Go on the offensive over the bad and the ugly

You could argue that this week’s news pages cover the good, the bad and the downright ugly of HR practice. We have reported on innovative work placement schemes (good), rows over pension plans (bad) and withdrawn job offer allegations (ugly).

But rather than being the ingredients for a spaghetti Western, the latter stories demonstrate the kind of dog’s dinner that HR can end up with when employment relations go awry.

There’s no doubt HR professionals are currently operating in a highly sensitive and pressurised environment, probably more so than ever before. The workplace is beset by a record number of employment regulations, workers are increasingly aware of their rights, and the media is hungry for stories of spats and disputes.

This means that HR has to get it spot on, every time, when dealing with grievances and changes to terms and conditions. Inevitably, that doesn’t happen.

Now is the time for HR to work with its colleagues in communications and public relations. Damage limitation to the company brand (and HR’s reputation) is often overlooked during times of change.

The unions will undoubtedly be shouting long and loud about perceived injustices to their members. They are adept at exploiting any opportunity for publicity and getting their message across to the media.

HR should start playing the unions at their own game and be ready with a PR strategy of its own when the proverbial hits the fan.

  • On a separate note, last week’s front-page story about the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) ignoring business experience gained outside the HR function (Personnel Today, 31 October) provoked a strong response from readers.

Please keep your letters coming in. We will publish a selection of your views in next week’s issue of Personnel Today.

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