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Under scrutiny

first_img Comments are closed. Related posts:No related photos. Under scrutinyOn 13 Feb 2001 in Personnel Today Using assessment centres tocherry pick staff is fine if the assessors are up to the job. But with horrorstories aplenty, isn’t it time for a code of practice as well as moreinvolvement from employers? Caroline Horn reportsAssessment centreshave become one of the most popular tools in selecting new recruits, with morethan 30 per cent of companies now believed to use them. They are used to test arange of competencies among a group of candidates – or sometimes individuals –through a series of varied exercises, with candidates monitored and assessed bya number of trained observers. The process gives the candidates a number ofdifferent opportunities to demonstrate their strengths. In this way, a companyhopes it is getting the right person for the job.But what is sometimes forgottenduring the assessments is the candidates themselves. Roy Davis, head ofcommunications for SHL, which develops and provides assessment solutions, says,”Candidates are the most important person in the process. The first thingthey should be asking for is feedback, because that is how they learn from theprocess.”Sarah Macpherson, seniorconsultant with CGR Business Psychologists, adds, “If assessment centresare well managed, they can be a very positive experience and an individual canlearn a lot about themselves. Even if they don’t get the job,good feedback can help them to find out which areas they need to do more workon. But if the experience is negative, it can knock the candidate’s confidenceand knock back their job search.”Power of word of mouthWhen candidates leaveassessment centres feeling that the exercise and feedback have been poorlymanaged, that has ramifications for the potential employer, since thecandidates are quite likely to share the experience with friends andcolleagues. Macpherson explains, “Insmall communities, word goes around and other candidates will refuse to go to abadly-run assessment centre.” It is a poor advertisement for the potentialemployer.Should the candidate’simpression be correct, it will have also been an expensive mistake for theemployer – not just the wasted cost of the assessment itself but in thedevelopment of the company.While employers’ experiencessuggests that assessment centres are, on the whole, popular and generally wellmanaged, it is more difficult to find out about problem areas. Macphersonargues that the problem of poor assessment and feedback could be morewidespread than is generally realised: “People who have had a poorexperience tend not to complain because they are worried about being seen asdifficult, or because their complaint will be seen as sour grapes.”Material and methodologiesbeing used in assessment also need to be considered, says Iain Ballantyne,senior consultant at Assessment & Development Consultants, “As in theearly days of psychometric testing, people are publishing a lot of materialthat won’t do the job that it claims to be able to do. Meanwhile, people areselecting these exercises in good faith, and are not always fully aware of theramifications of the selection process.”There are, therefore, those inthe industry who argue that it is time to take a closer look at how assessmentcentres are being managed, and to consider whether the introduction of a set ofagreed standards or code of practice is appropriate.In the US, there are alreadyestablished guidelines relating specifically to assessment centres, and therehas been discussion in the UK among various bodies, including the BritishPsychological Society and Investors in People, about establishing standards inassessment. At this stage, the IIP could not provide any details concerning itsproposed module on recruitment and assessment, nor when it might be introduced.Angela Baron, employeeresourcing adviser at the CIPD, argues that recruitment surveys by theorganisation show that assessment centres are generally held in high regard.While the institute concedes that there may be problems – it points to a lackof focus by companies as being the most common mistake – Baron comments:”Assessment centres are still considered the most reliable andprofessional form of recruitment, although it is expensive.”She argues for self-regulation,rather than the imposition of external guidelines. “Anything thatde-professionalises assessment or detracts from the experience should be lookedat. But while we know that there are many examples of bad recruitment, we hopethat professional human resources departments would observe bestpractice.”Davis agrees: “We need tobe self-regulatory and people who design and run assessment centres must havebest practice at the back of their mind. I’d be loath to have externalpractices assess the centres because it is difficult to regulate a practice,rather than a product.”The nature of assessmentcentres makes regulation difficult, says Baron. “A code of conduct wouldbe difficult to regulate because assessment centres are tailored to eachrecruitment scenario and the techniques are designed to test people onparticular aspects.”The whole point ofassessment centres is that they are tailored to an organisation’s needs, so theorganisation needs to work very closely with the consultant. You can’t be tooprescriptive about how they operate because the success of the centre comesdown to the relationship between the organisation and the externalconsultant.”Ruth Colling, recruitmentspecialist at business psychology consultancy Nicholson McBride, points to theBritish Psychological Society’s codes of practice for its psychometric testswhich requires that practitioners need to be trained and qualified. But sheadds, “With something as broad and all-encompassing as assessment centres,it would be hard to say, ‘Does that particular part of the process fit into thestandard?’”Rather than looking at acode of conduct, what needs to be emphasised is how a company can get the mostfrom an assessment centre, and that includes putting in enough time and effortto make the centre work