Thursday, 29 September 2011

Agency Workers Regulations - a quick guide

The Agency Workers Regulations will come into force next month, and while it may not be the most exciting topic of discussion, it is hugely important for Agency Workers and the companies that hire them to understand how they will be affected.

The aim here is not to explain every intricate detail of the regulations, but to give an overview of what you need to be aware of.

As of 1 October 2011, the new Agency Workers Regulations come into force, with the aim of giving agency workers the entitlement to the same basic employment and working conditions as if they had been recruited directly – if and when they complete a qualifying period of 12 weeks in the same job.

What does this mean for Agency Workers?

As an Agency Worker, you will be entitled to use the workplace’s facilities (such as canteen, childcare facilities etc.) and get information on job vacancies from the first day of your assignment.  After 12 weeks in the same job, you will be entitled to equal treatment in:

·         Pay
·         Holidays
·         Night work
·         Rest periods/breaks
·         Duration of working time

The regulations are not back-dated – any time spent on an assignment before 1 October 2011 will not count towards the 12 week qualifying.

Pregnant Agency Workers

After completing the 12 week qualifying period, pregnant agency workers will be allowed paid time off for ante-natal appointments during an assignment.

What does this mean for a hirer of Agency Workers?

If you are employing (or planning on employing) temporary Agency Workers through an agency, you should provide the agency with up to date information on your terms and conditions so that they can ensure that the agency worker receives the correct equal treatment, as if they had been recruited directly, after 12 weeks in the same job.

The hirer is responsible for ensuring that all agency workers can access your facilities and are able to view information on your job vacancies from the first day of their assignment with you.

For a much more in-depth look at the regulations, the information provided by the Department for Business Innovation & Skills is particularly thorough.  If you have any questions about AWR, please feel free to email us at info@exclusivehr.com for advice.

Chris Johnstone

Consultant

Black and white with shades of grey


With an Indian summer (well a couple of days of sunshine!) spreading warmth and happiness into our lives, we could be forgiven for being distracted from the ever gloomier headlines in the financial press in the past few weeks.  Admittedly, trouble in the Eurozone and the influence of minority parties in Finland on Greece receiving it’s bailout money is a tad abstract for most of us in our everyday lives but in our globalised world, these issues are as important as those being discussed by our own leaders in party conference season right now.  I was fascinated to listen to the Chief Economist of the Bank of England, Spencer Dale giving a speech to local business leaders in the past few days and his take on what is happening in the UK and world economy.

Chatham House rules mean that I won’t go into the specifics here, but the event itself gained quite a bit of publicity and quite a few of Spencer’s comments are in the public domain.  One of the overriding themes of his talk was the hugely important role that confidence plays in dictating the economic outlook.  Of course, market confidence has a direct bearing on share prices but Spencer talked at length about business confidence as a whole and the vicious circle of businesses stockpiling cash, expecting worse times ahead with the knock on effect of holding back investment which in turn could stimulate the economy.

From our own point of view, we have certainly seen instances of this in the past year – valuable staff leaving and not being replaced, the ever growing use of interims over permanent staff by cautious firms and specific projects being put on hold being prime examples but I must say that this only paints half of the picture.  We have been (pleasantly!) surprised in 2011 by both the volume and in some cases, the unexpected sources of recruitment in the North of England.  Firstly, from our own experience, public sector recruitment has not ground to a shuddering halt, which is not do diminish the devastating effect that redundancies are having on the region and on those personally affected.

We have also seen a steady rise in recruitment at the top end of the market, specifically in the £50k+ salary bracket.  Often these have been positions that have been left unfilled for a couple of years or more and indeed we have seen a number of new positions being created within organisations at this level which runs contrary to the idea that no new investment is happening.  As is so often the case in recent years, the picture is far from black and white – whilst some businesses are tightening their belts, others are loosening the purse strings and there is no hard and fast pattern to this. 

