The Process of Communication

Communication is the sending and receiving of information between individuals who need to share information to carry out their jobs successfully. Effective communications is essential to the success of any business organisation. Without clear and effective communications in business • Products will not be produced on time and to the customers’ specification • Supplies of materials will not arrive at the right place or on time • Workers will not know which job they are required to complete first • Managers will not know what progress is being made and whether machinery needs maintenance or repair • Customers will not know when to expect the delivery of their order Although the process of communication can take many forms there are six common elements • Sender – All messages have an originator who decides on the nature of the message, the channel to be used and the way it is to be sent • Message – To be effective the message must be clear and unambiguous. It needs to be correctly understood and may be providing information, to give or ask for instructions, or to persuade or influence people e.g. adverts • Communication Channel – Within the various levels of an organisation, messages can be sent vertically up or down the levels of seniority or horizontally within work teams. Other channels, formal or informal, may be used depending on the nature of the message. • Medium – The method by which the message will be sent will depend on its importance, the speed of delivery required, the relationship between sender and receiver and the physical distance between them.

Colleagues within an office may talk informally but business contacts in different countries may communicate by e-mail Receiver – The person who receives the message who interprets it both in content and the way it has been sent e.g. an urgent request sent by 2nd class post won’t be treated as urgent Feedback – This is essential to the sender to reassure them that the receiver has got the message and has correctly understood its meaning. Feedback can be informal e.g. ok or formal e.g. a written letter

Formal channels of communication are those which employers and employees both recognise as successful to the operation of the business and serious enough to be given careful thought e.g. a written warning instead of a telling off Informal channels of communication are those that often operate through rumour and hearsay, often known as the ‘grapevine’. These should be treated carefully because they do not have official authority or support. Managers sometimes start rumours on purpose to judge employees’ reactions and take their feelings into account when considering different options Both sender and receiver must have the skills to transmit and receive the message, creating and interpreting it so that it is clear but not too long and so that there are no misunderstandings. The message must be sent in time for it to be received and acted upon by the person for whom it was intended. Late messages or messages intercepted by the wrong people may lead to anger or loss of confidence.

The importance of effective communication
Communication means passing on information Within some businesses the use of ‘jargon’ or receiving it from somebody else. Imagine the – specialised technical language, can problems that could occur if this is not done ensure that the message is precisely carefully interpreted. However it can equally cause • Delivering the wrong items to a problems when either the sender or receiver uses the jargon incorrectly. customer • Delivering the wrong letter on the wrong date or to the wrong address Good managers are said to use the following • Making bad decisions based on wrong motivational techniques information  Communicate the big plan to give • Employees misunderstanding each other employees a sense of pride and loyalty  Delegate work and responsibility using Some methods of passing on information employees’ strengths and developing involve writing it down, others by speaking good work habits and leadership skills (oral), other methods are visual, electronic, or  Help employees set personal targets o by numbers. One way to remember these is to keep the focussed, busy and motivated take the first letter of each method and make the  Recognise problems by staying close to word ‘woven’. your employees and intervene before The method you choose depends on they become serious • Whether you need a written record of the  Reward employees either financially or message e.g. print out or receipt through praise and make sure employees • Whether speed is importance know that you value their efforts and • What opinion the receiver will have of contributions your method of communicating  Be a mentor sharing your knowledge and • Whether the message is for somebody experience inside the organisation or outside of it  Give reviews of performance including formal appraisals Internal messages are sent between people  Be understanding with unplanned working within the same organisation. External emergencies but don’t be a doormat. messages are sent between people in different Employees appreciate firmness and organisations fairness  Don’t forget to manage because Media for sending information include employees depend on a manager’s strength and guidance  Pictures and diagrams Graphs  Conversations Telephone  E-mail Text message  Fax Memo  Report Letter  Poster Dress or facial expressions

Written Communication
Written communication is used extensively in business for both internal and external messages. Advantages of Written Communications 1. Message is written down preventing misunderstanding between sender and receiver 2. Confidential or personal messages can be sent in sealed envelopes so that they will only be read by the intended recipient 3. Pre-prepared forms e.g. memos can speed up the process of routine messages 4. Written messages allow the recipient time to study them before replying. This is particularly important where there is more than one option to consider Disadvantages of Written Communications 1. Written messages can be expensive to produce i.e. employees, paper and office space 2. The need to write or type the message may mean it is out of date when it is finally sent 3. Feedback may also take time if a written reply is needed 4. Copies of documents may get lost through poor filing 5. They rely on the intended receiver reading the message Business letters are the most widely used form of external written communications. They can be sent to customers, suppliers and individuals associated with the business. They provide a permanent hard copy record of the message for both the sender and receiver, which allow simple retrieval when required. The way in which business letters are set out is also

important. A well presented letter containing no errors can promote a positive image and inspire confidence in a company. Very often in the workplace, a junior employee may be asked to write letters on behalf of senior colleagues. What is in the letter and how it is presented is extremely important because a business is often judged by the quality of its correspondence. Neatness, accuracy and correct spelling are essential and the writer must be sure of the purpose of the letter before they start. • • • • Obtain all the information you need before you start Work in a logical sequence keeping sentences short and to the point with no confusion Make sure you have provided all the information required and answered all of any questions asked Break up the letter by using paragraphs with a new paragraph for each topic and a polite sentence to finish your letter off Check through the letter for mistakes before it is signed and sent off

In certain circumstances it is possible for the body of a letter to contain just one paragraph if the heading and references have clearly indicated the subject and the message is a short one. Most of the time there will be at least three paragraphs, the first acknowledging receipt of an earlier letter and explaining why the reply is being written, the second giving further information and the third setting out the conclusions or finishing the letter off politely.

Notices can be both internal and external e.g. posters in corridors, newsletters or rest rooms or advertising posters in journals, magazines or on billboards.

Memorandum To: From: Reference: Date: Subject:

A number of meetings will take place within a company and each person attending these will be given a written agenda in advance, which informs them of what is to be discussed. A record of what has been decided at the meeting, in the form of minutes, will also be produced and circulated.

The memorandum is the most commonly form of written internal communication. A memorandum (memo) is less formal than a letter and is not usually signed, but it provides a written record of the message sent. Today most memos are sent by email, especially the internal ones, thereby combining new and traditional communication methods. Memos contain headings to indicate the receiver, the sender, the date, a reference and a title, but are not signed

Reports will be frequently presented and discussed at meetings. They are formal written documents prepared by individuals or committees and can cover any aspect of the business. Reports provide useful ways of informing interested persons of progress and each year limited companies must send all their shareholders a copy of the Annual Report and accounts, prepared by the company’s directors.
Jenny’s Computers
1 Green Road, Oldham, Lancashire M29 1ZU Telephone 0161 2002000

In the course of carrying out its business, a firm will issue trading documents e.g. orders, delivery notes, invoices, statements and receipts. Most firms use standard forms for these messages to their customers and suppliers, and create them using computerised accounting systems.

Jenny Jones Managing Director

Business cards are used by visitors as a form of introduction and a signal of their intention to do business. The card is small (10cm x 4cm) and gives the company name, address and telephone number plus the name and title of the person presenting the card.

