If you still think the only way the Web impacts on HR is in work hours lost
to employee surfing, then it’s time to look at the range of HR-oriented sites
out there. From recruitment to news to tools, it can all be found on the Web.
There is even a painless and Paxman-free means of getting information out of
the Government. Andrew Rogers and Steve Shipside take a look at what’s on-line
for the personnel professional
This links to the magazine’s on-line directory pdn which carries information
on learning providers to the HR market; gives access to HR jobs on-line via
totaljobs.com and features a useful list of software tools for character assessment
HR networks and communities
Something the Web does extremely well is host communities and networks where
people can exchange information, advice, best practice, get the most obscure of
questions answered and even overcome feelings of isolation.
The HR Network is a UK-centric HR news source that distinguishes itself with
a well-designed search engine that lets you trawl for HR news and developments
by category or keyword. Curiously, this clarity and simplicity is at odds with
the needless animation and eye-candy frippery of the ShockWave (animated)
version of the site. That said, at least it offers the option of a
non-ShockWave version from the start.
TrainingZone is a particularly thorough on-line community. As well as
offering news, jobs, on-line discussion groups, and an "any answers"
section, it has a handy directory of consultants, trainers and venues. Its
publisher, Sift, has recently launched an HRZone.
This is truly an area where the Web comes into its own. Given the legendary
difficulty involved in extracting accurate information from HMG, the Blairite
administration’s commitment to getting government on-line really pays dividends
for those looking for clarification on the latest regulations regarding such
things as pensions, or forthcoming employment legislation.
If you are at all unsure about legislation, whether proposed or implemented,
then your first port of call should be the DAG site (Direct Action Government).
DAG is a dry but reassuringly complete guide to what the House of Commons has
dreamed up for you at work.
This "one-stop shop for business to access regulatory guidance and
forms published on government web sites" has a wealth of HR-relevant
information under "employment".
Another primary entry point to the machinations of Government is
www.open.gov.uk which has a fascinating organisational index where you can find
just about every public sector body from the Air Training Corps to Cyngor Sir
Ynys Mon (Anglesey County Council). Another basic entry point is the Central
Office of Information.
If you are after statistics, try the Office of National Statistics site
which, with a little effort, should help fill in the gaps on that PowerPoint
More self-consciously upbeat and colourful is the DfEE’s web site. Here you
can find everything you never wanted to know about Individual Learning
Accounts, Modern Apprenticeships, Career Development Loans and the myriad of
other initiatives. To find what you want you may find yourself having to use an
alphabetically arranged site index or an over zealous search engine, but the
current flavours of the month are always well signposted.
Altogether better arranged is the DTI’s site but there are a number of
shortcuts if you know what it is you are after. For example, one of the most
useful areas is www.dti.gov.uk/er/regs.htm where you can find a series of
employment rights factsheets covering areas such as disability discrimination
in employment, itemised pay statements, maternity rights, the national minimum
wage, sex discrimination, Tupe and Working Time regulations.
While not all the DTI information is found on-line even those stubborn
publications which are still only available in paper form can be found
catalogued at the Publications in Print site at www.dti.gov.uk/pip
If you can’t find what you need there, you should be able to at The
The Stationery Office has been the official publisher to Parliament for more
than 200 years and is the largest UK publisher by volume. It has launched a new
web service called itsofficial.net. As well as offering information about
legislation and regulations that impact your daily life, it provides a
"Your Business" section focused on the needs of business managers.
The Employee Rights section offers advice on questions such as "Who can
claim redundancy?" and "What are the entitlements of employees that
are on strike?"
In line with the spirit of the age, The UK’s regional assemblies and
parliaments all have their own web sites.
UK Parliament: www.parliament.uk
Scottish Parliament: www.scottish.parliament.uk
National Assembly for Wales: www.wales.gov.uk
Northern Ireland Assembly: www.ni-assembly.gov.uk
Everything you need to know about companies and business is on the web, from
basic registration information on the Companies House web site to advice and
campaigning for organisations of all sizes.