**********

Just as a quick aside for all you football supporting HR professionals out there given events of recent days.  Your star employee refuses point blank to come in to work, you suspend him while an investigation into his conduct takes place.  In any normal workplace, the result is.....answers on an (e-)postcard please!

Gareth Harrison

Managing Consultant

Thursday, 18 August 2011

Social Networking in Business

A couple of weeks ago I read an article that claimed that more than two-thirds of UK workers believe access to social networking sites should be banned in the workplace (Employees call for social networking to be banned in the workplace).  I was surprised that such a large amount of those surveyed felt that social networking should be entirely eliminated from their working lives.

It is estimated that Facebook has 110 million unique UK visits a month, while Twitter has 12 million unique UK visits a month – needless to say the growth of these sites has been monumental in the past few years (http://bit.ly/jIPCKT).

There is no doubt that organisations across the country will be losing vital man-hours every day to employees checking their friends’ latest photo albums or tweeting about what they’re going to be having for lunch.  However, a blanket ban of social networking in the workplace would be detrimental to any organisation.  Personal use should be kept in check, but any company looking to ignore social networking will miss out on a range of benefits.

It is becoming more and more common for HR teams to devise a social networking policy, and one which gives the right amount of freedom to the relevant people can pay off for the whole business.  Businesses need to look at how social media can improve their businesses, rather than focussing on the damage it can cause.

The most obvious area where social networking pays dividends is in marketing a business.  Businesses of any size can open a Facebook or Twitter account, build up a following of potential customers, and relay their message in a succinct and direct manner.  Not only that, but the power of analytics means that trends amongst followers can be regularly analysed and acted upon in real time.

For the most part, social networking is free, and gives an organisation the opportunity to converse with their customers directly.  This can be extremely positive – for example a consumer-facing organisation can address complaints directly and personally, showing high levels of customer service quickly and easily.  However, as with anything there can be negatives – for example an employee using a twitter account linked with the business to tweet about their drunken antics the night before.

The recent case of Newcastle United's Joey Barton using Twitter to vent his spleen about his employer highlights (albeit in the parallel reality that modern-day footballers operate within) the problems that can arise between employer and employee.  This is a topic we will look to address in a future blog, but we would be interested to hear your thoughts on how it could have been handled better.

With social networking being such a new (and ever-developing) tool, it will continue to prove a challenge to those looking to regulate its use in a business.  However if it is done correctly, the pros will almost certainly outweigh the cons.

Chris Johnstone
Consultant
Exclusive Human Resources

Does your organisation have a social networking policy?  If not, is it something that you think is needed?  We would be really interested to hear your thoughts on it.

Wednesday, 17 August 2011

Are You World Class?


Are you world class? How would you know? How can you assess ‘world class-ness’? What are the signs?

I’ve worked with world class individuals and organisations for the last 15 years or so. During that time I have been fortunate to have worked with Olympians, gold medallists, world record holders and championship winning teams. In sport it is pretty easy to assess ‘world class-ness’. Normally it is accompanied by medals and trophies. In business it is a little tougher. Although there are awards, accolades and league tables, often these don’t tell the whole story. I’ve found genuinely world class operators who are almost unknown outside of their field. They are squirrelled away out of the public glare. They stand out as being world class, not because they have awards, but simply because they absolutely excel in their field. Simply put, they are the best at what they do.

Recently, I have been looking into those subtle but profound differences between world class people and the rest. As part of my research, I have interviewed a group of people who are truly world class in their respective fields. These people come from a diverse range of disciplines, from Michelin starred chefs to elite mountaineers, the world’s finest adventure racers, CEOs of world leading organisations and Olympic finalists. I’ve seen some characteristics that bind them all and noticed a few of the tell-tale signs that help identify them as ‘world class’.

Here is one question that can help us to assess how close we are to these world class people.

What would you say if someone offered to help your organisation become world class?

