Bad Work Environment

Here’s the thing…

I’ve noticed something, something people don’t seem to get, and that is that there’s a compounding effect among the factors that make a bad job bad.  Put another way, as jobs get worse, they tend to get worse more exponentially than they do linearly.

For example, a place that stresses people such that they have increased needs for ‘mental health’ days, is also far less likely to offer enough PTO to allow people mental health days.  The same bad and incompetent management that causes the need strangles the cure, and this goes across the spectrum of issues at work.  Companies that tend to have bad pay also tend to be the ones who think they’re most entitled to good employees.  The same overvaluation of their own worth is what causes them to devalue the contributions of their employees; at once they assume people should be breaking down their door to work there, and so refuse to pay assuming the market is in their favor, when it isn’t.

And it really all comes down to one thing: poor management.  Sometimes it’s just vacuous people with no idea what they’re doing, sometimes it’s outright malicious people who, finally tasting some power, make it their life’s goal to spread the misery they themselves feel.  Most Americans are living lives of quiet desperation, being ground down into shadows of their former selves with no hope in their future, their bosses happily ignorant of the effects of their sheer incompetence on the mental and physical health of their down line.  And there is absolutely no indication that this will change, ever.

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Yet Another Example of Incompetence…

So we have a client who came close to a hire, but since they put the date of hire off for two months for some reason, the person found something else to do.  They got a bunch of resumes, went through a bunch of interviews, and decided on that guy, and he left.  Now they’ve got another guy they want to hire… but they’re not going to.  My manager just asked me to find this moron manager someone else because, “He wants a comparison first.”  Oh, and he “totally understands” where this manager is coming from, because apparently the previous five people he interviewed no longer exist and count as viable ‘comparisons.’

This is the kind of shit that gets recruiters a bad name.  First off, this company has a shit reputation as an employer.  What’s more, from all indications their turnover is high.  Further still, the ‘process’ they have demands interviewees report directly to security upon reaching the site and giving the name of the person they’re to meet with, but under no circumstances are they to say they’re there for a job interview.  Why?  Because, according to the manager, “Rumors spread real fast,” there.

You couldn’t raise more red flags that this is NOT a company you want as a client, and that this place is pure poison to work at.  And yet, like a good Sales! person, my manager is going after this hire, no matter how much pointless time and money it wastes, no matter how many people’s lives get fucked so this moron incompetent manager can have his ‘comparison,’ it doesn’t matter.  All that matters is the fee.  And of course my choice is work on this or basically find another job.

I swear I have to get out of this shitfuck industry or find the one in a trillion company that actually has some common sense and ethics so I don’t have this kind of shit landing on my desk ever other minute.

A Recruiter.com Article I Commented On

There’s an article here at Recruiter.com that I decided to comment on.  Here’s the comment:

“‘It’s weird that we haven’t built any tools for team leaders at all,’ Buckingham says. ‘We have none – not even a few good ones. We have zero.'”

Team leaders themselves are employees, and at the root of this disengagement problem is the fact that companies do not actually value their employees. That’s why they don’t have the tools they need. Companies say they value their employees, they give lip service to doing so, but this value is not reflected in their actual actions; pay offered, benefits offered, work-life balance, having skilled managers, and opportunities for development and advancement. You have to actually have all those things to get people engaged, not just mention them in a speech every now an then but never deliver. Rhetoric is not enough, we are in the information age where reality trumps Sales! oriented rhetoric of promises with no follow through, and people can increasingly see through the BS on a shorter and shorter time scale. It takes them far less time these days to realize their CEO is full of crap.

As long as companies fail to deliver on the things that will create engagement, they can measure it all they want and it won’t get better. As mentioned in the article, you can’t make a pig fatter by weighing it more often. So, the message to companies who want to increase engagement should be, pull your heads out of your posteriors and start taking actions that will increase engagement instead of endlessly fussing about it, but not doing anything about it. Most will do nothing, because increasing engagement will mean addressing and valuing employees’ concerns which may not seem immediately tied to bottom line improvements, because few if any companies tally the cost of disengagement and factor that into their financial judgements. But, it’s an easy start.

