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Apr 292010
working; sick

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UK study finds that going to work when sick could cost your employer more than if you stayed at home!

Absenteeism is a common and much reported problem for employers around the world, costs companies millions of Euro every year and has a negative impact on everyone in an organisation. If your colleagues don’t turn up for work, that puts pressure on you, because somebody has to pick up the slack.

What we rarely hear anything about though is the flip side of the same coin: the potential impact of people who attend work when they’re genuinely too sick to do the job.

Perhaps partly because of the rising profile of absenteeism in the workplace, increasing numbers of employees struggle in to work when they would be both physically and psychologically better off taking the day off to recover. According to a pioneering report from UK based employment think tank The Work Foundation, the cost of this sickness presence — or "presenteeism" as they call it — could match or potentially exceed the UK£13bn bill for sickness absence that UK businesses have to foot.

While sickness absence is widely measured and monitored across the public and private sectors, and many businesses are focussed on reducing absenteeism, this report suggests there’s a lack of understanding surrounding "presenteeism", and organisations are generally oblivious to its hidden costs. The authors point out that businesses who don’t address presenteeism in the workplace could be missing out on opportunities to boost productivity and improve employee health and wellbeing.

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Apr 232010

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Whether you’re a job-seeker looking for the perfect position, an employer seeking the best talent, or a recruitment professional who’s job it is to bring the two together, keeping yourself abreast of current and future trends in the Irish labour market is an important element of the recruitment process.

In March the Irish employment and training agency FÁS and the Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI) published their 13th annual joint report in the manpower forecasting series: "Occupational Employment Forecasts 2015", including full medium-term forecasts of the sectoral and occupational structure of the Irish labour market.

Here’s a summary of the key changes they predict in Ireland’s labour market between now and 2015:

• Changes are likely in the sectoral and skills mix of employment. While employment in most occupations is expected to recover from the lows of 2010, the rate and extent of recovery will vary considerably by occupation, with some emerging from the recession to show relatively strong employment growth, while others fail to attain their pre-recession levels before 2015.

• The occupations expected to exceed pre-recession peak levels are concentrated at the higher end of the skill scale, and include professionals and associate professionals (technicians) in science, engineering, business services and IT. Some of the occupations that, while they will they will grow after 2010, are not expected to hit their peak pre-recession levels include skilled building workers, production operatives, unskilled manual workers, sales assistants and clerks.

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Feb 022010
3D Team Leadership Arrow Concept

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There’s a general perception in business that a tough, no-nonsense, target driven approach is the key to effective leadership through tough economic times. But new research from the UK challenges that long-held assumption, and suggests instead that it’s leaders who concentrate on building effective relationships with their teams who really stand out when the going gets tough

According to UK workplace think-tank The Work Foundation, effective leaders put people and relationships front-and-centre as they strive to tackle the challenges of the recession. Based on over 250 in-depth qualitative interviews, the two-year study, "Exceeding Expectation: the principles of outstanding leadership", proves that highly people-centred leaders, rather than their target-obsessed, autocratic counterparts that consistently deliver outstanding performance in organisations.

The findings could have profound implications for how organisations assess and measure the performance of their leaders; for the criteria used to select potential leaders, and the training and development techniques used to foster effective leadership; and on the way individuals approach their own personal development at work.

"The evidence from our research indicates there needs to be a paradigm shift for all leaders who remain fixated on numbers and targets," explained lead author Penny Tamkin. "Outstanding leaders focus on people, attitudes and engagement, co-creating vision and strategy. Instead of one-to-one meetings centred on tasks, they seek to understand people and their motives. Instead of developing others through training and advice, they do this through challenge and support. They manage performance holistically, attending to the mood and behaviour of their people as well as organisational objectives. And instead of seeing people as one of many priorities, they put the emphasis on people issues first."

Six high-profile UK organisations took part in the study, including EDF Energy, Guardian Media Group, Tesco and Unilever. One of the most striking elements to emerge from the research was the stark contrast between the behaviour of merely "good" and truly "outstanding" leaders. Until all the interviews were completed and analysed, researchers were unaware of whether the leaders participating in the study were deemed "outstanding" or "good" in terms of their achievements and how they were perceived by those reporting directly to them.

"Outstanding leaders are focussed on performance but they see people as the means of achieving great performance and themselves as enablers," added author Gemma Pearson. "They don’t seek out the limelight for themselves but challenge, stretch and champion others, giving them the space and support to excel."

The report reveals three key principles that were common to outstanding leaders in the study group:

  • They think and act systemically, seeing the whole picture rather than compartmentalising
  • They see people as the sole route to performance and are deeply people and relationship centred rather than just people oriented
  • They are self-confident without being arrogant; they are aware of their strengths and their position of influence, yet use these for the benefit of their organisation and its people.

