This week’s letters

‘Radical’ public sector is still a long way off

I read Jane King’s preface in the Public Sector HR supplement that
accompanied last week’s Personnel Today with interest.

I agree with the issues raised and the challenges this particular sector
faces, but I still can’t get my head round using the words ‘radical’ and
‘public sector’ in the same sentence.

As the editor points out, "Making HR a professional, focused force
within public sector organisations" is key to addressing a multitude of
issues that could go some way towards improving public services in the UK.

To achieve this, public sector organisations need to attract good HR people
from all industries and sectors who have experience of managing change and
improving performance – although I accept that pay may be an issue for some.

Unfortunately, the ‘radical’ label appears to come unstuck when looking at
the first page of job opportunities in the magazine. The four advertised roles
would all prefer the applicants to have public/health sector experience. This
mindset suggests that a radical approach is still a long way off.

A radical approach to recruitment advertising in this instance, would be to
forget about the public sector experience prerequisite and welcome HR people
who bring fresh and innovative approaches from the wider community.

William Martin
HR manager, operations, Telewest

Agencies simply serving customers

After reading your article ‘Banks pressure agencies to toe line on
diversity’ (Personnel Today 19 November), this recruitment consultancy is very
disturbed by the emphasis placed on the agencies, rather than the in-house
recruitment functions of the companies.

We have been supplying staff to many of the City’s largest financial houses
since 1980 and have attended diversity meetings with both our clients and our
contemporaries. We look at candidates across all sectors, but often find that
only those with relevant financial sector experience are selected for
interviews, even though many other candidates have the skill-set to do the job
and often improve work practices.

We relish giving candidates the opportunity to expand their experience and
skills, but unfortunately, the ‘square peg, square hole’ attitude dictated by
many of our HR contacts, does not allow for flexibility in candidate background
and experience.

Whenever a line manager has contacted us directly, however, their level of
acceptance of diverse candidates is much greater.

Matching duties on a job description is just a small part of our role and
through knowing the company well we are able to consider how good the candidate
will be for the company as a whole. What reason would we have as recruiters not
to send diverse candidates?

In short, we as suppliers are simply providing the service dictated by our
clients. Surely it is not believed that we would continue ignoring the wishes
of our clients if this is truly what they wanted?

We are hiding behind anonymity as we do not wish to alienate our clients and
HR contacts.

Name and address supplied

Opt-out exposes reality gap in UK

While the Personnel Today/Employment Lawyers Association survey of the
profession is undoubtedly a good thing, the chances of getting any meaningful
feedback are slim.

In the real world, most HR practitioners would see the loss of the opt-out
as no bad thing, as many of the problems that afflict UK productivity could
reasonably be laid at the door of the long-hours culture in the UK.

Having to employ more people, possibly for less money, would reduce
unemployment, improve the self-esteem of the nation and would allow companies
to implement serious work-life balance policies.

We all know that work-life balance and flexible working is purely something
to talk about and not something that UK organisations are really interested in

HR departments undoubtedly know better, but as most organisations will see
the loss of the 48-hour opt-out as a very bad thing indeed, it would be a very
brave HR practitioner who stuck their neck out to say otherwise. Especially in
the current economic climate.

Name and address supplied

What do you think?

Send your letters to Jane King, editor, by e-mail personneltoday@rbi.co.uk or fax: 020
8652 8805 or by post to Personnel Today, Quadrant House, The Quadrant, Sutton,
Surrey SM2 5AS

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