This week’s letters

Employers and HR need to wake up to the WTD reality

In response to your article ‘Minister committed to voluntary pay reviews’
(News, 16 March), you once again touched on the issue of the opt-out to the
Working Time Directive (WTD). When are companies, and HR, going to get real?

The WTD hasn’t just come into being – it has been active now since 1998. The
sooner the Government ‘forces’ businesses to address the opt-out issue the
better. Trying to behave as if it doesn’t exist or will not be taken away is
like living in dreamland. The Government needs to start encouraging businesses
to develop a strategy and lay down plans toward the removal of the opt-out
before it is dropped on them.

The millennium bug scared companies into spending millions trying to manage
something that may not even have existed – thorough planning, the setting up of
millennium bug IT departments within companies, and working toward a defined
timescale and a result.

The point is there was a set plan and target, and this is what we should all
be doing toward the removal of the opt-out.

No wonder HR’s nickname has changed from ‘Human Remains’ to ‘Hypocrisy
Reigns’. Work-life balance – don’t make me laugh. On one hand, HR appears to be
driving through a long-awaited, modern philosophy about working life, while the
same HR people are fighting against, and opposing, the removal of the opt-out.

I believe that HR should engage in the ‘promotion of practical realities’ to
business leaders, whether or not it is good for my career, instead of the
proverbial nodding of the ‘yes boss, I agree with you. I’m only in it for
myself’ type of HR.

It isn’t very often that Brendan Barber and I agree on anything, albeit he
sees the removal of the opt-out as a ‘vehicle’ for getting more pay for less
work for his members.

David Barry
Personnel officer Carter Retail Equipment

Key to holding on to workers is listening

I was not at all surprised to read that staff turnover costs UK business
£48bn a year. Talented people leave businesses all the time, for all the wrong
reasons. Our research shows that 70 per cent of leavers could have been
retained if their aspirations had been better managed. I believe neglecting to
keep talented individuals in your business is like throwing money down the

John Robbie, flexible benefits director at Momentum Financial Services, and
author of the report on staff turnover costs, is absolutely right when he says
more people could be retained if companies communicate their benefits to their
staff. But communicating what you can do for your staff is only part of the

Retaining talented individuals in your business is a dialogue. It is a
two-way conversation. Investing time and resources into listening to your staff
is just as important as leading the conversation.

Take the hospitality industry. It employs 1.8 million people across 300,000
businesses and drives tourism, which is worth almost £70bn. The industry
represents around 7 per cent of total employment in the UK.

Labour turnover in hospitality is at record levels. One in two people will
change their jobs this year. For the licensed trade, it is 188 per cent, which
means pubs replace 94 per cent of their workforce every year. A quarter of
leavers have been in their posts for less than six months.

The cost to the industry is staggering. The most conservative estimate could
be in the region of £432m every year – an average of £1.44m per business.
Hospitality is waking up to the reality of staff retention but there is still a
long way to go.

Employee relationship management is not a gimmick dreamt up by the personnel
department; it is a sound business proposal, and every business should have a
strategy for managing each individual’s aspirations.

Jane Sunley
Managing director, Learnpurple

Hartley to blame for his incompetent staff

I am writing in response to your article ‘We must get to grips with the
mundane’ (HR Hartley, 16 March). Yes, get to grips indeed!

Oh dear Mr Hartley, you have incompetent HR staff and a workforce of morons.
Presumably, as HR director, you had some input or influence in bringing this
sad collection of people together? And you inspire and motivate by the derisory
method of performance management? So what was it you were saying about bad
workmen blaming their tools? Hmm, yet another classic example of why the HR
‘profession’ is the standing business joke.

Never mind though, keep those pearls of HR wisdom coming – they’re good for
a laugh!

Nancy Wright
Details supplied

CCP just doesn’t cut it in HR job search

Further to your CIPD debate, I would like to agree with what other readers
have said.

I am currently working for a large department store chain. I am not CIPD
qualified and neither are any of my colleagues.

However, I have managed to gain my CPP, which I completed in December 2002
at Bracknell and Wokingham College, which I funded myself by holding down a
full-time administration job and a second job as a barmaid. As you can imagine,
I had no time to myself.

While completing my CPP, I decided to find a position within HR. It took me
until September 2003 because I am not CIPD qualified. I contacted various
agencies who all informed me that I was not qualified enough to be registered
with them and did not have the experience, and that I should just stick with
the main high-street recruitment agencies.

However, there are not many vacancies for HR people in the high-street
agencies. I became very down-hearted. I slogged my guts out to get the
qualification that I had been told to do – I was working as a contracts
administrator and needed some background information before even considering my

You only need to look at the jobs advertised in Personnel Today to see that
you do need to be CIPD qualified to work in HR. Either that, or the
qualification is dangled as a carrot for low-paid positions. I have taken a job
in retail, and with it, a £5,000 a year pay cut. Fortunately for me, my partner
is very understanding.

I am determined to complete my CIPD and I know that this will take time, but
there are some jobs out there for people who have started their CIPDs. Maybe I
should wear more lipstick, perhaps that will help!

Karen Williams
Details supplied

CIPD qualification is not just about a title

I have been following the debate in Personnel Today regarding the value/need
of the CIPD qualification. I am the head of a resourcing and development
function for a large blue-chip organisation, in addition to being a CIPD

With my student head on, I agree there was pressure to gain the CIPD
qualification to get on within HR, despite holding undergraduate and
postgraduate degrees.

At the outset, I was cynical about what the qualification would do for my
skillset. However, I have learned a great deal from my studies, and have been
able to apply most of my learning in the workplace. My personal profile has
grown in proportion to the progression of my studies.

I have now been offered a promotion to head up a generalist function, which
would have been unthinkable without the knowledge I have gained through the
CIPD qualification.

With my resourcing and development head on, I encounter many arrogant and
ill-informed applicants who will not consider entry-level roles because they
hold the CIPD qualification or relevant HR degree.

Good candidates have the theoretical knowledge, but my experience shows that
few can apply it adequately.

The real value in recruiting CIPD-qualified employees comes only when the
individual understands how to apply the knowledge in a ‘best fit’ way within
the organisation.

Details supplied

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