109 Issue: Apathy, literacy or truth?

I suspect you are only trying to get a reaction with your provocative statements in your editorial, Apathy, literacy or truth? (Issue 109, 25 July 2006, p5) so, against my better judgement and natural inclinations, here is mine

I suspect you are only trying to get a reaction with your provocative statements in your editorial, Apathy, literacy or truth? (Issue 109, 25 July 2006, p5) so, against my better judgement and natural inclinations, here is mine.

I read your recent column and saw it as possibly uninformed, but more likely designed simply to stir up a bit of reaction. I remember thinking that I would probably see various diatribes from readers of all persuasions published in the next issue. Like most of my colleagues in HR, I am usually pretty busy with matters such as recruiting people, making sure their inductions are effective, developing future leaders, keeping a suitable focus on workplace safety, administering the superannuation scheme, conciliating disputes and so on, that taking time out to respond did not have a high enough priority.

Now, however, it seems that you may, issue after issue, continue to draw facile conclusions from what is possibly quite dodgy research. So I have decided to respond.

1. There are many more than three reasons why people may have chosen not to respond, as I’ve already demonstrated. Others include lack of time to research our own statistics from such research papers; seeing your column as tongue-in-cheek and therefore not looking for a response; dismissing overseas surveys as not particularly relevant to Australia. I could go on.

2. HR salaries here in Adelaide certainly have not increased by 50 per cent in the last 12 months. In fact, I think that salaries have been very much limited to market movements of about 3 to 3.5 per cent per annum, if that. Maybe I’m the only one missing out!

3. Perhaps only one in ten CEO’s are happy with their HR functions, although I doubt it – more later. If this is the case, then I think it an indictment on the professionalism of the CEOs surveyed. When I have people performing at a sub-standard level I certainly don’t respond by increasing their salaries dramatically while, at the same time, bagging them in an anonymous survey. There are far more effective ways to increase the value of a function and its people than that! To the “more later”– I have yet to meet a CEO who is satisfied with any aspect of their organisations. That is part of their role, not to be satisfied, to constantly seek improvement. Maybe their interpretation of the question was a little different from yours.

But perhaps you are completely correct in your assertions. If that is the case, then I am sure there will be a rapid and deserved demise in the number of people employed in HR and in the salaries of those who remain. I cannot imagine any serious business allowing itself to be bluffed any longer by an apathetic, overpaid, ineffective, illiterate and cynical bunch of no-hopers. My only hope for survival, in this doddle of a profession, is that our collective leaders subscribe to publications other than Human Resources and therefore have no idea of the low regard in which its consulting editor holds those who do subscribe to it, thereby paying his salary.

Ah, the spleen feels better already!

– Malcolm Butcher, human resources manager, RAA of SA

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