"Our findings strongly suggest that an approach which connects leaders to people and people to purpose defines outstanding leadership. Leadership that focuses on mutuality and respect is not only good for people but good for organisations too," said Tamkin.

The full report "Exceeding Expectation: the principles of outstanding leadership" is available for download from

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Oct 052009
Money Back Guarantee

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Pay cuts and job losses seem to dominate the recruitment news most days, but according to the latest research from the US, there’s one sector of the employment market that seems immune to the negative impact of an ailing global economy. While workers across the board bear the brunt of harsh economic times, the people at Dollarthe helm of the organisations they work for seem to be leading a charmed life.

To put things into perspective, between 2007 and 2008 the value of the US stock market dropped by an astonishing 37%, and 2.6 million American’s lost their jobs. Businesses across the board saw profits plummet, but while most staff suffered amidst the economic turmoil, one group seemed to be immune to recessionary pressure.

American shareholders rights group, the Corporate Library, surveyed 2,700 public companies and found that the median annual salary for CEOs dropped by a barely perceptible 0.08% in 2008. More than 75% of the CEOs surveyed actually reported an increase in their base salary over the same period.

"Paraphrasing the words of Mark Twain, rumours of the death of CEO pay have been greatly exaggerated. In fact, far from falling on its face – like the economy did – it has barely stumbled in its steady climb," commented Paul Hodgson, a senior research associate with the Corporate Library.

While CEO’s contracts would have been mostly agreed before the financial crisis hit, Hodgson points out that he’d still expect some elements of their remuneration package, such as bonuses, to reflect their actual performance in the job, but the link appears tenuous, or even non-existent according to the research. As an example he cites the second highest-paid CEO in the survey, Oracle’s Larry Ellison, who took home $543 million despite a 21% drop in the company’s share price. The highest paid CEO surveyed was Steven A. Schwarzman of the Blackstone Group, who earned a staggering $702 million in 2008.

The Corporate Library’s accolade of "highest paid / worst performing" CEO went to Michael Jeffries of giant clothing retailer Abercrombie & Fitch, who came in at number nine in the top-ten highest earners list.

While Jeffries’ base salary was a paltry $1.5 million, exercising stock and option rights saw him boost his earnings to $71.8 million last year. The company he led fared less well. If you’d invested $1,000 in Abercrombie and Fitch at the start of 2008, your investment would have shrunk to just $300 by the end of that same year. Compare that to Apple’s Steve Jobs, who has earned €160 million in total over the last ten years, while guiding the technology company to unprecedented success, an 850% rise in its share price and a $150 billion hike to its market value.

With such disparity between executive pay and company performance it’s hardly surprising that public trust in America’s big corporations is at a low ebb, and while the numbers here in Ireland might not be quite so big, it’s unlikely this is an exclusively American trend.

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Aug 112009
Tallest and Shortest man in the World*

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Apparently tall men earn significantly more than their shorter colleagues.

That’s according to the latest research from Australia, which found that each extra 2 inches of height can equate to a boost of nearly €800 a year in annual salary – or the equivalent of an extra year of experience. So, a man who’s 6ft tall can expect to earn about 1.5% more, on average, than his 5ft 10ins colleague. The phenomenon isn’t as pronounced in women, however, who need to tower at least 4 inches over their colleagues to see a similar earnings hike.

The study of nearly 7,000 Australian workers by the Australian National University echoes results from earlier studies in Britain and the US, which also showed compelling evidence that taller workers command higher salaries.

Professor Andrew Leigh, who led the Australian study, suggests that the most likely explanation is that taller people tend to commanded more respect in the workplace, and that subconsciously there may be positive discrimination in their favour.

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Aug 052009
Academic procession at the :en:University of C...

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In general third level graduates are doing better than average in a very tough jobs market, says a study by the University of Ireland, Galway (NUIG), but the survey also shows significant variation between degree disciplines. With national unemployment rates approaching 12%, the University revealed that only 8% of the 2,300 or so graduates from the NUIG’s class of 2008 were still looking for work.

The University carried out the research from six to nine months after graduation, and had a healthy response rate of 62%. Over half of those respondents (c. 51%) had elected to pursue a postgraduate qualification, up from 49% last year and continuing a steadily rising trend. Of those available for work, one in every six NUIG science graduates (c. 16.5%)  was still trying to find a job, while for arts graduates the figure was one in 10 (10%), and a quarter of all law graduates were still looking for a position, although the vast majority of law graduates reported they had opted to further their studies.