Would you say, ‘we’re already pretty good at what we do, thanks’? Would you say, ‘we’re already world class’, or ‘I think we’re okay as we are’? Would you say, ‘sounds great but we don’t have the budget for that’ or ‘that sounds like a great idea but we have a business to run’?

Interestingly, when I ask junior athletes to rate their performance on a scale of 1 to 10 (10 being perfect), many score themselves at 9. A world class athlete, when asked the same question, often scores the performance between 4 and 6 out of 10. Does that mean the junior athlete is better? Of course not, but it shows a trait of world class people. They are never satisfied with their performance and are always looking to improve. Even those who are world leaders know that they need to improve at a faster rate than those around them, if they want to remain at the top. They know they need to take advantage of everything that will help them to stay ahead.

World class people never seem to say. ‘oh, that’ll do’; that’s not how world class people think. They don’t tend to accept 98 or 99%. They will do whatever they can to get those extra couple of per cent. They realise that, at the very top, there is a great deal of effort (and sometimes expense) required to gain tiny margins. Many people would feel that the time, effort or expense outweighed the gain. That is often the difference. Most people won’t do what it takes to that extra 1 or 2 per cent. World class people will.

So, what do you think? Are you world class? 

If you are dedicated to being the best you can possibly be, and aspire to being world class in your field, you will want to be part of the exclusive group of businesses on The Podium Programme

Simon Hartley
Executive Coach

If your business could benefit from being part of The Podium Programme, please call our Leadership and Development team on 0191 2155400 or 0113 2430900 or email leadership@exclusivehr.com to find out more.

Thursday, 21 July 2011

It's not what you know...

2011 has been quite the year for nepotism in the Press and watching the Murdoch’s up in front of the Parliamentary select committee this week, the issue set my mind ticking over to some of the high profile incidents that have occurred this year.  Not that I am suggesting that young James has reached his position in News Corp by anything other than corporate ability by the way.

Earlier in the day, John Yates refuted claims that he had given a helping hand to a friend’s (who happened to be an ex News of the World employee) daughter in gaining a position at the Met.  His line of argument was that the HR Director in the organisation was a stickler for the rules and would never have allowed such cronyism to take place.  Closer to home, the Chief Constable of North Yorkshire police was given a final warning earlier in the year for the same reason.

HR occupy a very difficult position when challenging nepotism in the workplace, especially when the perpetrators occupy very senior roles in their organisation.  To what extent is the nepotism in question discriminating against other, possibly more worthy candidates?  Is it naive to suggest that networks, whether they be family or personal do not play a huge part in getting a foothold within a company?

I  would certainly never suggest that personal relationships are not hugely important in business in our region and the same counts for recruitment – clients will naturally deal with recruiters that they trust and if that trust has been earned through hard work and honesty then there is nothing wrong with that.  Referrals of friends and associated businesses are vitally important in winning business and likewise, there is no stronger recommendation of a candidate than ‘word of mouth’.

Indeed, HR actively play on recommendations themselves – think of how many organisations operate a ‘refer a friend’ reward scheme.  Not outright nepotism by any means, but does it circumnavigate the usual recruitment process?

My own view on it is that reputations are generally built for a reason and it actually makes common sense for organisations to take notice of referrals that come their way.  Where the lines become blurred is if HR are actually pushed into taking a candidate whose ability to carry out the role they do not feel comfortable with.
Plus, at some point in most of our lives, we will have been given a helping hand by a personal contact in the workplace.  I’m happy to register my own conflict of interests here – I benefitted from nepotism for the first and last time aged 16 in securing a summer job in a friends shoe factory – it was the worst job I’d ever had!  Either way, it would make me think twice about railing against nepotism whilst conveniently forgetting that I had directly benefitted (ish!) from it in my youth.  At least until I become Deputy Prime Minister and develop a penchant for hypocrisy!

