Dusty answer

first_imgDusty answerOn 1 May 2001 in Personnel Today Previous Article Next Article Aneffective health surveillance programme led by the occupational health serviceis the key to the detection and management of bakers’ asthma.  By Olivia WalpoleDesigninga health surveillance programme to meet the needs of a multi-sitedorganisation, with a peripatetic occupational health service, some 5,000individuals with “bakery” as part of their job title and in afast-moving retail environment with a high staff turnover, was never going tobe easy! Aconsiderable amount of research and benchmarking was used in the design of themodel described on these pages, and I am indebted to the Occupational andEnvironmental Medicine Department at the Royal Brompton Hospital for all theirhelp and advice. Thisproject was undertaken against a background of increasing pressure from theHealth and Safety Executive and the National Federation of Bakers to monitorand control the risks to health of handling flour and other ingredients inbakeries, where individuals remain close to the process. Thereis an accepted link between exposure to ingredient dust and development ofrespiratory symptoms, which normally fall into one of two distinct patterns1:–Non-specific irritant symptoms in the presence of high inhalable dust levels orrelated to the chemical nature of ingredients–Acquired allergy to substances within the dust.Incidenceof asthma in bakersTheincidence of occupational asthma among bakers is second only to that amongthose who work with isocyanates. It is most common in bakers in the 45-65 agerange who have worked in bakeries for more than seven years and onset is oftenlate. Bakers with occupational asthma are usually antigen positive to wheat,flour and/or flour improver.Thereis a direct correlation between exposure and risk, and the interval betweenfirst symptoms and removal from exposure determines the degree of recovery. Theprognosis for occupational asthma is generally poor. However, the outcome ismore favourable the earlier the individual is removed from the exposure. Theview taken by many health professionals in the field is that asthmatics shouldbe excluded by pre-employment health assessment. Theeffect of sensitisers may be made more potent by the presence of irritants, asthese are thought to act as carriers across lung epithelium. Generalpractitioners are apt to diagnose “bakers’ asthma” on the basis oftheir patient reporting respiratory symptoms and working in a bakery. Thereneeds to be an effective health surveillance programme led by the occupational healthservice to coordinate the management of this issue, as this has been shown toimprove management and detection.Clinicalaspects Work-relatedasthma occurs where there is a sensitivity to dust. The individual is usuallysensitive to other substances such as pollen, house dust, furs and feathers. Inthe case of bakers, flour dust and/or moulds and fungi can trigger chestsymptoms such as tightness and wheeze. These symptoms occur in the upper andlower respiratory tract, and are generally transient and intermittent innature. There is no evidence that non-specific irritant symptoms result inlong-term health problems and individuals may carry on working. Continuousmonitoring should take place as part of a yearly surveillance programme. Occupationalrhinitis, that is. runny/ blocked nose, itchy eyes and so on, can also occurindependently of chest symptoms in susceptible individuals. There is noevidence that occupational rhinitis leads to occupational asthma, and theseindividuals are also able to carry on working. The process of surveillance on alarge and changeable population will need some parameters in order to make theworkload manageable and pinpoint the individuals most at risk. Consequently,the initial survey may aim to identify as a benchmark those who use inhalers.Occupationalasthma is almost always accompanied by occupational rhinitis. Individualscomplaining of both wheeze and chest tightness, together with runny/blockednose will generally need to be referred for further investigation. Sensitivitygenerally takes some time to develop, and while the latency period may be someyears, the peak risk time is six to 18 months after starting in the bakery.ClinicalinvestigationWhentaking the history from a presenting individual, there are three main areas toinvestigate:–When did symptoms start? If symptoms were noticed within the first six monthsof starting work, they are  more likelyto be due to work-related asthma or occupational rhinitis. It is important tonote whether symptoms started prior to working for the current employer–What is the timing and pattern of