The Network HR Blog is Moving!

Thank you for reading this WordPress hosted blog, all future blog posts will be posted via the Network HR website. Make sure to check the website regularly to keep updated!

Kind Regards,
The Network HR Team

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Changes to the Government’s Disability Employment Programme


Disabled Worker

Changes to the Government’s disability employment programme are set to help disabled entrepreneurs and small businesses, ministers believe.

Announced this week, the changes will help meet the cost of specialist equipment and other additional expenses faced by disabled workers.

It is hoped the move will help further narrow the gap between the UK’s disabled and non-disabled employment rates.

The Access to Work programme will provide support as well as financial contributions towards the travel expenses faced by disabled workers and the costs of specially adapted equipment.

And it means firms employing up to 49 people will no longer have to contribute towards the extra costs incurred by disabled workers, a move which will save them up to £2,300 per person using the fund.

Disabled workers will also get more choice on the equipment they need to do their job, with Access to Work advisers taking a more flexible approach to deciding what can be funded.

Meanwhile, disabled job hunters seeking to establish their own businesses through the New Enterprise Allowance will be able to get Access to Work funding as soon as they are in receipt of Jobseekers Allowance.

A package of measures, recommended by the Access to Work expert panel, will also be implemented by the Government. These include paying for equipment to be physically transferred between sites.

Employers will be encouraged to find more imaginative ways to support disabled workers with a fast-track application process brought in to speed things up where appropriate and the panel will continue to look at future reforms.

Esther McVey, the UK’s minister for disabled people, said the changes were aimed at making support more widely available and giving disabled workers the chance to have the same job choices and career progression as everyone else.

She said: “Work is more than a job – it’s one of the best ways to increase independence, life fulfilment, social engagement and is central to someone’s identity.

“And although the disability employment rate has increased over recent years, there is still more we need to do to close the gap with non-disabled people.”

Copyright Press Association 2012

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There’s More to November Than Just Fireworks!

Network HR Promotion

Don’t spend November staring up at the sky, there’s more going on that just Fireworks!

If you place a vacancy with us at anytime throughout the month of November, you could be in with a chance to receive a £500 discount off your placement fee.

And remember a £500 saving in November, means all the more for the christmas party fund in December……

With the potential saving you will get our same excellent service, extensive industry knowledge and HR recruitment expertise.

We look forward to hearing from you….

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Network HR – Taking the ‘Mystery’ out of Recruitment

Taking the mystery out of recruitment

JEEPERS, its been a long time since we have watched an episode of Scooby Doo. But as it is Halloween, officially the spookiest day of the year we thought the old gang should make an appearance.

We noticed some startling similarities between Scooby, Shaggy, Velma, Daphne and fred, and the Network HR team. Albeit, our fields of expertise are different (specialist HR recruitment and ghost hunting) but we both take a consultative approach to solve some pretty tough mysteries/recruitment projects.

So whether you are an experienced HR professional looking for your next career move, or an employer looking to find the HR candidate that is the right fit for your organisation – Network HR is here to help. Taking the ‘mystery’ out of the whole process. (unfortunately though, because of our company car regulations we don’t have a Mystery Machine.)

We hope you have a good Halloween! How about instead of watching some gory, blood soaked horror flick on tele tonight you watch some good old fashioned family halloween entertainment, like Scooby Doo. And think of what Network HR can do for you whilst your watching!

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Recruiting and Employee Engagement in the Digital Age

Big Cat event - recruiting in the digital age

Last week we attended a Big Cat event in Birmingham entitled Recruiting and Employee Engagement in the Digital Age, and here is a summary of the key talking points for those that could not attend.

It was an extremely interesting event touching on many ‘hot’ topics in an industry that is rapidly changing due to technology shifting the way that people communicate at the most basic level. The explosion of Social Media, the importance of the ‘Digital shop front’ and the employment game changer that is LinkedIn has obviously altered the the way that Recruitment companies and HR professionals recruit new employees.

The panelists leading the discussion encompassed a whole spectrum of views on the subject from John Mortimer, Chief Executive of Angela Mortimer plc who thinks Facebook has two years left until it crumbles, and dared any recruitment company to run a website that lets candidates register a C.V quicker than they could if they just picked up the ol’ blower. To Andrew Springhall CEO of Blusource who admitted that on three separate occasions twitter has been used to solely source and place a candidate successfully. Dee Dee Doke, editor of The Recruiter magazine was the special guest and led the discussions forward with enthusiastic gusto.

The Digital Shopfront – It’s all about the user

Michelle Hughes, Head of Digital Marketing for Pertemps led the first discussion and she pleaded to always remember the user when implementing digital projects. Many companies spend time and money investing in social media channels and search advertising trying to drive traffic to a site that is confusing for the user to navigate.