Agenda Employee meeting on the 12th February starting at 5pm in Committee Room 1. Apologies for absence 2. Approval of minutes from last meeting 3. Matters arising from last meeting 4. 5. 6. Any other business

Blocked and Indented Letter Layout
Blocked When a vacancy occurs in business it is important that the firm selects a suitable person. One way to select someone is to make him or her apply in writing for the job. Applicants will be asked to state why they want the job, what qualities they have which makes the most suitable person and their ideas about what the job would be like. An example of a job application letter is on the next page, displayed in a blocked style i.e. a straight left hand margin Indented An alternative but more complicated and time-consuming letter layout is the indented method. Here some parts of the letter, the heading, the close, the signatory and the title are centred plus the first line of each paragraph is moved in by 1cm. The date may also be on the right of the page.

Visual Communications
Faxes are like a photocopy of a message that is sent down the phone line by the sender to the receiver. Faxes are • Cheap to send and don’t require extra cables other than a phone • Able to send graphs, pictures and text together • Simple to use and quick to teach employees • Able to send hand written messages to avoid keying in the message • Able to receive messages whenever the fax machine is switched on BUT FAXES HAVE PROBLEMS • • • • Cannot provide the sender with an image of the receiver’s reaction Tie up a telephone line that phone users might need Don’t get immediate reply that you get with phone or face to face contact The quality of the receivers printout can be poor which is a problem for complex or technical documents

E-mail or SMS (texting) is encoded data sent by computer or mobile phone to the receiver’s ‘mail box’ ready for them to download and collect. Email can be • Cheap and easy to use • Password protected • Prepared in advance to minimise the sending time • Completed 24 – 7 • Sent to more than one mail box which makes making the message more efficient and ensures all recipients get the same message BUT E-MAIL/SMS HAVE PROBLEMS • • • Both sender and user must have a on line modem or mobile phone Messages will only be received when receivers empty their mail boxes Paper copies of the message are not always made or kept

Verbal Communication
Verbal communication occurs when there is direct live contact between two or more individuals. A salesman who can inform and persuade a potential customer to place an order will help their employer gain more business, whilst a telephone salesperson must get their information across in a polite and non-threatening manner before the phone user hangs up! A good verbal communicator needs  a clear speaking voice and an understanding of brevity (keeping messages short)  The ability to speak at a pace and variety which is neither too fast nor boringly slow  Confident with a range of audiences and understanding of non-verbal gestures  Good listening skills and the ability to moderate their message to hold their audience Face to face contact can occur in a formal e.g. at a meeting or informal e.g. passing comment manner. It is often said that more business is done over lunch or on the golf course than in the office and this underlines the importance of informal communication, yet it is the formal communication that is most often recorded e.g. minutes of meetings Face to face communication offers the following advantages  Immediate feedback and an exchange of opinions  Promotes the development of ideas  Information can be quickly spread amongst a group  Encourages greater involvement and co-operation particularly amongst groups comfortable with each member

Disadvantages include
    

Those lacking confidence and communication skills feel isolated Non-verbal communication e.g. body language creates a barrier to communication Differences in interpretation No written record of the communication Telephone users cannot see the nonverbal reaction of the recipient

The development of the mobile telephone has given verbal communication a new lease of life as they can facilitate work away from the workplace and the facility to contact individuals 24/7. Mobile phones can also access the Internet and be used as a modem linked to other hardware options e.g. laptop

Mobile phones do have disadvantages
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More expensive than landline phones Blind spots where there is no mobile signal Need to frequently recharge the phone battery Dangerous, illegal or annoying to use in certain circumstances

Human Resources and Recruitment The Human Resources or Personnel Department is vital to businesses success because if it selects and trains employees unable to carry out their duties, it is unlikely that the business will continue. Every business is made up of individuals even though many employees work in teams to combine their skills. Individuals’ differences may be physical height and build, intellectual knowledge and logic, personality and team playing, previous experience and technical skills. Businesses need to carefully evaluate the different characteristics of employees and applicants to ensure they place each other in posts where they can be the most useful. An employee without the ability or training to cope will not work effectively and may loose the firm orders but an employee who finds the work too easy may become bored or frustrated and leave. Businesses use job analysis to identify the skills that ideal employee for each job will have, establish pay rates, training plans and identify individuals for promotion and appraisal. Job analysis studies what the job entails and includes the listing of the skills, training and tasks required to carry it out. It also includes talking to employees and supervisors to ensure personnel staff have identified true worth without bias towards or against individuals. Once a job has been analysed the job specification can be written which puts the analysis findings into words. There are four sections, the job title, summary and place in the company structure, the list of duties; its purpose and methods and any responsibilities; the working conditions, starting and finishing times, holiday entitlements and notice periods etc; and the performance criteria by which the job and individual employees will be measured during interview and appraisal. The objective in recruiting staff is to obtain the best candidate for each vacancy. If the wrong person is employed the company may loose money or customers plus the costs of recruiting the employee will have been wasted. It can cost up to £5000 to recruit and train each new employee. When a vacancy occurs it can be filled internally be someone who already works for the firm or externally by recruiting a new employee. Many companies prefer internal recruitment via company newsletters or notice board announcements. The advantages of internal recruitment are  Strengthens employees commitment because they know they have a chance of promotion  Provides structured development path  Existing staff use company procedures and so require less induction  Personnel know about the real strengths, weaknesses and suitability of internal candidates  Quicker and less expensive The disadvantages of internal recruitment are  Applicants are limited to those within the company when better and more suitable applicants may work elsewhere  Internal applicants may has bad past experiences or grudges to settle  It can be hard to manage employees who previously were the same grade as you  Resentment may exist if unsuccessful applicants continue to work there

External recruitment methods differ depending on the vacancy and the type of employee needed Vacancy boards outside the firm are cheap but will only be seen by passing individuals Advertisements in the local newspaper will be seen by local people but rarely attract professionals Increasingly firms are advertising on the Internet to reach a wider audience on the world wide web but people still have to visit your site to see your advertisement Commercial employment agencies specialise in providing temporary workers as well as advertising permanent posts, sifting through applicants to provide employers with a shortlist to interview. This free up key employees to concentrate on running their business but agencies often lack technical knowledge on business needs and are very expensive Advertisements in the national press reach a much wider audience but can be up to 10x the price of a local advertisement Government funded Job Centres advertise vacancies for local companies. These are free but usually only seen by those looking for work The Careers Service not only provides guidance and advice for young people but it collects details of employment opportunities and advertises them in schools and colleges. Their advantage is that they receive many enquiries from young people actively seeking work and able to start quickly The Youth Training Schemes provide training for young people out of work and not in school or college. Training can lead to permanent posts and companies can watch a trainee work before making a decision. Costs are also reduced as wages paid by a government allowance.

Head hunting is where a successful individual is approached by another company and encouraged to change jobs. Companies know that an individual can do the job but there are costs and ethical problems of enticing people to move employers. The advantages of External recruitment are • New employees will bring beneficial new ideas, techniques and skills • New employees are keen to make a good start • The introduction of new employees may make existing employees work harder to keep up

The disadvantages of External recruitment are • Many of the qualities of the new employees are not know for certain until they start • More experienced staff who are not promoted can be resentful of new employees • New employees take longer to settle in, learn the requirements of he job and become an effective worker • Takes longer and is more expensive than internal recruitment In a small firm the responsibility for recruitment may be with a single individual, whilst larger firms may have whole departments with staff specialising in individual recruitment skills e.g. interviews. The Personnel Department do not just recruit new employees, they look after all aspects of their welfare including induction and further training, promotion and career development, appraisal and disciplining, pay, wage bargaining and other fringe benefits, working conditions and contracts of employment.

