This week’s letters

Re-mystifying metrics with gobbledegook

I must take issue with the claim made by Nicholas Higgins (Problem Corner, 8
April) that he would "demystify HR analytics". For HR analytics, most
practitioners should actually read "HR metrics" or, more simply,
"HR data analysed more smartly".

To suggest that "[HR analytics’] base understanding can be interpreted
simply as a real-time organochart" seems ironic. HR professionals are
constantly asking consultants to achieve two aims: help us to understand how to
use HR metrics more effectively, but, at the same time, keep it simple.

Language is key. The article only ‘re-mystifies’ the issue and limits some
of the strides made in recent years towards better use of diagnostics to prove
HR’s value to the business.

If we could focus HR on identifying what drives key business outcomes
(engagement, retention, return on investment), we would be winning. More
gobbledegook such as this will only serve to undermine the cause.

Andy Brown
Global practice leader, research & diagnostics, The Empower Group

Time to consider workplace childcare

With more than a third of finance directors saying new flexible working
legislation in the Employment Act will damage business (News, 15 April), it
must be time for more of these medium and large businesses to consider workplace
childcare options.

It is encouraging to see the new Employment Act legislation will afford
parents with children under six years flexibility to negotiate working
conditions with their employers.

However, the commonly discussed job sharing and flexible hours are not
always the best option for either parents or employers. Employers and childless
co-workers may feel resentful and parents often feel under extra pressure to
get the same job done in less time, as they have to rush off to pick up their
child from nursery care.

Workplace childcare is often dismissed as being too difficult but it can
deliver significant business benefits to the employer and reduces parental
stress. On-site childcare can give parents more scope to work a full day if
they desire and also delivers financial benefits to employers in the form of
tax breaks.

The main cost of setting up workplace childcare is securing the structure,
which can sometimes involve entering a lease agreement if space is not already
available, and contracting a group to run the centre. Some workplace childcare
consultants will even enter into a lease on behalf of a company wishing to
establish a nursery or childcare centre, reducing the risk for the company.

Companies should act now to introduce childcare facilities rather than wait
for legislation to enforce this.

Similarly to other flexible working options, workplace childcare can
significantly improve absentee levels and assist in recruiting and retaining
good staff.

For employees, workplace childcare facilities usually undercut the average
cost of childcare in an area, delivering financial benefits to families as well
as the convenience and peace of mind of knowing their child is in close
proximity in case of an emergency.

Justin Palmer
Managing director, Principio Workplace Solutions

Invest in real data for revolutionary thinking

Bravo to Stephen Overell for his column, ‘An unholy waste of paper’ (Off
message, 15 April).

There is so much nonsense talked about managing people and releasing
creativity in the workplace.

A glance, for instance, at the CIPD annual conference list of ‘gurus’ points
further to the unrelenting tide of business books that, for the most part, seem
void of substance.

Isn’t it time that authors of business books started to invest in real data
to prove these wonderful ideals and bright revolutionary thinking?

Alison Gill
Managing director, Getfeedback Organisational Engineering

Are we obsessed with justifying ourselves?

For months now I have been reading in Personnel Today countless
contributions urging the HR profession to become more strategic, more
business-focused and get a place on the board. Why this obsession with
justifying our existence?

Surely if we just get on and do our jobs, not be deflected from what we know
to be right and in the best interests of the business, we will be dragged to
the boardroom whether we want to be there or not.

Any HR professional worth their salt will already be strategic and have an
eye on the bottom line. If we need an obsession, why don’t we focus on those
members of our profession who would be better suited to a career in Social
Services and encourage them to make use of their talents elsewhere.

Trevor D Richards MInstLM MCIPD
HR manager, Smiths Gore

Remember learning is about success

It was shocking to read in your article (‘Skills shortage hinders
competitive progress’ News, 22 April) that despite business leaders realising
the importance of learning in the workplace today, only a meagre 17 per cent
were able to say they were ‘satisfied’ with the training progress their
organisation had made.

In fact, even the term satisfied it self is a little worrying. Learning is
about success, not satisfaction.

It is about providing employees with the vital IT and business skills
required to help increase productivity and motivation levels, and meet overall
business goals.

If organisations put more time into nurturing employee and company learning
through strong and strategic training programmes, there should be no reason why
they are not experiencing real learning success.

Karina Ward
Marketing communications manager, NETg

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