The Pertemps site took over a year to get live, Michelle told us, and that is because they tested it to death. Not because of fancy graphics and flash animations. Usability is the most important aspect with simple site layouts that enable visitors to quickly access the information they need. Michelle researched what the target audience wanted, which was to find jobs, and now when you go on to the Pertemps site you are hit straight in the face with job listings and a large search box to enter specifics such as location and job keywords. They researched extensively with focus groups analysing where people are drawn to click on the page to perform certain commands. This research has paid off as the amount of people registering CV’s through the site is up 536% and their bounce rate is down significantly.

“Don’t drive traffic to a site that doesn’t work for the user”

Digital Innovation – There’s lots of Noise out there

John Mortimer headed this discussion, he is notably sceptical of the place of ‘digital’ or what he referred to as ‘whirligigs’ in the recruitment process. He sees the recruitment process is one that can’t be computerised well, the presence of digital recruitment solutions are a substistution for real interaction and provide a watered down version of it.

John made many interesting comments on the current changing tech landscape. He noted how recessions are accelerators of change, but it is important to identify what are actual cultural changes that will stick around and stand the test of time, and what are just trends that will be gone before you know it. John sees Social Media, and highlighted Facebook in particular as trends, saying that it has between 2-5 years left to live, and will fail due to the failure to monetize the network successfully, and then fall out of our collective consciousness forever.

digital recruitment solutions are a substistution for real interaction and provide a watered down version of it.

He sees social media as creating a lot of noise, with not that many people listening. And says it is wrong to just assume you can have a captive audience waiting for your each and every tweet.

But he placed importance on email marketing, particularly on optimising it for mobile. Seeing the way we interact with content on the go is a definite cultural shift to pay attention to, not a disappearing trend.

LinkedIn – Friend or Foe?

LinkedIn is a double edged sword for recruiters. Used effectively and sparingly it can be an important tool to resource clients in the first instance. But it also threatens the recruitment industry by giving HR professionals hiring a much stronger card to play when looking for potential new candidates and makes recruitment more accessible. Stephen Edwards Managing Partner at Talisman Executive argued that LinkedIn is a good source for connecting to different candidates but reminded us that great candidates exist that aren’t on LinkedIn and when you work with a good recruiter, they don’t work a vacancy by scraping through linkedIn, you are buying into their talent pool that they have spent years researching, building and nurturing.

Many of the best candidates, Directors and CEO’s, have taken themselves off linkedIn for fear of being repeatedly harassed by lazy recruiters.

A HR professional in the audience was asked by the panel whether she would recruit in house using LinkedIn or through a recruitment company and she answered always through a recruitment company. That is because the quality of candidates is always superior and the vacancy is worked in a much shorter time scale.

when you work with a good recruiter, you are buying into their talent pool that they have spent years researching, building and nurturing.

Other Discussions from the day

Is the gamification of LinkedIn devaluing the site?Who owns the your

LinkedIn connections – you or your company?

Should Facebook be used to screen candidates, or by HR to monitor employees?

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The Future of the Workplace – Part 1

Busy at work in a coffee shop

Guest blog from the FM Network

In the first part of a three part series, we take an in depth look into the formation of a ‘modern’ workplace, how it has stood the test of time and whether we can scrap the old and confused ‘office’ altogether.

Sat in the open plan office where I work, at a faux pine desk, surrounded by 9 other identical workstations, I am sat in the office of 2012.

As well as the desks there are chairs, telephones, printers, computers, piles of paper, pots of pens and folders. Take a walk downstairs to the boardroom and you will see a wooden boardroom table, a paper flip board and a water cooler. I’m sure you can see similar sights in your office. 

If you zoom back 60 years or so, or for those of us that don’t have so many years of wisdom to fall back on, think of an episode of Mad Men.  You will notice not much has changed in the formation of a place of work. Sure, the phones now have screens and typewriters have lost out on desk real estate to an LCD screen or three, but the open plan environments,  large boardroom tables, private offices for executives and  many other concepts that make up a ‘place of work in the 50’s’ are still in place now. It’s just in the modern day office, a lot less ‘scotch’ is drunk.

The 1950's office as seen in MadMenThe 1950′s office, look familiar?

I’m sure this is the case for most SME’s in the UK, workplaces have fallen in to a system that works, and although technological advances have dramatically changed the way  most  jobs  are  carried out, the role is being  carried out in the same old  environment that is proving to stand the test of time, until now. According to Lynda Gratton, Professor of Management Practice at London Business School, the world is currently changing at a pace faster than the industrial revolution (yet in the office of 2012 the average SME still spends £200 a month on paper, so much for the ‘paperless office’ envisioned early in the twentieth century) and workplaces will have to start being  flexible to these changes.

