Letters

This week’s letters

Family-friendly
is a company issue

I
feel that a voluntary code will be effective in promoting family-friendly
working, but only where those companies already embrace the work-life balance
concept (News, 27 February)

There
are many companies,  both large and
small, which ignore current legislation anyway or find ways around the system.
Unless the company has a strong HR presence and/or a seat on the board – which
in these particular cases would be rare – HR professionals do not have the
empowerment to change that particular work culture.

Of
course we can lobby and recommend but if the culture is one of “take it or
leave it”, unless the employee has the courage to take this further through the
courts, this culture will not change.

In
circumstances such as these whether you legislate or not will make no
difference.

I
am fortunate that my company has always looked to help the individual and has
had paid paternity leave for some years. Admittedly, this is not for the full
two weeks which is being proposed but at least the company proactively
recognises the needs surrounding a new birth from the father’s perspective.

Janet
Teece
Personnel manager, Amadeus (UK)

Staff
left to carry burden for others

On
the subject of family-friendly policies, people have a contract to work. Making
statutory legislation harms relationships where people “demand their rights”.

All
these extra benefits are becoming discriminatory – what about those without
children, they are left to do the work while the others are at home. It is
really causing industrial relations issues within the workplace.

That
is fact not rhetoric – where is the Government’s proof that family-friendly
policies work? 

Denise
Reece
People Strategies and Solutions, St Klare Reece Associates

Humour
essential in public sector

I
was amused and amazed that consultant Simon Derry (Letters, 27 February) took
seriously my earlier suggestion (News, 23 January) that the principles of
“horse whispering” might be the next big idea in HR management.

The
boardrooms of the major companies that Mr Derry advises may be dull places, but
here in the beleaguered public sector the ability to laugh at the ironic and
the absurd is an essential survival tool.

Dare
I ask whether Mr Derry, before proffering advice to his clients, reads their
documents and accounts with as much care and thought as he devoted to my
letter?

Robert
Clarke
Director of human resources, Keighley College

Empathy
is key to people and horse

I
would like to respond to Simon Derry’s e-mail concerning “horse whispering” and
its credibility (Letters, 27 February).

Obviously
he has no first-hand knowledge or understanding of “horse whispering”. It is an
understanding and empathy of horses, their language and how to achieve best
results by humane methods.

This
negates the need for bullying into submission. Much of this is achieved by body
language and reading and responding appropriately to the signals which the
horse conveys.

The
methods have been proven and are demonstrated throughout the UK by those
trained in the methods. Monty Roberts, the American founder, spent many years
studying horses in their natural environment in order to understand their
language and responses. He has also successfully transferred the methods to the
many disaffected teenagers he has fostered.

I
have witnessed the process and have applied the methods to my own horse,
children and work colleagues. I would argue that “horse whispering” has many
transferable benefits.

Lyn
Heath
Personnel officer and horse owner, Weymouth

Best
practice is not strategic HR

Best
practice and strategic HR are too often mistaken as the same approach so it is
good to see RyanAir making the distinction clearer (News, 6 February).
Strategic HR is about integration, making clear tradeoffs and tailoring
activities to the needs of the organisations.

To
this extent RyanAir has taken a strategic approach to motivation and decided
best practice is not for them.

However,
this is not to say that, for instance, corporate intranets will not work in
other organisations.

It
is time HR professionals started to reconsider best practice and to think about
the real needs of the organisation.

Best
practice can only ensure short-term operational effectiveness, if we want to
start making a long-term impact to the bottom line then I suggest, as HR
professionals, we take a strategic perspective and start to integrate not
imitate

Rik
Taylor
Via e-mail

We
need to build a better industry

I
was a little surprised to read the negative response to my letter from Mike
Murray, lecturer in construction management from Glasgow, re construction
stereotypes (Letters, 27 February).

How
can somebody miss the point so completely? Yes, Mr Murray I do get upset at
constant attacks on the construction industry, even more so when it is from
people making a comfortable living out of it.

Of
course there are people within the industry who are sexist and racist –
construction, like other industries, reflects the prejudices that face society
in general. My point is that the original article was full of generalisations
and hyperbole.

I
was hoping the article and my response might stimulate debate on how both
management practices and site culture need to evolve, while highlighting the
myriad of initiatives aimed at promoting construction to attract a more
cross-representative sample from society.

I’m
certain that a similar article describing lecturers as pipe-smoking, boorish
liberals with elbow patches and halitosis would, quite rightly, receive a
clamour of criticism.

If
Mr Murray would like to witness first hand an initiative aimed solely at
raising the profile of construction, he might like to attend the Greater
Merseyside Construction Event, at Aintree Racecourse on 3 July.

Only
by working together can we attract the under represented groups necessary to
achieve the sociological diversity we so desperately need.

Steve
Rotheram
Chairman Greater Merseyside Construction Event 2001

Work
experience  no barrier for job


I sympathise with the plight of David Bryden and all other well-qualified
professionals looking for their first-level HR job (Letters, 27 January). We
have advertised for a compensation and benefits specialist. After discussing
the issue with my European recruiting colleagues, we will seriously consider
CIPD-qualified graduates without work experience.

Rosemary
Green
HR service leader (UK and Ireland), Dow Chemical Company


I note with interest the letter from David Bryden regarding first level HR
posts.

Having
recently helped my son on a graduate hunt for a job I was surprised to see how
many companies were advertising for HR graduates with Lloyds, Abbey National,
Guinness and Matalan to name a few.

These
were all job opportunities courtesy of the careers service at his university
and advertised on its website, and included jobs for new graduates and those
who had already graduated.  May I
suggest this route as a possible start in HR and wish him luck.

Jo
Vaux
Personnel officer, Via e-mail

A
quandary over managers’ role

I
would like to comment on remarks made in your 27 February issue, “The principal
reason why people leave a company is because of their immediate manager,” –
Head of HR, Merrill Lynch. And: “Employee turnover cannot be reduced… through
better management,” – Head of HR marketing and research, Deutsche Bank (News).

I
would ask my (much respected) manager to clarify this conundrum but she left
some time ago.

Chris
Squire
HR adviser, Cardiff

Expect
casualties from the minimum wage increase

While
I applaud the recent introduction of the National Minimum wage, I am concerned
about where it is all going to end.

The
news that the minimum wage will rise to £4.10, a 50 pence rise from when it was
first introduced is frankly worrying for small businesses like ours.

I
do agree that there should be a minimum wage to stop the exploitation of
labour, however does it really have to rise so steeply and so frequently? Does
the Government realise it is jeopardising the future of small business who do
not have the profit margins to sustain such increases?

While
an organisation based, say, in London, would not necessarily feel the effects
of £4.10 per hour, an organisation in the rural areas of Lincolnshire, for
example, would have to seriously rethink its business strategy to remain within
the law.

I
don’t have the answer – I wish I did. However, there must be a way to protect
the UK’s many small businesses that will no doubt become casualties to the
minimum wage if they are given the chance.- after all large oaks from little
acorns grow.

Sharen
Phillips
HR director, ESC(UK)

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