Edward Snowden, the CIA and HR

It is a plotline that could almost belong in a movie. Following the Edward Snowden revelations about US surveillance, a plucky student brings a legal case about preventing data being sent to the US. When the student initially loses, following US government intervention and with Facebook and Google ranged against him, he appeals all the way to the European Court of Justice (ECJ), where he wins. Probably a made-for-TV movie or ITV drama, but an entertaining hour or so. But that is exactly what has happened in a recent data protection decision before the ECJ. 

Moving beyond co-operation to true collaboration

We hear a lot about the need for teams and businesses to collaborate. Externally, partnerships, joint ventures, crowd sourcing and open platforms are all buzzwords for today’s age. The same collaborative imperative applies within organisations too. But I believe that, while HR directors appreciate the need to work better with other parts of the business, mere co-operation/co-ordination of efforts often gets confused with true collaboration.

Women in consulting - how HR needs to look at the wider agenda

Being a woman working in the consulting industry isn’t easy. The famously long hours, the extensive travel, the need to be able to respond to a client request at the drop of a hat are all exceptionally difficult to deal with - especially if you’re also juggling a busy family life. But there’s a danger that motherhood becomes the only ‘lens’ through which consulting firms, anxious to keep high-performing staff, see their female consultants.

Gender pay gap reporting and its impact on HR

The government has committed to introducing regulations that require businesses with at least 250 employees to publish details of their gender pay gap (i.e. the difference in pay between male and female employees) with the aim of providing greater transparency in an employer’s pay practices. A consultation which has sought views about the details of these reports closed on 6 September, and it is expected that the results will be published this winter. 

The Facebook factor

There seems to be a growing trend amongst workforce management technologies to play up the divisions and mistrust between management and staff. There are advertising themes based on: ‘Do you know how your staff really spend their day?’ and examples of how technology can monitor every key stroke and every application to show how much time staff spend on Facebook, eBay, Netflix, etc.

Why HR should be brain-savvy

Working in HR can be a tough call. HR policies are supposed to deliver policies that support people and improve the bottom line. But instead these policies all too often result in devastating individuals or teams and destroying performance. This is not how it’s meant to be, but it does happen. 

The summer Budget and its impact on employee benefits

In the run up to their 2015 election win the Conservatives made it clear that they would not be increasing three of the key Treasury revenue producers (income tax, National Insurance and VAT) during the course of the current parliamentary term. Whilst the above was an eye-catching and possibly popular policy with the electorate, it did leave many commentators wondering where the income would come from to run the economy over the next five years. Well, wonder no longer, as the second instalment of George Osborne’s 2015 Budget suggests that much of the burden may be met by changes that impact employee benefits, and by extension the employers that sponsor the same.

Five elements of success for women in the corporate world - a view from across the pond

A career and a board role are not either/or options but both/and. That this was a key message of Gloria Larson’s inspiring session ‘Advancing Women in a corporate world: A View From Across the Pond’ at the University of Westminster on Thursday, 17 June 2015, became immediately obvious as, with huge energy and enthusiasm, she described her current roles and responsibilities: President of Bentley University – a leading American business school based outside Boston, with over 6,500 undergraduate and postgraduate students from 82 countries – Gloria is also leading Boston’s bid to host the 2024 Summer Olympics. 

Dear Sajid ....

Dear Secretary of State

On page 45 of the Conservative Party manifesto, under the heading 'Helping you build the Big Society' it states that you will 'give those who work for a big company and the public sector a new workplace entitlement to Volunteering Leave for three days a year, on full pay'.

Corruption and the dark side of leadership

Corruption, bribery and the dark side of leadership have become the corporate norm, despite remaining the elephant in the room, especially when the charges become larger and all say there is nothing there. And this opinion is based on many years’ experience of working with both good and bad leaders around the world, who inevitably create organisations in their own image.

Creating a coaching culture to close the (technology) skills gap

No matter what industry you work in, keeping up to date with technology innovation should not be underestimated. For today’s graduates and new entrants to the world of work, technology is an intrinsic part of their daily life. However, for others, particularly those who have been in the workplace for a number of years, understanding the value and building a reliance on technology has been a slower process.

What role should HR play in communicating ethical values?

Just as you’d be hard pressed to find someone who isn’t in favour of motherhood and apple pie, so we can generally all agree that we are in favour of business ethics, but as the continuing media stories of unethical business practices show, messages about ethical business practice seem to be failing to permeate.

Getting HR hitched to the rest of the business

There’s no doubt that HR departments are under pressure. Many HR functions were cut back during the recession – but have not grown again to their previous levels, leaving staff stretched and struggling with an ever-heavier workload.

Supporting a successful return to work after cancer

We all know that the incidence of cancer is increasing. Cancer Research UK recently reported that 1 in 2 people in the UK born after 1960 will be diagnosed with some form of cancer during their lifetime. By 2030 it is estimated that there will be 4 million people living with cancer. So dealing effectively with cancer in the workplace and facilitating a successful return to work is becoming something HR professionals and line managers will increasingly want but also need to do (see also 'Managing cancer in the workplace').

Understanding the fundamentals of behaviour change

Recent research in psychology, behavioural economics and even psychotherapy is all pointing towards one fundamental rule of behaviour change - context matters. Organisational psychologists have found that contextual factors (what happens in the workplace outside the training or coaching room) are actually more important in ensuring development happens than the quality of the training, workshop or coaching. 

Why corporate learning fails

It makes for stark headline. More than half of managers believe that employee performance would not change if their company’s learning function were eliminated. This might be funny, if it were not for the fact that organisations spend over $200 billion on learning each year. And the real shock here is the fact that it is not new news. That something is wrong with corporate learning is well known, because over the past ten years surveys have repeatedly shown that only around 20% of business leaders are satisfied with the performance of their learning function. Time and again, it keeps coming up short and there are two reasons for this.

Why businesses should hire apprentices

This week is National Apprenticeship Week. It celebrates apprenticeships and the positive impact they have on individuals, businesses and the wider economy. The overarching theme for this year is a challenge to us all to think about what we really know about apprenticeships.

Apprenticeships - the highs and lows

No matter what industry you are in, I firmly believe that investing in training through an apprenticeship programme can provide your business with real benefits. A business is all about its people and an apprentice scheme gives businesses the opportunity not only to select the right people but also to mould their attitude, which is priceless. 

BYOD – a practice to be encouraged or restricted?

Apple recently posted the biggest quarterly profit ever made by a public company; a clear sign that the proliferation in use of mobile technology is not showing any sign of abating. With more employees owning sophisticated tablets and smartphones than ever before, businesses that perhaps once thought the Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) phenomena may go away are facing increasing requests from employees to allow them to use their personal devices for work purposes.

Continuous improvement – the five paradoxes

Why should HR concern itself with continuous improvement? Two reasons. First, one of the most important parts of HR is (or should be) a process of continuous improvement where each individual knows where he or she is in relation to his or her personal development targets and how to close the gap. Secondly, succeeding with continuous improvement requires a distribution of power and ability in the organisation. For it to work employees need to take a larger responsibility and managers need to start acting as coaches. This change should be synchronized with HR to ensure that their competence is utilised and to make sure people get the right support in developing the skills needed. 
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