Graduates most likely to be working were those with degrees in medicine and other health related disciplines, with 95% of respondents reporting they had secured employment.

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Jul 062009

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If you’re out of work, your CV is one the most crucial weapons in your job-search arsenal. Along with a well written covering letter, your CV is part of your opening salvo in your campaign to land a job. A truly exceptional CV can open the door to boundless opportunity, helping you to that all important first interview. It’s you’re first opportunity to impress potential employers, an introduction to the best that you can be, and that makes it a very powerful document.

But with that power comes the very real temptation to embellish, elaborate, in some instances, to lie outright on your CV.

Independent research by employee verification experts Callcredit Direct in Britain reveals that more than one in ten 18 – 24 year-olds (12%) admit to lying on their CV to secure a job, and across all adults who admit falsifying their CV a third (33%) say they’ve  fabricated crucial information like academic qualifications.

Some of the key findings include:

  • More than one in ten (12%) of UK workers aged 18 – 24 years admit to lying on their CV
  • Of all adults who have lied on their CV, one third (33%) of workers say they’ve fabricated GSCE or equivalent qualifications with 7% making up or enhancing degree-level qualifications
  • Of the people who admitted to exaggerating academic qualifications, the 25 – 34s and 45 – 54s are the age groups most likely to embellish their GCSEs/ O-levels (38%)
  • Of all adults who have been untruthful, the most common lie is making up hobbies and interests (38%), followed closely by embellishing experience (35%)

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Jun 192009
US Whig poster showing unemployment in 1837

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Today around the world thousands of people just like you are losing their jobs.

It’s an enduring, if unpalatable fact that due to the economic circumstances we’re living through workers are being made redundant through no fault of their own. That’s generally accepted, and being made redundant in itself won’t necessarily tarnish your impeccable employment record. But when it comes to your CV, just how much leeway do you have? What’s an acceptable gap between periods of employment, and when does the dreaded label of "long term unemployed" start to rear its head?

Six months! That’s the magic number, according to research carried out in Britain recently.

The Institute of Leadership and Management (ILM) surveyed more than 1,000 managers on the topic. The results show that being unemployed doesn’t carry the stigma that people losing their jobs so often fear. At least not at first. In fact more than 80% of them said that the current employment status of applicants was completely irrelevant, as they didn’t consider it an accurate reflection of ability or performance given the current climate of mass redundancies.

But there is a limit to this benign outlook: spend six months or more out of work and a quarter of employers say they’d be less likely to give you a job, considering you to be "long-term-unemployed" at that point. Of course it’s not as cut and dried as that: studying for relevant vocational or academic qualifications, getting involved in voluntary work or perhaps pursuing your own entrepreneurial enterprise in the interim can bridge the gap, and demonstrating that you’ve been keeping up-to-date with developments in your industry while out of work can also help your credibility.

The ILM also warns those who’ve lost their jobs against splashing some of their redundancy cash on an extended career break; managers typically described candidates taking a gap year to travel or volunteer overseas as "unattractive" in the poll.

"Unemployment isn’t necessarily an indicator of ability, especially in the current climate when hundreds of talented individuals are being made redundant through no fault of their own," explained Penny de Valk, chief executive of ILM. "The good news is that most employers will treat unemployed applicants exactly the same as other candidates.

"The research shows that it is important for job seekers to try and get back to work as quickly as possible. They should use their time not only job hunting but finding ways to put themselves in front of the competition. The most effective way for job seekers to boost their future employment prospects is to play to their strengths, freshen up their knowledge and skills and keep up to date with developments in their sector," she added.

When you’ve been made redundant, picking yourself up and getting into the right frame of mind to look for work can take time – and in one of the most competitive job markets in decades finding a new job can be a long and drawn out process. So start early, and stay focussed. It’s tough out there — and that six month window identified by the ILM could slam closed much sooner than you think!

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Jun 172009
Manpower Inc

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You would think, with so many people out of work and actively seeking employment, that filling the few vacancies that do crop up should present no problem to employers today… but looking at the global picture it seems you’d be wrong. According to the latest global "Talent Shortage" survey by recruitment firm Manpower almost 1/3 of managers surveyed worldwide say they are struggling to fill key positions in their organisation.

"Despite high levels of unemployment in many markets, this year’s talent survey suggests a mismatch between the type of individuals available for work and the specific skills that employers are looking for," commented Jeffrey A Joerres, chairman and chief executive of Manpower. "In an environment where companies are pressured to shift their mindset to think more strategically and creatively about how to do more with less, the same approach is being applied to how they manage their talent.

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