What do HR professionals think about the subject?  Is it something that you have had to confront head on in your own workplaces?  Please feel free to leave comments on the issue – I’m guessing anonymously but it would be great to hear if it is a major issue in our workplaces

Gareth Harrison 

Managing Consultant

Exclusive Human Resources

Tuesday, 21 June 2011

Coaching a Great Mental Game in Business

Most high level sports coaches understand that the game is played predominantly ‘in the top 6 inches’ (i.e. from the neck upwards). In reality the same is true in business. Most business leaders recognise that their success is down to their greatest asset; their people. Therefore, it stands to reason that the performance of our people is largely influenced by their mental game.

As a sport psychologist I find it interesting that most sports coaches spend so much time on technique, tactics and physical development, and relatively little on coaching the mental game. As a performance coach, I see exactly the same pattern in business. Organisations expend significant resources on training people’s skills and knowledge, but often neglect the mental game. Ironically, when I ask many business people how important confidence is in their business, the answer is… ‘crucial’. When I ask how important motivation is, most business people say… ‘vital’. A sales manager once told me that sales performance is ‘90% confidence’.

In sport, the things that change most dramatically in games are often the mental & emotional states, and tactics & decisions. Often those two things are actually quite closely related to each other. Our decision making, and therefore our tactical performance, is normally closely tied to our mental and emotional state. When our mind is in the right place we tend to make good decisions, as well as executing our skills well. Let’s be honest, the same is true in business. In sport, the difference between good and bad decision making can be counted in the £10’s of millions. It’s the same with the execution of skills. In business, our decisions and our execution are also measured in £’s.  

So, what are the keys to getting the mental game right? Well, there are 3 key elements to the mental game. These 3 elements work in combination; they are inter-dependent. It is tough to get a performance if we only have one on its own. These 3 elements flow from each other and feed off of each other. So, as coaches, we need to ensure our people have all 3. Once we have all 3 working together, we see a positive spiral of increasing performance.

What are the 3 amigos?

-          Focus
-          Confidence
-          Motivation

The relationship between these 3 is very simple.

When we are focussed, and have a simple, clear job, we stand a really good chance of doing that job well.

When we do the job really well, we become confident and we enjoy what we’re doing.

When we are confident and enjoy what we’re doing, we’re motivated to do it again.

It is very simple, but it often gets over-looked and forgotten. Fortunately, there are some very easy and practical steps that business leaders can take, to start building this positive spiral. Here are three tips to get you started.

  1. Make sure that your people have a simple and clear job. Make sure they understand the processes that will help them perform well. Each person will have a handful of key processes, which they need to focus on. When they execute these key processes, they will perform really well.

  1. Make sure that your team are focussed on their key processes, rather than being entirely focussed on the outcome. Managers can help by evaluating how well the team delivered the processes, rather than judging them on the results. This is tough to do if the manager is focussed on the outcome. Often managers have to put their own ego to one side, to allow them to get passed the need to win or hit the target. It sounds ironic I know, but the way to build a mentality that wins, is to take the emphasis off of winning. That’s not just true for businesses; it’s true in Premiership football too!

  1. To help build motivation, we need to understand our team’s reasons to be there. We need to ensure that we are aware of what drives them. When we understand our people, we are able to provide incentives that motivate them, and create a culture that promotes motivation.
Of course, there is more to coaching a great mental game than can be written in one article. Each of these topics deserves much more attention. To understand how to coach focus, confidence and motivation in your teams, please get in touch using the details below.

Simon Hartley
Executive Coach

If your business could benefit from World Class thinking? Please call our Leadership and Development team on 0191 2155 400 or 0113 2430 900 or email leadership@exclusivehr.com to find out more. 

Thursday, 16 June 2011

The Myths and Realities of Recruiting in 2011

Is the recruitment market in 2011 different to what it was four years ago? You may be reading this pondering why I’m asking such a ridiculous question – you’re shouting at the screen - of course the market is completely different! But is it?

