightly wants to ease the burden on firms so that they are less likely to shed jobs, and more likely to emerge stronger from the economic downturn. But today’s suggestion, to postpone the proposed extension next April of the Right to Request Flexible Working to parents of all children up to the age of 16, may critically undermine this aim.
Flexible working is one of the most effective tools which a business can use to retain staff; to avoid the costs, complexity and risk of redundancies; and to focus on maintaining motivation, commitment and performance. Many businesses are already working with their staff to ensure that jobs and skills are kept, but perhaps under reduced hours, so that when the market picks up they will be able to respond more easily, cheaply and quickly.”
Louisa Peacock, writing in Personnel Today earlier this month, agrees with the above sentiment. Her article began by asking ‘how can you keep staff engaged and boost morale during the economic downturn?’ It then went on to detail some of the tactics being used by directors in UK companies. At the end of her report, the following suggestions were made to improve staff morale in an economic downturn:-
• Cheer up the office mood by throwing a staff party or night out, or provide free food at work
• Give constant praise, encouragement, and recognition to employees
• Reassure staff about job security where possible
• Encourage more flexible working (reducing hours reduces pay)
• Make sure senior management come across as involved, positive and honest
• Communicate, even if there's no new news, and enable staff to feed back concerns
• Ramp up staff training: make sure they are comfortable in their roles and know the job inside out.
So, who’s right? Should the right to flexible working be extended and if not, what other morale boosting suggestions do you have?
Do we need an extra bank holiday to cheer us up?
Earlier this week, the TUC and the UK's leading voluntary organizations marked the halfway point of the longest gap between UK bank holidays by calling for a new bank holiday to cheer up stressed out workers. Currently we only have 8 public holidays per year; 2.9 less than the average throughout the European Union.
They would like to see a new Community Day bank holiday in late October to bridge the gap between the August and Christmas holidays. The purpose being to give people the opportunity to get involved in community activities which would not only benefit others but also themselves. Research commissioned by the CSV Make a Difference Day campaign shows that volunteering can help reduce stress and improve overall health.
TUC General Secretary Brendan Barber said:
‘Announcing a new bank holiday would cheer up workers across the UK worried about the recession and their jobs. Community Day would recognize the importance of local communities in holding society together, and celebrate that there is more to life than consumption during these difficult economic times.'
The campaign is backed by the TUC, the National Council for Voluntary Organisations (NCVO), Volunteering England, Community Service Volunteers (CSV) and the National Association for Voluntary and Community Action (NAVCA).
Before we all get too excited however, Gordon Brown had called for a day to celebrate British identity in a speech delivered in 2006, when he was still chancellor. The government has now quietly dropped plans to have a British Day. And the ongoing campaigns to make St. George’s Day an English Bank Holiday also seem to be falling on deaf ears.
I’m sure most people would enjoy an extra day off work, but on which day? Should we have the last Monday in October, Halloween or maybe go along with many of our EU counterparts and make November 1 (All Saints Day) a public holiday?
Could the IMF have prevented the financial meltdown?
The TimesOnline recently published a list of 10 people who predicted the financial meltdown.
One of the names on the list was Nouriel Roubini, an economics professor at New York University. Now his name may not be familiar to you and me, but it is to the International Monetary Fund. He told them on September 7, 2006, that a crisis was brewing. He said that the United States was likely to face a once-in-a-lifetime housing bust, an oil shock, sharply declining consumer confidence and, ultimately, a deep recession.
Homeowners would default on mortgages, trillions of dollars of mortgage-backed securities would unravel worldwide and the global financial system would shudder to a halt. These developments, he said, would cripple major financial institutions like Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.
So why didn’t the IMF listen and more importantly ACT? According to their website
‘The work of the IMF is of three main types. Surveillance involves the monitoring of economic and financial developments, and the provision of policy advice, aimed especially at crisis prevention.’
A bit further down the same web page, we see this -
In recent years, as part of its efforts to strengthen the international financial system, and to enhance its effectiveness at preventing and resolving crises, the IMF has applied both its surveillance and technical assistance work to the development of standards and codes of good practice in its areas of responsibility, and to the strengthening of financial sectors.
Would immediate action have prevented the current crisis or were we already on an out of control downward spiral by September 2006? Who do you blame for the current predicament?
Is your employer happy with your performance?
It would appear that not all of us are as valuable to our employer as we would like to think we are.
A recent survey carried out by www.skillzbase.com showed that a whopping 92% of employers would change at least one member of staff if they were given the chance, and 17% of them would happily change their entire team!
Of over 870 UK bosses polled, only 8% said they were completely satisfied with all of their employees.