The most interesting stuff on many web sites such as the Federation of Small
Businesses is "members only", but there’s a surprising amount of
information freely available. The CBI’s site, for example, is smart and often
informative. It features information about the CBI’s benchmarking programme,
but the most fun is to be derived from choosing the whiniest "hot
topic". From the tone, you would wonder any business survives in the UK at
Slightly less whiny is the Institute of Directors site which although useful
for finding out what your directors are probably losing sleep over, is
otherwise horribly commercial for such an august body.
Most business networks have a presence on the web, but if you go to the
British Chambers of Commerce web site don’t be surprised if you can’t find any
reference to your local chamber. Apparently not all Chambers of Commerce are
If your business has a conscience, visit the Business in the Community web
site. This organisation is concerned with improving, measuring and reporting
the impact that businesses have on their environment, workplace, marketplace
and community, as well as tackling disadvantage and create enterprising
communities. For a campaigning organisation, there is disappointingly little
information here though.
It is a similar story at the web site of the RSA or, to give them their full
title, The Royal Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufacturers and
Commerce. Founded in 1754, it aims to create a civilised society based on a
sustainable economy. One of its current projects is the Forum for Ethics in the
Workplace in collaboration with the Comino Foundation, but there is precious
little content on the site.
A much livelier site is that of the Campaign for Learning where you can find
out about forthcoming initiatives such as Learning at Work Day. You can even
get tips from Dame Judi Dench who must have learned many things in her career,
albeit mostly lines. "I’m certain that, above all, learning should be fun.
I think that learning at work is something that we probably think we all do,
but sometimes we get stuck in a rut and, without realising it, forget to learn
something new and different." So there you go.
Another campaigning body is The Industrial Society whose aim is to improve
working life. For a charity, it has a pretty commercial site and there is not
much in the way of free stuff, but check the What’s New section for an insight
into hot work topics.
The best part of the Institute of Management’s site is Management Link which
provides links to a bewildering number of sites on the Internet. Whether you
are looking for professional organisations, government resources, small
business resources or company information, this is a good and well-organised
place to start.
On the other hand, no-one could accuse the Institute for Supervision and
Management of frittering away its members’ dues on flashy design.
www.ismstowe.demon.co.uk is quite appalling.
The Institute of Personnel & Development is smart and contained. If you
are a member, there is a wealth of resource to be found here. It is clearly
laid out with news and features culled from People Management for the UK
But it is not the best site for job searching, and it is true that a lot of
the information will be old news to IPD members but for hard pressed IPDers
looking to refresh their memories in a hurry the site is easily navigated and
uncluttered. Its People Management site has a useful archive facility.
If you want flashing pictures of empty training rooms, you can do no better
than visit the Institute of IT Training’s web site, but look past these visual
non sequiteurs and you will find a host of useful stuff such as organisational
standards and competence frameworks for on-line trainers.
The Institute of Training and Occupational Learning is only a few months old
so its web site doesn’t tell you much except how to join.
Most of the unions have their own web sites these days and their URLs are
pretty intuitive. But if you cannot find what you are looking for there is a
pretty overwhelming international list of trade unions on the world wide web at
www.fnv.nl/~Marcel/unionsen.html – looking for a Cuban union, anyone?
The TUC’s web site is organised into a virtual building constructed around
endless floors, corridors, rooms and even folders which seems to miss one of
the major points of the web really. You really do have to work hard to find
what you want here and walking virtual corridors is at least as tiring as
walking real ones, and much less interesting. However, this web site contains
useful information which, on the whole, is freely available. For example, there
is loads of data on labour market trends.
At the Acas web site you can view on-line versions of a variety of advice
leaflets and "getting it right" guides on topics such as lay-offs,
short-time working, varying contracts of employment, discipline at work and so
Not as in "that land mass off the coast of Britain" but as in
"those bureaucrats in Brussels". The EU’s web site is rather like the
EU itself – large, bewildering, unaesthetic and incredibly difficult to
navigate. Thankfully a site map is currently under construction which might
make life easier. To its credit, it does have a reasonably helpful search
The European Commission Representation in the UK’s web site is a good first
port of call. It is easy to navigate and you will find the links you’re after
much more quickly this way.
