CIPD Conference news in brief

Father Dermot Tredget described how a spiritually-friendly workplace is a more profitable workplace to a congregation of CIPD delegates.

Father Tredget, a former businessman who became a Benedictine monk, believes the 6th century teachings of St Benedict have pertinence today. He believes that by understanding spirituality people can build better relationships at home and at work.

“There are far too many damaged people in workplaces up and down this country,” he claimed. “They have suffered through overwork and failed to develop their emotional intelligence.”

He believes a spiritually-oriented workplace will have better staff retention, teamwork, innovation and thus profitability.

Youngsters lead way

HR directors should consider young highflyers when pulling together project teams for mergers and acquisitions, according to the executive director of Corus Group. Allan Johnston said that this was a successful technique in the 1999 merger of British Steel and Koninklijke Hoogovens. He said, "We didn’t take the top guys off their jobs. We took the younger high potential people. The directors were the candidates whose positions we were looking to fill and we didn’t want them looking after themselves or their own people."

Directive next year?

European legislation to introduce national works councils is likely to be adopted by the end of next year, according to European consultant Peter Reid. Recent reports that the draft Information and Consultation directive had been put on the back burner due to opposition from the UK and three other member states should be read with scepticism, he told delegates at the European Law Update. "Ireland and Denmark are no longer opposed… it is steadily going along," said Reid.

Keep sight of goals

HR professionals have a duty to enforce company business goals by ensuring changes made at board level do not compromise its culture. Paul Pagliari, HR director of Scottish Power, told delegates they must be able to say "no" to high-level proposals if they go against the company ethos. He said, "HR must be able to say these things otherwise the whole business will descend into chaos."

That magic touch

Companies are turning to spiritual techniques such as shamanism to meet the increasingly demanding and unpredictable nature of work, and it is the corporate highfliers who are the modern day equivalent of the tribal magicians. Management consultant, writer and teacher Leslie Kenton told delegates, "Business managers could do worse than learn about shamanic techniques to enhance individual and team performances."

HR is key to future

Companies that want to compete successfully in the new economy should not neglect HR, said Jane Royston, professor of entrepreneurship at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology. "HR becomes central because people are essential," she told delegates as she outlined her considerations in her presentation on E-business and its Impact on People Professionals. She said that because companies are competing in a world market, speed is everything and that the number one priority is putting the client first.

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