This week’s letters

Kingsmill report focused on measuring staff contribution

The Accounting for People report’s recommendation of an ‘evolutionary
approach’ to human capital management has not left us with the ‘gaping hole’
that Stephen Overell would lead us to believe (Off message, 25 May).

Although some were disappointed by the lack of specific recommendations
provided by the Kingsmill taskforce, the report has focused minds on an
important issue. No organisation can achieve its goals without the people it
employs, yet we continue to lack a framework for assessing the contribution
those people make to their employer. In highlighting the issues involved, the
report will undoubtedly help to address this discrepancy.

It is perhaps unsurprising that Kingsmill did not identify a single
methodology for evaluating human capital – no two organisations are the same.
The report avoided the temptation to prescribe a generic remedy to measure
employee output, preferring a more flexible approach employers could draw from
to suit their own needs.

Instead of creating a counterproductive conflict on a particular methodology
– which undoubtedly would have eclipsed the valuable debate on the crucial
issues underpinning it – the Kingsmill report has helped us move forward by
focusing on people within organisations as the key to their future.

No longer can finance directors regard workforce development as an
afterthought; it is a central part of the organisation’s business plan. People
are the only dynamic resource that a company has, and should be treated as such.

Ruth Spellman
Chief executive, Investors in People UK

Manufacturers must address their issues

Before writing off their industry as a lost cause, as recent research
published by the Transport and General Workers Union (T&G) would imply,
British manufacturers should look at ways to address the most serious
challenges they face.

T&G research cited the lack of skilled and experienced applicants as
central to the imminent demise of UK manufacturing, but failed to offer any
guidance on how to address this.

It won’t be easy, but UK manufacturers must act now if they are to turn
their businesses around. The key to developing workforces with the right mix of
technical skill and leadership competencies is ensuring that as an organisation
there is a clear, strategic development plan for all staff, based on achieving
both personal and corporate objectives.

Developing a plan built around a clear competency framework, which in turn
is tied to delivering improved business performance, will enable high-potential
individuals to step up to new roles and responsibilities.

This will inevitably boost creativity and innovation and create a
recognisable career path for both new entrants to the industry, and experienced
managerial candidates, who can bring the benefit of their experience from a
range of industries to bear on manufacturing businesses.

Godfrey Owen
Deputy chief executive, Brathay

Ann Summers is not an equality advocate

How patronising were Alan Bailey’s remarks that Ann Summers "has
actually had a significant impact in empowering women" (Professional
Agenda, 1 June)!

Bailey’s logic is that women are best placed to progress in their career if
they work for an organisation whose raison d’etre is the gratification of women
and the titillation of men. Saints preserve us from that kind of equal

We certainly know where Bailey stands on the issue when he says that women
do well in the HR profession because of the perception – no doubt his
perception – that women are thought to be "better at people-orientated

But what is sauce for the goose is also sauce for the gander, is it not?
Maybe it is just possible that not as many women as men sit in boardrooms
because it is perceived that male rather than female ‘attributes’ are precursors
for obtaining such posts. I am certain that Bailey thinks this way. If I am
incorrect, perhaps he could offer his own job to some sweet young thing with
nice legs and blue eyes – someone much like the young lady portrayed in the Ann
Summers advertisement which he finds so laudable.

Of course, it is not women who are to blame for the pernicious combination
of sexism and ageism that detrimentally affects men – notably those in middle
age. The fault lies squarely at the door of the equal opportunities lobbyists.

I suggest that Bailey joins the real world. For a start, he could read the
letter from Ian Clabby (Letters, 1 June), which most articulately – and
amusingly – tells us where we stand on this issue.

Terry Lunn CFIPD
Independent consultant

Editor’s reply: Although your sentiment will probably remain
unchanged, the quotes you referred to in Alan Bailey’s article were actually
attributed to Ann Summers’ HR executive, Gary Burgham. Bailey was merely
referring to Burgham’s comments in the Professional Agenda column on these

Equality laws won’t change our thoughts

The recent debate on equality and diversity seems to have missed a number of

Anti-discrimination employment law is discriminatory in itself as it stops
employers from running a business in a way they want to.

It attempts to regulate the way employers act, but it cannot change the way
they think. Equality and diversity law is the child of social engineering and
political correctness.

There are those who say that equality and diversity provides a competitive
advantage, and that view does hold some logic. But equality and diversity laws
are not needed because the market will regulate itself. Legislation should be
kept to the bare minimum, not extended so that it becomes an ever-increasing
burden on employers. It is not by chance that the best-performing countries
economically have been those with the least employment legislation (consider
the UK in the EC and the rush to outsource abroad).

The HR department in the UK has become increasingly concerned with
employment law. It is now the domain of the legal profession, as we constantly
have to seek legal opinion. Indeed, if you want to get on in HR, my advice is
get a legal qualification. The best minds in HR are becoming overwhelmed with
questions on compliance or ways of circumventing employment legislation.

John Long
HR consultant

Values are the way to identify recruits

Here’s a thought: sell the job’s ‘concept’, articulate the nature and values
of the company, and then wait for people who identify with those values and the
concept to apply.

When recruiting for myself, I don’t worry about skills and competencies.
Rather, I focus on ‘values’. What instincts do people draw upon when confronted
with new situations?

Exploring ‘why’ people make the decisions they make has made one thing very
clear to me. You can teach skills, but you can’t teach values.

Hamish Davidson
Chairman, Veredus Executive Resourcing

Majority don’t abuse the sick-pay system

It was with a degree of disappointment, but no surprise, that I read the
results of your recent news barometer on sick pay, which showed that 74 per
cent of readers believed it encourages staff to take time off (25 May).

I suppose my HR colleagues would like a return to the Victorian era, where
the only pay you received was for when you came into work!

Surely sick pay is there so that those who are truly ill and cannot get into
work do not get penalised? The assumption that not paying it will somehow
encourage the malingerers to become conscientious seems flawed to me. Those who
are truly ill and would normally take time off sick would decide that they
couldn’t afford to take time off and struggle in, no doubt spreading their
germs to their colleagues.

If people taking sick leave when they aren’t really ill is a problem, don’t
penalise the majority who don’t abuse the system. Tackle the ones who do
through a proper attendance programme, where line managers and/or HR find out
the real reasons why people aren’t coming in. Maybe then you will truly become
an employer of choice.

Neil McCawley
Pay and benefits manager

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