December 2014

Would you dress like this in the office?

Published on: 18 Dec 2014

As the end of the year approaches, it’s common in a number of offices to reflect on what went well and what didn’t go so well in the year just gone.

The bosses of the Australian Tax service will have an interesting bit of reflecting to do.

office wearSome of the 23,000 Australian tax office workers were reportedly sent a memo by taxation service delivery chief Robert Ravanello telling them that there were too many “street casual outfits” being worn and too much “bare flesh” was on display.

Mr Ravenello told his staff that some of them were “dressing too casually or immodestly, therefore impacting on the perceptions of the professionalism of the Australian Tax Office (ATO)”.

He went on to say that items of clothing including thongs, board shorts and revealing attire were inappropriate for the ATO workplace.

Now before some of you get alarmed that people are walking around in thongs in the tax office it’s worth pointing out that in Australia the word “thongs” refers to flip-flops (sandals) and not underwear.

While some people would argue it doesn’t matter what you wear in the office of long as you can do your job properly and that tax is exciting enough without all this showing off of “bare flesh”, I guess the key message is that you should dress professionally and appropriately for wherever you work.

All of this is interesting but if you are like me and are based in Europe where its currently winter I think it’s unlikely I’ll be walking around in board shorts, showing off bare flesh and looking out the office window in my thongs (whether they are on my feet or around my waist).

The team here at ExP are now heading off on our Christmas break and so on behalf of everyone here at ExP I’d like to thank all of you that read our blog and especially those of you that have got in touch with your kind words and comments.

Thank you also if you’re one of our 125,000 Facebook fans and have a great festive season and we’ll be back blogging in January 2015.

It’s the little things that count but was this woman nuts?

Published on: 15 Dec 2014

There’s a saying that if you look after the little things, the big things look after themselves.

Personally I’m not so sure about this as arguably it’s more important to get the big things right.

critical-success-factorsUsing business terminology, Critical Success Factors are (wait for it …..) factors which are critical for the success of an organisation (probably not the most detailed definition of a Critical Success Factor (CSF) you’ve ever heard but on the positive side it is easy to remember).

An airline for example could have CSFs such as safe flights, in demand routes, on-time flights, etc.

CSF are measured using KPI’s (Key Performance Indicators).

KPIs are monitored for each CSF and if they fall below a set figure it could mean there is a potential problem which would need to be investigated – eg if the KPI for on-time flights falls below say 95% it would need investigating.

There was an interesting situation at Korean Air recently.

Cho Hyun-ah was vice president of the Korean national airline and was on board a Korean Air plane sat in the first-class section. As the plane taxied for take-off she was served some macadamia nuts without being asked whether she wanted any. The nuts were also served in a paper bag rather than on a plate.

Ms Cho was responsible for cabin service for the whole airline and when she saw this breach of in-flight service etiquette (apparently the nuts should be served on a plate in Korean air’s first-class cabin) she reportedly screamed at the flight attendant who served the nuts.

Some people may argue that attention to detail is very important in areas such as first-class travel but the manner in which he dealt with it leaves a lot to be desired.

Rather than reprimand the flight attendant who made the mistake in private she insisted that the plane return to the terminal so that the flight attendant who served the nuts could be removed from the flight!

So, which do you think is going to be more helpful for the success of the airline – disciplining an employee by removing him from the plane or delaying the flight for 300 people together with the associated bad press the airline has received?

Ms Cho has no doubt realised her mistake and she has now resigned from her position as vice president of Korean air. In hindsight, the decision to order the plane back was a Critical Failure Factor in her career.

How much does a Big 4 partner earn?

Published on: 11 Dec 2014

Different types of organisations have different rules regarding the disclosure of pay details of senior executives.

If you are a director of a quoted company in the UK, details of your remuneration package must be shown in the published annual report.

big 4 salaryIf you’re a partner in a professional services firm on the other hand then there isn’t such a disclosure requirement.

A recent report called Cheques and the City (a great play on names and would sound familiar to those of you who are fans of the American television sitcom starring Sarah Jessica Parker) by the High Pay Centre has provided more information about the leading Accounting and Law firms in the UK.

The report is an interesting read and some of the points raised are:

– approximately 1,400 of the 4,500 equity partners from the Big 4 and the 5 leading law firms were paid over £1m in the UK last year (there are roughly 11,000 people in the UK with incomes of more than £1m so this means that 13% of the individuals in the UK with income greater than £1m were from the top accounting and law firms).

– The senior partners at PwC, Deloitte and KPMG were each paid £3.6m, £2.7m and £2.4m respectively last year (there was no news on how much the senior partner of EY received last year but I think it’s safe to say he should have enough money to buy a coffee on the way to the office).

– The Big 4 are responsible for auditing 99% of the FTSE 100 and 96% of the FTSE 350 (the largest 100 and 350 quoted companies in the UK).

– The type of work undertaken by each of the Big 4 was as follows (figures shown are £m):

Big 4 revenue share

 

For those of you good with figures you’ll notice from the above table that KPMG is far ahead of the others in terms of the proportion of consulting work they undertake compared to audit and tax work (more than 50% of KPMG’s revenue was from consulting compared to just over 20% at PwC).

The Cheques and the City report can be found here.

Would you wear the same suit for a year?

Published on: 05 Dec 2014

Whilst many countries are making positive strides in terms of removing discrimination between men and women there are still areas where there are big differences.

Whilst differences in pay often make the headlines there was an interesting illustration recently of a form of discrimination that doesn’t often make the news.

bad smell in officeKarl Stefanovic, an Australian TV presenter, wore the same suit for a year and nobody noticed.

Mr Stefanovic (or Mr stinky as he probably became known to his colleagues) said he did it to highlight the different pressures that women face over men and I have to admit he’s made a good point.

Whilst no one noticed the man wearing the same suit for a year what would the reaction have been if a female presenter had worn the same outfit for a year?

I’m sure the newspapers would have been full of criticism and the producers of the programme would have told her to wear different outfits.

It’s not all bad news to ladies though as a report recently released showed that women are much more likely to get helped if they wear high heels.

Research by French Professor Nicholas Gueguen found that only 25 men out of 60 stopped to help a woman who was undertaking research in the street and was wearing flat shoes compared to 49 out of 60 when the lady was wearing 4 inch heels.

Whilst nothing was mentioned about the length of skirt worn during the two parts of the experiment, it does appear to indicate that women are likely to get more help around the office if they wear high heels.

I am all in favour of equal rights in the workplace as it benefits both the company (through having access to the full range of human capital) and the individual but if I’m honest I think the smell would be unpleasant if a man or woman wore the same outfit for a year.

Also, as a man I’d be concerned that walking back from the coffee machine in my high heels could result in a nasty accident in the office due to stability issues.

The ExP Group