Make the great leap

Confidence is a powerful thing and at last week’s CIPD conference in
Harrogate, it emerged as one of the underlying themes. While everyone
recognises that HR is still coming of age, there is a feeling that pockets of
the profession are taking a bolder approach and have more self-belief. It
remains questionable though whether HR as a community has enough ambition.

Too many are still dreaming of a place on the board as if it were nirvana,
when they should be behaving as if they were already there. Taking a more
systematic approach to transformation and championing it has to be your mantra.
As we heard at Harrogate, truly superior organisations become rigorous not
ruthless about people, and they are disciplined about their workforces, their
thoughts and their actions. HR is capable of igniting the change from just good
to great through people, but more urgency is necessary. Few of us want mediocre
careers in mediocre organisations.

Sicknote fever

So the handling of GP sicknotes is coming to a head, with the prospect of
company doctors and occupational health advisers fulfilling the role in future.

Readers should welcome this shift, but be realistic about the repercussions
on HR and its relationship with colleagues in OH teams. Everyone admits that
collaboration between the two is far from perfect and must dramatically improve
if sickness absence is to avoid sinking into chaos.

GPs want to get out of the whole sorry mess and HR agrees the current system
isn’t working. Personnel Today will be lobbying Government and the medical
profession to ensure the employer voice is heard during the transition.

Tackling the malingerers in a more robust way must be one of the outcomes
from the new arrangements, as there is evidence it is reaching epidemic
proportions. Inevitably, this goes far deeper than just paperwork and is at the
root of good people management policies.

Managing sickness absence has been a hot topic this year, but will take on
even more significance in 2004. Six pilot schemes will provide much needed
learning on the way forward, with a view to informing a whole new sickness
certification scheme. In the meantime, HR should review absence policies and
tidy up working arrangements with OH ready for major changes in 2006.

By Jane King, editor

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