Letters

This week’s letters

Letter of the week
Balance initiative missed the point

I read with interest your cover story (News, July 17) about work-life
balance initiatives at UBS Warburg and I applaud the motives behind them and
wish them success. However, I can’t help feeling that we might be about to miss
the point. Surely the reason any individual might want a better work-life
balance is not so that he or she can cope with the problems of life from the
office desk, but is about creating a pattern of work that enables that
individual to be most effective at work and have time to pursue interests
outside the office.

Maybe it’s just a question of semantics. Work-life balance suggests that the
two are inherently incompatible when, for most people, they are inextricably
linked.

Perhaps a more accurate, description is work-home balance and this
redefinition might help to focus on the key issues. I agree that it is very
useful to manage your household affairs from the office, but the in-escapable
implication of this is that individuals will be able to spend more time at work
because everything else can be dealt with by phone or over the Internet.

We have been working hard over the past 18 months to change the way our
staff think about work and how they balance the demands of a rapidly growing
business with home lives. In principle, we are happy to consider homeworking,
job sharing, hot-desking, shift working as well as process redesign and
organisational structure as legitimate actions that help deliver top-class
business performance while recognising the other demands on our time

I recognise that the increasing demands we place on our staff to do more in
less time and with less support reflects the general economic climate, and
there are many people who thrive on this kind of pressure. But we all know that
for most of us this is a one-way ticket to individual and corporate burnout.
Using some of the alternatives I’ve outlined above may point the way to a work
environment in which what you do outside the office counts as much as what you
do in it.

Kevin Cripps
HR director, Cogent

Partnership is not just a passing fad

We should very much welcome the contribution of the Industrial Society’s
Patrick Burns (Comment, 10 July) in highlighting the importance of the
Governments Partnership at work initiative. It does appear that sometimes the
Fund is very much on the margins of the Government agenda, yet the Fund is
making a valuable contribution to the sea change taking place in many work
areas in the field of employment relations.

I totally agree with Patrick when he calls for the Fund to be expanded, £5m
over four years is a tiny amount compared to other government grant schemes. In
addition, I would call for more help for smaller employers to participate in
the scheme, there must be a lot of SMEs and small voluntary-sector
organisations who would benefit from grants towards developing more progressive
employment relations cultures in their organisations.

I also support the idea of lifting the barriers for public sector
organisations in participating in the initiative. Particularly when, for
example, employment partnerships are so central to the HR strategy in the NHS,
sometimes the idea of "match funding" can be a serious disincentive.

Since its recent launch, the Centre for Employment Relations and
Partnerships has uncovered a considerable level of interest from work organisations
across the Midlands, our aim has been to establish an affordable support or-
ganisation to aid smaller employers to build partnership cultures within their
organisations.

While some HR practitioner may see social partnerships as a passing fad, we
can point to the lessons of many employers in our EU Partner countries who can
boast increased productivity, efficiency and improved quality of services as
evidence that partnership does work.

Robert Quick
Head of centre for Employment Relations & Partnerships, Mackworth College

"It’s" the most HR misspelt word

Susan-Carol Bayliss commented in "Employer spelt out its appeal",
(Letters, 10 July), that liaison might be the most misspelt HR word. Well, I
think it’s "its", if you see what I mean!

At least your headline to Susan-Carol’s letter was correct, but many
apparently educated people get it wrong. As for "redundant
apostrophes", I’ve seen them all – even a notice on the M74 about
"road work’s". I lecture in HRM and my colleagues and students think
I am picky for pointing out these errors, but as Susan- Carol points out, it’s
about presentation. Can’t computer spell-checks be programmed to sound an alarm
at such mistakes?

Mary Brown
Via e-mail

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