symptoms? Generally, individuals withwork-related asthma do not have symptoms when away from the work environment.If the symptoms are taking longer and longer to go away, and if the chestsymptoms are relieved more quickly than the rhinitis when away from work, theindividual may need further investigation–What happens during sleep? Another feature of occupational asthma is that theindividual wakes up at night with chest symptoms. If the individual has becomesensitised, there is generally an immediate response in the nose/eyes, andfurther respiratory reaction some hours laterOccupationalasthma must be suspected if the individual complains of always having a blockedor runny nose (even when not at work); having symptoms that developed somemonths or years after starting work in bakeries and has a wheeze (although thismay not yet have developed noticeably if in the early stages).Apast history of childhood asthma and atopic disease may pose a higher risk tocertain individuals. Smoking appears to be irrelevant.LegislationTheControl of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 1994 sets out the legalrequirements for protecting the health of employees exposed to substances thatmay be harmful to their health, including respiratory sensitisers. Employersmust inform staff of the risk and the control measures that exist to safeguardtheir health. Failure to comply with COSHH is an offence subject to penaltiesunder the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974.Respiratorysensitisers, that is substances known to cause occupational asthma, includethose routinely used in the baking process (flour, barley, wheat, oats, rye andflour improvers). TheHealth and Safety Executive has identified risks to health from exposure toflour dust through skin/eye contact, ingestion and inhalation2. Under COSHH,health surveillance (or regular monitoring/screening of health) is required forall employees who may be exposed to known causative agents of work-relateddisease. HSEguidance suggests companies should instigate initial pre-employment/placementscreening using a pre-exposure questionnaire, followed by periodic assessmentthroughout the duration of employment (via self-report questionnaire, lungfunction testing or both). Healthsurveillance is required in addition to the application of good standards ofcontrol because for many sensitisers “safe” levels of exposure arenot known. Maximum Exposure Limits  forrespiratory sensitisers are set out in schedule 1 of the COSHH Regulations.These are revised and published annually and are designed to help employersdecide what standards of controls are required. Currently, the HSC isconsidering introducing a MEL for flour dust3. In the meantime, a ChemicalHazard Alert Notice was issued in November 19984. Studies in organisations witha recognised risk of sensitisation revealed that up to 30 per cent of workersmay have occupational asthma. SWORD (Surveillance of Work-related andOccupational Respiratory Disease) statistics indicate that for 1:1,000employees with asthma the condition is made worse by work.TheHSE perspectiveTheHSE has emphasised that training in safe handling procedures is fundamental tothe reduction of ill-health attributed to flour dust and bread improvers. Itadvises taking a broad approach to the control of exposure to flour dust, whichmay include air monitoring, risk assessment; engineering controls; and trainingand health surveillance programmes. Under COSHH regulations, recommendationsfor controlling dust in bakeries fall into four stages (see box).Enforcementwill be based on compliance in the following areas:–Industry agreed standard of <10mg/m3 airborne dust.–Provision of PPE and clothing–Health surveillance procedures are in place.SurveillanceThetwo main tenets for protecting the health of individuals working with flour andenzymes are control of exposure and surveillance of the working population.Thus the approach has to be multi-disciplinary.UnderRegulation 11 of COSHH regulations, where there is evidence of specifiedrespiratory sensitisers, employers are obliged to introduce a positive systemof enquiry seeking evidence of symptoms amongst employees. These specifiedsubstances include flour and grains, and proteolytic enzymes such as amylase. ThestudyAsimple questionnaire was administered by a trained responsible person inaccordance with the instructions of the occupational health service. Thedesignated person was part of a multi-disciplinary team and was trained tooversee the administration of the health surveillance programme, including  pre-employment assessment, induction,training, use of PPE and environmental hygiene. Thisperson could be from management, the bakery or human resources, but must besufficiently empowered to manage his or her responsibilities within theprogramme. Thequestionnaire sought information by means of a "yes/no" response onthe following symptomatology: wheezing, chest tightness, bouts of coughing,recurrent blocked or runny nose, and recurrent soreness or watering of eyes.The questionnaire was also used to ascertain whether the individual was usingany prescribed medication such as an inhaler, and contained a declaration thatdetails supplied were accurate.                                                                                          