This week’s letters

Small companies offer big rewards

Like Ayshea Christian, I have also enjoyed my move to a smaller firm
(Letters, 7 May).

I worked for two large companies in a variety of HR roles, working my way up
from an administrative role, before being offered the opportunity to join
Witwood Food Products in Banbury as HR manager. The firm has 140 staff in the
UK and 40 in Australia.

Although not a new role – it previously incorporated payroll and reported to
the financial director – it was not regarded as a strategic function. When I
joined the organisation, I reported to the managing director with a brief to
increase the profile of HR. Having had 14 years in the business I had always
wanted this type of challenge – to be able to bring ‘best practices’ to a
smaller but incredibly successful organisation.

I have also had the opportunity to become involved in and gain knowledge of
many areas including health and safety, training, development and mainstream
business issues. I am also producing a global HR strategy.

I’ve found it hard work and put in long hours but the rewards and
recognition are immeasurable. I love it.

Debs Oldroyd
HR manager, Witwoods Food Products

No mistake over Harassment Act

Ian Green referred to an apparent contradiction between a quote from me –
which stated that harassment is not a criminal offence – and Personnel Today’s
legal column that described harassment under the Protection from Harassment Act
1997 as criminal (Letters, 30 April).

There is no contradiction. The Act was primarily designed to protect people
from stalking and may – but not usually – cover the type of harassment that
takes place in the workplace.

Harassment at work will commonly only constitute a criminal offence where it
involves assault.

Diane Sinclair
Lead adviser on public policy, CIPD

We can all help to combat stress

Those of us who work in an office expect a busy but reasonably stress-free
existence (Research viewpoint, 7 May).

The problems of stress in a normal office environment often arise when we
are busy for months on end with no breathing space or recognition for our
efforts. It can also occur when we are assigned responsibilities without
adequate backup or training, and we put pressure on ourselves to perform

Most of us can take this kind of pressure – or can speak up when it gets
unbearable – but there are times when other external influences affect our abilities
to cope at work and thus cause stress-related illness.

Although the pressure of a working situation is often the catalyst for a
stress-related illness, there are often underlying reasons that are not

Those who don’t recognise that there may be underlying problems exacerbating
their situation spoil it for genuine suffers, such as Barry Johnson, who
featured in the article.

It is understandable that in today’s blame culture the Government is trying
to bring in ways of lowering the number of stress claims. But perhaps it is
down to all of us to take a more balanced view of our lives and do something
positive about unreasonable work situations before resorting to legal action.

Annette Smith
Personal assistant, Peerless Europe Ltd

Comments are closed.