LettersOn 11 Feb 2003 in Personnel Today Comments are closed. This week’s lettersNo substitute for real experience In ‘Outside input is needed to make HR strategic’ (HR Viewpoint, 28January), Alan Bailey claims HR business partners are few and far between andthe industry needs to look beyond HR to recruit and develop the stars of thefuture. As someone who has moved from a commercial background into HR, I cancertainly recommend it. Having been in PR all my working life – which includeddeveloping two consultancies – I realised my strengths also lie in peoplemanagement. I implemented training schemes in both consultancies, and we ended upwinning industry awards in PR for two consecutive years for our peopledevelopment programmes. About four years ago, after yet another three-hour meeting with a24-year-old brand manager, discussing the personality of his chocolate barbrand, I had to move on. One of my ex-colleagues, who was then chief executive of Edelman in London,asked me to “take a look at our HR – I don’t think we’re getting itright”. I explained that I had no qualifications in HR, but she insistedthat I was the right person because I had always had a leaning towards peoplemanagement and I understood how business worked. I agreed to do it in the short-term, but four years later I am very muchfull-time, having been given responsibility for developing best practice in HRin all of our 12 European offices, and more recently having started workingwith our offices in Canada, Asia Pacific and Latin America. Despite big differences in employment law across the offices and regions andcultural differences – including silly things such as the time of day I have tobreak for lunch when training (12 noon in Stockholm, 1pm in most of Europe, but2pm in Spain) – the challenges our managers face are exactly the same. How do you make sure you get the best people, how do you motivate them whenyou can’t always reward financially, and how do you get managers to take theirpeople management responsibilities seriously? I have now handed the London office over to a professional HR person, and amdeveloping HR staff in our other offices. I also work closely with seniormanagement to develop HR strategy, which places a lot of emphasis onrecruitment, motivation and retention of top talent. Do I miss PR? Not one bit. I still feel that I work in PR, but the challengeis getting the people management right, and focusing on the most important partof our business is a fascinating and ever-challenging scenario. It is demanding– long hours, lots of travel and sometimes having to clean up other people’smesses – but it is hugely rewarding and I know what I do makes a difference. I never really felt that way about the chocolate bar. Liz Fraser European director of HR, Edelman Career breaks can build staff loyalty I was really pleased to see the subject of career breaks covered so comprehensivelyin Personnel Today (Legal Q&As, 28 January). Career breaks are often overlooked as a way of attracting and retaining keystaff, and along with flexible working options are a good way of retainingexperienced people. The public relations industry – like many others in the service sector – isnotorious for its full-on, full-time attitude, with the result that anyemployee over 30 is treated a bit like an antique. We have found that the introduction of career breaks, sabbaticals and a moreflexible approach to work in the past two years has increased our retentionstatistics at the level we need it most – that is for those with more than fiveyears’ experience. Returnees come back fresh, relaxed, creative and, most of all, committed tothe business that gave them this opportunity. The philosophy may seem full of risk, but I can confirm that it’s worth itfrom an HR point of view. Carmel O’Kane HR manager, Firefly Communications Cheap alternative to Porter’s wisdomSo, we need to invest in labour force skills, innovation, and goods andservices that provide companies with sustainable competitive advantage, claimsProfessor Michael Porter (News, 28 January). This guy is amazing – worth every penny of the squillions paid to him by theDTI and others. Aged 57 and speeding downhill fast, I am more than happy to dispense wisdomof equal quality, and for a lot less cash. It might help me earn more than mymissus – a much younger HR manager. Do you think there is any chance that you could put in a good word for mewith the DTI? Paul Williams Training and development manager, Federal Mogul Powertrain Systems Previous Article Next Article Related posts:No related photos.