Application Forms
When recruiting staff many firms like applicants to fill in an application form. These provide the Personnel Department with information about each applicant in a format common to all. This makes selecting a shortlist of candidates to interview easier because their details are easy to find and the questions asked the same for everyone. The information on the application form can also prompt further questions in the interview. Those responsible for short-listing for interview often match candidates’ details against job or person specifications. For those who are successful in their interview, the information on their application form will form the basis of their Personnel record. The main headings on an application form • Personal details e.g. name, address, gender and nationality • Details of any educational and vocational qualifications • Details of any full time or part time • The reason why you want the job that you are applying for • How you spend your spare time with hobbies and interests • Two referees who can give an opinion on you as a person – two in case one says bad things because they don’t like you Filling in an application form is usually an applicant’s only chance to make a good impression. There must not be any mistakes and the information given must be clear, concise and accurate. Forms will be returned to the employer in good condition, completed in black ink so that it can be photocopied, with neat handwriting, no crossings out or corrections, no blank spaces and the information fitting into the spaces provided on the form. Finally the form will be signed and dated.

Curriculum Vitae
Curriculum Vitae are a list of a person’s personal information and work history. Applicants complete CV’s and some companies will ask for them instead of or in addition to an application form. In essence a CV is a personal advertisement and the layout will vary from person to person. However it is common for CV’s to have sections including name, address, and date of birth, marital status, qualifications, employment history, work experience, hobbies, personal qualities and the reason why you want the job. Advantages of using a CV • Candidates can include information not asked for on the application form • CV’s can be prepared in advance and sent quickly • Applicants can make their CV’s suit a particular job and leave off things they don’t want the employer to know • They save the firm the cost of printing forms Disadvantages of using a CV not application forms • Each applicant may set information out in a different way making it more difficult for employers to find and compare • The information on the CV may not include all the information the employer needs • Applicants may have left out information on purpose

Equal opportunities
Today men and women generally receive equal and fair treatment if they apply for them same job. Decisions about who to employ are no longer based on the gender, religious or ethnic group. It is illegal for employers to discriminate on the grounds of sex, race or religion but despite this discrimination still occurs occasionally within training, promotion and pay. Most discrimination that still exists despite being illegal is based on misconceptions e.g. • Physically handicapped people are less intelligent • Women with children will want more time off to look after them • Older people find learning new ideas more difficult and work more slowly Information sent to applicants should state clearly that the firm is an equal opportunities employer and applicants with overseas qualifications have these recognised. Advertisements should not be restricted in any way that limits applications from any ethnic group. Applicants and employees who feel they have been discriminated against unfairly on the grounds of race can ask the Race Relations Board to investigate. Advantages of equal opportunities  Workers are more motivated if they think they will be treated fairly  Training opportunities are available to all which improves standards throughout  The most suitable person will be employed leading to better production and supervision Disadvantages of equal opportunities  The total wage bill is higher  Additional facilities may be required e.g. ramps, crèches, separate toilets  Working practices have to be amended and more flexible working hours allowed

The Sex Discrimination Act 1975 made discrimination illegal on the basis of gender of marital status, and was updated in 1986 to remove restrictions on the number of hours women could work; allowing them to do shift work or flexi-time. These acts ensure • Advertisements must make use of job titles that emphasise a particular gender • Job descriptions have to be suitable for both genders • Interviews must not be conducted in such a way as to give preference to a particular candidate or involve interviewer prejudice. The Race Relations Act 1976 made selection on the grounds of ethnic group or race illegal. Job advertisement must not indicate a racial, religious or ethnic preference. The Disabled Persons Employment Acts 1944 and 1958 introduced a scheme to encourage the employment of disabled people. Firms must employ at least 3% of their employees from those with a disability. It is argued that without this form of positive discrimination, disabled people would remain out of work. The Disability Discrimination Act 1995 provided the framework to prevent discrimination against the disabled, not only in recruitment or selection, but also in building design and maintenance. The Act also widened responsibility to include taxi, bus, rail and education services. The Equal Pay Act 1970 stated that employees doing broadly the same job should be paid the same rate of pay irrespective of their gender. Other conditions of employment e.g. overtime rates, holiday entitlements. In 1983 the Act was extended to allow women to claim equal pay for work regarded as being of equal value.

To be successful and to give candidates the best opportunity to show what they can do, firms carefully plan interviews. Candidates are greeted courteously and guided to a suitable quiet area to relax and ensure they look and feel their best. Sometimes candidates are all call to interview together, are briefed on the arrangements and given a tour of the premises, before being interviewed in agreed order. Depending on the nature of the vacancy, interviews may be conducted by an individual or by a panel of several people. Senior post applicants are generally always interviewed by a panel that then make a decision together to minimise risk and share responsibility. Applicants for junior posts may see a departmental manager alone. Whenever possible the interview should be conducted in private, free from noises or disruptions so that the interviewers and the candidates can concentrate. A good interviewer will:  Adopt a suitable friendly manner showing respect to all candidates  Ensure that all questions meet the legal requirements giving every applicant a fair and equal opportunity to succeed  Not hurry and ensure there are no interruptions  Encourage candidates to fully answer questions and give them time to do so  Explore areas of concern raise by the applicants answers on their application forms or CV  Discuss important areas not fully covered by CV’s or application forms To meet the requirements of equal opportunities legislation all candidates should be asked the same questions giving each the opportunity to demonstrate their knowledge, understanding and skills. The responses are used to assess ability and suitability to a common standard.

The average interview will last ½ hour and is split into three parts. 1. The introduction lasts about five minutes and is designed to relax the candidate and ease their nerves. The interviewers will be introduced and the reason for the vacancy explained. The job description and ideal person specification may be identified but this is rare. 2. The main part of the interview may last 20 minutes where members of the panel will ask the candidates questions in turn. This part of the interview is flexible to allow the discussion to develop 3. The candidate should be given the opportunity to ask questions and should be told by when the panel will have made a decision and how the candidates will be notified. Any tests that the employer wishes the candidate to complete are normally conducted before the interview so that the outcomes can be discussed in the 2nd section of the interview. After the interview the interviewers will spend time writing up their notes about the candidate and discussing the candidate’s strengths and weaknesses. The candidates will base the decision on the successful candidate on the interviewer’s appreciation of the information provided and their personal impression. The key factor will be how the candidate meets the job/person specification and how they will fit in with other employees. Inevitably there is some subjective judgement involved on the part of the interviewer but these get more accurate with experience. Most employers appoint for a probationary period during which new employees are monitored and assessed on ability, attitude, and how they get on with other colleagues. Candidates are only appointed permanently if they successfully complete probation period.

Contracts of Employment
Under the Employment Protection Act 1978, once a person has been offered a job they are entitled to receive a contract of employment. There are normally four sections to the contract 1. Details of the company, the employee, the job title, and the date employment started. 2. Details of the normal hours of work, rates and frequency of pay, length and duration of breaks and holidays, length of notice required to terminate the contract 3. Conditions related to sickness and injury, pension provision and trade union membership 4. Information on disciplinary or complaints procedures for both employees and the employer, plus the arrangements for dealing with them The contract of employment will be signed by both employee and employer to show their acceptance of the conditions, and a copy is issued to the employee to keep. The most frequent way in which employment is terminated is by mutual agreement between employer and employee e.g. retirement or resignation. Normally the employee would work a period of notice as set out in the contract whilst the employer looks for a replacement. If the employer is dissatisfied with the employee they may dismiss them provided the disciplinary procedure is followed. If the business is short of work or orders, the employee may be made redundant. This also terminates the employee although the employee may be entitled to compensation based on their number of years’ employment with the employer.