for them. There are plenty of guidelines around.”The CIPD points out that asuccessful assessment centre demands certain criteria, including: a high levelof involvement by the company and its managers; their involvement in the actualassessment process – for example, as observers; and for there to be a goodrelationship with the provider.”I wouldn’t dismiss out ofhand a code of practice, it could be helpful,” says Baron.”Generally, the evidence is that assessment centres are useful and we needto ensure that they stay that way. But it would be difficult to dictate whatpeople do. The whole point about assessment centres is that they are notprescriptive.”Ballantyne points out, however,that not every company appreciates the importance of structural issues ofassessment centres, which is why standards are needed. “For example, whenyou set up an assessment centre, you need to make sure you have pre-assignedcompetencies when you are selecting people. It is a common error not to havethe criteria in place. You should ensure that proper training has been given toassessors, that candidates have a number of opportunities to demonstrate theircompetency, and that there is consensus in the final decision made.”And he adds: “Where thereare standards in place, people can at least check their own performance againstthe standards and decide whether or not they are doing their assessmentscorrectly.”But even if official guidelinesexisted, as Dr Charles Woodruffe, director at assessment centre consultancyHuman Assets, points out, enforcing them is a different issue. “Youalready have standards for psychometric tests, for example, but are the buyersof psychometric tests sufficiently aware of the tests even to ask the question?Pseudo-psychometry tests are two a penny on the Internet.””Standards for assessmentcentres would not do any harm but they are not a surefire solution becausethere will be plenty of organisations that will not have heard of them, or whoare assured that what they are being given matches the standards, when itdoesn’t.”Training, he believes, is key.As the author of Development and Assessment Centers; Identifying and DevelopingCompetence, he says,  “I am oftenrung up by people who have read the book and say, ‘We have been asked to set upan assessment centre. Can you help?’ That is real kitchen table stuff. I knowyou have to start somewhere but in any other industry you’d start as anapprentice.””Common sense shoulddictate that the greatest weakness is observer training and people shouldunderstand better what is expected of assessment centres,” says Davis.”If that could be built into some form of best practice, that would befine.”Issues of training aresignificant – for an assessment centre to be accurate, the process needs to beunderstood. Yet in a survey conducted by A&DC, it was found that nearly 60per cent of companies give at most one day of training to its assessors, with14 per cent of those giving no training. “They might just as well stickwith interviews,” says Ballantyne.What it actually needs, says DrWoodruffe, is for customers of assessment centres to be more selective.”You have to ask the question, ‘Have you done this before and can I ring upthe person you did it for?’ It’s incredible that organisations will entrusttheir future to someone who is just one page ahead of that organisation. “It is fantastic that theytake on graduates for their future leadership and, for the sake of a few bob,jeopardise that.”Theatre ofabsurd: a recruitment tragedy in seven actsAct 1 An individualapplying for a consultant position found he was tested for mechanical reasoningand had to sit through various engineering tests using diagrams and pulleys, aswell as a further battery of tests in computingAct 2 The manager at acall centre decided to construct her own tests to see how bright applicantswere. Those applying for jobs had to undergo her version of televisionprogramme Catchphrase, as well as a range of puzzles from quiz booksAct 3 A trained psychologist,applying for a position as a consultant, was confronted with a psychometrictest in spatial reasoning, because, she was told, “You’re used to thetests, so we thought we’d give you something different”Act 4 A group of nursesin Coventry took their employer to court – and won – after an assessmentcentre, which they were told would be used for training and development, wasactually used to decide on candidates for redundancyAct 5 A group ofapplicants applying for external HR consultancy roles were taken to an isolatedcountry house and faced a series of irrelevant and traumatic tests, whichincluded working out complex statistical equations in front of the group. Theywere also told to “name their salary” in publicAct 6 One candidatefound that the results of her psychometric tests were judged against the viewsof her friend, who worked for the assessment centre. The assessor then askedher in-depth, and inappropriate, questions about her childhood “to explainthe discrepancies”Act 7 When applying fora position of consultant, an individual was put through an inappropriate anddifficult numerical reasoning test. She knew she would not do well at it – andin the event, the results were simply discardedMinimumstandards to qualify an event as an assessment centreAt least twomeasures of every competency that is being assessedAt least two work samplesimulations among the material that confronts participantsJob analysis that clearlydemonstrates the link between competencies and effective performance in thetarget jobAssessors complete theirevaluations independently, including any report form, before the integrationsessionThere are assessors who aretrained in the ORCE process, and its application in clear separation of thecomponent parts into discrete exercisesClear written and publishedstatement of the intent of the centre, how data will be stored, by whom, andrights of access to that data by any individualThere should be a statement ofthe limits of the validity of the centre in total and/or the limits for aparticular exerciseSource:Assessment & Development Consultants Previous Article Next Articlelast_img read more

