This week’s letters

Letter of the week
Cut costs without cutting HR quality

At a time when the need to recognise the value of human capital is
entrenched in the corporate psyche, the issue of outsourcing HR to shared
service centres is being presented to us as the Holy Grail.

We need to look carefully at the balance of benefits and risks associated
with such a move. Twice in the article "HR Down the Line" (Features,
23 October) suppliers comment that "you don’t need trained HR people in
the centres".

The major suppliers of outsourced services appear to have built their
business models on delivering cost reductions through the economies of scale
afforded by supplying a uniform service.

There is a real danger that in the quest for efficiency and cost-saving the
homogenous services provided will be at a level below that considered

This is not to say the concept of outsourcing is flawed, but the delivery
model must be suited to the organisation. With appropriate use of technology
and a human resources specialist partner it is possible to streamline HR
processes and reduce the administration burden. This, in itself, delivers
cost-savings and the operation can indeed be an outsourcing success.

This model may not quite live up to the hype of the shared service centre
but it is capable of delivering savings without compromising the quality of the
HR service.

Michael Richards
Chief executive, Snowdrop Systems, Oxon

Mixed message on equality issue

Such confusion! On the one hand your expert on page 2 (News, 16 October)
warns about the dangers of allowing "apparently neutral practices that
favour men, such as wooing clients over a game of golf" to continue.

On the other, there are two front page HR experts suggesting that staff –
presumably male – should be able to watch the World Cup on TV during working
hours, or be allowed to take time off.

Who are we to believe? Could we have more coverage on this equality issue
please, because I’m wondering if my clients would mind if I started filing my
nails while watching daytime TV.

Suzanne Evans
Via e-mail

Actions speaking louder than words

Look closely at the three photographs of the shortlisted teams (Awards, 30
October) and what do you see? The position of seniority in the photograph is
strikingly different in each frame.

In the Scottish Equitable and Gartmore Investment photos the leader of the
team is either holding up a photograph of the team or standing behind a seated
team member. The other frame depicts a "V" or pyramid formation with
the leader clearly at the forefront. Is this perception excessively analytical
or are there lessons here for leaders and photographers?

Chris Daniel
Inspector, South Wales Police

Greed is no cause for compensation

I believe it is totally wrong to expect the Government to use tax payers’
money to compensate Railtrack’s shareholders (news, 13 November). It was the
company’s own lax and greedy management that was ultimately responsible for the
current sorry situation.

John Weaver
via e-mail

Learning from the opposition

The answer to Robert Ivey’s question (letters, 13 November) as to whether we
can learn to run our organisations from the experience of Nazi Germany is yes.
One of the key reasons why Germany lost was the highly inefficient organisation
of its economy, including failure to adopt modern production techniques. To
suggest we can learn nothing from those we dislike is somewhat naive.

David Hill
Director of HR NHM

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