Training Schemes
If the workforce is to be kept up to date with technological developments they require training to learn new skills and update those they already have. Benefits of training include  More production more thus increasing profitability for the employer  Improved efficiency, confidence and less industrial accidents and days lost ill  Multi-skilled workers increasing flexibility within the workplace, job satisfaction, and allowing short terms absences to be covered.  Motivation of employees and promotion preparation, plus employee retention which reduces recruitment costs Induction is training which introduces new employees to a business. The faster new employees are working at their full potential, the better for the employer. Induction training programmes usually include details of the • History and management structure of the firm • Review of the terms within the contract of employment • Facilities, benefits and services available • Rules and safety procedures • Introduction to other employees and supervisory staff • Site tour, parking, hygiene facilities etc The government runs Youth Training schemes and modern apprenticeships ensuring they receive proper training in their chosen trade or profession. There are also employment-training schemes for adults offering off the job training for the long term unemployed who want to learn or develop new skills.

On and off the job training
On the job training involves workers being trained as they continue to do their job e.g.

At the elbow is the most common form of on the job training, and is where the new employee works with an experienced employee and learns the job by watching. This training method is relatively inexpensive and less disruptive than other methods but new employees can learn bad habits from existing employees who aren’t willing to show new employees the correct methods. This training is also unlikely to be formally accredited by certificates etc Mentoring enables a new employee to work on their own with guidance from an experienced employee trained to help newcomers. New workers get to use their initiative but still have the safety of someone to turn to. Coaching is a less satisfactory form of coaching where new employees work under continuous supervision. New employees are often nervous and the method can lead to resentment and poor working relationships Some firms use a system of job rotation where new employees work for short periods of time in each department to learn how each interact and depend on each other. This training can be fragmented by the successive moves but improves multiple-skills, which are beneficial in the long run.

Off the job training occurs away from the employees’ normal place of work ranging from training courses organised by employers or college course with nationally recognised qualifications (NVQ’s). Businesses often pay to send employees on course that will provide additional skills and knowledge. Other employees will attend evening classes at their own cost to make themselves more valuable or employable.

Appraisal occurs when an employee’s performance and value to the company is assessed. The process is supposed to be nonthreatening and supportive measuring of attainment against the person’s job description. The results of appraisal can help managers determine future training needs and plan their future workforce. Employee motivation for appraisal comes from the possibility of increased pay through productivity bonus’ or promotion. Appraisal is usually carried out by a supervisor or manager, which makes it difficult for them to be impartial. The following people may appraise  Line managers who know an employee’s working practices and habits and so can make an informed assessment but they may be seen as a treat by the employee  Work colleagues who understand the full demands of the job and the real worth of the employee, but colleagues are reluctant to be critical of or inform on each other  Employees themselves through selfappraisal. This is often the most accurate method subject to line manager validation, as employees generally undervalue their contribution

Wages and Salaries
Wages is the name given to weekly pay whilst salaries are paid monthly. Piecework rates are those where earnings are linked to output, the more you do the more you earn. The advantages are • An employee’s hard work is rewarded and as such they are motivated to work harder • Employees can pace themselves to earn what they want The disadvantages are • Rushing to complete more work can lead to poor quality work • Rates per item produced are set too low so employees don’t bother rushing • Higher piecework rates are not normally paid for overtime • Pay is not the only motivating factor Timework is where earnings are linked to hours worked irrespective of the work done. The advantages are • You are paid even though you may not be working at full speed • Employees doing the same job get the same rate of pay • Overtime rates compensate for loss of leisure time The disadvantages are  Employers have to pay regardless of the amount of work done  Harder worker may be less motivated  There is little financial incentive to work hard  Relationships between workers and supervisors are more strained if they want employees to work harder Whether employees are paid on time or piece rates, their earnings must still be above the national minimum wage. This is the lowest hourly rate employees can receive and goes up from 16 to 18 years old, whilst over 18’s have the same minimum rate. Overtime is the extra money given to workers who work extra hours. It is normally worked out as a fraction e.g. 50% of an employee’s normal hourly rate. The advantages are  Employees are rewarded for extra work  It can be a way of increasing output  Regular overtime can improve an employee’s standard of living  Helps recruit employees for work in unsociable hours e.g. night shift The disadvantages are  Some employees work slowly during the day so that overtime is needed to catch up  Increases the total wage bill Employees normally receive a statement of their earnings and the deductions that have been made. This is called a wage slip. At the end of every month the total tax and national insurance contributions collected from employees is sent to the Inland Revenue. At the end of the tax year (April 5th) a P60 is prepared listing the employee’s gross pay for the year, the sick pay they have received, the income tax they have paid in the year, the total national insurance that has been deducted and the net amount, the amount they have actually received to spend In addition to preparing wage slips and P60’s, the wages clerk will normally make up cash payments or arrange for wages to be paid directly into an employee’s bank account using BACS (Bankers Automated Clearing System). Some employees prefer to be paid in cash because they receive their pay immediately and can spend it without having to get t from the bank. Also they can see how much is left as they spend it. On the other hand mistakes can be made counting it out, cash can be lost or stolen and moving large sums of money creates security concerns for large business

Unfortunately employees cannot take home all the money they earn. Everyone has certain allowances based on their personal circumstances e.g. married; parent etc, after which they have to pay Income Tax and National Insurance on what is left after deducting the allowances. The full amount earned is called gross pay whilst the amount after allowances, tax etc that an employee actually receives is called net pay. Statutory deductions are those which employees are required by law to pay. The employer on behalf of the government takes Income Tax from employees whilst National Insurance helps to pay for the Health Service. Both these deductions are made on a sliding scale, which means if you are a high earner you have a higher portion of your pay deducted than lower earners. Voluntary deductions are those that you have agreed can be taken from your wages. These may include contributions by you to the pension you will receive when you retire, union subscriptions, charitable donations, loan repayments etc

Fringe Benefits
Fringe benefits are the additional rewards to an employees net pay, which gives them additional income without it being a permanent increase. Fringe benefits can be in cash or in kind and these can include  Company car  Staff discount  Reduced price meals and drinks in a staff canteen  Private health insurance  Accommodation  Profit share Cash fringe benefits include  Bonus payments  Commission on sales  Staff discount Advantages of fringe benefits  They reward the employee for hard work  They employee shares in the success of the business and this encourages them to make it more successful  Increased social status e.g. new car  Avoid higher rates of Income Tax  Firms can off-set benefits against their profit tax Disadvantages of fringe benefits  Employee has no choice in how they are paid  They disguise actual earnings  Benefits lost when employee moves job  Changing earnings make planning for future spending more difficult  Less successful employees jealous of high commission earners and how work is allocated. This can lead to poor working relationships  Product discounts reduce profit on that item

Representing groups at work
There are a number of organisations that represent the interests of groups of workers. Trade Unions speak as a group for sections of employees in a business with common roles or skills. Since they speak for groups they have more bargaining power than individuals and employers will listen to their views. Over the years individual unions have joined together (amalgamated) to increase their importance and some have signed no strike agreements in return for special benefits for their members. The overall organisation that speaks for all trade unions is called the Trade Union Congress Trade unions are independent of any employers and they • • • • • • Negotiate with employers to get satisfactory rates of pay for their members Ensure adequate breaks, days off and holidays Ensure working conditions meet the Health and Safety laws Negotiate with employers on behalf of individual members with concerns or problems Promote the equality needs of special interest groups within the workforce e.g. women, disabled Arrange special deals for their members with insurance companies, pension providers, retailers, lawyers and estate agents etc

Management structures The function of management is to lead and guide others within the organisation. Good managers can do this and have strategies to cope with planned and unexpected situations (crisis management). Leadership decisions are usually taken by senior managers and establish the long-term aims and plans of the company. Leaders need to possess credibility by understanding the business and persuading others that the decisions taken are correct. Managers’ liase with stakeholders, within and external to the business to monitor and assess developments. A stakeholder is anyone who has an interest in the businesses performance. This knowledge of the business and the environment in which it operates ensures the manager will make more informed decisions. The manager provides the official communication and being in a position of authority, other employees may be willing to accept the manager’s decisions, especially during tense negotiations. To help with the process of management, businesses can organised themselves depending on its communication channels (hierarchy), how information is communicated (chain of command), and who makes the decisions (span of control). A company with lots of levels in its hierarchy will have less effective communication as more people will be involve in passing information along the chain of command. The more people, the greater the chance of misinterpreting the message and the longer it takes to get from the sender to the intended receiver. Flat organisations only have two levels. A wide span of control means the manager has a lot of extra staff to supervise and guide and as a result, less time for good decision making.