86% of employers noticed that at least one staff member acted very differently than during interview and 62% of them thought employees had lied, or at the very least exaggerated, on their CV’s. 74% of those polled felt that at least one employee was either dissatisfied or unmotivated in their work.
Sam Fianu, co-founder of Skillzbase.com commented ”As someone who has always been passionate about my work and careful when recruiting members of staff, I find it worrying that so many people are clearly unhappy with their job and so many employers are unsatisfied with members of staff”
So what is the root cause of the problem? Are employers too hasty when hiring, or are potential employees adopting an ‘I’ll take any job’ mentality and applying (and maybe lying) for jobs that they know they are not suitable for?
Once you’ve diagnosed the problem, what is the solution? We’d love to know…
Who’s To Blame?
City HR chiefs are partly to blame for the UK’s banking crisis, industry figures have claimed. Reckless practices were fuelled by poor people management and a target-driven performance culture that prevented employees from speaking out, experts said.
Rob MacGregor, national officer for union Unite, said a “huge problem” existed with the employment culture across the financial sector. HR policies appear to have become shaped by the target-and-reward culture, rather than concentrating on a best policy practice.
He added that “HR Directors have to be far more independent and dynamic to encourage that culture of fronting up to businesses about the practices that are going on.”
In a related article earlier this month, Philip Whiteley told us that banks were responsible for deliberate moves towards short-term, 'hire and fire' HR practices, relying on financial compensation as the only employee motivator. In the 1990s and 2000s, many banks ditched 'old-fashioned', long-term career planning and began treating people as if they were easily obtainable, easily disposable commodities, motivated only by money.
We’ve seen many articles in recent months criticising the generous bonuses paid to people in the city, but should the blame be attributed to HR? How about the board of directors at these financial institutions, surely they have the final say about how the profits are distributed? We’re not talking about small sums of money here. 8.5 billion pounds was paid out in city bonuses last year according to Centre for Economics and Business Research.
And what happens if HR does front up to business, will they be listened to, or is the bonus system so ingrained in the city culture that any advice will be simply swept under the carpet?
Do you believe HR heads are to blame or are they simply being used as a scapegoat? What lessons can we learn from the current crisis, and just as importantly, what can we as HR professionals do to ensure this never happens again?
We’ve just packed up after the Top-Consultant Careers Fair, the third year we’ve taken a Stand. From a BLT point of view, the value we get from the Fair is sometimes difficult to assess. (Too many clients and competitors there.) But I’m surprised that more aspiring consultants don’t attend - or even those curious about a career in the sector.
It seems to me to be the ideal opportunity to ‘kick some tyres’, ask lots of questions, and fact-gather on a monumental scale. It’s a rare chance to meet real, live consultants, the firms’ in-house recruiters, and to get straight from the horse’s mouth what it is really like to be a consultant.
And if you are a pop psychologist, you can draw some conclusions about a consulting firm from its giveaways. Stress balls anyone? (You’ll need them when we pile on the work.) Multi-country plug/socket converter? (You’ll spend your life in foreign hotels). Coke spoon? (To fire you up for the client presentation.) ….Actually, I made that last one up.
So, if you are thinking about a career in consulting - or any other sector for that matter, look out for the many Careers Fairs which are held around the country every year. You just might learn enough from a visit to persuade you to pursue a certain line of employment. Or not. Not a bad return for a few hours of your time.
It’s good to have something to celebrate!
The triumphant British Olympic team paraded through the streets of London yesterday (Thursday 16 October) and some of us managed to take time out from our busy schedules, along with several thousand others, to go and watch. We at BLT are were lucky enough to be positioned on the corner of Fleet Street/Chancery Lane to watch the medal winners go pass.
The day’s events started with a reception for the team, hosted by Boris Johnson the Lord Mayor of London, at Guildhall. The parade, led by the Coldstream Guards, started at around 11 am and went along St Paul's, Fleet Street and the Strand before ending up in Trafalgar Square. It was made up of 12 floats with the lead float carrying the cycling team that included triple gold medal winner Chris Hoy.
After the celebrations in Trafalgar Square, the Olympians made their way to Buckingham Palace for a reception with the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh. Also among the guests were the Princess Royal and those organising London's Olympic Games in 2012, including Lord Coe and Boris Johnson.
In these days of continual doom and gloom, it was good to regain the feel good factor, even if it was only for one day. The British public are tireless in their support for our sporting heroes and relish in the chance to celebrate the country’s achievements and as Boris Johnson told the raucous crowd "There is no wrong time to celebrate the best cycling results by any team ever in the history of the sport, or the incredible achievements of our rowers, sailors and swimmers, who have managed the greatest aquatic triumph since Horatio Nelson won at the Battle of Trafalgar itself."
