Thursday, 31 March 2011

Health and work: a difficult relationship

Issue 9 (February 2011) of Foundation Focus looks at the relationship between work and health, using first findings from Eurofound’s fifth European Working Conditions Survey which was launched on 16 and 17 November 2010 under the Belgian EU presidency. With the additional support of the European Commission, the two-day conference brought together high-level policymakers and decision makers in the field to discuss the future of working conditions across Europe.

Hazel’s comment:
I would advise that you print the articles that you want to read – unless you are adept at reading three columns on screen (I’m certainly not). Several of the pieces are worth reading even where my reaction was “this is obvious” as sometimes the obvious does need to be restated.

Employers’ Search and the Efficiency of Matching

an article by Michele Pellizzari (Bocconi University) published in British Journal of Industrial Relations Volume 49 Number 1 (March 2011)


Unskilled workers in low productivity jobs typically experience higher labour turnover. This article shows how this finding is related to variation in the efficiency of the matching process across occupations. If employers find it less profitable to invest in search and screening activities when recruiting for low-productivity jobs, matches at the lower end of the occupation distribution will be more prone to separation. The analysis of a unique sample of British hirings, containing detailed information about employers’ recruitment practices, shows that more intensive recruitment leads to matches of better quality that pay higher wages, last longer and make employers more satisfied with the person taken on.

Hazel’s comment:

It makes sense when you read the abstract.
Employers are not going to waste time on the waste removal operative in the turning shed. Anyone who is sufficiently fit and can read the safety notices will do for that job and if s/he has to be replaced in a month or so then that is what will happen. Choosing the right foreman (is that a taboo word these days?) for the same shed has a significant impact on the profitability of the enterprise. The employer will, quite naturally, take a lot longer to make a choice.

However, read the whole article and you begin to understand that labour turnover is expressed for an industry or a geographic area or a specific company which tends to hide the higher turnover in “lower-level” jobs.

Anyone involved in matching people to jobs whether a prospective employee, an employer or an agency should read this article and reflect on the matching process at every level or qualification and skill.

Repeatedly investing less time into lower-level job recruitment is a real waste of time and resources. I wish I'd had this information when I was working on the front-line.

Friday, 4 March 2011

The Information Age Measurement Paradox: …

Collecting Too Much Data

an article by Nitza Geri (The Open University of Israel Raanana) and Yaris Geri (Commercial Aircraft Group IAI Ben Gurion International Airport) published in Informing Science: the International Journal of an Emerging Transdiscipline Volume 14 (2011)


Information overload is one of the major challenges of management in the information age. Usually, the emphasis in the literature is on incoming information, whereas the creation of information or data is rarely discussed. This paper presents the measurement paradox and demonstrates how managerial decisions, or monitoring conventions, cause collection of tremendous amounts of unnecessary data. The measurement paradox is observed when advanced technologies, such as Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems, which are intended to improve control and provide managers with better information, collect ample data, most of which are unnecessary.
The paper illustrates the measurement paradox by developing a model for estimating the amount of data required for a cost accounting system. It analyses the amount of data necessary for traditional cost accounting systems, which are usually based on one cost driver, mostly direct labour hours, versus the amount of data used by activity-based costing (ABC) systems, which use multiple cost drivers. It shows that the amount of data depends mainly on the number of measurements, and in order to improve managerial accounting systems and eliminate non-value adding activities, one should reduce the number of measurements.

Hazel’s comment:
I always knew that much information overload was self-inflicted – this article sets out in detail. You can read it in full here.

Thursday, 3 March 2011

Scots wha hae a clue if they're speaking Scots

Are you speaking Welsh? Are you sure of that? Yes, thought so. You can rhaid now.

Now, are you speaking Scots? It's so hard be sure, isn't it? Luckily, the Scottish Government can help, with its new Aye Can website.

While Englishmen and women will be asked the usual probing questions as to whether they are Jedi knights or whatever in this decade's Census, for the first time Scots will be asked if they speak Scots. To the untutored it can just sound like E***ish in a Scottish accent, hence the website.

Apparently, Scots is used as a generic term for many Scottish dialects, including Glaswegian, Doric, Buchan, Dundonian, Shetland and Rabcnesbitt. (OK, the last is basically the same as the first.) It says that Scots and English are sister languages, such as Spanish and Portuguese.

The site includes audio files of speakers of Scots, and if you can get the gist of these, you should tick the box on the census form. Loose Wires does, and Loose Wires lives in the home counties. So expect a high pass rate north of the border.

Loose Wires is the GC Weekly equivalent of the backpage trivia in the now defunct ADSET Members' Update!

Fun with a serious twist (sometimes).

I need to work out how to bring the “fun” stuff into here – or maybe try a weekly newsletter to supplement the blog. Haven’t really thought it out yet but as I claw my way out of the pit of depression where I seem to have been for well over a year I need to catch up with contacts and renew business opportunities.