Visit the Federation of European Employers’ web site and you will find
yourself presented with one of my favourite pages. It’s the FEE’s code of
practice and starts with the subheading "Preamble". Made me want to
read it. Anyway, this is apparently "the web site for progressive
employers operating in Europe". Worth dropping into for recent ECJ
judgements and some good links. Best of all are the Country Briefings, which
cover things such as health and safety and working time. So if you ever
wondered what the minimum wage in Lithuania was, this is the place to find it
(it’s 430 Litas per month, by the way).
European information is scattered all over the place. There is an entire web
site devoted to vocational training in Europe at www.trainingvillage.gr which
is organised, in the loosest sense of the word, as a village complete with
village hall, library and "chat pub". And a surprising number of cul
de sacs. If nothing else, it – like the TUC’s site – provides a great object
lesson in how unhelpful analogies can be when organising virtual worlds.
European Centre for the Development of Vocational Training: www.cedefop.gr
European Court of Justice: http://europa.eu.int/cj/en/index.htm
European Parliament: www.europarl.eu.int/sg/tree/en/default.htm
Equality and diversity
The Equal Opportunities Commission’s web site is not the most elegant you
will visit, and the on-line advice is disappointingly sketchy. At one stage I
clicked on "advice" and got a message saying, "The page cannot
be found". Still, the press releases provide a good source of information
about recent cases and changes in legislation.
There is no colour bar on the Commission for Racial Equality’s web site –
turquoise, orange, blue, red, they are all indiscriminately represented. This
is a site for sore eyes, but it does have useful information about recent court
judgements and sources of sound advice on issues such as "Why Keep Ethnic
Records?" which you can download.
Opportunity Now (formerly Opportunity 2000) is principally a campaigning web
site aimed at promoting women in the workplace. It’s a bit lightweight, but has
useful facts and figures tucked away in the press releases.
If you want to explore diversity issues in greater depth, visit the American
Institute for Managing Diversity web site, where you will get a more academic,
but quite comprehensive slant on things.
Qualifications and awarding bodies
If you find the UK’s qualification system bewildering, and you have time to
devote to sorting it out in your head, visit the Qualifications and Curriculum
Authority web site. The QCA is the amalgamation of the former National Council
for Vocational Qualifications (NCVQ) and the School Curriculum and Assessment
Authority (SCAA) which apparently provides it with "a unique overview of
curriculum, assessment and qualifications across the whole of education and
training". This site can tell you about academic and vocational
qualifications including key skills, basic skills, A-levels and NVQs, plus the
odd bit of interesting research.
Research bodies and business schools
Most of the research institutes have highly commercial web sites and to get
much detailed information, you will have to put your virtual hand in your
pocket and use a real credit card. For top line statistics and findings, the
press releases sections of most of these sites provide useful free information.
Nevertheless the Institute for Employment Studies web site provides quite
extensive on-line summaries of each of its reports so you can establish whether
or not they are relevant before you order them on-line. Latest reports cover
topics such as graduate recruitment, linking HR performance to business
strategy and Learning in Later Life: Motivation and Impact.
If you are looking for a business school, the Association of Business
Schools site contains a list of members with links to their sites, but you
don’t get any clues about what each offers, so it’s a bit of a trawl. Much
better, if you are looking for an MBA, is the Association of MBAs web site
which has a "search for an MBA to suit your needs" facility allowing
you to search by both location and study mode.
Training, development and learning
As you might expect, there is loads of government and quango stuff on the
Web to support the various initiatives to promote lifelong learning. The site
with the widest perspective is the DfEE’s UK Lifelong Learning site which
brands itself "the leading web site for the encouragement, promotion and
development of lifelong learning". It is primarily aimed at individuals,
but if lifelong learning is your thing, then this site provides a useful
collection of DfEE resources from green papers to the latest report from the
National Advisory Group for Continuing Education and Lifelong Learning to
career development loans.