What about London 2012? The mood remains gloriously optimistic, despite the growing world financial crisis. The mayor of London insisted the 2012 organisers would not overspend. "As I never tire of saying, I am sure we can do it without going over the £9.3bn. We can deliver a celebration of sport every bit as wonderful as Beijing."
Were you one of the thousands watching the parade in the October sunshine? Does it boost your morale to celebrate your country’s achievements?
Indirect Tax = the International Tax
Given current global economic uncertainty, is your current country of employment the best place to continue your Indirect Tax career? I’ve recently been moved to put pen to paper and have written an article recently published in T2 magazine. Your Indirect Tax skills are readily transportable to most areas of the globe - click on the following link to read on….
Are we talking ourselves into a recession?
Last week, Sir Philip Green claimed the press was painting a far worse picture than the economic reality merits. Even worse, Green said, the media’s ‘doom-mongering’ predictions risk becoming a self-fulfilling prophecy.
And what exactly are the press saying? The Daily Mail recently reported that Robert Peston had been accused of helping to trigger the tumultuous fall in UK bank shares last Tuesday by breaking news of a private meeting between the Chancellor and bank bosses. His report sparked another round of panic in the financial markets with shares in RBS plummeting by almost 40 per cent, wiping around £10billion off the bank's value.
It appears that the Guardian in some ways agrees with this sentiment, asking on Thursday ‘Can anyone else talk recession like Robert Peston?’ Some people go even further and believe he can single handedly bring about financial Armageddon.
For anyone who doesn’t know who Robert Peston is; he’s the BBC’s business editor who broke the story of Northern Rock, and was the first to tell us that HBOS was in trouble.
We all know the financial markets are very volatile at the moment, but can one man’s comments really bring about financial meltdown throughout the world?
If you don’t want to open your morning newspaper and read yet more doom and gloom, take a look at the more hearted look at the current crisis. Enjoy these cartoons from Kipper Williams before considering the following questions.
Is all this doom and gloom proving to be counter-productive? Or, as we all know ‘Bad News Sells’ so are we simply getting the news we crave?
Answers in a blog, please…
Indirect Tax Awards
One of the key drivers behind the Tax Journal's decision to introduce a new awards ceremony solely for indirect tax professionals was to recognise individual talent, as opposed to the team contribution that the long established Tax Awards recognises. As indirect taxes have 'grown up' as a discipline, so has the impetus to mark the exceptional talents of those working within the tax.
We at BLT had no hesitation in joining forces with the Tax Journal in wanting to promote this event and sponsor one of the awards, and we chose the Rising Star Within Indirect Tax category. We have specialised in recruiting VAT professionals for 21 years and as such, have been fortunate to be intrinsically involved in the evolution and growth of the market over that time. Moreover we are very proud of our reputation for being innovators and influencers in the field. Therefore we feel very positive about being involved from the start in this new event. We are particularly pleased to be sponsoring the Rising Star award, as we feel strongly that the talent of the people entering VAT will ensure the long term health of the VAT profession. Moreover, we believe that is as important to celebrate the potential and achievements of those at the junior levels as it is of their more established peers; ultimately they will be the leaders of the future and so recognising individual input is an important part of retaining them within the VAT industry.
The other award this year is for an Outstanding Contribution to Indirect Tax and it is hoped that in the future, other categories will be added.
The actual awards ceremony takes place on the 20th November in the splendid setting of the Glaziers Hall in Central London, looking out over the Thames and London Bridge. It will be great opportunity for indirect tax specialists to catch up with each other over drinks and canapés, whilst recognising the achievements of their peers. If you would like to attend the event then please contact us (firstname.lastname@example.org) for information on how to apply for an invitation (spaces are limited). We would be delighted to catch up with you and in the future, you can say that you were at the inaugural Indirect Tax Awards, which I am sure will become a highlight of the VAT world's calendar!
Goods news for the interim market!
It’s not all doom and gloom in the recruitment industry. While some areas are showing a downturn during these times of economic uncertainty, the outlook for the interim market is looking good.
The rising number of redundancies across the board is sending a growing number of talented individuals into the job market.
Employers don’t want to commit to hiring someone permanently when they are unsure of the future, so they’re much more likely to look for interim workers to fill that ‘urgent need’ gap. Whether it’s to cover for maternity leave, sickness or to meet a seasonal demand, there will always be a time when employers need a short term solution.
An increase in the use of temporary workers will make recruitment agencies busier and boost their revenue. For an agency with excellent recruitment skills and a rich source of talent, the potential to excel in these troubled times is definitely there.
What are your thoughts on the interim market? Would you look to this wealth of talent to solve a short-term crisis?