Monday, November 14, 2011

Why "great employer" reports are a sham

One of the things I've got to see as a contractor is how shitty some workplaces actually are. You get to experience first hand places that have gone to the point that they are no longer allowed to hire permanent staff, and naturally, such a move is a foreboding one that hardly reflects intelligent or practical business or HR practice. Hiring freezes are fine if you are genuinely downsizing, but its now quite common in places where aggressive growth is still occuring. The gap is filled by the usual suspects: outsourcing, offshoring, and the dirtiest of dirty words: contractors. Some are so bad that they even set limits on the length of time contractors can work on continuous assignment, so of course, those workers cannot qualify for the normal protections of equality legislation.

Of course sometimes these workers get paid more, sometimes far more, than the ghost employees they replace. For example, my client sends me out on assignment for a rate almost 3 times my daily rate. So the end client could have 3 of me for the same price. And that is my Dublin rate: in fact, those client could potentially have up to 4 contractors for the same price!!

No wonder, then, contract staff are sometimes treated as little more than slaves. Resentful employees often refuse to cooperate for fear of losing their own roles. The same dirty players it seems also managed to offload their own permanent staff by basically driving them out by wholesale bullying, unthinkable workloads and persistent obstacles put in their way.

Imagine how stunned I am to see all of these companies gracing the list of "great place to work", a consultancy which feeds the Fortune best in class list. Thing is, you have to actually APPLY to be on this list, so its not an objective study of all companies, its basically the best of the few hundred or so who actually applied. And you'd think that those who apply would realistically feel they had something to show off.

Well, actually, no they don't. What I notice is how the great place to work system systematically excludes those very workers most likely to be disgruntled, such as temps, contractors, etc. So a 350 plus workforce like one place I worked managed to get a great score by interviewing only the 260 or so that were permies: the rest, who could paint a very different story altogether, were simply excluded. Likewise in a pareticularly nasty company, one so bad and so unethical I find it stunning the barefaced cheek they have in boasting a committment to employees and being "good guys." This one is currently running a PR exercise as part of a hostile takeover that is sure to explode anytime soon, which I think will tell consumers the truth about this nasty crowd and trigger a proper boycott.

Another good one is that one of the companies who is behind the legal initiative to shoot down weekend premia for low waged catering workers is in there: so they claim to be a great workplace yet they will go to the high court to stop paying their workers more?

Our Irish media are often just so limp wristed when it comes to telling the truth. David Norris was lambasted for his past opinions and actions, yet nobody bothered to look behind the stories and question what really happened and what it means. Its time we all woke up and started questioning the propoganda put in front of us as truth.

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