Mr. Noble explained to me that there were two routes that could be taken regarding this matter: formal and informal procedure. An employee who considers himself or herself to be the victim of harassment may, in some cases, be able satisfactorily to resolve the matter by explaining clearly to the perpetrator that their behavior is unacceptable, contrary to the company’s policy and must stop. Employees may wish to ask a colleague to put this on their behalf or to be with them when confronting the perpetrator. Employees are encouraged to seek the assistance of a Personnel Officer when they want advice regarding appropriate steps to stop the harassment. Any such discussion would be strictly confidential.
By explaining the adverse affect the perpetrator is having on the victim and if appropriate then the matter would be treat informally and confidentially, so long as there is no continuance. A formal complaint is more complicated. Where the evidence gathered in the investigation indicates to Personnel that a disciplinary offence has been committed, a hearing will be convened after appropriate notice under the Company’s disciplinary procedure. In accordance with that procedure, the alleged harasser will receive sufficient details of the allegations against him or her and of any statements made by witnesses and will be given a full opportunity to respond. Mr. Noble understandably would not talk about individual cases that he had dealt with. The disciplinary procedure I will refer to later.
Another policy that interested me, as a college student for the last four years, was drugs and particularly alcohol! I approached the subject rather light heartedly but soon found that in fact it is actually a problem faced more regularly in the workplace than one may think. The policy is aimed at health and safety for employees and to minimize risk in the working environment. A story that impressed me happened a few years ago and showed the true qualities of Mr. Noble’s management skills, so fully deserving of the title, Personnel Manager. He was the branch manager and had an employee that had been working for him for a number of years with a near perfect record with the company.
Gradually however, signs something was wrong grew with more and more absenteeism, lateness, poor performance and strained relationships with colleagues. Identifying the problem was key to Mr. Nobles handling the situation. When it would have been all too easy to terminate his contract, he discussed the problem informally with the employee. It was in fact that he had been suffering external personal problems and had been drinking heavily to combat this depressant. After careful consideration and consultation with his superiors it was decided that the employee would be allowed time to rehabilitate, but if successful the job would still be available should he wish to accept it.
The employee did return after some time and is now themselves branch manager and someone Mr. Noble regularly is in contact with. On writing the policy Mr. Noble made sure that included therein it is the intent to assist any employee in eliminating any dependence on drugs or alcohol. Testing also helps to identify problems and something EFG depends on. The Disciplinary Procedure is a major responsibility of the Personnel Department and at EFG they make sure that they act fairly to the employee in cases involving unacceptable conduct or performance. Offences under the company’s disciplinary procedures fall into the following three categories.
The ability to recite each of these with such ease showed extreme knowledge. He was keen to express that these lists were not however exhaustive. The procedure once the conduct has been identified is the same for incapability and minor misconduct and begins with a verbal warning. If during the six month period another incident is recorded it will become a written warning. If this is once again offended then a final written warning will be issued and a 12 month probationary period placed in affect. Dismissal occurs if this is broken. Gross misconduct results in automatic suspension and an investigation that could lead to dismissal. Unambiguous guidelines set forth like this provide employees with a good idea of what is acceptable and how matters will be dealt with, also helping to keep with the companies Dignity at Work Policy of equality.
The final question I raised was more consumer orientated and I wanted to know what assurances they offer customers that their products are the quality that they claim. I had read about the ISO 9000 and how doing business in Europe meant complying with the quality standards of the European Community (EC). In fact EFG Matthews customer care policy operates under a management system certified to ISO 9001:2000.
Many elements go into receiving this certification including employee training, quality assurance and policy manual preparation, and registration audits. He goes on to comment on how they try to exceed customers’ expectations by continuously monitoring the service they receive. Regular and random customer satisfaction surveys help to deal with the service they provide. I believe Mr. Noble answered all my questions fully and fairly and I thanked him for giving me the opportunity to conduct the interview.