While the British Learning Association is right to express its concern about the slow take-up of e-learning in the UK (Personnel Today, 23 November 2004), I would say that the key reason why take-up by small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) has been lower is directly attributable to the sales effort within this market and subsequently awareness.
Early sales efforts from e-learning providers have been targeted at large companies, not SMEs. As the major consumer brands enter the consumer and SME e-learning market in the next few years and Learndirect achieves greater penetration, I predict we will see a greater uptake in usage within this market.
Steve Dineen. chief executive, Fuel
Public sector staff lead sheltered lives
You report that the TUC is moaning once again about pensions for public sector workers, especially women (PersonnelToday.com, 12 January). The fact is that public sector workers are, as far as pension provisions are concerned, far better off than many of their counterparts in private sector schemes.
In the private sector, as I’m sure readers will be well aware, cuts and closures are the order of the day. I know of several people who have lost pensions altogether, because of schemes being wound-up and others who must work far longer before they can take a pension – typically up from 60 to 65. They’d kill for a public sector pension.
Most public sector workers are shielded from the vicissitudes of the markets and know they will get their pension more or less come what may. Also, the recent proposals to reform NHS pensions and base them on average earnings should mean that lower-paid workers will not lose out and their pensions will be more or less guaranteed.
Surely the TUC should be happy about this? It should continue to press the Government to provide higher state pensions for all paid for through increased and ring-fenced taxation or National Insurance contributions. That is the only way – other than compulsory pension saving schemes – to ensure that pensioners, of whatever gender and working background, receive a pension they can live on comfortably.
Unnecessary tension links health issues
I have just read your article on stress, repetitive strain injury (RSI) and back strains as being the top three health hazards of today (PersonnelToday.com, 26 November 2004).
All of the above have a common thread, and that is muscle tension patterns. With stress, the muscles contract and inhibit breath and fluid circulation, so the heart pumps faster to supply oxygen to the brain. Over a period of time, this can lead to high blood pressure.
RSI is another form of muscle contraction – tension that is particular to specific muscle groups worked repetitively.
Back pain has done and still does have everyone bewildered. People in all walks of life and of all ages suffer back pain. Add to that a job where the extensor muscles are put to work repetitively and you have back strains. These tension patterns become locked in the neuro-muscular system and are often a mix of innate reflexes plus repetitive motion. Unlocking the body requires the right key – a key that each of us can use as needed, and preferably as a preventative to the above dysfunctions.
Michael Puro Jacobs, Hanna Somatic educator
HR needs to get the managers on board
I find it hard to believe that working longer hours with fewer holidays can make staff happier (Personnel Today, 11 January).
It seems that this is the case in the US, where 40 per cent of those polled said they were ‘completely satisfied’ with their opportunities for promotion, compared with 25 per cent of UK respondents.
The survey says that Americans are likely to receive greater reward and that they are most satisfied with their managers. What are employers in the UK to conclude from this? It sounds obvious, but effective reward and recognition policies will lead to happier and more engaged staff. Also, the US has a better quality of manager. After all, it is the manager who is the custodian of promotions and all other reward and recognition activity.
Our job as HR manager is to ensure we understand how staff want to be rewarded. As family friendly policies are pushed further up the political priority list, employers will have to be on top of what employees expect. And these expectations are increasing rapidly.
As for the age-old issue of managers – HR has to work doubly hard to get them on board. Reward and recognition policies will only work if managers understand them, can communicate them to staff and put them into practice.
If HR departments can crack this, then hopefully we will see a more engaged and happier workforce.