At the peak of the recruitment boom back in 2007 companies couldn’t recruit quickly enough and recruitment consultancies took the money off their client’s hands even quicker. Recruitment practices reached an all time low; CV’s being sent without the candidates permission became commonplace, forcing candidates to take jobs they were not interested in was practically accepted and the daily harassing of HR departments by a recruiter was an everyday occurrence.

In essence high fees were being charged for sub-standard practices.

In 2007 I launched Exclusive Human Resources; determined to do something different, determined to bring ethics and values back into the world of recruitment. Little did I know that the economy was about to change dramatically; Northern Rock went pop quickly followed by the rest of the banking sector. Companies stopped recruiting. But then good news - in 2010 we saw tentative growth and a rise in GDP. 2011 has seen a confused economic picture with a fragile economy, Greece about to default...but steady growth all the same.

So back to my original question – four years later, have things in recruitment changed? No.

Why? Because we still allow these practices to happen. Recruiters are viewed as nothing better than estate agents or used car sales people. This view is not helped by the appearance of Natasha Scribbins on last night’s BBC Apprentice with her typical in your face recruitment sales approach.

In order to change the practices that happen within recruitment we need to be educated as to why these practices happen and ultimately, what we can do to prevent them from continuing to happen. This process starts by understanding there are two sides to every coin, understanding both sides will allow us to stamp out these practices.

So as an HR professional, what should you expect from your professional recruitment partner? Well in essence you should expect a lot. In summary:


  • A good recruiter will want to develop relationships; they will want to go that extra mile for you and deliver a superb end result.

  • They will give you a consultative approach. This does not mean sending you ten CV’s by close of play today. It means meeting you and asking what you want. Not assuming you are the same as everyone else.

  • They should manage your expectations and demonstrate thorough market knowledge. If you are being unreasonable regarding the salary you are looking for, they should explain that. Test them out! Try to avoid the jack of all trades, master of none consultancies.

  • A basic premise of recruitment but one not practiced by all – Identifying excellent candidates. They should send you three or four relevant, fully briefed candidates. We regularly hear of agencies still sending ten to twelve CV’s!

  • Ensure that your consultant is speaking to the candidates before they send them over. This way you don’t waste your time reviewing and selecting candidates that are not interested in working for you!

  • Ask your recruitment partner to quantify their service. What do your recruiters actually do? Do they just send you 10 CVs off their database and then expect a fee? Get it quantified and ask they carry out the following as a minimum:

    • Consultation with you, Advertise, Identify quality candidates, speak with candidates on their database, shortlist, organise interviews, give them a briefing – very important, handle the offer stage and finally follow up once they have placed a candidate into your vacancy.

  • Above all they must be professional, ethical and transparent.

Now that you know what to expect from a professional recruitment partner, you need to fully understand what role HR must play in improving standards. You may feel this is a brave subject to blog about when my audience is made up mainly of HR professionals, but I genuinely believe that in order for standards to improve, both HR and recruiters must understand the role they each play in a successful recruitment process:

  • Don’t start a CV race by using multiple agencies. You need to be looking for quality – Not quantity. You need ONE excellent candidate, so why use five agencies??? Why do you need five CVs from each agency? It defeats what you are paying for. You are saying that speed is the basis for going out to five agencies – NOT who will do best quality job for you. We recently experienced one HR department that went out to fourteen recruitment consultancies!!!

By going out to multiple agencies you are not giving a commitment to any one recruitment consultancy – you are not putting your faith in any one true partner. What commitment do you think the consultant then feels back to you?

It is guaranteed you will see a flurry of activity initially. But when the hard work is required the service drops.

  • Give your recruitment partner exclusivity. This shows commitment, it shows faith and is rewarded with a higher level of service – normally!

  • You state you want a better spread of candidates. What percentage of people do you think are available to move jobs that are currently registered with any recruiter? Latest research suggests this number may be as low as 5% - role dependant.

If you go to four or five recruiters they will all be fishing in same limited, active job seekers pond as the recruiters only have time to look at the database due to the CV race!

