Workplace advice organisation Acas names new East of England director

THE new East of England director at workplace advice organisation Acas has pleged to help more of the region’s firms to get the best out of their people.

Fiona Neathey has been named as the new area director for Acas in the East of England, succeeding David Prince who, after more than five years in the role, and has moved on to become regional director, overseeing Acas services across the East of England, London and the South East.

Acas is an independent service which offers businesses practical advice on getting the best out of their management teams and employees, preventing disputes and settling strikes. It also offers free advice to employees on problems at work.

Ms Neathey has 30 years’ experience working in and studying workplace relations. She joins the East of England team after six years as head of research and evaluation at Acas headquarters in London, having previously worked in a range of research and consultancy roles and managed teams in private, public and not-for-profit organisations.

She said: “It is an old clich� to say that a business’s greatest asset is its workforce. But that said, the reality is that many businesses still do not harness the huge power within their workforce as well as they could.

“Everybody in a company needs to understand why what they do is important – and what happens to the company if they don’t do it. It’s also about companies utilising the talents and skills of the people they do have.

“The businesses and organisations we help are very pleased with our services, and we know there are many more in Suffolk, Norfolk and Essex who could be benefiting from our advice.”

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She added: “Another priority is to plug the management skills gap. Employees who are good at their jobs are often promoted to become managers, but they are not always given the skills and tools to get the best out of the staff they will manage. That is often where disputes arise.

“The manager’s role can be complicated with aspects such as an ageing workforce, the ending of the retirement age, the equality laws, and keeping a work-life balance when we live in a 24-7 world. A lot of the work Acas does is to give managers the confidence to tackle all workplace matters and issues.

“Small businesses often believe they do not see a return on investing in training managers. But if managers are properly trained and know how to get the best out of staff, small businesses will find they will produce more and grow.

“Acas is in a unique position in working with a large range of businesses and employees in many ways. Another part of our service helps to settle individuals’ disputes which could otherwise end up in claims to an employment tribunal. We have a lot of success in preventing the costly business of such disputes going to an employment court.

“Together, this package gives us knowledge and insight that can benefit the local economy.”