Sept 11 sparks culture change

Employers
are being told to respond to a fundamental change in staff attitudes towards
work in the aftermath of 11 September.

Speakers
at the CIPD national conference told delegates that the terrorist attack on the
World Trade Center means organisations will have to reassess the way they
motivate employees.

Lynne
Fisher, director of diversity at Citigroup, said staff have increasingly
started to focus on their ability to balance their work and home lives
following the terrorist attack, which caused 16,000 employees in its New York
office to be relocated.

The
investment bank, which employs 1,000 people who earn  £1m a year including bonuses, is to extend a successful
home-working pilot scheme to help it retain its top performers.

"We
have noticed a sombre mood among employees since 11 September. Talk of burnout
is much more on the agenda with employees more reflective about their life and
contribution," said Fisher.

A
concierge service and sabbaticals for staff are ideas also being explored by
the firm.

Computer
giant Microsoft is also placing more emphasis on work-life balance to help it
keep its highest earners, after a staff survey revealed two-thirds of staff
felt their lives were too work-orientated.

Helen
Duguid, head of great leaders at Microsoft, explained, "Now the world is
changing employees are thinking about their life legacy."

Professor
of leadership at Harvard Business School, Robert Kaplan, told delegates it is
vital to involve staff with the aims of the business.

"It’s
now going to be even more important for companies to tell their employees why
they are there," he said.

"Staff
want to feel that coming to work everyday is contributing to the organisation
and the work they are doing is important. They need to feel that they are
contributing to something."

By Ben Willmott

Feedback

What
have been the effects of 11 September on HR?

John
Philpott, chief economist at the CIPD


"It has clearly changed the mindset of organisations and humanised
relations between employers and staff. In the aftermath, CEOs are viewing their
employees as real people.

"There
are also issues with surveillance which could make work life more difficult.

"Immediately
following 11 September the global economy fell but the chances of recovery have
improved due to spending and interest rate cuts by governments."

Catherine
Hunter, HR manager, Business Link Tees Valley

"With
all the worries about anthrax we decided to arrange a seminar for people
working at the front end of the company.

"A
security expert from the local chamber of commerce came along to give people
some guidelines for dealing with packages and how to spot suspicious mail
without opening it."

David
Fellows, Director of HR Policy, Systems and Operations Norwich Union Life

"Being
in insurance we thought it was important to put people’s minds at rest by
letting then know that it hadn’t affected us financially.

"We
have updated people on our security procedures and reminded them to be
vigilant. We’ve also sent out a note explaining how to handle bomb calls."

Shirley
Borrett, Managing Consultant TPS Consulting

"I
do a lot of consulting on flexible work and have noticed more people are
looking into the idea of home working.

"The
whole idea of disaster recovery has also started to grab people’s attention in
a far more real way. As have the implications on health and safety issues and
corporate liability."

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