This week’s letter

Culture shift is the key to being more effective

I read with interest ‘Age-old attitudes may be difficult to change’ (Legal,
4 February).

Surely, as employers, we should be looking for individuals – regardless of
age, gender or race – who are best suited to fill the vacant role we have on

Is it really the employer that is asking for irrelevant data on age, race
and gender to be given on all CV’s submitted, or is it the agencies we engage
to fill these vacancies?

I understand and fully support the need-to-know qualifications and
experience. However, I do not need nor want to know the age, race or gender of
a candidate. Agencies and candidates should be questioning the need for
providing this information to employers.

The UK is in need of a culture shift where we concentrate on ensuring we
have the most effective and productive workforce to meet the global competitive
challenges, and ultimately this comes down to education, training, development
and experience. This means that, as HR professionals, we need to gain
board-level backing for putting in place policies, practices and training
programmes that support the changes the company needs to undertake.

Raising awareness of the change in demographics has delivered considerable
changes to the opportunities now available to women. Employers are beginning to
address issues around race as well. But how long will it take for us to wake up
and realise that age too should have nothing to do with employment?

If UK plc expects to be at the top of the business world in the global
arena, then we have to make the best use of all the human capital available to
us and not allow stereotyping and prejudice to limit access to the best
candidates for the job.

Linda Klassen-Brown
Group HR manager, Nisaba Group

Leaders make the most of employees

I agree with Stephen Overell’s suggestion that financial incentives are not
the most effective way of motivating employees and gaining their commitment
(Off Message, 18 February).

Our own research on motivation clearly shows that the strongest effect on
both engagement and performance derives from the quality of leadership and the
values that prevail in the organisation. It’s about finding out what will
encourage employees to go that ‘extra mile’ and likewise what switches them
off. Well-led organisations that consult and listen to their people and then
act and communicate against properly understood priorities have a much greater
chance of success.

Raising pay or improving benefits will very rarely increase engagement on
their own. Improving leadership, offering increased development opportunities,
being creative about work-life balance and looking hard at improving the
quality of work are proven to matter far more.

Helen Murlis
Director, Hay Group

Action stations for tailored training

I applaud the recognition of the need for in-house training in the article
‘Employers must rethink managers’ development’ (News, 4 February).

But I strongly believe there are great benefits to be attained from using
external suppliers. Increasingly, modern courses are based on action learning
principles – enabling candidates to tailor their assignments directly to live
issues and priorities within their own business.

It is not just the candidates that reap the rewards of action learning –
this highly practical approach adds to an employer’s competitive advantage, by
providing instant in-house ‘management consultancy’.

External suppliers of training also offer the added advantage of being able
to draw on the experiences of employees from a variety of organisations.

We’ve seen it practised successfully in the US for a number of years, so
when are we going to see its acceptance in the UK?

David Towler
Chief executive and principal, Cambridge Online Learning

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