Comments are closed. ConclusionsManyphysicians do not routinely refer their patients for testing for IgE to fungalamylase or wheat flour, but diagnose occupational asthma on the basis ofhistory alone. Itcame as a surprise to the occupational health department just how many bakerswere using inhalers prescribed by their GPs, where there had been noinvestigation of the working environment or substances handled. If there is tobe a truly integrated public health policy, occupational health must ensurethat opportunities are taken for the education of the primary health team aswell as the client.AcknowledgmentsIncompiling this report, advice has been sought from Dr Trevor Smith, the CMA atRank Hovis McDougal; Dr Paul Cullinan, Senior Lecturer in Occupational andEnvironmental Medicine;  Dr David Ross,at the Epidemiological Surveillance Unit, at the Brompton Hospital; Dr DennisBrennan, Company Medical Adviser at Sainsbury’s Supermarkets;  and Colin Davey, Occupational Hygiene Unitat the HSE.References1.Smith TA, Lumley KPS, Hui EHK. (1997) Allergy to flour and fungal amylase inbakery workers. Occupational Medicine, 47: 21-4.2.Health and Safety Executive (2000) EH72/11 Flour dust risk assessment document.11/99 HSE 3. Health and Safety Executive. EH40/2000  Occupational Exposure Limits 2000. 2/2000 HSE.  4.Health and Safety Executive (1998) Chemical hazard alert notice. Flour Dust.11/98 HSE.FurtherReading1.Cannon J, Cullinan P, Newman Taylor A. (1995) Consequences of occupationalasthma. BMJ, 311: 602-3. 2.CullinanP, Lowson D, Nieuwenhuijsen MJ, et al. (1994) Work-related symptoms,sensitisation and estimated exposure in workers not previously exposed toflour. Occupational Environmental Medicine, 51:579-83.3.Health and Safety Executive (1991) Guidance Note MS25: Medical Aspects of Occupational Asthma.(pp 5-6)  HMSO.4.Smith TA, Patton J. (1999) Health surveillance in milling, baking and otherfood manufacturing operations – five years’ experience. Occupational Medicine,49: 147-53.OliviaWalpole, RGN DOHN is occupational health manager at Addenbrookes NHS TrustRecommendationsfor controlling dust in bakeries Stage1Reduce dust exposure to < 10mg/m3 where practicable usingengineering controls and safe working practices.Stage2Control high exposure activities such as hand throwing, cleaning up ofspillages, tipping and mixing through training individuals to handle dustyingredients correctly and safely.Stage3Provision and use of respiratory protective equipment and protectiveclothing, especially during high exposure activities such as general cleaningand clearing up of spillages.Stage4Health surveillance to ensure control measures are effective. Whereindicated, that is following one or more "yes" responses, a moredetailed history was taken by an OHA, who completed a respiratory assessmentquestionnaire. In order to ensure commonality of standards, the OHAs carriedout a structured interview using agreed clinical criteria, including details ofpast medical and employment history, nature of symptoms, and relationship ofsymptoms to work. Clientswere referred for specific IgE diagnosis through skin prick/blood testing tothe Department of Occupational and Environmental Medicine at the Royal Bromptonand Harefield NHS Trust. This ensured continuity and accurate diagnosis ofsensitivity to particular allergens. Ifthere is a potential for permanent redeployment or retirement on the grounds ofill-health, an accurate diagnosis is essential.Respiratorymeasurement by means of peak flow testing is of arguable value in theoccupational health situation, as there are a number of variables that mayaffect the accuracy of the information gained. Recruitmenthealth questionnaires should include a section on respiratory conditions thatmay predispose an individual to developing problems when working withinbakeries. This should include asking individuals to declare if they have asthmaor use prescribed inhalers.                                                                         Related posts:No related photos.last_img read more

