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Pharmaceutical jobs: In brief July 2007

Contract sales organisations (CSOs), Ashfield Healthcare and In2Focus, have merged to form Ashfield In2Focus. The deal comes in response to significant changes in the pharma outsourcing market.

CSO merger

Contract sales organisations (CSOs), Ashfield Healthcare and In2Focus, have merged to form Ashfield In2Focus. The deal comes in response to significant changes in the pharma outsourcing market. Ashfield In2Focus' offerings will include medical reps and nurse teams, salesforce effectiveness, business research and consulting services both in the UK and worldwide. Both firms are owned by United Drug, a leading provider of outsourced services to the healthcare industry.

Red alert

News that a red-headed former waitress has been awarded GBP 17,618 in compensation after a tribunal ruled that she had been discriminated against in the workplace has fuelled concerns of further cases in the UK.

The tribunal ruled in favour of Sarah Primmer after she was subjected to lewd and embarrassing comments and eventually sacked from her job. Earlier this year, a Personnel Today survey revealed that 81 per cent of its readers thought it was acceptable to tease people with ginger hair. A culture of 'lookism' is developing in the workplace with red-heads often the butt of office jokes, according to the survey.

There's a thought

Thanks to the smoking ban the smoking rooms of UK businesses are now laying fallow and are doubtless looking to be put to good use. One such company, electronics firm, Toshiba, was able to turn its former smoking room into a gym after being awarded a prize for health and well-being. Toshiba was awarded a GBP 30,000 prize to transform its old smoking room into a gym for its staff after judges at Nuffield Proactive Health concluded that the company had shown real commitment to the health and well-being of its employees.

Flexibility first

Employers looking to attract skilled public relations and marketing personnel from London need to examine their overall lifestyle and benefits package if they want to appeal to the best new recruits.

These were the findings of Sophie Adkins, senior consultant at Solutions 4 Recruitment - a
south coast marketing, PR and design agency.

Adkins conducted research with high-level candidates currently on her books and found that the majority now rate work-life balance and improved lifestyle over financial rewards.

Comparable research, from the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) into employee attitudes, revealed that three out of four people surveyed believe they are working very hard.

Many say they are working as hard as they can and could not imagine being able to work any harder. These factors help explain the increased interest in the issue of work-life balance. More and more people are finding their work demands getting in the way of non-work commitments and having a detrimental effect on their personal relationships.

Progressive recruiters are taking heed of this growing trend and tailoring packages to offer lifestyle benefits to prospective employees. Incentives offered include parking, office locations away from the grime of the city, career breaks for carers, sabbaticals, secondments and flexible working hours.

Adkins applauds such developments, saying our candidates relish the prospect of flexible working hours. It makes them feel valued and as if their life outside of work is respected by their employer. As a result, they are more productive and motivated to go the extra mile.

CIPD's research also indicates that flexible working hours impact positively on employee performance. Benefits to businesses with policies that underpin work-life balance issues include higher productivity and competitiveness, raised morale and commitment, reduced absenteeism and improved retention of workforce.

On the flip-side, Adkins says that companies not displaying a lateral, flexible approach to employment are discounted from the job search.

It is somewhat surprising then that when the CIPD survey was conducted in April 2007, less than a third of the companies questioned were offering lifestyle benefits to their employees. This is especially short-sighted when one considers that an effective work-life balance strategy is no longer just an impetus for productivity and motivation, it is now a legal imperative as well.

In 2004, government published a 10-year strategy for childcare including proposals to extend the existing statutory provisions on maternity and paternity leave. These provisions have resulted in the Work and Families Act 2006, much of which became effective from April 2007.

New provisions in the Act include the right of employees with caring responsibilities to request flexible working hours, and protection against detriment should employees attempt to exercise their rights to work flexibly or take maternity, paternity, adoption or parental leave.

As marketing and PR are considerably project-led, the profession lends itself to flexible working conditions. This, combined with new technologies such as email, internet and video conferencing, means that people in the marketing sector can work just as effectively from home and enjoy a more relaxed lifestyle; eliminating long commutes and allowing more time for family and leisure.

7th September 2007

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