If HR cannot get basics right it should hang head in shame

I read with interest ‘HR must restore value of transactional activities’, outlining the debate at the recently held Personnel Today HR Directors Club Networking Dinner (Personnel Today, 12 June). Initially, I was somewhat dismayed at the continuing debate and introspection over what is/should be HR’s role, but was then surprised to see that also being debated was whether HR should focus on getting transactional activities right first rather than focusing on transformational ones.

This clearly cannot be an either/or question. Accuracy and turnaround of response on basic HR deliverables must be a given. If, as a function, HR cannot get these basic things right, what hope is there of succeeding in delivering the more demanding, strategic and organisationally value-adding activities?

No wonder some of our finance colleagues call into question the value of their HR counterparts. Could you imagine a finance directors’ networking dinner having a similar debate? “Let’s not worry about the accuracy of our numbers in the annual financial report and accounts, and instead just focus on new ventures, M&A opportunities, etc. So what if the report and accounts are not filed on time?” Don’t think so.

With ideas like that, no wonder our contribution is called into question.

Sanjeev Sharma
HR director

Employee view is critical to success of coaching

The fact that 87% of people in the Chiumento survey either do not know if coaching is measured, or know they cannot prove a return, tells several stories (Personnel Today, 5 June).

One is that relatively few HR departments ever get asked to produce a return on investment (ROI) on this or any other activity.

It is taken for granted that it is a ‘good and worthy’ thing to do, but perhaps we have a very narrow view of what ROI means – what is the investment in, and what kind of return do we expect?

Your editorial comment asks the question: is it to do with better performance, new and needed skills, or just a perk?

Unfortunately, these questions are rarely properly answered, so it’s no surprise we have the 87%.

In my experience, individuals gain much more than organisations from coaching, and it is a waste of time to develop hypothetical links from their ‘feeling better’ to some bottom-line measure.

It belongs, I suggest, in the employee benefits budget, and not in the training or performance improvement budget (if there is such a thing).

The only return we can measure from employee benefits is that employees really value them. Only then can we ask whether the level of investment in those benefits is justified by the amount of value employees feel they receive.

Andrew Mayo
Mayo Learning International

Invitation to share wisdom with the Mothers’ Union

I was intrigued to see Graham White from Surrey County Council in your Guru section referring to the Mothers’ Union as being white, middle-class, middle-aged and Daily Mail-reading (Personnel Today, 22 May).

In Surrey, there are many branches of the Mothers’ Union that have a majority of black women members. Throughout Surrey, members are involved in voluntary community work with families and people facing adversity. If you really want to re-energise your life, perhaps you could contribute to Mothers’ Union projects.

We have some 1,000 male members in the UK, so you won’t be alone.

Yes, some members may be middle-aged yes, some members may read the Daily Mail and yes, some of them are white and women. I’m sure the same could be said of some staff at Surrey County Council.

Fiona Thomas
Communications officer
The Mothers’ Union

Proof of skills pledge will be seen in the workforce

In your news story ‘Government to unveil skills pledge later today after six months of false starts’ (Personneltoday.com, 14 June) you state that I said the skills pledge “didn’t mean anything unless it was mandatory”.

This is an unfortunate conflating of two separate points that I made.

First, that making the pledge reflects a commitment from employers to train. It is an important mechanism to drive up training, but it isn’t an end in itself.

The proof of the skills pledge’s value will be shown if the workforce’s skills increase in future. And we will be doing all we can to help the process.

Second, in our submission to Leitch we argued for a statutory requirement on employers to train up to Level 2. And although we would have preferred this entitlement to be introduced earlier, we are delighted that the government is committed to reviewing success over the next three years with a view to legislation if progress is unsatisfactory.

Liz Smith

Comments are closed.