E-revolution is extending staff hours

first_imgIncreasing use of the Internet and e-mail is forcing employees to worklonger hours and disrupting their work-life balance, a leading expert claimed. Michel Syrett, work-life balance consultant and academic, claimed that theInternet commits staff to working longer hours because it makes themcontactable beyond their contracted hours. He said, “The Internet and e-mail revolution is extending presenteeisminto the home. People are having to work beyond their contracted hours by beingcontactable.” In the past, e-mail and the Internet have been seen as useful tools forfacilitating flexible working but Syrett said it will work against a healthywork-life balance. Employers will pay a high price for the resultingabsenteeism due to sickness and stress, he warned. Commenting on the issue, Liz Rayner, HR director of Shell Gas and Power, said,”The downside of high-speed communication is that people can access youwhenever they want to. And because an e-mail arrives instantly in your mailbox,there’s the pressure to instantly respond. So it’s much more difficult toswitch off when you want to.” Comments are closed. E-revolution is extending staff hoursOn 15 May 2001 in Personnel Today Related posts:No related photos. Previous Article Next Articlelast_img read more

Ford moves up a gear with a mentoring scheme

first_img Comments are closed. Ford moves up a gear with a mentoring schemeOn 22 Oct 2002 in Personnel Today Previous Article Next Article Ford is launching a mentoring programme for students, design-ed to help thecompany recruit the next generation of top managers and improve diversity amongsenior executives. The programme aims to enhance the personal and professional development of30 high-potential undergraduates in their penultimate year of study. It willenable them to draw on the knowledge and experience of Ford managers. “The mentoring programme is part of Ford’s developing diversityrecruitment strategy,” said Shaheen Akram, Ford’s diversity recruitmentofficer. “We are creating innovative ways of attracting prospectiveemployees from throughout the talent pool, including female and ethnic minoritycandidates who may not have always considered a career with Ford.” The programme will run for six months between January and July 2003, duringwhich time the undergraduates will receive five days training at Fordlocations. The students will be expected to meet their mentor at least five timesduring the training period as well as keep in touch with them via the phone ande-mail. They will be invited to Ford’s graduate assessment centre as part ofthe programme. Managers will provide their students with advice, feedback and with apersonal development plan. The undergraduates will be mentored by Ford managersfrom a number of different business functions including engineering, IT,finance, marketing, purchasing, and HR. www.isitpartofyou.co.uk Related posts:No related photos.last_img read more

Employers hit wall on using ‘golden handshake’ provision

first_imgRelated posts:No related photos. Comments are closed. Employers hit wall on using ‘golden handshake’ provisionOn 1 Mar 2003 in Personnel Today Previous Article Next Article TheInland Revenue has introduced new rules which will make it far harder foremployers to avoid tax and national insurance on severance payments.Ithas been possible to make severance payments tax free – usually up to £30,000 –by using the ‘golden handshake’ provisions in the tax legislation.Thelaw states that a severance payment made under a payment in lieu of notice(Pilon) clause will be taxable and subject to national insurance contributions(NIC). Where there is no clause or the employer chooses to breach the contractand pay damages, it has been common practice to claim the golden handshakeprovisions apply and that no NIC is payable.However,the IR’s new Statement of Practice on the tax treatment of severance paymentssays it will now presume tax and NIC are due whenever a Pilon is made “asan automatic response to a termination”, even where the employer intendsto terminate the contract in breach and pay damages.Ineffect, where there is evidence of a ‘practice’ of making Pilons without givingit much thought, they will be treated as taxable.Thenew regime is likely to lead to disputes between the IR and employers whoassume their severance payments fall within the golden handshake regime. last_img read more


