HCM is not dead in the water

 As a fan of Stephen Overell’s challenging ‘Off Message’ pieces, it was very disappointing to see his standard of questioning drop so precipitously when he addressed the subject of human capital management (HCM ) (Personnel Today, 2 November).

If Jac FitzEnz’s Saratoga measures had any business credibility, they would already have convinced the people that really matter in HCM – City financial and investment analysts and the DTI. Then there would have been no need for the Accounting for People Taskforce.

Saratoga’s ‘benchmarks’ are spurious, simplistic and easy to collect (for example, ‘how long it takes companies to fill a post’), which makes them very popular with hard-pressed HR departments searching for that elusive feel-good factor. However, they tell us nothing of any use about HCM or the value of people.

If anything is dead in the water, it is the era of HR measurement for the sake of it. HCM is a huge challenge and we do not have all the answers yet, but it still represents the most exciting future for those of us who are interested in creating the sort of real value that means something.

Paul Kearns
Director, PWL (and author of Personnel Today’s One Stop Guide to HCM)

Attitude to work can reveal your true age

I was very interested in the recent survey conducted on your behalf by NOP, and I was pleased to have had the opportunity to participate.
However, the one issue that this survey, and others like it, did not address is that of attitude to work. Workers can be ‘old’ at 40 if they believe they have nothing more to offer, they resist change and they stop seeking new outlets for their experience. Conversely, they can still be ‘young’ in their late 50s and 60s.

From a personal perspective – at age 58 – I still seek new challenges, remain enthusiastic about my contribution to the organisation, and know that my contribution is still valued in a team whose members range in age from their early 20s to late 50s.

We respect the different perspectives and experience that each member of the team brings to our work and believe that we are helping to drive forward a major programme of change in our organisation.

Ian Wilder
HR Strategy Planning Team, Ministry of Defence

Fired whistleblower deserves legal help

May I suggest that if Personnel Today seriously wishes to address bullying at work, it should facilitate assistance for the anonymous writer who is facing dismissal for reporting bullying (Personnel Today, 2 November).

There must be some employment lawyers who read the magazine who would be prepared to assist?

This person’s experience represents the reality about bullying at work – all the policies and procedures in the world will do nothing to stop managerial psychopaths. Unfortunately, what is needed to bring about change is a few more prominent, large financial settlements for victims.

Surely some expert would be willing to take up this one on a ‘no-win, no-fee’ basis.

Mary Brown
Department of HR Management , Aberdeen Business School, Robert Gordon University

Advice is also on dangerous ground

Having published my letter ‘Treading on very dangerous ground’ (Personnel Today, 19 October), I have a major concern with the response from David Appleton, partner at Lewis Silkin.

His comment that it could be safer to dismiss the BNP member because he would probably only have an unfair dismissal claim where compensation is capped, while the black employee could have a race discrimination claim where compensation is uncapped, implies that black employees have exclusive rights to race discrimination claims.

As this is also patently not the case, I am very dissatisfied with this answer and consider it to also be treading on dangerous ground.

Details supplied

Recruitment sector must work with HR

There appears to be a worryingly low level of awareness among HR professionals of the new Conduct of Employment Agencies and Employment Businesses Regulations 2003.

These regulations are designed to ensure the proper conduct of the recruitment industry. However, in a survey conducted recently by Capita, more than 40 per cent of HR professionals weren’t even aware of them. Furthermore, 88 per cent of employment agencies had neither implemented the regulations nor informed their clients about them.

The regulations not only clarify the existing obligations on employment agencies, they also specify mandatory information to be provided to candidates and hirers.

Employment agencies will now have increased obligations to vet workers (for instance, to ascertain a candidate’s right to work in the UK or validate their educational claims). There are also significant benefits to the work-seeker in respect of personal information – for instance, they should now be assured that their CV will not be submitted to any hirer without specific prior consent.

These regulations offer peace of mind for HR professionals. After all, recruiters who adhere to the regulations show themselves to be reputable, consultative and compliant with the law. It’s time the recruitment industry embraced positive changes. We are a people industry, and should be working together with HR to protect HR professionals, work-seekers and our own reputations as professional service providers.

Dawn Marriott
Director, Capita Resourcing

‘Liberated chaos’ is not the way forward

It’s rare that I disagree with so much in a Personnel Today article, but I’m afraid that the article ‘HR must get to grips with leadership’ (Personnel today.com) really got me fired up.

I’m no Luddite – I’m all for radical thinking and new approaches if they will bring about a greater contribution from our workforces. But the thought that ‘liberated chaos’ is the way forward leaves me quaking in my shoes. I wonder what hope there is in the future if that is the case?

So with ‘guru’ after ‘guru’ attempting to entice HR into adopting these seemingly ‘cutting-edge’ approaches, I feel it is time for the sound, considered voice of HR to be heard. I feel I speak with that voice.

My views may not be as headline grabbing, but someone has to challenge those who profess to represent the HR community. I also feel that I must reassure the organisations that progressive thinking within HR is in no way as irrational as the ‘liberated chaos’ theory might suggest.
Our profession is still in its infancy, having existed in a variety of forms for just less than 100 years, so we shouldn’t be surprised when a wide variety of views are expressed. But they should not undermine the sound bedrock that our reputation for improving the efficiency and effectiveness of both public and private sectors has been built on.

Certainly, HR must aim to drive out unnecessary and inappropriate bureaucracy and procedures, but this should be through a programme of streamlining, not by abandoning and ignoring the principles of HR. Many companies have already seen the positive impact a measured approach has in changing, reshaping and regenerating their business.

So can I ask that where modern, cutting edge theory is propounded, it is balanced with the measured tone of HR? Days of anarchy are long-gone and I can only fear where liberated chaos might leave us: in utter chaos, with low morale, litigation and ultimately, implosion, rather than as the leaders in our profession and of our organisations.

Graham White
Head of HR, Surrey County Council

Workers of all ages should be valued

Your recent survey (Personnel Today, 26 October) suggests that companies have ageist policies. I have felt the brunt of ageism in the IT industry at the age of 43 and was not able to get a job from some 180 applications in four months. I now work in France.

If I were an ethnic minority, the word ‘racism’ would be bandied about. If a survey suggested the same, but in terms of race, then I am sure there would be hell to pay.

When is UK industry going to wake up to the fact that people are the business and should be valued. And, perhaps the question should be asked: what kind of dissonance would be created if all over 45s felt they had no future? What would the economic consequence be?

I would like the names of those surveyed to be published, as this would be a true reflection of the leadership of UK industry.

Graeme Blundell
Consultant working in France

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