Tuesday, 30 June 2009

BT - Sustainable Workforce Assessment

BT yesterday announced the UK launch of a service known as Sustainable Workforce Assessment (SWA), designed to help large corporates and public sector organisations improve staff morale and help reduce costs.

The service addresses HR issues ranging from workforce costs, financial targets, skills enhancement and employee engagement to talent management and retention. According to the press release I received; "Through this assessment, BT will help organisations reduce costs, if they are concerned about sustainability, or if they want to improve the welfare of their people, whilst creating a strong business benefit."

The analysis is conducted across seven practice areas which are work-life balance, stress and mental health, disability, cultural background, age, parents and carers and dignity at work.

BT has done much of this in-house already. The company has more than 10,000 home-based workers with average productivity apparently 20% higher than their office-based colleagues. Also:

- 75% of long-term absentees now return to work compared with a national average of 25%.

- Absenteeism in BT contact centres is 35% below average.

- 96% of our new mothers return to work, twice the national average.

Lets be clear, BT does seem to be doing something right in HR and can no doubt help other companies do the same.

However, does this really warrant a 'sustainability' label? (Interestingly, the version that BT posted on its shareholder news site was simply headed 'Services to solve HR issues'). However, the press release was accompanied by a quote from the head of sustainability practice at BT Global Services.

Lets be clear BT is a leader in making its business sustainable, but there's no reference I can see to what's sustainable about this service. And I find the comment that "Through this assessment, BT will help organisations reduce costs, if they are concerned about sustainability", very odd. Sustainability is not about reducing costs. All that does is increase profits. In the CSR context, sustainability means minimising the impact on the environment and society around you.

In fact the SWA service may well do just that, particularly if it ends up in more people working from home, and consequently having less impact on the environment through the energy use from commuting. But the press release doesn't even mention that.

© The Green IT Review

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