first_imgThis week’s guruMasseurs line up to feel the forceThe way to stave off absenteeism is not by threats or back-to-workinterviews, but by massage. In an enlightened move, West Yorkshire police chiefs are treating controlroom staff to short bursts of acupressure – an Asian massage where the body’snatural self-healing abilities are stimulated through pressure applied tospecific points on the body. The 20-minute treatments have proved so popular that the force has beenforced to put the service out to tender to comply with European rules. It is hoped that an extension of the three-month trial will save the police£100,000 through missed workdays. Through a positively untrustworthy source, Guru has learned that a fiercebidding war has begun between ‘Hot Tropic Massage and Sauna’ from Bradford, andWakefield’s own ‘Taste of Heaven plc’. The deal is presently deadlocked afterboth businesses offered ‘a completely satisfying experience’. Guru refuses to get sucked into smutty truncheon jokes. Insert your ownhere. Cyber babe faces up to naked reality Despite increased job security and ever-tighter rules on dismissal, it seemsno-one is safe. Connie, the advertising face (and body) of AOL, has beeninformed she is ‘inappropriate’ for today’s more experienced web users and sheis to be stripped of her e-dress. This was an event Guru would dearly loved to have attended, but sadly itwent on behind closed monitors. Ever the gentleman, Guru is offering Connie his own e-male services at thisvulnerable time. However, this cyber skul-duggery is nothing compared to the German civilservant who dismissed his own mother. The 32-year-old Berlin Senate employee sent his mother a solicitor’s letterto say he no longer wants anything to do with her: “I am writing torequest that you refrain from making any contact with my client either bytelephone or through a third party, for example my client’s employer, partneror work colleagues.” Apparently this anti-Oedipus is embarrassed that his mother is a cleaner. Roll up, roll up: the euro finds use at last Almost all euro bank notes have traces of cocaine on them, according toresearch at the Institute for Biomedical and Pharmaceutical Research inNuremberg. Seven months after the euro’s launch, scientists found that 90 per cent ofnotes were contaminated with an average of 0.4 micrograms of cocaine. In a moment of clarity and elation while on a trip to the Continent, Gururealised this revelation could tip the balance on the UK’s euro entry. Surely the Government can no longer turn up their noses at Europe – thisresearch proves the euro is nothing to be sniffed at. It must now be high onthe Government agenda. MPs will soon be lining up to make sure they cut it whenthe matter is put on the table. Charisma classes What do Mussolini, Richard Branson, Che Guevara and Alex Ferguson have incommon? The answer is charisma – the holy grail of leadership qualities. Guru always thought charisma was something you were born with, but businesspsychologist Garth Spiers claims you can actually teach people the necessaryskills. Spiers, who runs a charisma course for senior managers, explained: “Agood team needs a leader with a high ‘CQ’ (charisma quotient). They will beflexible, aware and expressive in ways that will inspire their teams togreatness.” Guru decided to enrol on the course, which includes elements on editorialintelligence, experimental theatre and neuro-linguistic programming and foundit challenging to say the least. At one stage Guru found himself attempting to mime the first sproutings of aspring daffodil, while simultaneously completing a sophisticated set ofpsychometrics. It is difficult to gauge whether Guru’s CQ has been boosted, but theaudience at one of his recent keynote conference lectures on inspiration seemedto nod off halfway through (although it was hot and delegates had just had alarge liquid lunch). Related posts:No related photos. Comments are closed. GuruOn 22 Jul 2003 in Personnel Today Previous Article Next Articlelast_img read more

