Barometer roundup

The HR profession gets the chance to voice its opinion on headline news each week via our barometer at – our award-winning website. Based on your votes over the final quarter of 2005, we take a look at whether you agreed with the news and leading opinion-formers.

THE NEWS: Senior HR directors criticised the Olympic Development Authority (ODA) after it emerged that the head of
HR for the London 2012 Olympics would have to report to the finance director and earn a salary of 75,000 – just half the amount being offered to the marketing chief. But the ODA said this reporting line was standard for an organisation of its size and type.
YOUR VIEW: Do you report to your finance director?
Yes 18%
No 82%
OUR VERDICT: Clearly, most of the organisations you work for disagree with the ODA as the overwhelm-ing majority of you do not report to the finance director. As HR becomes increasingly influential, it is clear that it is regarded as a vital function in its own right, separate from finance. If the ODA really wants to get the ‘brightest talent’ for 2012, it must take HR equally as seriously.

THE NEWS: With up to 17 million days a year currently lost through alcohol-related sickness absence, many employers expressed serious concern over 24-hour drinking in the new law.
YOUR VIEW: Are you concerned that 24-hour drinking will have an adverse affect on productivity and absence?
Yes 53%
No 48%
OUR VERDICT: Managing sickness absence is one of the toughest challenges for HR, but you were split on the impact of 24-hour drinking on workforce productivity. Only time will tell what sort of effects the new licensing regulations will have on employers, but HR will need to prepare for all eventualities.

THE NEWS: Lord Turner’s report recommended the creation of a National Pensions Saving Scheme (NPSS), which would force all employers to pay into staff schemes. But many employers groups said the Pension Commission chief’s suggestions would be viewed as a tax on employment and lead to job losses.
YOUR VIEW: Should employers be forced to pay into staff pension schemes?
Yes 77%
No 23%
OUR VERDICT: Compulsory pensions contributions are a political hot potato, but most of you think employers should play their part. These results will come as a surprise to business groups which have railed against compulsion, although of course many of you may have been respond-ing on a personal level, rather than as an employer.

THE NEWS: The ‘Whose health is it anyway?’ debate revealed that there was ‘hopeless confusion’ over who was responsible for the health of employees. Just 1% of delegates said employers should be accountable for their employees’ health.
YOUR VIEW: Who is mainly responsible for the health of employees?
Individual 89%
Employer 10%
Gov 1%
OUR VERDICT: There was consensus as far as you were concerned with most of you thinking it was the individual’s duty to look after their own health. The government health strategy, Health, Work and Wellbeing – Caring for our Future, published in October 2005, set out clear guidelines on what employers should be doing to improve the wellbeing of their employees. But with most of you believing that employees need to take responsibility for themselves, the debate looks set to continue.

THE NEWS: The government is encouraging employers to recruit ex-offenders in a bid to cut re-offending. Currently, 53% of former prisoners re-offend. The government plans to improve prison education and give inmates the skills they need to enter the labour market.
YOUR VIEW: Have you ever recruited an ex-offender?
Yes 55%
No 45%
OUR VERDICT: It is clear that employers can play a pivotal role in rehabilitating ex-offenders and tap into a new talent pool. But with government figures showing that more than half of all prisoners only reach the education level expected of an 11-year-old in reading, writing and maths, employers will have to invest in serious training before recruiting ex-offenders can be a success.

THE NEWS: Personnel Today’s exclusive survey, carried out with the anti-bullying charity The Andrea Adams Trust, indicated that visible cases of bullying have fallen to 70%, compared with 87% a year ago. Many HR departments (59%) have put policies and procedures in place, which they believe are effective in tackling incidents of bullying in the workplace.
YOUR VIEW: Does your organisation measure the cost of staff bullying?
Yes 9%
No 91%
OUR VERDICT: There is a mounting business case for actively measuring bullying, but most of you are failing to do so. It costs 1.3bn a year in lost productivity, absence and staff turnover. Many legal precedents were set last year that could prompt other victims of bullying to seek resolution in the courts. While levels of bullying have fallen, HR needs to do more than writing policies to have a real impact.

THE NEWS: The Women and Work Commission will challenge the government to allow class actions in gender pay disputes in a bid to close the pay gap. But Jacqui Smith, minister for women and equality, said that allowing class actions would only be a last resort.
YOUR VIEW: Do you think class actions will help close the gender pay gap?
Yes 62%
No 38%
OUR VERDICT: Unions say they would welcome the move, but you gave a mixed reaction, highlighting the perceived complexity of group litigation.

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