The best know employers association is the Confederation of British Industry. It represents the interests of employers in discussions with the government, helping to influence government policies in employers’ favour. It also provides legal, financial and economic advice to businesses, negotiates with the TUC and arbitrates in disputes, plus promoting the interests of British industry abroad

Motivating your workforce
Keeping staff motivated is good for business because • Motivated workers are more productive and higher productivity usually means higher profits • Workers who are well motivated will provide a higher standard of customer service, keeping customers happy • Well motivated workers are likely to stay with the company, growing in experience and value to the company • If a business successfully keeps the workers it has, it avoids the costs of recruiting and training replacements. Most people work to satisfy some sort of need and Abraham Maslow developed a hierarchy of needs that included motivators you can’t buy (nonfinancial motivators). Maslow suggested there were five levels of need, with workers needing to be satisfied one level after the next. 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. Food, drink warmth, clothing and shelter Protection against danger, threat, depravation Friends, acceptance, feeling like your ok Reputation, status Realise own potential

There are a number of payment systems • • • • • • Time rate – payment by hours worked Piecework - payment according to items of work produced Overtime - extra pay, usually at a higher rate, for extra hours above that normally done Shift bonus – extra for working at night Bonus – single payment for meeting a target Profit share – a percentage of the company’s profit shared amongst the workforce

A loyalty bonus can be used to persuade long serving workers to stay and unsocial hours bonuses are often paid to employees who have to turn up to work at odd hours or short notice.
TYPICAL EXAM QUESTION “You are the Human Resources Manager of a large company when employees are unhappy and production is falling. There is no chance of extra pay for the next year and employees are threatening to leave. How would you improve motivation and why would this help productivity?” A good answer would suggest introducing • • • • • • • • A pleasant room for staff break times Subsidised meals or kitchen equipment Written down contracts of employment A company pension scheme Team working or a workers committee Advertising promotions internally Company newsletters or trips out Staff discounts on products or a staff shop

Businesses meet these needs by providing a fair wage, job security and safe working conditions, social clubs, teams or outings, qualifications, job titles, fringe benefits etc plus promotion opportunities and the ability to use initiative. A fringe benefit is a payment by giving a nonfinancial gift. Fringe benefits include cars, health care, uniforms, discounted products, travel vouchers etc. It is often cheaper for an employer to provide fringe benefit good rather than money, particularly if competitors or other local employers cannot do so. A good fringe benefit will make an employee reluctant to leave their job.

Money and the way it is paid can affect motivation to work.

Improving motivation encourages harder work and reduces the number of employees leaving. This increases efficiency, reduces costs and increases potential profits.

Health and Safety at Work
Safety in the workplace is important because accidents lead to time off work and lost production, reduce efficiency, and perhaps a civil court claim by the employee against the employer. In recent years Act of Parliament has strengthened the protection employees’ already had under common law. Employers now look very carefully at building design and the layout of work areas including installing safety features e.g. sprinklers, smoke detectors, fire exits, notices, fireproof furniture etc. Workers also have to take some responsibility and are expected to be reasonably careful at all times and co-operate with employer health and safety rules. Often employees have to attend training courses to learn about how to use their equipment or their workspace more safely. The advantages of a safe working environment are: • Fewer accidents at work • Les time lost through sickness or injury • Adequate facilities e.g. toilets, rest rooms are provided • Workers can appoint health and safety representatives to negotiate with managers for them • Workers are happier and tend to work harder and more efficiently • Easier to recruit employees than if the workplace was dirty or dangerous Ensuring a safe working environment is expensive for employers. Where possible they will pass these costs on as higher prices to customers. Where this is impossible, they hope that employees working harder will eventually reduce the amount of sickness they will have to pay.

Health and Safety Risks from working with computers Illnesses attributed to computer use are on the increase, particularly eye strain from prolonged staring at monitors and screens, repetitive strain injuries to fingers and wrists from keyboards and backache from incorrect posture. You should always sit at an adjustable chair which good support to the back and allows you to put your feet on the floor. Sufficient room should be under the desk to allow free leg movement. The height of the desk should see your forearms parallel to the floor or slightly raised during data entry and the mouse should be in easy reach. Bright lights should not reflect onto the monitor and you should not be facing windows or other sources of strong light. The top of the monitor screen should be at eye level and between 40 and 80 centimetres away from the user. Health and Safety (Display Screen Equipment) Regulations 1992 This set out examples of good practice in the provision of safe working conditions for computer users. The employer has the responsibility to assess each workstation, the equipment and its environment and to put any faults right. All screens must be adjustable with brightness and contrast controls plus height adjustment. Work should be planned so that the user can take frequent short breaks from the screen, as they feel the need. All employees must be trained in the correct use of all workstation equipment and the use of non-reflective screens and adjustable chairs/good posture. Employers are required to pay for eyesight tests for employees who use computer screens regularly in their duties, and to make a contribution towards spectacle costs. Lighting must meet European Union standards for computer areas.

The Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 Under this Act responsibility for employee health, safety and welfare is placed firmly with employers as far a reasonably practical. Employers are required to provide premises, equipment and training that contribute to a safe working environment. Workplaces must be clean and hygienic, without risks to health. Safe equipment must be provided and maintained, whilst hazardous substance must be handled and stored safely. Commonly employers have a checklist of good practice when designing workspaces. These include: 1. No trailing wires that employees can trip over 2. A secure counter or cup holder to prevent drinks spilling 3. Fire door not blocked shut 4. A method of moving large or bulky objects so that the eye line is kept free and the back is not strained 5. Sufficient rest rooms or kitchens so that employees don’t have to eat at their desk 6. Toilets with hand washing facilities 7. Electrical sockets must not be overloaded 8. Suitable heating, lighting, and ventilation The Factories Act 1961 This sets out the minimum basic standards employees can expect, the minimum workspace per employee, the minimum and maximum room temperatures, the ventilation and lighting required, specialist clothing needed. This law applies to any workplace where two or more people are employed doing manual work. In 1963 the Offices, Shops and Railway Premises Act extended the provisions of the Factories Act to these workplaces too. The Fire Precautions Act 1971 This made it a law that all workplaces had a fire safety certificate, issued by the local fire brigade officer after a full safety inspection. Particularly employees must have adequate time and escape routes to leave a building in the event of a fire.