Intellect Award for Innovation in Career Development

first_img Comments are closed. Thisaward recognises organisations that have adopted a proactive approach to careerdevelopment for their employees. With career opportunities and developmentheading the wish list for today’s employees, employers need to be creative inorder to attract and retain the best talent. The judge looked for imaginativeexamples of career management by the HR team working in conjunction with othersin the business CategoryjudgeRichardChiumento, chief executive, Chiumento.  Richard Chiumento is a leading figure in UK outplacement andcareer management. He was a board director of two of Europe’s largestoutplacement consultancies before forming his company, a multi-disciplinary HRconsultancy, more than 10 years ago. He is a frequent media commentator andspeaker on these issues. He also mentors senior executives as they seek newcareer directions in the UK and global employment markets.NationwideTheteamNo.in HR team 10 (7 of whom are in HR), total number in HR 270 (full-time) Staffresponsible for 15,974SteveLassman Career development consultant, Paul Beesley Senior manger, training& resourcing, Melanie Fyans career development manager, John WrighthouseHead of group training & development, Sarah Davies Personnelconsultant, Adele Lightowler Diversity consultant, Rose Lundie Developmentconsultant, Steve Coe Retail training consultant, Sarah Moss Personnel &development analyst, Emma Rogers Senior customer adviser, Wellingboroughbranch, Mike McQueen Group planner, Tina Hetherington Head of operations,Nationwide Life, Paul Shopland Technology project manager, Michelle StoneIntranet team manager, Ivan Walter Marketing controller, Ros Sweet Retailsupport project managerCareerand Leadership DevelopmentAboutthe companyNationwide’sorigins lie in Northampton where it was formed in 1848. It has undergone over100 mergers, most notably with Anglia Building Societies in 1987. It is now theUK’s ninth-largest retail bank, saving and lending organisation, and is theworld’s biggest building society. With headquarters in Swindon, Nationwide hasmutual status, meaning that its members own it. Pre-tax profits to April 2003were £353.3m. ThechallengeTohelp the company’s workforce take advantage of career opportunities, whileincreasing staff commitment and providing better customer serviceWhatthe company did–Set up a project team comprising a core group of 14 people, including employeeEmma Rogers, who first flagged the need for more career guidance in a stafffeedback exercise. –Defined the term ‘career’ in a way that everyone at Nationwide could identifywith–Provided career advice through an easy-to-use intranet site. Staff can pose aspecific question or request for help which HR can respond to via e-mail–Enabled people to search a database of job types and to register interest injob vacancies–Designed a four-step process to guide career discussions–Provided exercises to develop thinking about career planningBenefitsand achievementsAllNationwide’s employees now have access to career planning advice and job searchtools on the intranet that are easy to use, achieve stretch goals , and thatsupport the corporate goals of retaining more business, members and employees. RichardChiumento says: “Nationwide’s ‘Project Emma’ is an excellent exampleof HR responding to an individual request and delivering a company-widesolution with positive impact across the entire business. The final result isan innovative, practical and effective career guidance process thatsuccessfully engages employees at all levels.”SpiritGroupTheteamNo.in HR team 15 overall there are 45 in HRStaff responsible for 17,000JayneMee Director of organisation development, Kay Robertson Trainingmanager, Sue Nobbs Organisation development manager, Stephanie Evans Trainingmanager, Karen Croshaw Training and development assistant, Penny Le BesqueManagement development manager, Diane Court and Karl Davies Training managers,Lizzy Cappitt Training and development assistant, Tanya Corkett and AnitaConchie Training managers, Sally England and Karl Cheek Learning anddevelopment managers, Clare Murchison Retail, training &development manager, Jayne Beirne Training managersRetailCareer Pathway Project TeamAboutthe companyAmanaged pub company with 1,000 outlets and more than 17,000 employees, theSpirit Group (Punch Retail until 1999) has grown through venture capital-fundedacquisition. Its  goal is flotation inthe next two to three years.ThechallengeTodevelop a cohesive approach to career development, with programmes to providevision and ambition for all employees to reach their full potential. Peopleneeded something to aspire to and the tools to help get them there. The companyneeded to clearly spell out the development opportunities available for all.Whatthe company didThegroup:–Invested around £0.5m to produce quality materials so people would enjoylearning–Developed a clear, easy-to-understand and transparent career path–Displayed the pathway in every outlet and discussed it during every person’sinduction–Introduced workshops, work placements, self-directed learning and actionlearning sets Benefitsand achievements–Staff have the immediate feeling “there is something here for me”–The company clearly spells out available development opportunities for all–Staff aspirations have increased–Individual skills are drawn out–Staff have a career pathway–Retention of retail managers has improved by 9 per cent in one year–Internal manager appointments have risen by 11 per cent in one yearRichardChiumento says: “Cultural change from ‘tell’ to one of more involving,engaging and coaching; improved staff retention and a strong rise in internalmanager appointments all demonstrate the success of Spirit’s Retail CareerPathway.”GetronicsTheteamNo.in team 8 (two drawn from HR, 6 from the service desk), 16 in HR overallStaffresponsible for 1,500DebbiePearson Training & development consultant, Steve Murtagh Service deskoperations director, Nick Boak Service desk manager, BrianBailey HR director, Gavin Bacon Helpdesk manager, DavidPayne Training & development manager, Oscar Griffiths Help desk manager,Christine Frogbrook Help desk training coordinator, Gillian Forster Help deskmanager, Mark Walton Technical support manager, Andrew DavidsonLearning & development specialist, Jane Sacre & CraigDarling Service desk manager, David Vincent Recruitment managerGetronicsHuman ResourcesAboutthe companyGetronicsis an information and communication technology company with 23,000 employees inmore than 30 countries (1,500 based in the UK).ThechallengeInMay last year Charlie Frederickson, director of managed services, highlightedthe need for a career development framework. This was initially intended totarget service desk operations – employing around 375 people – aiming toimprove staff retention, break down existing ‘stovepipes’ to development, andcreate cross-functional development opportunitiesWhatthe company didHRand operational management worked to:–Profile roles, identify responsibilities, skills, experience, qualificationsand competencies–Define career paths to create movement–Define promotion criteria–Establish a career websiteBenefitsand achievements–An internal recruitment agency, entitled GetAhead was established –The workforce has a comprehensive career framework to follow–The management and HR team have added value to the business by creating acommon approach to career development –Business objectives are built into career progression requirements–There is increased ownership for self-developmentRichardChiumento says: “A well-defined but flexible framework enabledGetronics to identify clear career paths and new opportunities for employeedevelopment. The initiative was supported by a good use of communication,senior management commitment and key business data that highlights the overallachievements of the project for the business.”      Previous Article Next Article Intellect Award for Innovation in Career DevelopmentOn 30 Sep 2003 in Personnel Today Related posts:No related photos.last_img read more

