Like a prostitute being asked to spit into a John’s mouth, I’m mostly numb to the kinks of the recruitment industry. After nearly 15 years recruiting, 10 of which being spent recruiting recruiters, I’ve pretty much seen all the crappy behaviours contingent recruitment can create. Throw into the mix the incredibly low barriers of entry to becoming a recruiter, and you’ve got a perfect storm of dishonesty, theft, immorality, and just downright weirdness. From fights at awards nights, that guy in Wellington who kept faking invoices, the dude from The Pond who asks for new business as payment for giving a reference, to Lukin Ackroyd, we’ve pretty much seen it all.
Last week Scott alluded to a situation which had us here at Rice Towers scratching our collective heads. Now to be frank, this story contains no bombshells. No specific flashpoint that had us reaching for the white board marker. Instead it represents a string of unfair and unkind actions. An insipid creep of not doing the right thing for the people you have a duty of care to look after. And because there is no singular immoral or scandalous act, it’s the sort of scenario that could play out in any business anywhere in the world, and still stay under the radar. So this is perhaps more of a cautionary tale on how not to exit staff. Perhaps it also tells us how not to run a business, but I’ll let you be the judge of that.
An Auckland recruitment firm hires staff, some of whom are on visas dependent on remaining in employment. Recruitment firm makes whole firm redundant apart from CEO’s EA.
Making positions redundant is horrible. I’ve done it myself and it sucks. However, the market does shift, and business needs change. So it is at times necessary to make a role (and not a person) redundant. However in this instance, some of the employees had been with the business for a mere 2 months. And at least one of these of these people was on a work visa. Now, Recruiters of New Zealand, tell me this: How has business been going since February? If you don’t tell me you’re busy, you’re doing something desperately wrong. If a business has the funds to hire in February, how are they letting everyone go in April? Who’s the accountant? The Chuckle Brothers? Do employers not have a responsibility to crunch the numbers before a new starter pledges the next few years to them?
Anyway, I know, I know, they made people redundant, it’s not that bad.
Next up we have the nature of the redundancy. You know that respectful process you run where you explore all options and have several face to face meetings? Yeah, nah. “Something came up” for the final meeting on this one and people were given their marching orders over the phone. Nice huh? Next up, we have the social media persona. If you have to make people redundant because of a lack of cash in your business, do not adorn your body with ridiculously expensive clothes, and plaster your million dollar lifestyle all over social media. Just don’t. Dress like shit. Like me. Pleading poverty to someone facing deportation whilst clutching a handbag which costs a few thousand is very much a hard kick in the balls/vagina. And then it comes to references. If you make a role redundant, would you not go through hell and high-water to provide that person with a reference? Personally, I sleep easy again when the person I exit from my business finds themselves a new home. If someone wants to take a reference from me at 2am, I’m there willingly. I’m sure you’d be the same. **Voice-over voice** “In today’s story, this was not the case”. At least one employee was told that the business doesn’t give references. For at least one other, taking a verbal reference wasn’t possible for several days as the referee was attending an all-day fashion show. On a Wednesday. When your business can’t afford to retain staff. I fucking kid you not. And if we look at the content of the references, well, I have just enough professionalism not to comment. However, I will make a point about references in general. If you are making someone’s position redundant, the reference should be average at worst. If it is a bad reference, then why the hell did you not performance manage the person? The very fact that you’ve made the role redundant, and not gone through performance management, means that they must have been a valued employee. You cannot have it both ways. Unless you want to end up in a tribunal for unfair dismissal. Which maybe you do and maybe you will.
So in summary, only hire if you can afford to, make a position redundant not a person, run a respectful process, don’t plead poverty whilst living like Kim Kardashian, and go out your way to help your former employee get a new job. Hardly rocket science right?