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Daily Archives: April 7th, 2009

Could HR practitioners be making bad decisions as well?
07 April 2009 6:53am

No matter how bad the economy seems, it’s always a mistake to accept poor-quality clients, says business coach Ric Willmot.

Willmot, the CEO of Executive Wisdom Consulting Group, says some “really bad decisions” are being made in the corporate arena right now – particularly in the professional and personal services sectors.

The mistakes he has witnessed recently include:

reducing or discounting fees;

pressuring the staff left after redundancies to accept increased workloads;

adopting pricing tactics such as adding credit card service and administrative fees; and

sending reminder notices and payment demand letters – or making abrupt telephone calls chasing payment – within 14 days of an invoice being sent.

Businesses will continue to succeed if they can deliver their service to clients in a way that reaches their objectives, Willmot says. “Make the client significantly better because they have you.”

He says businesses should:

Rid themselves of non-quality clients. “I call them X-class clients; those clients who are low value to you and your business. They consume your corporate capacity. Capacity that will be much better served invested in A-class clients who do appreciate your value, and do good, regular business with you, and refer good people to you.”

Be prudent with the new clients they accept. “You do not have to accept every prospect who comes to your door. A poor prospect never makes a good client. It’s not about more business in this economy, it’s about better business. The litmus test: if the economy couldn’t get any better… would you still want them as a client?”

Understand the difference between revenue and profitability. “They are frequently confused.”

Avoid indiscriminate cost cutting. “Now is the time you should be increasing some expenditure, by investing in innovation, product and service development, human talent and retention of staff and customers.”

Re-tool. “This is a term from the days of Frederick Winslow Taylor referring to plant and machinery. I use the term specifically referring to people.”

Build relationships with their clients. “Strong relationships.”

In addition to the above, Willmot says, leaders should realise that procrastination poses a bigger threat to their success than the economic situation does.

To help build business, he says, managers should:
send letters not email if you really want your client to read your correspondence;

speak at business networking functions to expand your reach;

initiate some low-cost PR measures;

reach out laterally to your existing customers by providing additional products and services;

attend a seminar or training course;

write a press release for the local media; and

whether you are travelling across town or across the nation, leverage the trip and arrange to meet other people who haven’t bought from you yet.

07 April 2009 6:29am

The Olivier Job Index fell a further 12.5 per cent in March, and the ANZ Job Ad Series by 8.5 per cent, the latest figures show.

According to the Olivier Index, online job ads have dropped by 30.5 per cent in the past three months alone.

All sectors fell in March, with the most severe drop in engineering, down 20.4 per cent, following the mining bust. The next biggest falls were in human resources (-17.1%), and administration and clerical jobs (-16.8%). Sales marketing and retail jobs reflected the recent retail sales downturn, dropping 12.5 per cent.

Financial services and banking, however – the sector that fell first and hardest – has bounced a little, dropping just 8.1 per cent in March.

According to the ANZ’s index, jobs on the internet and in print fell by 8.5 per cent, taking the annual fall to 44.6 per cent.

Print ads were down 6.6 per cent in March and internet jobs were down 8.6 per cent.

ANZ head of Australian economics, Warren Hogan, notes that the March figures represent the lowest rate of annual growth on record.

And, he says: “Internet job advertising is the weakest since records began in 2000 having fallen for 11 consecutive months to take annual growth to -44 per cent. For us, the sustained decline in internet advertising confirms the signals evident in the newspaper series for some time now. That is, sharply falling ANZ job ads is consistent with an extended period of labour market weakness that is likely to see the unemployment rate heading higher throughout 2009 and 2010.”

New figures show many businesses are pessimistic about the next three months, with more than a quarter planning to slash their workforce.

A survey of 1,200 businesses by Dun and Bradstreet has found business expectations for sales and profits continue to fall.

It found 57 per cent are anticipating declining sales and 64 per cent are expecting falling profits.

The credit reference agency’s chief executive, Christine Christian, says there has also been a further slide in employment expectations.

“That is, 28 per cent of Australian business now expect to cut back on staff numbers,” she said.

“In fact what is concerning is that the latest employment expectations remain at their lowest level in the history of the survey that’s going back to 1988.”