Confusion reigns in name-change fiasco

first_imgWe have passed through so many name changes over the years: welfare,personnel, human resources. Now we are seeing the emergence of the ‘PeopleDepartment’. Why do we constantly feel the need to try and re-invent ourselves? Are we soinsecure about what we have delivered to the business that we need tocontinually ditch our old name to forget the past? In doing so, we seem to forget our customers. What do they want? Let’s faceit: Line managers and staff expect a just-in-time service, when they want it, whenthey need it. They don’t really want to know about our ever-changing,overloaded initiative agenda, or want to be plastered with the latest piece ofHR theory. They just want a service, and I have a sneaky feeling that we areconfusing them. So what exactly am I ranting on about? I’ve started to notice a new trend in job titles for the heads of the HRfunction, and to be absolutely honest, I am baffled by them. ‘People director’seems to becoming a popular term. What message does that give to our businesscolleagues, who we’ve been busy trying to convince for the past seven yearsthat we are no longer the personnel and welfare department? We no longer provide tea, toast and toilets. We have moved from serving atdining tables to serving at the board table. We have become strategic players –specialists in organisation design, performance management, culture andbehavioural change, senior level coaching, employee brand management and humancapital measurement. How can we be a ‘people director’? Do we really believe the HR function hassole responsibility for directing the people of the business? Surely not, whenwe’ve had so much success convincing line managers that they should take anactive and personal responsibility for managing, developing, disciplining,motivating and rewarding their own people. We are many things, but we are not ‘people directors’, and we would gaingreater respect if we provided a little more consistency to those we serve.Don’t get me wrong, we should continually be driving the agenda for change,continuous improvement, measurement and external benchmarking. Our customers expect a great service they can tap into when they want it.Why complicate matters by changing our title yet again? After all, we’ve onlyjust got over the ‘Human Refuse’ banner, and good riddance to that. By Alan Bailey, head of business process outsourcing Xchanging Confusion reigns in name-change fiascoOn 6 Jan 2004 in Personnel Today Comments are closed. Related posts:No related photos. Previous Article Next Articlelast_img read more

These startups want to guarantee your rent

first_img Share on FacebookShare on TwitterShare on LinkedinShare via Email Share via Shortlink Full Name* From left: Flex’s Shragie Lichtenstein, Piñata’s Lily Liu, NestEgg’s Eachan Fletcher and Till’s David SullivanAs millions of Americans struggle to pay their rent on time, investors are betting on a crop of startups to help landlords get their money.New companies such as Flex, Till and NestEgg have raised cash to put renters on flexible payment plans. Flex and NestEgg have gone as far as fronting monthly payments to landlords. And San Francisco-based rental marketplace Zumper followed suit this summer when it rolled out a rent guarantee for landlords. The companies make money by charging either the landlord or tenant a fee.Since March 2020, Zumper has raised $60 million, Till has raised $8 million and NestEgg has raised $7 million from investors keen to address inefficiencies in rent collection, which have been exacerbated by the pandemic.“Even if your tenants are paying you on time, you’re not getting money until the fifth or sixth of the month,” said Eachan Fletcher, a former Expedia CTO, who co-founded NestEgg in 2017. “That means the first week of each month for landlords is a mini cash-flow crisis.”NestEgg, which raised its Series A in November 2020, is a lease management tool for landlords that provides a rent guarantee: The startup pays landlords on the first of the month and gives tenants flexible terms to repay their debt. Fletcher said NestEgg pays landlords using a $10 million line of credit; landlords pay $9 per unit, per month for the service, and the company doesn’t charge interest or fees to tenants. But consumer advocates say there are inherent concerns with these models.Ira Rheingold, executive director of the National Association of Consumer Advocates, called it a red flag when a tenant doesn’t have enough cash to pay full rent when it’s due. “What scares me is you’re sort of renting beyond your means,” he said.Further, he said, renters who choose payment plans should read up on any contracts and terms: “What can the company do if [tenants] don’t make a payment? Are there penalties?”Banking on flexibility Even before Covid, landlords collected millions of dollars in late fees each month. But the economic toll of the pandemic made it harder for millions of renters to make ends meet.In December 2020, rent payments for market-rate apartments fell to their lowest point since April, according to the National Multifamily Housing Council. As of Jan. 5, 76.6 percent of households had made full or partial payments for the month. That was up slightly from December but 1.7 percentage points lower than a year ago.And landlords these days have little recourse when tenants don’t pay. The national eviction moratorium runs through at least the end of January. In New York, Gov. Andrew Cuomo recently extended a ban on evictions until May 1 for tenants who experience a Covid-related hardship.“The pain points are real,” said Shragie Lichtenstein, founder and CEO of New York City-based Flex, which customizes rent-payment schedules for tenants. Flex, which launched in 2019 and raised a $5 million seed round, ensures landlords get paid on the first of the month by giving renters a line of credit with its bank partner. For $20 a month, tenants get a $2,000 loan to cover their rent. According to Lichtenstein, the real estate industry has been slow to embrace technology, although that’s beginning to change. The pandemic, he said, has been a catalyst for companies like Flex that claim flexible pay schedules can help maximize a renter’s ability to pay in full.Lichtenstein said Flex is structured in such a way that it doesn’t allow people to fall into debt. For instance, its bank partner does not approve every applicant.“If someone has terrible credit, there’s a decent chance they will not be approved,” he said. “It’s not a solution built around $10,000-a-month rent folks. At the end of the day, we’re consumer-first.”Zumper also has built-in constraints: Its rent guarantee is available in select cities, and the rent cannot exceed 110 percent of the market’s median rent. The tenant also must have a credit score of 650 or higher.“At its core, we’re trying to help the property owner make sure they get their 12 months of rent,” Vishal Makhijani, Zumper’s president and COO told a San Francisco CBS affiliate in September 2020.But David Sullivan, CEO of Till, a startup that develops custom payment schedules for renters, said there are downsides of offering credit lines to tenants. The startup used that model, before pivoting in early 2020.“It’s similar to a payday loan structure,” he said. “It actually doesn’t help the renter.”Till, which raised $8 million in August, says it is working with 35,000 tenants nationwide. It doesn’t offer a specific rent guarantee, but the company claims 99 percent of tenants who are on a flexible payment schedule pay on time.For landlords, that can be a valuable lever to pull.In September 2020, Asia Capital Real Estate — which owns 8,000 apartments in Florida, Georgia, the Midwest and the Carolinas — rolled out a flexible rent program through Till.Melanie Gersper, ACRE’s chief operating officer, said working with tenants was the “right thing to do” from an ethical standpoint. But even if eviction were an option, pushing out a tenant makes little financial sense. She’d be left with a vacant unit that could be costly to re-rent, especially during a pandemic.Working with tenants instead of against them, she said, “is the best path to sustaining [our business] and outliving this thing.”Contact E.B. Solomont Message* Email Address*center_img Share via Shortlink Tags Blackstone GroupCommercialCommercial Real Estatelast_img read more

