Firms urged not to be ostrichs over information directive

Oct 07 2004 by Nic Paton Print This Article

UK businesses still have their heads in the sand about next year’s Information and Consultation Directive – and as a result risk missing out on a golden opportunity to engage with their workers.

A study by the Involvement and Participation Association has warned that nine out of ten UK organisations have yet to address the issue of information and consultation in their workplace.

The Government’s Information and Consultation Directive becomes law on April 6, and will enables employees in firms with more than 150 staff to demand they are consulted on a wide range of business issues.

Philip Whiteley, co-author of "Unshrink: Yourself - People - Business - the World", has suggested that businesses which dismiss the directive as just another cost could be missing a trick.

Embraced properly, the directive could help to promote employee engagement and empowerment, leading to increased productivity and better morale and could give an organisation a competitive edge.

“It is ludicrous to imagine talking with your employees as a cost. Securing employee engagement is a decisive factor in succeeding or gaining competitive advantage,” he told Management Issues.

Organisations too often focus on restructuring as the best way of improving efficiency and effectiveness, overlooking the importance of communication and engagement, he argued.

“If you are not engaging with your employees it will cost you millions, as opposed to what holding a few meetings will cost,” he added.

However there are signs the message may be getting through, albeit late in the day.

The IPA survey also found that one in eight of those organisations polled said they planned to address the new legislation before the end of the year.

IPA director Willy Coupar said this was an encouraging sign, but added: “We are concerned that the deadline for establishing pre-existing agreements is fast approaching and these companies may be leaving things too late."

The IPA is not the first organisation to express concerns about this issue. Earlier this year a survey of almost 400 companies by law firm DLA and Ashridge Business school found that 80 per cent of those polled had little awareness of the legislation.