Dun and Bradstreet’s survey also shows 67 per cent of firms are anticipating a decline in profits over the next quarter.

Ms Christian says business would welcome another cut in the official interest rate today after a record decline in consumer demand.

But she expects the Reserve Bank to leave rates unchanged at 3.25 per cent.

“Whichever way you look at it, we need some form of stimulus in the economy to at least keep things going, or at least the status quo,” she said.

“If nothing else, the concern is that we will continue to see lay-offs.”

Susie O’Brien

April 07, 2009 12:00am
BOSSES are using the global economic crisis as a smokescreen to slash Victorian jobs, pay and conditions, worker advocates claim.

Profitable companies with healthy bottom lines were aggressively lay off workers, moving jobs offshore, freezing wages and getting rid of individual workers.

Culprits ranged from big banks and public utilities cutting staff and offering redundancies, to unscrupulous smaller companies short-changing workers.

Most vulnerable were workers who had made complaints against employers for bullying or sexual harassment, women on maternity leave and carers who needed flexible hours.

Redundancy complaints to community workers’ legal centre JobWatch have increased 85 per cent in the first three months of this year.

In many the 500 calls made, workers said bosses were using the crisis to get rid of them, JobWatch executive director Zana Bytheway said.

“Employers are taking the opportunity to shed older people and those with parental responsibilities, among others,” she said. “Some employers are just creating unfair dismissals rather than genuine redundancies.”

Financial Sector Union spokesman Rod Masson said more than 9000 jobs had gone from highly profitable banks, insurance companies and finance companies in the past six months.

“While some finance companies have gone under and job losses have been inevitable, many profitable companies are using the economic downturn as an opportunity to cut costs through job shedding when it may not be necessary,” he said.

ACTU secretary Sharan Burrow said some employers were cutting staff and wages unfairly. “The general fear of losing jobs is creating an environment where workers are frustrated but copping it — particularly in areas like hospitality and retail,” she said.

The Victorian state secretary of the Australian Manufacturing Workers’ Union, Steve Dargavel, said many manufacturing companies were under genuine pressure.

“Others are hypocritical and giving themselves big bonuses at the same time as sacking workers,” he said.

But employers are denying the claims.

Medibank Private has been accused by unions of unscrupulous shift changes and redundancy threats.

But a spokesman for the company said recent moves for some staff to move from full-time to part-time work was instead part of a “transformation strategy”.

The ANZ bank has also been widely criticised for mass redundancies and hiring staff overseas.

But the bank said all businesses were facing changes to adapt to the economic climate and despite the economic slowdown, the business was continuing to grow.

Victorian Employers Chamber of Commerce and Industry workplace manager David Gregory said most businesses were reluctant to cut staff numbers and tried everything they could to hang on to workers until times improved.,21985,25300373-2862,00.html

Ewin Hannan | April 07, 2009
Article from: The Australian

EMPLOYERS claim to have extracted key concessions they believe will reduce many costs associated with the revamp of the nation’s award system.

The Australian Industry Group said last night a decision by the full bench of the Australian Industrial Relations Commission had addressed many concerns about the proposed “modernisation” of awards.

AIGroup chief executive Heather Ridout said business had been concerned the award revamp would result in big cost increases for employers. But 27 new awards and two amended modern awards, released by the commission, contain changes business believes will benefit companies.

Under the revamped clerical award, higher-paid employees will be excluded from most award provisions. It also contains separate flexible and cost-competitive conditions for in-house call centres.

The new banking, finance and insurance award includes lower penalty rates and more provisions on flexible hours for employees of call centres.

A modern contract call centre industry award has been made with flexible and cost-competitive conditions rather than contract call centre companies being forced to apply the modern awards of their clients, as originally proposed.

Ms Ridout said the revamped modern graphic arts award had not been extended to cover the industries of web design and development, as sought by the unions.

She said separate awards had been made for general transport, long-distance operations and the cash-in-transit industry, which did not incorporate the union’s “costly wage proposals”.

“Award modernisation is a massive and extremely complex task, with very tight timeframes,” Ms Ridout said.

She commended the commission’s consultations.