Rents rise across country as economy rebounds

first_img EvictionsRental MarketResidential Real Estate Expensive urban markets like Manhattan and San Francisco saw a steep decline in rent earlier in the pandemic, as those who could afford to fled the city to work remotely elsewhere.Meanwhile, rents in cities that people fled to — such as Richmond, Virginia; Fresno, California and Dayton, Ohio — increased as vacancies plunged and prices soared.Now, prices are rising in all the places they fell last year. One economist told the publication that the rebound is happening more quickly than expected.Americans can expect the median increase in rent to be around 5.3 percent, close to the highest in the past decade.[Bloomberg News] — Cordilia JamesContact Cordilia James Full Name* Email Address* Message* Tags As the economy rebounds, rental prices are following suit. With the eviction ban recently overturned, that spells trouble for tenants who are struggling to make ends meet. (iStock)Rents are going up, which is bad news for tenants staring down eviction.The median monthly charge on a vacant rental saw a $185 annual jump in March, Bloomberg News reported, citing data from the U.S. Census Bureau. In April, rents rose nearly 2 percent, the biggest jump since 2017.Those increases, along with the uneven economic recovery and recently overturned eviction ban, puts pressure on lower-income families, who typically spend 40 percent of their income on rent.A federal judge ruled Wednesday that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention didn’t have the legal authority to ban evictions last year. The moratorium, which is set to last until June, gave protection to those who’d lost their jobs.ADVERTISEMENTRead moreJudge strikes down federal eviction ban Brooklyn, Manhattan rental markets “beginning to pivot” National eviction moratorium ruled unconstitutional, but remains in place Share on FacebookShare on TwitterShare on LinkedinShare via Email Share via Shortlink Share via Shortlinklast_img read more

Living probes into the marine environment – apex predators as oceanographic platforms

first_imgThe primary obstacles to the collection of oceanographic data are the limitations of sampling i n time and in three-dimensional space. Ship-board surveys are well designed for detailed sampling at depth, but are constrained in horizontal space and limited in time by high costs. Satellite monitoring can produce time-series of data over large horizontal spatial scales, but has only limited ability to obtain data concerning parameters at depth, and can also be constrained by the necessity for calibration and ‘ground-truthing’ of data. In contrast, fixed platforms can provide high-resolution data over long time periods, but only within limited three-dimensional space. So what is the answer?last_img read more