Justin Thyme

I swear to you, I really don’t feel so good

Let Justin pose a question. When was the last time that your boss invited you into his office and offered you a cup of tea? When was the last time he/she said, “I’ve noticed that you’ve been overdoing it recently. The company feels that you deserve a well-earned break. Don’t worry, we’ll pay for the time you take off. Take as much time as you want and under no circumstances do I want you to fear for your position when you return. Your job is safe.”

If you have been told that over the past few months, then you’re a lucky consultant. If not, then you’re in the majority.

“The British workforce is working harder than ever before,” explained Peter Norbury, partner and employment law expert at Eversheds. “A recent Harris poll has indicated that one in three workers regularly takes work home and one in 10 said they did some work at home every day. In this environment, it is crucial that employers recognise their duty of care and take steps to alleviate and manage the stress of employees.”

The Health and Safety Act 1974 places a duty on employers to ensure, as far as reasonably practicable, the health and safety of their employees.

The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1992 places on employers the need to take appropriate preventative and protective steps.

Norbury continues: “The risk for employers of ignoring the impact of stress is significant. In the Walker case, Northumberland County Council was sued when an employee suffered two nervous breakdowns in the course of his employment. The employee’s claim in relation to the first breakdown was unsuccessful, but the employer’s negligence was established in relation to the second, since insufficient action was taken following the first.”

We tried to call representatives from the Big Five but it seemed that everybody was too busy to take our calls. We’ve biked round cups of tea and sympathetic bosses to all concerned.

No PCs or e-mail please, we’re British

Invite five of your clients into a room and there’s a good chance that one of them will have given up the idea of using technology effectively within their organisation, according to research published by Cisco Systems.

The research shows that one in five businesses have left themselves vulnerable by embracing anti-technology philosophies that even the Luddites would have thought twice about.

The “rejectors” are a pan-European phenomenon. So who are the major culprits? Well, France and the Czech Republic can breathe a sigh of relief as they are held up as model technology users. The US does well, as do most Asian countries. The real machine wreckers seem to be, er, us.

Over 25 percent of British firms are without basic computing tools. They are flummoxed by fax machines and uninspired by the thought of using a PC. The research also identifies “worriers”, people who feel that technology is passing them by. Surely there must be an amalgam of the two, someone who worries that they aren’t using technology.

Don’t put your consultant on the stage, Mrs Worthington

Further to our report on the goings on at the Royal Shakespeare Company on page 20, there is a little footnote worthy of mention.

Some of the delegates involved on the “management consultancy by theatre” course secretly admitted that their attendance was not for purely professional purposes. Two delegates whispered that they had always harboured a wish to tread the boards and were “testing out the atmosphere” at the RSC in order to try and gain “a bit of exposure”. Justin Thyme is no theatre critic. However, having witnessed the two consultants’ performance throughout the day, he does believe that they do indeed have a bright career ahead of them. Back at the office.

Caption competition

Last month we launched our caption competition and many thanks to all those that sent in entries. We are happy to announce that a #30 book voucher will be winging its way to Mr John Kerr of Northampton who captioned our “cow” photo, “Standing in the s**t, talking a load of bullocks – who’d be a consultant?” This month, we present you with a touching press photo sent to us recently. The less-than-happy girl on the left looks as though she has been outsourced by her family. What do you think? Send your libel-free, consultancy-related postcard entries to: Caption Competition, Management Consultancy, 32-34 Broadwick Street, London W1A 2HG.

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