Helping staff get back on track

first_imgHelping staff get back on trackOn 14 Oct 2003 in Personnel Today Related posts:No related photos. Comments are closed. Previous Article Next Article A groundbreaking drugs and alcohol advice service has helpedLondon Underground tackle a culture of misuse, reduce sickness absence andimprove productivity. Alex Blyth reportsThe business London Underground (LU) is a major business carrying some 3 millionpassengers a day. It runs 511 trains on 253 miles of track and employs morethan 12,000. It has an HR team of 386. The challenge When, in July 2003, the London Evening Standard claimed that a culture of”drink and drug abuse” was prevalent among LU employees andsubcontractors, the company was able to point to its highly successfulprogramme for tackling alcohol abuse. While crashes, strikes, andpart-privatisation have kept LU in the headlines, few have noticed the workdone by LU manager Nigel Radcliffe and his team in building the groundbreakingdrug and alcohol advisory service. LU set up the unit in 1993 in response to new legislation that would holdorganisations liable if they failed to show due diligence in ensuring thatthose in control of public transport were not intoxicated. Random testing wasintroduced and Radcliffe was hired to set up and manage the unit. Radcliffe describes the culture of alcohol abuse. “The depots all hadbars. Shift workers would drink together before doing the night shift, andmanagement turned a blind eye.” The implications of this lack of action went beyond immediate concerns overcriminal prosecution. Alcohol Concern estimates that absenteeism and lowproductivity as a direct result of alcohol abuse costs the UK £2bn a year, andLU was certainly bearing heavy costs in this respect. Radcliffe describes how the unit faced tough decisions from the outset.”A core issue was how to deal with someone in a safety-critical job whohas just admitted to an alcohol problem. We have to stand the employee downfrom their job, but we also have to honour our promise to protect their job.For this reason, it is crucially important to hire top-quality assessmentstaff, but many companies balk at the cost and effort required. There are ahandful of consultancies offering the service, but we decided to build theexpertise entirely in-house.” The unit helps about 100 employees each year, with about 60 per cent havinga serious problem. The first stage is a three-week assessment programme, at theend of which a contract is signed. The contract details the requirements of thecompany for that individual to return to their job. Fifty per cent requireresidential treatment and most of this is done through a cost-sharingarrangement with local authorities. Treatment frequently takes up to a year tocomplete. The programme costs almost £500,000 a year, and has facedconsiderable opposition from parts of the organisation. However, after 10years, the results speak for themselves. The outcome Eighty per cent of those who go through the programme return to work withina year. Prior to treatment, those with an alcohol problem take an average of 30days’ sick leave, while after treatment this falls to just seven days. When youconsider the numbers involved, LU is recouping a fair amount of its investmentpurely in terms of attendance. Minimising the risk of prosecution, improved productivity and employeemotivation are also significant benefits for LU, but Radcliffe has been mostsurprised by the shift in attitudes. “Early on there was massiveresistance from unions and management to interference with drinking. Now,drinking at work is perceived to be just as socially unacceptable as drinkdriving.” The employee perspective John has worked for LU since 1983. He describes the drink culture of theearly days. “You weren’t one of the gang if you didn’t drink. I remembermany instances of people not getting overtime because they hadn’t been in thepub before the night shift.” He was a heavy drinker in, around and outside of work. When LU introducedrandom testing, he began to take time off. This continued until the year 2000,when he was close to being sacked for persistent absence and so approached theunit. “I spent six weeks denying my problem before I agreed to go intoresidential treatment. I was there from November to March, during which timethe company continued to pay me. After about 100 days back at work I relapsed,but went straight back to the unit, where we agreed that I needed to startattending AA meetings. By September, I was able to get back to work again andsince then everything has gone well,” he says. John is now a track access controller, earning about £40,000 a year anddoing an important, demanding job for LU. He has no hesitation in praising theunit. “If the unit had not been there, I would probably be dead by now. Iknow how much the company has invested in me. I just hope that I have been ableto repay that investment.” Learning points for HR Radcliffe has four pieces of advice for anyone wanting to set up a similarscheme: – Before you start, be very clear about the relationship between advisoryand disciplinary processes – Ensure the people you hire are good enough to deal with the extremelydifficult jobs you will ask of them – Educate management to ensure buy-in – Be aware of the scale of what you are getting into. last_img read more