If you are still wondering what the University for Industry is all about,
take a look at its web site which has been much improved of late.
The Investors in People UK site, on the other hand, is annoyingly
disjointed, forcing you to move back and forth (particularly irritating in the
What’s New section). But if you want an update on the revised IIP standards,
for example, this is a place to look.
Then for added fun, look at the National Advisory Council for Education and
Training Targets (Nacett) web site to see how far away Britain is from
achieving its IIP targets. This web site is smart and neat, but not very friendly
for roaming around, downloading or printing stuff.
For the latest verdicts on the delivery of work based training, check out
the Training Standards Council web site where you can read about the success or
otherwise of New Deal and NVQs. The site lets you view summaries of reports on
providers online, or you download the entire report to get all the dirt.
Catch ’em while you can. Find your local Tec (but little else) at the Tec
National Council’s site.
As one door closes, another opens, and the web site of the NTO National
Council reflects the optimism of these winners of the Government’s shake-up.
Its web site goes much further than letting you contact your industry’s NTO.
Very on the ball, this site has complete listings of consultation and policy documents
and provides useful information about what’s going on.
If you are looking to source a training provider, there are plenty of
on-line directories such as www.worldoftraining.com and Personnel Today’s
Training and technology
If you’re a training techie, there are plenty of useful sites on the Web
just for you. The Technologies for Training site for example is funded by the
DfEE and provides information and advice about applications of technology-based
training. It has quite a groovy "briefings" section where you can
download advice on topics such as Choosing an Authoring System or Cost
Effectiveness of TBT in a variety of formats (www, rtf and doc).
The Forum for Technology in Training, whose mission is about "advancing
business performance through the effective application of technology in
training", does a similar sort of thing, but unless you are a member,
there’s nothing for you here.
Same disappointing story at The Association of Computer-based Training
(Tact) web site. Now with the tag "the eLearning network", this
association "committed to helping members make effective use of technology
in training" means what it says. Members only.
The Institute of IT Training’s web site is worth a visit to get ideas for
competencies and standards in this area.
Overseas institutes, bodies and associations
In writing this feature, we have deliberately filtered out the US factor to
compensate for the dominance of US content, but just to show that Personnel
Today retains a global perspective there is room to mention The International
Association for Human Resource Information Management (IHRIM) and it is more
far reaching strategic scope, so if you are following the Web mantra of
"think global, act local" then take a peek at the IHRIM site.
Another good international site is that of the US Society for Human Resource
The fabulous American Society for Training & Development has a quite
generous site. Even non-members can take part in on-line discussion groups or
"communities" on topics such as evaluation and ROI and learning
There is also an Institute for International Human Resources site, but
unless you are a member, it is pretty useless.
To challenge your own parochialism, pay regular visits to the International
Labour Organization’s web site where you can read articles about child labour
and other equally depressing titles such as Asian Women: Last Hired, First
Fired and Aids in the World of Work – In Search of a Social Vaccine.
Pay and reward
The Incomes Data Services site is commercial, but generous enough to publish
not only headline figures from its research into pay rates, but also links to
key data at the Office of National Statistics. So you can readily find such
information as UK average earnings and UK employment without having to navigate
the rather overwhelming ONS site.
The Inland Revenue’s site is pretty basic but highly navigable with loads of
information on handling tax, access to publications and featured areas on hot
(by taxation standards) topics such as the dreaded forthcoming IR35
Surprisingly you can also have fun here, by looking at the Tax-exempt
Heritage Assets database. The database gives details of assets which are
exempted from capital taxes providing that their owners give the public access
to those assets on request, so if you are feeling mischievous, you can get in
touch with lots of rich people and demand to see their Picassos.
