This week’s letters

Letter of the week
Teaching our staff to write it right

I want to respond to recent letters saying that it is time to act over
sloppy grammar.

I work for a London children’s charity providing daycare in 11 community
nurseries and we have endless issues with poor spelling, punctuation and

To address this, the personnel manager and I have written two Brush up your
Writing Skills programmes to help staff understand the simple rules of grammar
and how to write a presentable letter without stray capitals and apostrophes
and with the correct use of ie and eg etc.

Most staff are keen to learn and feel their inability to write clearly and
correctly is a barrier to their future. Many say they were told at college that
spelling did not matter as it was the content that was important. It has taken
some time for some staff to appreciate that the content is of little
significance if the reader is unable to understand it.

All reports, newsletters and notice boards are now proofread and we have
created an environment where staff are much more aware of their written
presentation and take time to check everything themselves.

The managers have purchased dictionaries, thesaurus and grammar guides for
staff use. Having computers has helped also.

Interestingly, staff who have English as an additional language and who have
been educated outside the UK are generally more aware of grammar rules and
often achieve a level of competency far and above that of their colleagues.

The problem remains one of recognising the grammar inaccuracies, but
hopefully that will improve as more staff become more knowledgeable and cascade
the information throughout the organisation.

Teaching the children to read and write has certainly helped as the relevant
teaching aids explain key grammar from the simplest levels and helps to
reinforce growing understanding.

It is reassuring to know that it is not just our organisation that faces
this problem – we are constantly amazed by the quality of written reports from
professionals and application forms. Any other creative ideas for improvement
are very welcome.

June O’Sullivan
Operations and training manager, Westminster Children’s Society

Poor treatment can hurt business

If Les Simpson thinks that only the marketing department should care about
customers, perhaps it is he who should not be employed (Letters, 4 September).

All staff with external contacts represent their employers. Potential
applicants who are badly treated by a recruitment section (in my case, total
silence after interview with three organisations in the past few years) will
tell their friends and colleagues about their experiences.

This will progressively reduce the pool of applicants as well as alienating

Where the poor service comes from a "professional" recruitment
agency aiming to supply HR employees, it is even worse. Not only is that agency
sacrificing any chance of future business from the applicant who is badly
treated, the poor service also reflects on the client.

Recruitment agency staff are recruited to sell, but the agencies also claim
high standards of professional competence, efficiency, customer service and
ethical behaviour. Very few achieve those aspirations and appear more akin to
double glazing companies, but without the useful product.

Richard East
HR consultant

Agencies are not just body shops

I disagree with Les Simpson, in that applicants should not expect
"care" from agencies.

It is the agency that cares which makes a difference. Agencies are not body
shops that sell skills and qualifications. They place people in jobs that need
those skills and qualifications and deal with real human beings, with dreams,
ambitions, needs and wants.

Sometimes it is the emotional make-up of applicants that makes them better
for particular jobs.

Koshu Lulla
Via e-mail

We sell services not the applicants

At PPS, we are all HR professionals and our function is to provide good
quality, appropriate candidates quickly.

We have spent time getting to know and understand the culture and
requirements of our clients. Putting the right people forward comes as second

Of course, this is what we have found our client companies want. They don’t
want to be sold CVs or "repackaged" individuals, no matter how
"talented" they are.

We present them with candidates because they are the right people, with the
right qualifications. It is our service that we sell and never the applicants.

Victoria Phillpot
Managing director , Professional Pre-Selection Services

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