“The Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 forces employers to provide a safe working environment in three ways (PET)

Employers must provide and maintain premises that are safe to work in and that meet standards of hygiene and cleanliness without risk to health (P) Employers must provide and maintain equipment that is safe to use including the handling and storage of any hazardous substances (E) Employers must provide all information, training and supervision necessary to ensure the health and safety of workers (T)”

Employees must observe the following Health and Safety Guidelines

 

“For employees using computers  Do not eat or drink when using a computer and protect the computer from water and moisture  Do not spend long periods working on a computer without breaks  Keep all cable tidy and do not unplug cables whilst the computer is switched on  Make sure the computer is on a steady flat surface away glare on the screen  Have a comfortable chair with a back to it, at a height so your eyes are at screen top level”

Gangways and fire exit routes must not be blocked with boxes, bins or files etc Fire door must be closed but not locked and smoking banned where necessary Electrical appliances should be checked regularly by a trained expert Tall cupboards should not be stacked with boxes and cupboard doors locked Floors must be kept clean and torn or damaged floor coverings should be replaced First aid boxes must be clearly displayed and fire drill procedures regularly practiced Fans, fires and guillotines and dangerous machinery should have guards in place Noise, smell and other protective clothing/footwear must be worn when provided

Databases A database is any organised collection of data or information, but the more information you store the more space you need and the harder it is to find the information you want. A computer-based database can store vast amounts of information in a small space and records can be searched for or sorted quickly and in a number of ways. Calculations can be made on the results of searches and alterations made quickly and easily. Backups prevent information being lost and inputs validated or verified more easily than with traditional record keeping methods. A database consists of a file, which contains many records (pages). Each record contains a number of fields (categories/columns) and each field has individual data items. Databases are designed either as flat file databases where all the information for one record is in one large list. The other form is a relational databases, where records are far smaller with links (like an index) to information common to more than one record e.g. in a flat file student database, the details about each student’s form group would be in each student’s record whereas in a relational database, there would be a link from each student’s record to a single record containing all their form information. The main advantages of relational databases compared with flat file databases are that they take up less storage space, are more flexible and are quicker to search, but on the other hand they are more complicated to set up. Once you are clear about the purpose of your database, you have to decide on the following  The fields (columns) you need and what name you will give to each field  The purpose of each field  The advantages or possible uses of each field  The data type (alpha, numeric, alpha-numeric) for each field  The length of each field Many database records have key fields e.g. primary field, which is a unique field that ensures the record can be, identified from all the other records e.g. passport number or building society account number or pupil exam entry number. Records are automatically sorted in primary key order. Primary keys that are used in more than one table are known as foreign keys.

The details of each person or product held on a computer are records made up of a series of fields. Each field is one piece of the information that together makes up the whole picture, the record. All records that are of similar information e.g. student details are grouped together to make a file Field 1 Field 2 Field 3 Advantages of databases 1. It only takes a small space to store a vast amount of data 2. The data can be processed quickly and easily retrieved 3. Sorting in a particular field can change the record display order 4. Particular records can be selected by filtering the database 5. Once it is created it is easy to maintain and keep up to date Disadvantages of databases 1. The necessary computer equipment can be expensive 2. Expensive to collect and set up the database in the beginning 3. If the computer fails, the information is unavailable 4. Staff training is required to make the most of what the computer database can do Its ok to have a database but the information to put into it has to be collected. Normally this is via a data capture form or a questionnaire where the answers are in the same place on every form. The questions should be simple and easy to understand, often offering a menu of possible answers to choose from or boxes to tick. There are data capture forms for all sorts of things e.g. membership forms, new bank accounts, mail order shopping. Databases can provide firms with an increasing amount of useful information about products and customers. Every time you use a store card, its computer records you, where you shopped, what time you visited and what you bought. Shops can use this information to decide on opening hours, number of checkouts, products to stock or re-order; and to target shoppers with mail direct to their home.

Record 1 File

Record 2

Record 3 Each field is given a title called a field name and each record has the same number of fields as each other. To help with the control accuracy of data input, fields can be set to only accept a certain type of data e.g. letters (alpha) numbers (numeric) or a mixture of both (alpha-numeric). The computer will reject data that does match the programmed format in such a field. To save time when entering information into a database many organisations use codes which gives shortened versions of the data e.g. F for female and M for male. Advantages of coding 1. Less data to type in so quicker 2. Less chance of typing wrong letter 3. Less data so less storage space needed Disadvantages of coding 1. Users may not know code 2. Code may be wrongly de-coded

Validation and Verification
The word valid means suitable and when applied to a computer system refers to the computer checking for itself that the way the computer files have been prepared to receive information is suitable. These checks have been put into the computer when the computer programme was written.

Verification can be done by one person typing in the information and someone else checking it is accurate or by two different people typing it in and the computer checking they match. This is an excellent method of ensuring accuracy but it is very time consuming and expensive because everything has to be done twice.

Spell checking or grammar checking are two other examples of validation

A type check looks for matching data types e.g. the computer won’t accept a number (numeric answer) if it has been programmed to receive a letter (alpha answer). A range check looks to make sure that the piece of data typed in is sensible e.g. it may not allow a user to type in that they are more than 120 years old A length check looks to make sure that the length of a piece of data typed in, is the same as the length the computer is expecting e.g. it may only allow a maximum of ten letters for a user’s password Checking a user’s password matches to the one they type in is another example of validation because the computer does the check.

The word verify means to check for accuracy and when applied to a computer system refers to the users of the computer checking for themselves that the data they have typed, or are going to type in, is accurate and matches the original document that they are copying in from e.g. if they are copying in a person’s bank account details, they must make sure the numbers match the numbers on the cheque book.

Data Protection
Most modern businesses whatever their size use a computer database to store information about their employees, customers and suppliers. Less storage space is required than paper based records, information can be found more easily and quickly and fewer employees are needed to maintain the records. As a result we expect increasingly prompt service. Information stored on a computer should be accurate but errors can creep in 1. People with the same or similar name have their information mixed up (transposed). 2. The information may out of date causing a wrong decision to be made. 3. The information was wrongly entered onto the computer in the first place. The Data Protection Act 1998 An updated version of the 1984 Act of Parliament incorporating the European Directive that “any person, organisation, or business wishing to hold personal information about people, must register with the Office of the Data Protection Commissioner. Under the Act individuals have the right to see a copy of any of the information an organisation is holding about them on computer. A list of which companies have registered under the Act is available at all major public libraries. The register shows the type of information a company has, the purposes they use it for, where the information was obtained, and to whom it may be disclosed. If you write to a company they must tell you if they are holding any data about you and provide you with a copy. There are some exceptions to your rights to see data and these include data that is • Preventing or detecting crime or catching and prosecuting criminals • Assessing or collecting taxes • Health, education or social work • Household, personal and family affairs The Data Protection Commissioner will investigate any company who breaks the principals set out in the Act.

These controls on companies holding data about individuals on computer include: They must • Obtain and process the information fairly, lawfully and for specific purposes • Hold only the information that is adequate, relevant and not excessive for the purpose. • Hold only accurate information and keep the information up to date Not keep the information any longer than necessary • Do not disclose the information contrary to the purpose it is kept for • Give individuals access to information about themselves and correct any mistakes • Take appropriate measures to ensure the data is secure to prevent loss, damage or unauthorised processing. • Not to transfer data outside of the European Union. The Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1989 This Act makes the copying or pirating of computer software a criminal offence. This includes making copies of software and running software without the appropriate licences. It is estimated that ½ of the software currently in use has been illegally copied. Maximum penalties include 2 years in jail and unlimited fines. The Computer Misuse Act 1990 This Act was introduced to protect against computer hacking, computer fraud and computer viruses. Hacking is the process of unauthorised breaking into a computer system and caries a £2000 fine or six months in jail. Viruses are computer programs that cause the unauthorised modification of a computer’s operating system with the intention of impairing or disabling it. Fines for introducing viruses are unlimited and jail sentences up to five years. Firms who are caught out by computer fraud, viruses and hacking often do not want the bad publicity associated with having unsecured

systems and fail to prosecute offenders for this reason, thus allowing them to get away with it.