Gurkhas to sue MoD over pay

first_img Previous Article Next Article Comments are closed. Related posts:No related photos. Former Gurkha soldiers are to sue the Ministry of Defence for racialdiscrimination after receiving lower pay and pensions than their Britishcounterparts. A test case from 20 former Gurkhas, aged between 35 and 83, is expected tobe lodged this week. If the Gurkhas are successful, more than 30,000 soldiersfrom the regiment may be entitled to an estimated £2bn worth of compensationfor backdated pay and pension payments from the MoD. The Gurkhas have fought for the British for almost 200 years, but since 1947Gurkha pay and pensions have been linked to the Indian Army’s pay code,creating a wide difference between their pay and British soldiers pay. The Gurkhas’ solicitor, Phil Shiner of Public Interest Lawyers, said thecase is to be funded by legal aid and is unlikely to be heard before the end ofthe year or early 2003. In court, the Gurkhas are to be represented by the Prime Minister’s wifeCherie Booth QC’s law firm, Matrix. Padam Gurung, president of the Gurkha Army Ex-Servicemen Association, saidbetween 50,000 and 60,000 Gurkhas have lost their lives while serving Britainand deserved the same pay and benefits as other UK regiments. “All we ask is not to be treated as inferior human beings and to sufferdiscrimination,” he said. Nearly 3,600 Gurkhas are serving currently and have recently taken part inBritish operations in Bosnia, Kosovo, Afghanistan and Sierra Leone. An Army spokeswoman would not comment on the details of the case because ithas not yet been lodged. However, she did say that a pension paid at the UK level would be worth farmore to the Gurkhas in Nepal due to the lower standard of living in thatcountry. By Ben Willmott Gurkhas to sue MoD over payOn 7 May 2002 in Personnel Todaylast_img read more

Equal pay claim nets HR manager £19,000

first_img Previous Article Next Article A female HR manager has received £19,000 in compensation in an out-of-courtsettlement, after claiming her role should be worth the same as her firm’s malefinancial controller. Avril Johnson, who worked for manufacturer Barco for nine years, receivedthe settlement after she claimed she was unfairly dismissed when the companytried to demote her role to HR administrator in 2002. Johnson claimed she earned £8,000 less than the financial controller,received fewer share options and missed out on the annual bonus he received.She also claimed to be the only member of the management team not to get acompany mobile phone. Julie Mellor, chair of the Equal Opportunities Commission, which supportedJohnson’s case, said the situation would have been avoidable if the employerhad carried out equal pay reviews to ensure fairness. “The best way to make sure that a pay system is fair is to carry out anequal pay review. In some cases a review might uncover the fact that jobsusually done by women have historically been under-valued, leading to lowerrates of pay than for jobs usually done by men,” she added. Johnson said: “I believed my professional responsibilities were verysimilar to those of the financial controller. I was not happy to find I waspaid so much less. I didn’t want to leave after nine years service, but felt Ihad no choice.” By Ross Wighamwww.eoc.org.uk Comments are closed. Related posts:No related photos. Equal pay claim nets HR manager £19,000On 3 Jun 2003 in Personnel Todaylast_img read more

Revised code on pay parity gets the green light

first_imgRevised code on pay parity gets the green lightOn 18 Nov 2003 in Personnel Today The revised Code of Practice on Equal Pay has received parliamentaryapproval and will come into force on 1 December 2003. The Equal Opportunities Commission (EOC) code explains employers’obligations on equal pay and has been revised to take account of new law andrecent equal pay case decisions. Julie Mellor, chair of the EOC, said: “It’s down to employers now tocheck that their pay system is fair and that they are complying with the EqualPay Act. “The revised code will help them make sure that they are rewardingcompetence and performance. This is in the best interests not only of theirstaff but also their investors.” The code provides practical guidance on how to ensure pay is determinedwithout sex discrimination and is available from the EOC’s website. While the code is not legally binding, an employment tribunal could takeinto account an employer’s failure to act on its provisions. www.eoc.org.uk Comments are closed. Previous Article Next Article Related posts:No related photos.last_img read more