If you go to one consultancy and you afford them the time to deal with your role professionally they can then advise on the best way of sourcing candidates. They can look at the other 95% of the market – utilise their network, advertise, headhunt, conduct a thorough database search etc. They will look at appropriate strategies

  • I read a quote recently on one blog that stated; “Paying a contingency fee for a multi-listed job is like paying a bounty hunter in the days of the Wild West – And if you pay recruiters like you pay cowboys, you might just get cowboys!” A very true statement.

  • When it comes to market rates, please don’t brag about how you hammer your recruitment partner down to rates of 8% or 10%, aim for a fair deal. If you pay 8% - expect a sub standard service as after all you get what you pay for. Understand a recruiter has to plough resources into helping you, pay less and the service levels will be cut, simple economics.

  • When it comes to your timescales please be honest – be realistic especially if you know it’s a tough role. Your recruiter can then truly help you.

  • Benchmarking – if you are going to do this, please, please be honest. Are you genuinely open to external candidate? A recruiter can tell you how your internal person benchmarks – especially if it’s an honest recruitment partner. Not being honest wastes a recruiter’s time and resources and you will jeopardise your future relationship.

  • Give Feedback on candidates, this is absolutely vital. Failing to do this can and will, damage your brand perception. We recently witnessed a client receive a wonderful response rate from an advert, something in the region of 100 applications. 10 applicants were interviewed but no feedback was given to the nine unsuccessful ones. The other 90 applications did not so much as receive an acknowledgment. The facts are simple in this case, 99 unhappy individuals that have been introduced to your brand that you have damaged.

  • Always communicate with your consultant, after all we act on your behalf and need to manage candidate’s expectations. Simple and effective communication allows us to do this on your behalf.

  • Avoid using Portals/email only application processes. How can the recruiter know what you want, give you any advice and be of any real help to you?

  • Finally PSLs – if someone breaches your PSL by sending a CV without permission of the candidate – please DON’T use their services. Continuing to use the services and paying the fee condones this behaviour and the message is given loud and clear that their methods work and they WILL continue in this manner.

To bluntly summarise the role of HR in the recruitment process; if you are using poor recruiters and knowingly continue to use poor recruiters – please don’t grumble and tar us with same brush. We are as passionate as you are about raising the recruitment game.

Hopefully together as true partners we can continue to raise the bar of recruitment.

I would love to hear your thoughts.

Mark Ions

Managing Director – Exclusive Human Resources

Monday, 13 June 2011

The Return of the Winter of Discontent?

The prospect of widescale industrial action across the public sector moved a step closer over the past few days with some bellicose statements from the unions and coalition government alike ahead of a vote this week from around three quarters of a million teachers on strike action starting in the summer.

Given the cuts and handling of public sector pensions, it was only a matter of time before direct action was mooted and Dave Prentis, the general secretary of Unison spelt out the threat from the unions viewpoint that "It will not be one day of action – it will be long-term industrial action throughout all our public services to prevent destruction of our pension schemes.". 

From my own viewpoint, having worked in the public sector, I find it difficult not to have a deal of sympathy with the unions, especially when it comes to the issue of pensions.

Politics aside (and for what it's worth, I think that the previous government were culpable for at least the start of the erosion of employee relations within our public services), the threat of industrial action provides a major headache for HR professionals across the sector and potentially beyond.

Backed into a corner, the unions see the only power available to them as being the withdrawal of labour and I have a great deal of sympathy with senior HR professionals that will be involved in trying to seek a resolution to a problem with no obvious solution.  Couple this with the pronouncements of Vince Cable last week that an increase in strikes would prompt the government to consider legislation to make it ever more difficult for unions to take action and you have a pretty posionous mix.

From the outside looking in, it's a struggle to see an obvious answer to a population that is living ever longer beyond retirement but equally, it seems grossly unjust to suddenly alter pension contributions to those that have budgeted for and accounted for something entirely different.

