This week’s letters

Letter of the week
Total outsourcing is going too far

On the subject of outsourcing, the Pentland Group’s HR director Chris
Matchan asks whether "we really want HR to end up like this?"
(Comment, 30 May).

Well, I for one say "no", and senior HR directors should challenge
the thinking that suggests that the outsourcing trumpeted by Nortel Networks
and PwC is a step forward for the profession or the business it supports.

It sounds as though the demand for ever-increasing returns on investment is
the over-riding objective, and not any that HR would have normally stood for.

Am I the only HR professional who considers HR to cover the total spectrum
of activities that affect the people in an organisation? I cannot see anything
but trials and tribulations for any company that totally replaces the HR
function with an 0800 number. To leave the few remaining HR staff concentrating
on strategy alone is a pathway to disaster.

Employees will become less engaged, less motivated and disenchanted, and
eventually turnover will reflect this.

For HR to be effective strategically, it has to be involved at every level –
not removed.

Of course, there are activities that could be handled in a more efficient
way, but to outsource the whole thing?

I pity the outsourced professional who will be handling a complex Tupe
transfer from their outsourced position. Good luck.

Paul Brewer
HR director – Europe ETI

e-HR is behind surge in interest

The News Barometer survey asking "Is outsourcing a more effective way
of providing HR services?" (News, 12 June) showed that only 43 per cent of
respondents believe that to be the case.

Yet sources such as the Cranet Survey indicate that 97 per cent outsource at
least one HR service.

Does that mean that over 50 per cent of outsourcing experience is
unsatisfactory? Clearly not, judging by the enormous interest in HR outsourcing
and deals such as the one between Nortel Networks and PwC.

As outsource providers, we have noted a huge increase in interest in
outsourcing HR among progressive companies. The main reason is not to cut costs
nor to focus on core activities, but the desire to implement an e-HR strategy.

The pressure to deliver self-service HR and to tie it into a world
increasingly focused on e-business is beyond the scope of most in-house HR
departments. That’s where outsourcing can be a catalyst for change.

The ASP model allows an external supplier to cut the delivery time to
go-live on a new HR system, and creates the opportunity to outsource selected
HR functions on the same database across the organisation. This is the delivery
scenario that mid-sized organisations are seizing, to gain competitive
advantage from e-HR. In turn, it will precipitate an unprecedented growth in
outsourced HR services.

Bruce Thew
Managing director, Ceridian Europe

Job loss handled better all round

I read with interest City improves on human side of deal, (News, 12 June).

Not only are employers in the City getting better at this, but employees too
are handling job losses better and accepting that career transition is part and
parcel of modern working life.

We carried out global research that found redundancy has little impact on
family, finances and health. In fact, rather than damaging family ties and
personal relationships, nearly half of those surveyed felt redundancy had
actually strengthened their relationship with their partner.

It is encouraging that job loss is not nearly as traumatic for families as
it has been. Over recent decades we have seen a rise in the stockmarket as well
as an in house prices, which has given people greater equity than ever before.
This could explain why families feel more financially secure in the face of

But it is also good to see that employers are handling redundancy programmes
better and taking responsibility to ensure HR professionals support departing
employees with career transition services. There is no doubt that they have a
direct impact on how well equipped employees feel to deal with it.

Tony Gould
Managing director DBM, UK

Creche would be a good first step

It seems journalism is not alone in not meeting the needs of mothers (News,
30 May).

Why does the Government encourage mothers to take a year off? A better
solution would be to have policies such as creches at work – enabling us to do
our jobs better, with greater peace of mind, knowing we can see our children in
our breaks, while not falling behind careerwise.

We need a fundamental shift in attitude towards those of us raising the next

Kaneez Jaffer
Recruitment administrator

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