from Lindsey Hannant, director, the Talent Partnership, Berkeley Scott Group

Sir; An earlier correspondent wrote of the difficulty of finding an employer willing to allow job sharing or flexi-working (The Grocer, March 20, p33).

Too many employers pay lipservice to the idea of work/life balance and the provision of meaningful career development but then fail to actually deliver. In short, they talk the talk but fail to walk the walk.

In an industry chronically short of talented staff, it seems incredibly shortsighted. Employers invest in staff development over several years and then to fail to retain them just when they become of greatest value to the company.

In a sector where skills shortages are already impacting on planned business expansion, it is the forward-thinking employer who will gain competitive advantage by embracing a broader and more flexible employment strategy.

In purely economic terms, recruitment costs are far higher than those for retention and development and a company which wins the hearts of its employees will also create a strong corporate loyalty. That will, in turn, deliver improved customer service levels and increased profitability for the company.

Much has been written lately about the need for companies to embrace cultural change of this sort and of the value attached to its human capital. But it is of fundamental importance that this is reinforced by a real commitment to changing values rather than just by paying lip-service to new ideas.

The vital importance of the human resource factor in a company’s ability to retain the competitive edge in today’s market place cannot be over-estimated.