The workplace of the future will be born out of how facilities management professionals, HR professionals, company Directors, designers, architects and many others respond to a variety of factors that place our current idea of  an office space in a position of flux. These factors are pointed out by Matthew Gwyther, Editor of Management Today magazine as: ‘cost, carbon, technology, sustainability and culture.

workers less fixed to a physical location set a higher precedent on performance

So the first question to wrestle with is:  why can’t we just get rid of a communal office space all together?  Scrap it, everybody work from home. 40% of the average office is left vacant on a normal working day, and 40% of an average working day is unproductive anyway. In the office where I work I would say that 100% of employees could do their work from home or any space that has Wifi and phone signal. Meetings can be held via Skype, or face to face, at what Ray Oldenburg defines as ‘third space’ environments, such as coffee shops that blur lines between work and home. Call stats  and KPI’s can still be monitored in the same way.  It saves on cost and on carbon and reports show that it would result in a happier and more productive workforce. A report by tech company ‘Dell’ has found that workers less fixed to a physical location set a higher precedent on performance and feel that their ‘output’ is open to be more harshly judged. They can’t hide behind simple attendance figures and just by being seen putting in the hours sat behind a desk. Even more so than normal, it’s just about the numbers.

New administrative roles can be created from this flexible location work format, and they can be funded from the money saved by reducing the physical business space. ‘The Office of the Future Report’ lists new fangled  roles such as a ‘workflow controller;’ who would serve as a mission control to the roaming workforce, a ‘virtual meetings organiser;’ to schedule and maintain the technology enabling video conferencing, and ‘knowledge managers;’ who help enforce and maintain a consistent code of practice between the disjointed team of staff. A difficult task.

Microsoft office AmsterdamHotdesking is Microsoft’s solution – Their Amsterdam facility has 1000 hot desks

But going back to the original five factors threatening the current workplace status quo  –  ‘cost, carbon, sustainability, technology and culture, with this proposed  ‘roaming workforce’ format 4 of the 5 factors are challenged;  except culture. No shared workspace means no coherent and consistent company culture. Even in the digital age, nothing can replace real interpersonal communication. A survey by found that 71% employees  wouldn’t choose to start working from home for fear of isolation and lack of productivity due no office’ buzz’. Office banter serves a purpose after all, surprisingly  as the saviour of the conventional workplace. The same office ecosystem can not be reproduced virtually to the requirements of us social creatures.

This is where the current workplace conundrum comes to a head – people want to collaborate more but travel less, use current technology to lead a more flexible working lifestyle yet still feel the unification of ‘going to work’. The workplace as we know it will still survive but it will have to adapt, how it will adapt is what we will cover in the next blog of this series. So come back next time for all the things you wanted to read about in an article entitled ‘the workplace of the future’ with gadgets such as a robot that can fix your tie, and an app that can monitor your productivity and share the results with your boss and hologram desks. 2 out of three of those things are actually real. Find out which, in part two.

This blog is part of a blog share with The FM Network.

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Four Day weeks and a Veg Patch – Is that what Employers Should Offer?

Vegetable patch

Would a veg patch transform your workplace?

A four-day working week – with gardening put forward as a beneficial way of using spare time – should be introduced by all employers, it has been suggested.

Providing a shorter working week – along with space for growing food and plants – could provide the answer to many of today’s problems, according to a report.

Not only does growing one’s own food help the environment and boost wildlife, but it can also be beneficial for physical and mental health as well as making good economic sense during times of rising food prices.

Report authors Andrew Simms of the New Economics Foundation and Mollie Conisbee said more time and space is needed in towns and cities to foster rising interest in “growing your own”.

To this end, the paper’s authors say, new recruits should be offered a shorter working week with less pay or the same amount of working hours compressed into a four-day week.

Private and public sector employers are also urged to make “urban growing space” available for people to grow fruit and veg, while cultivating flowers and other plants could help provide wildlife hotspots as well as improving the look of many urban environments.

Examples cited included a “food from the sky” scheme in Thornton’s Budgens superstore in north London’s Crouch End and a scheme in Los Angeles in which car park spaces have been taken over as “parklet” green spaces.

It is theorised that a shorter working week could boost employment, cut pressure on public services with higher levels of public health, and also put more money in people’s pockets by allowing them to save on tasks which they would pay other people to carry out, such as being carers.

Similar schemes which have paid dividends include one in Utah in the US, where compressing working weeks was found to have saved millions of dollars from the public purse.

Carbon emissions, absenteeism, overtime and road use were all cut during the experiment, brought about following the initial economic crisis in 2008.

Copyright Press Association 2012

Wouldn’t a four day week just crush any productivity? Thursday would just become the new Friday, and everybody would wind down after only a few days work. Any money saved on not having to outsource certain tasks would just be lost having a reduced income anyway! Workplace gardens would be great for many reasons if employees can afford to implement them succesfully. Some intersting ideas. But the answer to todays workplace problems – we think not. What do you think?

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