Office Layout A cellular office is usually for one person and is small to medium in size with a door, windows and outside walls. Managers, accountants and personnel managers often use them Advantages of cellular offices They provide privacy for those who may need to discuss confidential items They can be locked providing security for money and documents when unoccupied. Quiet working environment with few distractions from other workers Confer status on the user as important employees usually have their own office Disadvantages of cellular offices More difficult to supervise employees you can’t see Take up more space and more building cost to separate each work area with walls and doors Junior staff are ‘scared’ by the impression cellular offices suggest for their occupant Increased running costs with each room individually heated and lit. More difficult to talk to colleagues in adjacent offices which can slow down communication and reduce efficiency More often than not open plan offices are used for sales departments and centralised services. Staff with specialist skills can be grouped together to increase efficiency and improve the service they offer other departments. Bulky and noisy equipment can be located in one area and soundproofed to avoid disturbing everyone. Shared equipment e.g. photocopier is cheaper than buying one for each office but personal services can be lost, time wasted walking back and forth and an increase in bureaucracy e.g. photocopy permission slips Some staff do not even have there own desk but share with colleagues on a rota basis. This is known as hot-desking.

Many organisations use an open plan office layout where large work areas are broken down into smaller areas with the use of screens and sliding partions. Each area is shared by a group of employees of various levels of seniority, with shared heating, lighting, filing and storage. Advantages of open plan offices Staff supervision is easier and subtler whilst a number of employees can be viewed at once. Communication is easier and the decision chain shorter. Employees can share ideas in a relaxed forum The layout o the office can be altered quite easily by moving some of the partions, filing cabinets etc to reduce or increase the size of the work areas as required Easier to organised shared services e.g. photocopying, accounts and wages Disadvantages of open plan offices Noisier to work in with more distractions Less security and privacy Lighting, ventilation and heating cannot be regulated to suit individual tastes and needs Managers may resent the loss of their status symbol Purposes built premises are ideal if you can get them as everything is in the right places; all the facilities needed are there and individual needs will have been accommodated e.g. the needs of the disabled to comply with the Disabilities Act. On the other hand relocating may cost you your best employees if there are no transport links to the new site, or the journey time is significantly longer. Also your customers etc will need to be told of your new address, which costs and the rent on the new premises may be higher than on the old place.

An input device is a piece of hardware that enables data to be passed into a computer system. Some of these devices are controlled manually. Keyboards This is still one of the most common ways to enter data into a computer system, e.g. in word processing. Similar to a typewriter, but with extra keys that perform functions dependent on the software in use. A variation is an overlay keyboard that is flat and waterproof and can be fitted to a till, e.g. in a bar. In such an environment it would be easy to clean and remain undamaged by spilled drinks. Some of the keys can be programmed to represent special codes, e.g. staff code

Web cams Can be left permanently attached to the computer collecting images, which, together with voice data, will enable video conferencing to take place.

Microphone Used where the input is any sort of sound, particularly a voice. Voice recognition software can collect the data input and convert it to written words entered into a word processing package. At the present time this software is still in its infancy. It has to be trained to the user's voice and input has to take place under quiet conditions to avoid background noise.

Touch Screen A device used in many fast food shops it displays a number of items on a screen and the user simply 'touches' an item to make a choice. The point of contact is detected and the choice registered by the computer. Touch screens are ideal if there are a limited number of options available. Again this device, like the overlay keyboard, can be easily cleaned and potential damage from spilled food or drink is avoided. It can also be re-programmed if choices are changed.

Some input systems can be automated. This reduces the amount of time it takes to enter the data and also the number of people required to enter it. Optical Mark Recognition (OMR) Probably the most widely recognized use for this method of data entry is the National Lottery. Here numbers are selected on a pre-printed form. Each possible number has a space on the form and is selected by crossing it out with dark coloured ink. The form itself is printed using a pale coloured ink (called fade-out ink). The form is then passed through a machine to 'read' the selected numbers, and everything else is ignored. Other applications of this method include multiple-choice examinations where there are only a limited number of answers and the student selects the number of the answer that he/she thinks is right. The system then goes on to calculate a total score.

Scanner Most commonly, scanners scan a picture from paper and display it on screen. In other words it creates a digital image of a picture. This digital image can then be edited or re-sized in any way we want. A digital image of text can also be taken. This can then be converted into a text file and edited in the normal way.

Mouse This is basically a pointing/selection device. By moving the mouse a small ball is rotated on the underside. This is interpreted by the computer as directional data for the pointer on the monitor. By using the buttons on top of the mouse a user can start an action, e.g. begin a word processing package, or make choices, e.g. from a drop down menu. In a drawing package movement can be interpreted to create images.

Bar Code Readers Bar codes can be used in many situations. They have been used not only for product information in shops but also on railways to keep track of where the vehicles were. In shops the bar code is scanned and the reflected light is detected. The computer converts this to a string of numbers. The last number is a check digit calculated from all the others and the computer repeats the calculation to make sure the code has been read properly. If it has then the reader makes a beep sound.

Graphics Tablet This device consists of a flat surface and a special pen. Using the pen to 'draw' on the tablet an artist can watch his picture actually being created on the screen. Handling the pen is more natural for some people than trying to draw with a mouse.

Digital Camera Store pictures on a memory card, not on film. The images can then be transferred directly to a computer where they can be edited using graphics software.

Magnetic Ink Character Recognition (MICR) This method uses a special set of characters and is used by banks to help process cheques quickly and accurately. Data is printed on the bottom edge of the cheque before it is sent to the customer and when the cheque has been filled in, the amount is also added. These characters can be magnetized and the pattern recognised. This gives accuracy and speed when sorting the cheques but also security as the characters cannot be altered using normal ink.

Optical Character Recognition (OCR) This works by using a reader/scanner to detect the pattern of light reflected from a document written on paper. The computer identifies the pattern of each individual character in the text and converts the 'picture' of the page into a document that can be edited in the normal way.

Monitors Can be flat square tubes, trinitron or liquid crystal (LCD) and this can make all the difference to the user. The curved planes of the FST encourage screen reflection, whereas the mesh of wire make up of the trinitron screen allows light through without reflection. LCD screens have allowed screens to become thinner and refresh quicker. Software now allows for the monitors to manage the colour display, so that the colours viewed will match the colours scanned or printed. Screen dimensions are normally 34cm to 53cm across the diagonal, but extra large screens up to 107cm are available for displays or presentations. Monitor resolutions are usually 1600x1200.

Magetic Strips These devices can be used to store, by means of magnetic patterns, a limited amount of information onto a plastic card. This might simply be an account number and an expiry date. When the card is 'swiped' the patterns are read and the account holders information can be accessed. As with bar codes check digits can be used to ensure that data is read correctly. Exposure to a strong magnet can corrupt the data held on the strip and the card then becomes unusable, data has to be typed in by hand

Speakers Either built into the computer or external, plugged into the Input/Output port.

Smart Cards A smart card looks like a magnetic strip card but is different in that it contains a small memory circuit. This means that data can be written to the card, as well as read from it, when it is swiped. Some companies for their reward schemes are using cards like this, to store data about the number of points a customer accumulates. When these points are exchanged for products the data on the card is changed to show the new total.