Top job: Philip Barr, head of UK HR, Cable & Wireless

first_img Comments are closed. Previous Article Next Article Philip Barr has recently moved to leading international telecommunicationscompany Cable & Wireless following two years at Barclays Retail Bank. Priorto this, he worked at Barclaycard and Boots the Chemist. What will be the duties in your new role? My main focus will be helping the new senior management team to maximise thepeople capabilities of the UK business. What do you hope to achieve in your new role? My main objective is to maximise the satisfaction of all the stakeholders inthe business – customers, staff and shareholders. Which aspects are you most looking forward to? The freedom to make a difference. What is the strangest situation you have been in at work? On joining a factory in a notoriously tough part of town, part of theinduction programme was about what to do if a brick came through the carwindscreen. (The answer: push the windscreen out with the palm of the hand!). Who is the ultimate guru? The Dalai Lama – there’s more to life than business! What’s your essential viewing? Frasier. What’s the best thing about human resources? It is very simple – helping people to learn. And the worst? Trying to change the few HR staff that have a ‘can’t do’ attitude. How do you fill your spare time? Mainly spending time with my family, as well as sports. How do you think the role of HR will change over the next five years? I believe that it will continue to evolve towards a lean, strategic,business partner. What is the essential tool in your job? My laptop. And the most over-rated? None – I need all the help I can get! What advice would you give to people starting out in HR? Get a line job in a customer-facing environment early on in your career. Do you network? I’ve only realised in the past two years how important this is. Barr’s CV2003 Head of UK HR, Cable &Wireless2001 HR director, Barclays Retail Bank1999 HR director, Barclaycard1998 Head of stores HR, Boots the Chemist1995 Director of personnel and training, Boots Opticians Top job: Philip Barr, head of UK HR, Cable & WirelessOn 9 Dec 2003 in Personnel Today Related posts:No related photos.last_img read more

Do employees benefit from employee benefits?

first_img Staff benefits schemes seem to be a hot topic at the moment so I thought I’d chime in with my thoughts….In years gone by the company car, paid phone bill’s or company credit card were pretty much the in domain of the professionals at the top of their game working in the most generous of companies. Now though, almost akin to my blog post on gimmicky long interview processes, companies seem to be using the benefits they offer as a marketing tool, and the list of what is being offered is getting longer and longer. There’ nothing wrong with that, but let’s dissect it a little.In recent times there has been a lot of debate over what is considered a generous benefits programme and what is going too far. For example, I refer to Facebook and Apple who opted for a very polarizing benefit of freezing any female employee’s eggs (most suggest in a bid to allow feeling more at ease delaying having children). Or Google California, as another example who trucked in snow to create a snowy wonderland for its staff. Times are of course changing and our wants and needs are evolving with the times. I totally get that we are not programmed in the same way that we were 50 years ago where social norms almost pre-defined at what ages children would enter our lives, or when we should be allowed to enjoy a brisk walk in the snow, but is this taking a “company benefit” too far?In a few less extreme examples such-as, orgs employing chefs to cook meals each day for staff, full gym in-house or even sleep pods. These all sound amazing, right? And who wouldn’t want a part of that, but something that is also worth thinking about is – Are we then blurring the lines further between our professional worlds and our personal worlds? And indeed, is this a good or bad thing? We have already seen a huge shift towards technology interoperability and never being too far away from a piece of tech that could see us struggle to “switch off” in our personal time, but we are now looking at a new age where the comforts of home-life are being brought to the office.This is not to say I wouldn’t dive straight into a sleep-pod given the chance – just food for thought and I’d be keen to hear other perspective on where boundaries should be in the creation of a solid benefits scheme… Related posts:No related photos. Read full article Do employees benefit from employee benefits?Shared from missc on 17 Jun 2015 in Personnel Todaycenter_img Previous Article Next Article Comments are closed.last_img read more