I'd be really interested to hear the viewpoints of HR professionals in the public sector as to where things go from here but also those in the private sector as to how they read the situation that is going to unfold over the coming months.  Feel free to leave any comments that you have surrounding the blog - you don't have to leave your name if you have a particularly strongly held view either way but best of luck in dealing with what can only be described as a 'tricky' industrial landscape!

Gareth Harrison - Managing Consultant

Wednesday, 16 March 2011

Soaking it Up : Can the private sector really absorb public sector job losses?

With the latest unemployment figures hot off the press and showing a rise to over 2.5 million and large scale public sector job losses yet to hit in earnest, one could be forgiven for questioning the Chancellor’s claim that the private sector is well positioned to lead a recovery in the job market and provide a haven for recently unemployed public sector workers.  Certainly in the North East of England, where both the percentage of workers employed in the public sector and the overall rate of unemployment is greatest, the statistics make for gloomy reading.  Whilst sectors such as manufacturing are showing signs of recovery and are slowly starting to employ more workers, this recovery is tentative at best.  Regardless of domestic factors (and the forthcoming Budget will make for interesting reading), the globalised nature of our economy poses some alarming problems for the year ahead.  Rising oil prices are compounded by uncertainty in the Middle East and make a direct impact on the areas of the British economy that are making baby steps to recovery.  The oft-quoted statistic that a $10 rise in a barrel of oil leads to a 0.5% fall in GDP makes for startling reading when considering that in the last quarter alone, prices have risen by $10 a barrel.

With GDP falling in the last quarter in the UK, we are one negative quarter away from recession and faced with a situation of falling growth coupled with rising unemployment, exactly where will the spare capacity be found in the private sector to stem the rise in unemployment?  Speaking as an HR recruiter in the North of England firstly, I do see signs that there is some openness from private business to welcome the skill set of public sector employees.  This may in part be due to the fact that we live in an area with a very high concentration of public sector workers and a huge percentage of candidates that I deal with will have worked in the public sector for at least part of their career.  In advising such candidates, I cannot stress highly enough the value of a good recruiter working on their behalf to really spend time with the client to ‘sell’ the skills and experience of the candidate and explain that in most cases, these skills are indeed transferrable and any shortfalls in commercial knowledge can be quickly picked up and developed.  I’ve lost count of how many times candidates over the past few months looking to move from the public sector have stressed ‘but I’m not really a public sector person at all!’.  If I could give any advice on this, it would be to focus on your competencies and not the sector which you have come from – most skills, certainly within HR, are broadly transferrable and with a good recruiter representing you properly there is no reason why you can’t make the transition – provided the jobs are there!

Which brings us back to the central point – where are the jobs coming from?  I was astonished just the other day to read that if HALF of the SME’s in the UK were to take on just one member of staff, we would have NO unemployment in the UK.  The governing party (well, the lead party in the coalition of partners if we are being diplomatic!) bill themselves as the party of enterprise yet the SME sector has been bashed from all sides in the past year – increases to VAT, increases to employer NI contributions and a banking sector which is just paying lip service to opening up credit lines all combine to make life very difficult indeed for the SME sector.  If the Chancellor is serious about boosting growth and employment, then our small businesses could hold the key – especially in the North.  Whilst most people to one extent or another recognise the need to cut the deficit, without tax revenue from employees, the austerity drive is doomed to failure.  With some concessions to small business and the private sector economy as a whole in next week’s Budget, the aim of absorbing public sector workers looks more achievable.

It goes without saying that if you are a public sector employee working in Human Resources, I will do all that I can to help you make the transition to the private sector – feel free to contact me for any advice or pointers.  As you might have guessed, I’m always available for a chinwag on socioeconomics too!  We’re a multi-faceted bunch at Exclusive Human Resources but then we do strive to be different!

Gareth Harrison - Senior Consultant