This week’s letters

Naked truth issue makes Michael Porter redundant

What a wonderful combination of articles in The Naked Truth issue (News and
features, 22 October). If government and industry were to read – and think
about – all of the items on stress, workaholism and productivity, there would
be no need to spend money on Michael Porter.

On page 8 and 36 you address stress. Stress is never good for you. Pressure
can be, but the condition called stress is one of serious tiredness or
exhaustion. It limits your capacity to live or work effectively and creates
depression, anxiety and illness. It is this confusion between pressure and
stress that bedevils the argument and enables senior line management to avoid
looking at the effects on productivity.

On page 44 you tackle the mantra that ‘People are our greatest asset’.

I don’t deny that many employers now have to regard employees as expendable,
as are their other assets of buildings or machinery. The basic difference is
that no sensible company would allow its plant or machinery to be worked to
destruction without maintenance or care.

Then we have the article on workaholism on page 65. It concludes that
workaholism is bad for productivity. If we look at gross domestic product
(GDP), per hour or per capita, as a measure of productivity then at least one
OECD table shows The Netherlands as working the shortest hours but generating
the highest GDP.

If employers took stress seriously and set out to measure it properly in
their workplace; if they took action to reduce it through changing their
management practices and styles; if they then provided support services, and a
variety of other training, education and services to their employees, then
sickness absence would drop dramatically and commitment and productivity would

How employees are managed is the key to the reducing stress and improving

Again you have it on the front page: "At Interbrew we believe there is
a direct link between leadership and productivity."

Too right. And in too many organisations there is far too much management
and not nearly enough leadership.

Ron Scott
Director – strategy and planning, The Lancaster Group

Tabloid nudity elicits exasperated response

I was exasperated at your front cover image. It would seem that I receive a
tabloid that feels the need to print pictures of naked people on the front
cover just to entice the reader to venture further into its pages to see… more
pictures of naked people. The issue hit the bin almost immediately.

Wanda Spooner
HR director, Centrepoint

Cold front generates interest in hot topics

I enjoyed The Naked Truth, and the cover image made me want to read on more
than usual.

I did wonder though how you got England goal keeper David Seaman to pose
nude in the cold on a train track. My fears for his safety were allayed when I
realised he, more than most, would be safe – he can’t catch a cold let alone a

Simon Cowdroy
Via e-mail

Frivolous cases clog up tribunal system

Why are frivolous tribunal claims still allowed to progress? The reforms
that are due to be implemented in the Employment Act will not help.

Acas will still have to remain impartial even when it knows a case is weak.
Until the system is squared up so that frivolous claims can be weeded out
earlier, the tribunal system will remain clogged.

We all make mistakes and it is right that the tribunal system is there to
censure companies that act outside of good practice. But while frivolous cases
can still get through the only winners are the lawyers.

As a company we have been forced to waste a lot of time, effort and money on
a recent claim we eventually won. The tribunal wasted time and taxpayers’
money; and the person who bought the claim is now out of pocket.

They should have been told from the outset there was little chance of
success. But solicitors will always argue that there is a chance since tribunal
findings are so inconsistent.

With fewer meaningless cases getting through, tribunals could spend more
time working at getting consistency, becoming more flexible and therefore
gaining the trust of employers and employees alike.

The whole system needs review and not just a light tampering.

Mark Oliver
HR manager, Tulip UK Ltd

Mr Angry needs to buy a new dictionary

– It is extraordinary how often people assume words with more than one
definition are always being used in the most pejorative sense. This refers to
Andrew Lashbrooke’s angry reaction to the use of the phrase ‘sexual persuasion’
when describing gay people (Letters, 29 October).

My dictionary defines ‘persuasion’ in one of its meanings as ‘any group or
party’ and gives ‘the male persuasion’ as an example of its use in this
context. It is quite possible that no offence was intended by the author Denise

Perhaps I should complain to the compilers of my dictionary, and demand that
the Equalities Commission scour such publications to ensure equal
representation of gender-based examples in the future.

Jackie Roberts
Consultant, JR Consulting

– I suspect Denise Keating was using the noun persuasion in sense of
‘established creed or belief’ or ‘sect, party or faction’, according to my
Collins Concise Dictionary. The use was appropriate. May I appeal to all
members of the thought police to consult a dictionary before bringing HR into

David Hill
Director of HR, Natural History Museum

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