Review: WIPO Employees Accept Need For Organisational Change 10/07/2007 by William New, Intellectual Property Watch 1 Comment Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)By William New A prevailing attitude among employees at the World Intellectual Property Organization is a “lack of pride” in the United Nations body and an acceptance of needed change to the organisational culture, according to a new report. The commissioned study also found a number of human resources problems, including soaring absence, and said WIPO is already addressing many of the issues. The report by PricewaterhouseCoopers was released on 30 June and is posted to the front page of WIPO’s website, www.wipo.int. It was commissioned as a “desk-to-desk assessment” of the human and financial resources of WIPO after the UN Joint Inspection Unit found problems in 2005. The report focused on the demand for WIPO’s various services and whether it is appropriately addressing the demand. It found a number of areas where WIPO differs from the norm in Swiss organisations, including low turnover, long tenure, high absence, insubstantial performance or disciplinary practices, and weaknesses in management skills or competencies. Diplomats in Geneva have expressed concern that the final report was not altered by WIPO before its release. But the study authors said the final report reflects their work. A representative of PricewaterhouseCoopers in Geneva told Intellectual Property Watch, “I confirm that the issued final report represents the findings and conclusions of PwC.” Sense of Entitlement, Incompetence Interviews with staff and managers revealed a sense of entitlement such as abuse of “flextime” or requesting promotions and post reclassification based on length of service rather than merit, PwC said. Also revealed was a sense among workers that managers are not competent, acceptance of the abuse of WIPO systems, unfairness in human resources and “worries about unfair discrimination for ‘speaking out,’” the consulting firm said. “We always expect that there will be some venting of feelings during a study of this kind, but this lack of pride has been a consistent theme across the WIPO focus groups, and is supported by comments from managers and supervisors,” PwC said. Perhaps the most glaring statistic in the report is that staff sick days average 12.5 days per year, well over double the average of other Swiss organisations polled, which average around 5 days per year. This equals a total loss to WIPO of over 15,000 days, or 75 full-time employees. Ten percent of WIPO staff take more than 27 sick days per year. Average attendance for WIPO staff when all types of leave and holidays are taken into account is 200 days per year. The organisation is seen by employees as a stable place to work – apparently for the good pay and benefits – with 2.6 percent turnover in 2006 compared with 7.5 to 10 percent in the Swiss public sector. But PwC also found that no member of the regular staff has been dismissed, at least since 2002, apparently because the performance and disciplinary system is not generally used in a way that leads to disciplinary action. The general organisational interpretation of this system is “deeply flawed,” PwC said, as objectives are unclear, appraisal meetings do not always take place, and performance is usually rated at the highest level. Areas of competency that need to be addressed include management, information technology, languages, intellectual property specialisation, and office management, the report said. It noted that WIPO saw rapid growth through the 1990s and up to 2002, hiring many new managers. PCT Dominates Jobs Despite a wide range of activities at WIPO, nearly 50 percent of staff is employed in two programmes. One is the administration of the Patent Cooperation Treaty, which extends patent applications across member countries. This has the equivalent of more than 450 full-time workers, or 37.5 percent of total WIPO staff. The other programme combines management of the Madrid System for the International Registration of Marks, the Hague System for the International Registration of Industrial Designs, and the Lisbon System for the International Registration of Appellations of Origin. The nearly 139 full-time employees in this programme account for 11.5 percent of total WIPO staff. Meanwhile, there are 12 programmes with less than 10 full-time employees attributed to them. Impact of the Development Agenda as yet unknown but new employees are expected. There are a number of areas of growth in demand for WIPO’s services. PCT administration is growing at 6 percent per year, Madrid, The Hague and Lisbon registration systems at between 3 and 7 percent annually, and conferences, language, printing and archives at between 15 percent and 30 percent. Outsourcing was suggested for printing and publications, building security, information technology, the WIPO Worldwide Academy, and for work overflows and peaks such as with translation. The report also found that while employees on short-term contracts, including consultancies, are the minority, some are being asked to carry out tasks that are similar to those under permanent contracts. The average length of service for permanent staff is 10 years while the average short term contracts are five years, which is “exceptionally high,” PwC said. It also found that people being paid at senior levels on permanent contracts sometimes are involved in administrative duties. PwC recommended changes to these practices. A number of other statistics were presented in the findings. For instance, the employment structure in the organisation was found to be highly centralised, with 15 direct reports to the director general, which it said could lead to delays in decision-making. The total number of employees at WIPO has shrunk slightly over the past five years, PwC said, from 1,353 in 2003 to 1,249 in January 2007. The number of short-term contracts among these also has declined since 2002 to 359 in 2006. But the study suggested more reductions or better use of existing resources. Other statistics include: 55 percent of overall staff are female, though at the director level men outnumber women 50 to 9, and at the professional level, 197 to 172. Average age in the organisation is 44 years old, with the youngest at 22 and the oldest at 77 (seven are 65 or older). In about four years, retirements are expected to start rising. The recommendations called for “early action,” and included a three-year programme of management development. PwC stated that the study is not an investigation and does not address any grievances or allegations. “We see significant opportunities for improving performance, removing inefficiencies, and generally either reducing staff numbers or freeing resources for new demands,” PwC said. William New may be reached at email@example.com. Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window) Related "Review: WIPO Employees Accept Need For Organisational Change" by Intellectual Property Watch is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.