Focus: People Management - Do you treat your staff as others do?

Graham Willgoss

The People Count 2006 survey lets charities measure up to each other.

A human resources benchmarking exercise will allow charities to compare their performance on issues such as staff recruitment, diversity and training with other voluntary organisations.

Charities pay £240 or £280 to take part in the study by Agenda Consultants, depending on size. A further fee is charged for a comparison of their results with those of ten similar organisations.

Steve Eddy, HR manager at Shelter, which is participating in the survey, said the opportunity to check HR performance against other charities of a similar size and ethos gave the charity an incentive to improve.

"We do a lot of internal staff surveys, but having the option of comparing your results with your peers adds to your overall focus," he said.

"It's also interesting to see how someone you know is really good in terms of HR performs in relation to yourselves so that, if you're not there already, you can work to bring yourselves up to their level.

"In the voluntary sector, salary is not always something you're competing on. But if you've got good HR policies and a committed workforce in terms of, say, motivation and retention levels, it gives a message to current employees that you are doing well compared with other organisations on your level. It also acts as an advert for recruiting new employees."

The survey, People Count 2006, asks organisations for information on more than 50 aspects of people management. Cancer Research UK was one of the 136 organisations that took part in last year's study.

"We put great emphasis on internal trends," said David Oliver, HR policy adviser at CRUK. "People Count statistics help to balance this by providing information on organisational and sector trends against which we can benchmark our performance."

Results from 2005 show that the average staff turnover in the voluntary sector was 21 per cent per year, compared with an average of 16 per cent for the public and private sectors. Linked to this, organisations recruited an average of one-quarter of their staff in 2005.

Employees from ethnic minorities made up an average of 10 per cent of participating organisations' workforces. This compares with the UK workforce average of 8 per cent, although the figure varies by region.

However, there were proportionately fewer disabled employees (1.2 per cent) than in the UK workforce, where the figure was 1.9 per cent.

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