Modems Internal or external communication devices used to send and receive data, and really input, processing and output devices. The name means modulator/demodulator, which refers to the way signals are received via a telephone line or satellite. Broadband modems make more room for signals and this speeds up data transfer and allows both telephone and computer use on one line


Expansion cards equipped with a range of electronic components including chips and used to add extra functions to a computer eg sound cards CD/DVD Combo drive - allows the computer to take information from a CD or DVD, or write information to them Random access memory, the volatile temporary storage medium for data. Data on RAM can be read, changed and added to and is used when the programs are running on the computer. Data stored on the RAM is normally lost when the system is switches off. Read only memory, the chips built into a machine that store data permanently. Data can be read from ROM chips but cannot be changed or added to. Programs built into a machine on ROM chips are called firmware as opposed to disk-based software. Note: Floppy discs are considered too old fashioned

Printer The most common are ink jet and laser. Some dot matrix printers are used for long print runs. Ink jet printers are cheap to buy and are capable of printing high-resolution images, but are slow and never give as sharp an image as laser printers, because the ink is still liquid when it hits the paper; indeed specialist paper is required.

Laser printers are cheap for standard mono prints, but are expensive for colour work. If a single user is using the printer, a print rate of 4 pages per minute is adequate, but if a whole office is using one printer, something faster will be required. Print speed is measured in pages per minute (ppm) Most standard printers now fall into a resolution range of 300-1200 dpi. If the colour work is large in size, a bubble jet printer is the most practical solution, whilst many CAD systems require a pen plotter.

Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) describes the use of computers to exchange information. For this, computers need to be linked in the form of a network. This has advantages for business, e.g. some documents can be transmitted from one business computer to another via a data link instead of on paper. The technology company Oracle prides itself on being almost completely paperless. Communication, wherever possible is by EDI. Types of network:  client / server – a powerful file server with a large hard disk holds software and user files. Workstations access the data on the server in order to operate.  peer to peer – computers are linked together in small networks and each has its own hard disk. Files on one computer can be accessed from other computers on the network. Client / server networks There are three types of network: star, bus and ring.

Sometimes they are linked over many thousands of miles. These are Wide Area Networks (WAN).

Advantages of Local Area Networks are that:  a user can access his / her own work from any workstation;  individual workstations have lower specifications than standalone computers, so are cheaper;  it is easier to backup all the data on the network at once rather than one computer at a time;  all users can access not only all data on the server but also external sources such as the internet;  information can be communicated between


Computers can be linked in small areas. These are called Local Area Networks (LAN).

Electronic communications
Facsimile (fax)
This takes an exact copy of the message, and/or graphical image and transmits it via the telephone network.

Disadvantages are that:  building a network can be expensive due to the cost of servers and the data links;  if the server crashes all computers are out of action. Advantages
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Cheap to use and don’t need additional cables other than the phone line Information can be transmitted as it is Simple to use without specialist training Accept hand written data and images Messages can be received whenever the machine is switched on

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Does not provide any verbal or visual communication Can occupy the telephone line preventing calls from being made or received No instant feedback Anyone passing the fax can see the message as it gradually appears The quality of the received document can be poor which makes it unsuitable for complex or technical information/drawings

These allow messages to be left when the intended recipient is away. The receiver can use it to filter incoming calls to only those people they wish to speak to but other people can listen to the answer phone message without the recipient or the sender knowing. Many senders are reluctant to leave a message and others often call again if the recipient doesn’t ring back.

By using computers and web-cams people can see each other whilst they are communicating or watch presentations/attend meetings without leaving their office. This can be particularly valuable when sender and receiver are in different countries or the message is meant to be received by different receivers in different countries at the same time. The cost and inconvenience of travelling is removed and the visual element allows non-verbal communications to be assessed. The major disadvantage is that a phone line will be occupied for an extended period. Some businesses will be worried about the lack of security from hackers and will accept the additional cost of dedicated encrypted phone lines.

Available to anyone with a telephone and a computer modem, it allows data of any sort to be transmitted between individual computer mailboxes either as documents or attachments.

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Cheap and easy to use Personal mailboxes which can be password protected Messages can be prepared in advance to minimise transmission time and sending cost Communication can be made immediately to any open mail box or stored until the intended receiver’s mailbox is opened One message can be sent to any number of different mailboxes improving efficiency and reducing the chances of mistakes Both the receiver need a modem and on-line computer connection Messages can only be received when the receiver opens their mailbox Print outs are not often made or kept

Small message receivers, which display a text message on a liquid crystal display. Generally replaced by mobile phones.

Mobile phone & Text messaging
This is increasingly popular and efficient as only the most important information is typed into the mobile phone and sent in the same way as e-mail but without the need for a computer. Picture phones allow visual images to be transmitted but the quality is often poor. Mobile phones also have built in modems, which means they can be attached to computers and send emails and/or attachments.

The Impact of ICT on how we work
The biggest chance in technology has been personal computers. Computer screen are no longer just confined to shops and offices. The ICT revolution has allowed businesses to process much larger amounts of information in far shorter periods of time and with fewer staff. The results can then be stored, represented in written form or graphs, and transmitted at speed around the world by electronic communications. Changes in customer tastes and fashion happen far more regularly and businesses need to be producing and selling what customers want to buy. New technology is also making electronic products cheaper, smaller and more advanced, plus society is more aware of natural disasters and the need to practice dangerous activities or predict natural disasters e.g. earthquakes. In a fraction of the time taken before computers, and subject to the rules in the Data Protection Act, large databases of data can be stored and spreadsheets used to analyse it, model it and make predictions from it as to what might happen in the future. 3D designs can be created using specialist Computer Aided Design software and products built more efficiently using Computer Aided Manufacture. Other specialist software is used to view and book holidays, buy products direct over the Internet, scanning bar codes in supermarket to aid stocktaking and checkouting using EPOS (Electronic Point of Sale) in shops. EFTPOS (Electronic Funds Transfer at the Point of Sales) is used to automatically transfer funds from a customer’s debit or credit card into the shop’s bank account, when goods are purchased. This saves the shop counting and banking cash at the end of each day, from accepting cheques that are not honoured, and it gets the money into the

shop’s bank account more quickly than cash or cheque. New CHIP and PIN systems are designed to lessen credit card fraud.

Computers use CAD and CAM to carry out design tasks much more quickly and efficiently, particularly those which are complex and repetitive. This allows firms to save on labour costs and increase productivity (output per £), improve product quality and consistency, and make fewer mistakes. Computers also operate without meal or rest breaks. Computers have allowed many firms to take advantage of new practices that require close monitoring of methods and information. The concept of Just-In-Time production is dependant on being able to obtain new stocks of materials precisely when they are required. Computerised stock control allows the firm to manage its stock levels more effectively saving money on unnecessary items, waste and storage space; whilst computer aided warehousing uses conveyor belts to minimise labour handling costs. One of the more recent developments has been the big retailer’s customer loyalty card. By scanning a customer’s card the retailer (shop) is able to collect information on each customer and what they normally buy. The customer is offered small discounts on these products to encourage them to keep shopping at the store whilst the retailer can target them with carefully selected advertising. Despite the benefits IT has brought many people are scared of change and reluctant to use all the facilities on offer. The is often because • Workers think they won’t cope with the equipment and that the old ways are fine • Feelings of insecurity

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Altering employment patterns and working conditions Loss of status and power for middle managers who used to make the decisions the computers make now Ignorance of the scope or role of IT

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