Just a Thought

Over the last few months I have found myself being asked about the “right” way to manage staff given the amount of employment regulations that are in place at the moment.

I generally give two possible scenarios, but these are at the extreme ends of the spectrum.

Company A prides itself on its employee engagement and bends over backwards to accommodate their staff. They have an HR department which is fully integrated with the management structure, they are cautious when taking decisions that could have a detrimental effect on their employees, not just because they want to avoid a claim to an Employment Tribunal, but also they genuinely believe it’s the right thing to do.

Company B is much more active in their decision making, if an employee isn’t coming up to standard they terminate the contract there and then without much ceremony. They also only have the minimum paperwork for their employees with no staff handbook  or policies and procedures to speak of or employee engagement initiatives. Communications are left to individual managers who report directly to the owner of the business.

Clearly there are many variables in between these two extremes, but I have worked with and for both types of company. In truth I cannot say which type of company I prefer.

The more “HR” based model certainly had a greater sense of  Job security, but I found the high level of consultation frustrating (people who know me won’t find that a surprise). However what I found most disturbing about this model was the tendency to find cliques forming, whilst the consultations took place.  These cliques had a habit of excluding those who did not fit in with their view of a situation, and this could go on for a long time.

In the second more “activist” example the “politics” was much  clearer, but you could find yourself out of a job with no idea  what you had done to deserve it, so no opportunity to address any   behaviour or performance issues.

So from an employees point of view it depends on your  personality which is preferable. However from a purely commercial point of view, is there a preferred  option?

The truth is there’s no hard evidence either way. The” HR” method involves far more management effort and (possibly) increases the likelihood of you winning at an employment tribunal. Also even if you win in court you still have the same legal costs as if you lose. AIso the very fact that you take so long over a decision may cause the employee more stress, thus Ieading to a greater likelihood that a claim will be made in the first place. The other model may mean you have more awards to pay out. But surprisingly the number of claims may be lower, because the shorter timescales mean that the employee’s levels  of resentment don’t have time to build up and they move on much more readily. I suppose the analogy is that of removing a sticking plaster. If you pull it off quickly it’s more painful for a short period of time. If you pull it off slowly it hurts less but the pain Iasts longer. It’s up to you which you prefer.

So I suppose in truth there is no right or wrong way to deal with these issues. However what I have found is that you deal with them in the way that suits your personality, you are less likely to take them by surprise!


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