First Night Review: Government Inspector

first_imgThis version of ‘The Government Inspector’, directed by Sophie Pinn, is a lively, fast-moving comedy that provides a fun night of light entertainment. Gogol’s play is a comedy of errors based on a classic case of mistaken identity: the mayor and officials of a provincial town come to believe that a young visitor to their town, Khlestakov, is a government inspector.  In fact, Khlestakov is no more than a young minor aristocrat who is touring the country for the first time, squandering his father’s money on cards, wine and women.    The comedy is derived from the obsequious kowtowing of the mayor, his family and the town officials towards Khlestakov.  Grotesque, sycophantic flattery ooze out of these characters, making it is so easy for Khlestakov to exploit them that our sympathy almost lies with him.  At a deeper level, the play is a satire on the hierarchical political structures of the government of Tsarist Russia, and a biting attack on the fickle and selfish nature of humankind. Pinn has chosen to treat the play as pure farce.  There is deliberate over-acting, lots of slapstick humour and hysterical excitement on stage.  While this treatment will clearly not be to everyone’s taste, Pinn’s approach does produce a sparkling performance with plenty of hilarious moments and memorable characters. All of the cast were clearly dedicated to their roles, but the play owes its success in particular to a superb performance by Alex Worsnip as Khlestakov.  His strong stage presence brings exactly the right mix of imperiousness, arrogance and youthful exuberance to the role.  There is good chemistry between him and his servant Osip (Austen Saunders), a minor but important character who is privileged with the insight of a Shakespearean Fool.  The Mayor (Philip Aspin) and his wife Anna (Emily MacKenzie) tend to over-act a little, even by the standards of this performance, but nonetheless they manage to garner plenty of laughs from the audience.  Gogol’s play is firmly rooted within the social and political context of its time and deals with very specific dreams and fears of nineteenth-century provincial Russia: the myth of St Petersburg as a metropolitan paradise; the social climbing and toadying required to progress up through the ranks of government; the massive scale of corruption in the political system.  Pinn’s production chooses to play down this historical context and instead stress the universal nature of Gogol’s themes.  Although the play undoubtedly loses something in doing this, it has the advantage of making it accessible to an audience with little background knowledge about Gogol’ or Russian society.    Those who are seeking high-brow theatre would be best to avoid this version of ‘The Government Inspector’.  However, those celebrating the end of a challenging Oxford academic year and recovering from the sober intellectual reflection of exam season will undoubtedly find a much-needed remedy in this light, enjoyable and energetic comedy.By Connor Doaklast_img read more

Press release: Super structure lifted over M6 as part of major technology upgrade

first_img The timelapse footage provides a glimpse of the technology transformation currently taking place on the M6 to significantly improve journeys on the vital route between the north and south of the country. The smart motorway in Cheshire will provide much-needed extra capacity and improve journey times for all road users, reducing congestion and connecting families, friends and businesses more quickly. We’re on schedule to complete the upgrade by spring next year, providing quicker and more reliable journeys for the tens of thousands of drivers who travel along the motorway every day. The huge 40-metre-wide structure, spanning the width of the motorway, will hold 10 large electronic signs and is the biggest single structure being installed by Highways England during a £274 million smart motorway project in Cheshire.When the scheme is complete, a total of 258 electronic signs, 104 traffic sensors and 70 CCTV cameras will help keep traffic moving and provide better information for the 118,000 drivers who travel along the 20-mile route every day.The upgrade between Crewe and Knutsford also involves converting the hard shoulder to a permanent extra lane to increase capacity by a third. It is one of four smart motorway schemes due to be completed on the M6 in the next few years to add extra lanes and better technology to 60 miles of the motorway between Coventry and Wigan.The new timelapse footage shows the superspan gantry being lifted into place between junctions 18 and 19 during an overnight closure of the motorway in June. The 20-tonne gantry was constructed off-site and lowered by a crane onto two pillars on either side of the motorway.View the timelapse footage:M6 junction 16 to 19 gantry installationArun Sahni, Project Manager at Highways England, said: Around 500 people are currently working on the project to upgrade the M6 to a smart motorway through Cheshire. The scheme will be completed in phases starting with the northern section between junctions 18 and 19, with all of the roadworks due to be removed by spring 2019.When the smart motorway is complete, electronic signs will alert drivers to changes in the speed limit, lane closures and incidents ahead. New CCTV cameras will also provide 100% coverage of the route and allow Highways England’s traffic officers and the emergency services to respond quickly to incidents.A total of 18 emergency areas will be created alongside the motorway to provide drivers with a safe place to stop if they break down.A similar smart motorway scheme on a stretch of the M62 in West Yorkshire has resulted in commuters saving an average 30 minutes each week, despite an increase in the number of vehicles using the route.More details on the Cheshire scheme are available on the scheme web page.General enquiriesMembers of the public should contact the Highways England customer contact centre on 0300 123 5000.Media enquiriesJournalists should contact the Highways England press office on 0844 693 1448 and use the menu to speak to the most appropriate press officer.last_img read more

Match: Lithuania – Bosnia and Herzegovina to be played on Sunday

first_imgB&H national handball team on Sunday expects a tough duel with Lithuania, which we won last night with score 26:23, in front of a crowded audience in Cazin.The most effective player of our team was Nikola Prce with 8 goals, and our goalkeeper, Benjamin Buric, with 16 defense, two of witch were seven-meter.In the 3rd round of Group 2 qualifications for the European Championship, which will be held in January next year in Poland,by victory over Lithuania B&H handball team has reached two very important points in Group 2. You can watch match from Kaunas, on  BHT 1at 15 pm on Sunday 3rd of May. (Source:

Spring Arts Walk Registration Now Open

first_imgFacebook14Tweet0Pin0Submitted by The City of OlympiaRegistration forms for artists and downtown businesses participating in Arts Walk XLIX are now available:In person at The Olympia Center, 222 Columbia St. NW,Online at by calling Olympia Parks, Arts & Recreation at 360.753.8380Early Bird registration deadline is Saturday, February 6th, and the standard registration deadline is Saturday, February 13, 2016. Sponsored by Olympia Parks, Arts & Recreation and the Olympia Arts Commission, Arts Walk attracts over 15,000 visitors to celebrate the arts in downtown Olympia. Spring Arts Walk dates are Friday, April 22, 5-10pm, and Saturday, April 23, 12-8pm.The spring event includes the Procession of the Species Celebration, more information at www.procession.orglast_img read more