Step one, examine your salary structure and make sure people are making market wages, perhaps pay more if you think you need to compensate for things you can’t deliver, perhaps a bit less because of other perks you do offer, but there can’t be a massive disparity between your pay and the market mean, or you’re screwed.

Step two, examine your benefits and again, make sure they are on part with the market. This is an area where you can make a big dent because while time off is not very costly to offer, it makes a huge difference in people’s lives. Examine your health plans, time off plans, and work hours, and make sure they are all reasonable from an employee’s perspective. Try adhering to it yourself, and if you can’t do so without availing yourself of the perks of ‘flexibility’ offered to higher-ups, how the hell do you expect them to live on it? If people are working significantly more than 40 hours a week on a consistent basis, find out why and put a stop to it, or they will burn out and turnover, plain and simple. If your vacation plan is the standard plan of Go To Hell, Get Back To Work, revise it. Talk to a few brokers and see if you can get better health coverage if that’s a factor as well, it’s not hard.

Step three, start looking at your existing employees as resources and start considering advancement and succession planning. The institutional knowledge they have is often priceless, so capitalize on it and actually try to retain them proactively instead of waiting for their resignations and then wondering what happened. This can dramatically cut recruitment costs by shifting the need to back filling more basic positions. Always exhaust the internal pool of all possibilities before hiring outside.

These are not hard, and if done would correct most companies’ engagement problems. In many cases they’re not even costly, and yet companies still refuse to do them. That is an indicator of how much they actually care about engagement. In simpler terms, they don’t care, or it would be dealt with already.

Donald Sterling Article

This Donald Sterling stuff I find interesting.  Not that he’s a racist, I mean you’ve got a super old dude with a mistress and a billion dollars, it doesn’t surprise me he’s off the rails mentally.  You looked under a rock and found an idiot, congratulations.  No, what interests me is the implications for recruiting and HR.  Specifically, see this article and my comment.

That Sterling is an asshole is a statement for which there is abundant evidence.  From a recruiting HR perspective though, we have to consider what it must have been like to hire for this guy, and for people to work for him.  He is a prime example of a less than stellar personality getting to the top of an organization and dribbling his poison on the whole thing.  He is a case study of the fact that sometimes the boss/owner/CEO, or whatever, is the fucking problem.

We live in a society, and I’m talking about the US here, that is essentially fascist at heart.  It’s soft fascism, we’re not dealing with Mussolini here.  But our economy is highly managed and for the most part in favor of businesses, generally medium to larger ones, with some small scale businesses also benefiting.  Labor has been manged into a perpetual surplus, and various other aspects of the economy, such as anti take-over legislation like Williams and Sherman and various state statutes, that make it easier for mediocre to incompetent C level execs to stay in charge.  I recall a talk show once where I believe T. Boone Pickens was on a panel with some such execs, and I believe the host asked one of them what they would do if they knew Pickens was checking out their company.  Their answer was of course that they’d look at their company and make sure it was operating as efficiently and as well as possible.  To which the obvious retort is: why the fuck weren’t you already doing that?

By choking off opportunity at home the re employment of the unemployed is delayed, and a permanent labor surplus results, driving down the cost of labor from where it would be in a less managed market.  This lets people like Sterling stay at the top in regular corporations because the employees are not in as strong a bargaining position as they would otherwise be.  They can’t demand the pay, benefits, time off, etc., that they would otherwise command.

However, people adjust.  They will, if they feel they are under compensated, adjust their output downward as much as possible while still maintaining their job.  In the end the market rules, and you get what you pay for.  And there is a limit to the amount of shit the US worker will take before he collectively tells the entire economy to go fuck itself.  C level types beware, information gets out and people know what your company is like now, they don’t have to rely on your marketing hype.  Simply saying your company is A Great Place To Work! doesn’t cut it when your Glassdoor and Indeed scores are below 2 stars.  The era of bullshit is over, the era of information has begun.  Get your act together and treat your employees well, or you run the risk of being the next, somewhat less sensational Donald Sterling.  You may not make the evening news, but people will know you’re an asshole, they will know you run a shitty company, and they will not want to work with you.