Thalía and Tommy Mottola flip Surf Club condo for $10M

first_img Full Name* Share via Shortlink Message* Email Address* Tommy and Thalía Mottola and Four Seasons Residences at The Surf Club (Getty, Richard Meier & Partners Architects)Music producer Tommy Mottola, and his wife, Mexican singer and actress Thalía, flipped their Surfside condo for $10.4 million, $2.4 million more than their purchase price less than a year ago.Records show Mottola-led TNT Miami LLC sold unit S-307 at the Four Seasons Residences at The Surf Club to Richard Gold, a trustee of The South Fifth Residence Trust.Mottola is chairman of Mottola Media Group and former chairman and CEO of Sony Music Entertainment.Mottola and Thalía, whose real name is Ariadna S. Miranda, bought the 3,948-square-foot unit at 9001 Collins Avenue in Surfside for $8 million, or $2,026 per square foot, in May. This time it sold for $2,634 per square foot.The initial listing price was $12.5 million in mid-January, and was raised to $12.7 million a few days later. A month earlier, Mary Anne Shula, widow of the late Miami Dolphins head coach Don Shula, was able to sell her Surf Club unit for $11.6 million.Ximena Penuela with Fort Realty represented both sides in the recent sale.The Four Seasons Residences at The Surf Club unit has four bedrooms and five-and-a-half bathrooms.Thalía is referred to as the “Queen of Latin Pop,” and has sold 25 million records worldwide, according to La Nación. Mottola has worked with artists such as Carly Simon, John Mellencamp, Mariah Carey (his former wife), Celine Dion, Gloria Estefan, Ricky Martin, Shakira, Jennifer Lopez and Marc Anthony.Also this year at the Surf Club, the co-managing partner of a private equity firm sold his condo in for $12.4 million.Contact Jordan Pandycenter_img Share on FacebookShare on TwitterShare on LinkedinShare via Email Share via Shortlink Tags Celebrity Real EstateSurf Club Four Seasonssurfsidelast_img read more

Deep-water mosses in Antarctic lakes

first_imgMosses are generally considered to be land plants although a few species are found growing submerged in streams and shallow areas of lakes. But there is now increasing evidence that certain species are able to grow successfully in deep water, often forming the dominant vegetation1,2. We have made the first underwater observations on deep-water mosses growing in Antarctic lakes. A SCUBA diving survey was carried out on Signy Island, South Orkney Islands (60° 43′ S, 45° 38′ W) in 1971 and 1972.last_img read more

The assessment of competition between seals and commercial fisheries in the North Sea and the Antarctic

first_imgMost of the exploited fish stocks in the North Sea are also used as a food supply by a number of seal species; the same is true for some fish and invertebrate stocks in the Antarctic—although the fisheries there are, at present, much smaller than those in the North Sea. The information needed for a critical assessment of such interactions is reviewed. Using existing techniques it is possible to estimate the quantity and size‐classes of each fish or invertebrate species consumed by seals and to compare this with the commercial catch. If fishing mortality is known, these estimates can be used to calculate the level of mortality imposed by the seals. However, a realistic evaluation requires information on the distribution and movements of the fish, the seals’ feeding effort, and the fisheries effort in time and space. At present it is difficult or impossible to obtain this information, but recent technological developments in telemetry equipment will soon make it feasible. To assess the economic effects of changes in seal numbers on the fishery, or the ecological effects of changes in fisheries effort on seal populations, requires additional information on the responses of the fishery and the seals to changes in fish abundance, and of the commercial market to changes in the supply of fish.last_img read more

Evaluation of DNA dosimetry to assess ozone-mediated variability of biologically harmful radiation in Antarctica

first_imgIn this study we investigated the use of a DNA dosimeter to accurately measure changes in ultraviolet B radiation (UVBR; 280-315 nm) under Antarctic ozone hole conditions. Naked DNA solution in quartz tubes was exposed to ambient solar radiation at Rothera Research Station, Antarctica, between October and December 1998 for 3 h during UVBR peak hours (1200-1500 h). Trends in UVBR-mediated DNA damage (formation of cyclobutane pyrimidine dimers [CPD]) were related to cloud cover, ozone-column depth and spectroradiometric measurements of ambient radiation. Ozone-column depths ranged from 130 to 375 DU during the study period, resulting in highly variable UVBR doses, from 1.6 to 137 kJ m(-2) over the 3 h exposure, as measured by spectro-radiometry. There was a strong positive correlation (86%) between dosimeter CPD concentrations and DNA-weighted UVBR doses. Ozone depth was a strong predictor of DNA damage (63%), and there was no significant relationship between CPD formation and cloud cover. Subtle changes in spectral characteristics caused by ozone depletion were detected by the biodosimeter; the highest CPD concentrations were observed in October when ozone-mediated shifts favored shorter wavelengths of UVBR. We conclude that the DNA biodosimeter is an accurate indicator of biologically effective UVBR, even under highly variable ozone conditions.last_img read more