This week’s letters

Letter of the week
Evolution of the English language

Lyn Ferguson of Schuh asks when someone is going to champion the teaching of
correct grammar (Letters, 21 August). Perhaps that is the wrong question.

Current standards of English owe as much to environment as to education. At
my company we work with American-English computer software before going home to
surround ourselves with US television programmes, books and magazines. We eat
foods from many parts of the world and we have the good fortune to live in a
multi-racial and multi-lingual society. We allow consultants to rename
companies with artificial words such as Arriva, Kwik-fit or, dare I say it,

No wonder 21st century Britain is confused about correct English usage.

Perhaps we should follow the example of our forebears and accept that
English is, and always will be, a developing and evolving language. Let’s
develop and evolve with it.

David Dodds
Area HR operations manager,
Safeway Stores

Government role in cheap housing

I found the article "Skilled Staff Squeezed out of the South East"
(Analysis, 21 August) interesting and informative. For those companies that
have, or are considering implementing, a flexible benefits package, the forms of
subsidy or assistance with housing are worth considering.

From a corporate viewpoint, anything that helps to attract and retain staff
must be considered. From a macro-economic point of view, however, surely such
practices, should they become common, would fuel spiralling house prices still
further, thus exacerbating the North-South divide and, in the longer term,
making matters worse.

Surely the Government has a role to play here, by encouraging the building
of affordable housing and the movement of employment out of the South East.

I take issue with the comment from John Adsett regarding extending such
schemes to other areas with staff shortages. If a group of companies does not
have equitable policies throughout its various sites, staff dissent is invited.
If you do introduce a policy, do it globally. Take-up may well vary, especially
if it is as an alternative to another benefit, such as pensions contributions,
but you do not want to cause a benefit gap within your own corporation.

Ian Stain
HR consultant, Industry and Employee Services, Coventry

Scots’ water is a public concern

Readers in Scotland might have been confused by the frequent references to
"the company" in the Best Practice feature on East of Scotland Water
Authority (Personnel Today, 7 August).

ESW is a public water authority accountable to the Scottish Executive. It is
not a "company". Water and sewerage services in Scotland were saved
from privatisation thanks to the overwhelming support of the Scottish people.

Although we may differ over many aspects of the changes facing the industry,
staff and the public overwhelmingly share the Scottish Executive’s vision that
Scotland’s water should remain under public control.

Dave Watson
Scottish organiser (Utilities), Unison Scotland

Agencies have a function – to sell

I am constantly surprised by the lack of understanding of roles and
organisational emphasis shown by HR people.

Recent letters to Personnel Today complaining that neither HR departments
nor recruitment agencies "cared" about applicants for roles that they
were advertising or otherwise indicates, to me, a reason for not employing the
authors. They haven’t a clue about either the job they are applying for or the
role of one of their key groups of suppliers.

HR departments do perhaps "care", but the care they should exhibit
is for their employees, not for passing strangers who might want a job. I
suggest that applicants who want "care" should write to the marketing
department – it cares about customers.

As for recruitment agencies, their role is to sell. They are under constant
pressure to make more sales, not spend their time caring about the unemployed.
If you want care from a recruitment consultant make yourself highly saleable.

Get yourself a good qualification (or two), gain experience in some good
organisations, write it up well on a good CV showing your achievements and
stand back as they fight to sell you to their clients.

Les Simpson
Via e-mail

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