Refusing to help ‘skint’ staff costs firms more in long run

I am a senior HR officer working within a large manufacturing organisation, and have noted in recent years an increase in the numbers of employees who have cited financial difficulties as the significant reason for their sickness absence.

Employers seem to be slow in addressing this issue, believing that it is not their problem, but one for the employee to manage themselves. However, being unable to manage large debt can have dire consequences, which could have a knock-on effect on the employee’s productivity and their contribution within the workplace.

Employers should be willing to take a more proactive approach in this area of employee wellbeing by displaying appropriate material with contacts, and offering visible support if needed. Employers should encourage a supportive culture where dialogue can occur so these issues can be addressed and appropriate action taken. I believe that in the culture we live in today, this issue can only become more prevalent.

Mike Crabtree, senior HR officer

Getting back to basics – getting the facts straight

Gary Georges’ letter in last week’s Personnel Today (19 February) started off well, but then faltered.

Having made the point that the function “can lead to a reduction in overheads via improved management processes”, he then finishes with the observation that HR’s role of getting back to basics pretty much includes legal compliance that line managers don’t want to do – a kind of ‘office sweeping brush’.

I would like to make the following points:

  • Luke Johnson was referring to entrepreneurs rather than managers, and the HR profession should have ignored this (see my blog entry 4 February) rather than over-reacting.
  • ‘Resources’ is a derogatory term to use after the word ‘human’, and ‘capital’ is the more correct term (also should be known as the HCM function).
  • Marketing, accounting and IT habitually question their role/value, but their contribution is currently more transparent. It’s not a matter of reinvention but of positioning for HR which is extremely important in terms of its role.
  • It is becoming questionable as to whether the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development is actually the representative national body, and whether ‘professional’ status results from its qualification.

I’m ready for the rotten tomatoes.

Nicholas Higgins, International School of HCM

Old-style action won’t solve long-hours issue

Your story on the TUC’s ‘Work Your Proper Hours Day’ campaign (Personnel, 19 February) was a ‘blast from the past’. It seems this campaign is likely to reinforce an old organisational model that will make it more difficult for employers and staff to work together effectively.

The key issue here is the troubling persistence of a world view in which managers are seen as the ‘enemy’ of workers. Surely most UK companies long ago realised that managers are workers? Everyone achieves their goals when all parts of a business work with clarity of expectations and unity of purpose.

As an economic slowdown looms, advising ‘working to rule’ seems misconceived. Recognising that different people – whether ‘bosses’ or ‘workers’ – work in different ways should be a central tenet of any HR strategy. In companies where this isn’t evident, the least helpful approach is to drive further wedges amidst the working population with a tit-for-tat battle. Rather, lines of communication need to be opened and kept open until all sides understand what is needed to succeed.

Lucy McGee, head of marketing, OPP

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