The purpose I felt of interviewing a person currently involved in a human resource department, was in fact an opportunity to explore in more detail topics that we have touched upon throughout this semester. I chose a company that I had previously spent eight months working for, before starting college at age 18. The reason for this choice was simply that I had contacts within the organization and was therefore confident I could elicit the information I sought efficiently.
The interview took place on April 5th 2004 and was conducted via telephone as the company HQ is situated in England. The interviewee was a Mr. Keith M. Noble, personnel manager at EFG (European Furniture Group) Matthews. EFG is one of Europe’s largest and leading manufacturers of office furniture established in 1848. The group’s turnover is in excess of $200m and the group employs 1200 staff. As explained by Mr. Noble the companies aim is to “offer customers a local service and direct contact with their supplier whilst at the same time providing value for money.”
Preparation for this task was vital and I wrote down specific questions that I wanted to pose to the interviewee prior to the actual conversation. I felt this gave me added confidence as the conversation could therefore flow more smoothly. I did find myself asking follow up questions that just felt necessary as I spoke but were not rehearsed. The actual interview was very informative and Mr. Noble kindly answered thoroughly and with clarity even though I understood his time was valuable. As time was limited I wanted to concentrate more on a particular area and to not just throw out questions that did not really relate to each other. The direction I decided to take was to find out the company policies and procedures for dealing with specific incidents.
Although an ex-employee, the policies were a little ambiguous but I have to place that down to immaturity on my part, as I did not pay as much attention during training as I probably should. I wanted to find out about the companies internet policy, drugs and alcohol policies, equality issues, dignity policies and the discipline procedures they used to combat these occurrences as well as the assurances of quality they offer customers. After a brief introduction whereby I found out that Mr. Noble had in fact been with the company for some 30 years since leaving high school, he went on to explain how he has seen much change in the way the company operates. The group is a much more organized company now with the implementation of written guidelines that employees can easily follow and abide by, but also better training for managers to cope with employee needs and to promote more efficient performance.
Something that was not around when he began was internet use. Mr. Noble admits that it has revolutionized the way the company can communicate with its employees as well as function as a useful recruitment tool to providing benefits administration. Although valuable, the internet has caused dilemmas as to where to draw the line between abusive use and necessary use. The purpose of an Internet policy is to ensure correct use of electronic communication, inform employees of their responsibilities and consequence of misuse and explain monitoring procedures applicable. Use of the Internet is normally restricted to company business.
However, individuals are permitted access for legitimate personal use provided that this is kept to a reasonable level. Any abuse of this facility will be dealt with through the company’s disciplinary process. The Company logs and audits the use of its computer systems including email and internet use. As branches are rather small in staff Mr. Noble feels the employee’s respect that as long as time spent is not excessive, personal use is allowed, something I find reasonable from my experience there.
Dignity at work policy is something Mr. Noble refers to that deals with harassment at work. Whether on the ground of sex, race, disability, sexual orientation, age, religious or political belief or for any other reason: is unacceptable behavior which the Company will not tolerate. Every employee of EFG Matthews Office Furniture Ltd has the right to be treated with dignity and respect. Appropriate disciplinary action, which may include dismissal, will be taken against any employee, of whatever seniority, who contravenes this policy.
I found his opinion to be expressed very sincerely and something he is determined would not be tolerated at the slightest. As workforces become ever more diverse and we see the benefits this provides, it is pleasing to see that creating equal opportunity is high on their list of priorities. What I wanted to know was how they handled incidents of a related nature to harassment. Any complaint of harassment is handled sensitively, in a timely and confidential manner with a view to ensuring, so far as practicable, minimal stress to those involved.