There is a wealth of information on employment law on the Web. As mentioned
previously, the DTI has some very helpful basic information. There’s more from
The Stationery Office, which has launched a Legal Adviser service. Although
this is a subscription service, you can currently get a one-month free trial.
"Get a Legal Adviser not legal headaches" isn’t the best slogan on
the web though.
DiscLaw Publishing has an employment law reference site to which you need to
subscribe to get full value from, but it does also have a free area if you
don’t mind using information that was valid at 1 May 1997.
Where this site really excels, however, is its British Employment Law Super
Portal, which provides links to just about everything you could ever need,
including case law from the House of Lords and the Court of Appeal, statutory
instruments, European law plus links to sites with free employment law advice,
academic publishers and so on. Fantastic.
If you want to do it all the hard way, all the law bodies have their own web
sites, some easier to use than others.
Acts of Parliament: www.hmso.gov.uk/acts.htm
Bills before Parliament: www.parliament.the-stationery-office.co.uk/pa/pabills.htm
European Court of Human Rights: www.echr.coe.int
European Court of Justice: http://europa.eu.int/cj/en/index.htm
By Internet standards, this is big business so there are more recruitment
sites on the Internet than you can shake a stick at. In the UK
www.totaljobs.com claims to contain more jobs in more sectors than any other UK
site. Handy features include a salary checker where HR people can compare their
own salaries with national averages.
If you are looking for a consultancy or agency, take a look at The
Recruitment Yearbook’s web site. It is not particularly friendly, but at least
it is free.
The Recruitment and Employment Federation web site has a similar service
where you can search for member companies.
The Employment Service’s web site is a bit of a damp squib, but you can find
your nearest JobCentre there.
Appointing a director? The Companies House web site features a Disqualified
Worried about dangerous pathogens? Everything you ever wanted to know about
Legionnaires’ disease and more can be found in the free leaflets at the Health
& Safety Executive’s web site as well as statistics and news of current
campaigns and upcoming events.
There is also an Institution of Occupational Safety & Health web site
which although mostly for members does give access to a couple (literally) of
useful information sheets and is planning to put its register of members
on-line so you can search for an occupational health consultant.
There is a European Agency for Health and Safety at work web site where you
can find information about good practice, research and statistics with a
If you thought pensions was a dull area, the Pensions Management Institute’s
web site will confirm your worst fears, but if it is an area you are involved
in at least the press release site will help keep you abreast of key issues.
The Financial Services Authority also has a staid, but rather more
informative approach. Go take a look to set yourself straight on pension
regulations and enforcement information.
If you are recruiting from local schools, look at the Ofsted site to find
out what chance your potential employees have to get a decent education.
The Association of Colleges has a web site, but it’s really for colleges and
it proclaims, as though it has been asked a hundred times before, "The AoC
does NOT hold information on the individual courses that are offered by
colleges of Further Education." Well, perhaps it should.
It continues, "For this, individuals are advised to look in their local
libraries for college prospectuses and directories, or contact colleges
directly." Hello? Anyone there?
We are getting down to the nitty gritty here, but teleworking is a
much-overlooked area which is on the increase and about which there isn’t much
If you are looking for information in this area try the European Telework
Development web site, the Telework, Telecottage and Telecentre Association, or
the IOSH’s information.
Finally, if you haven’t found what you really need in these humble pages,
there are several places on the Web where even the most demanding HR person can
find what they are looking for.
At Nottingham Trent University Business School a gentleman called Ray Lye
maintains an incredible collection of links to largely UK sites arranged under
such topics as research, HR jobs around the world, consultants and HR
Ray’s list also encourages feedback so the list of sites grows as
contributors update it with new ideas. The resulting freshness and diversity
makes it a great jumping off point for general research although Ray’s breadth
of scope does lead to some fairly esoteric entries – anyone for "HR in the
There is an extensive list of places to ponder at
www.king.ac.uk/~bs_s467/content.htm – not quite as esoteric as Ray’s selection,
but the greater UK focus means that it is often more relevant, if a little
biased towards academia rather than life on the HR front line.