Tuesday, 26 September 2017


Well, we are three-quarters of the way through the year and the NHS seems to be coping well with the vCJD crisis, possibly the only thing it is coping well with. Maybe that's because they hadn't planned for it. Planning in the state sector always seems to involve a lot of meetings, large up front costs and then, not a lot.

But it is strange that they haven't cleared the decks and put the whole system on alert because, some years ago a government expert said that half a million people would die of CJD. Although to be fair, after a rethink, the next year the figure given was 200. Experts aren't called experts for no reason you know.

If I remember rightly, the figure of one million deaths a year by 2017 was also an official prediction. That's not storming along either is it? The figure for this year stands at 69 (and that includes everything linked, including "probable")

Monday, 25 September 2017

Unintended Consequences

Some time ago, doubtless coming in large part from light-weight bureaucrats in Brussels, we began increasing 'workers rights', such as the 48 hour maximum working week, 20 days holiday, temporary rights the same as full time etc etc.

All very laudable and not thought through. Heh! Bureaucrats don't get big salaries and generous pensions to actually do any work! So someone had to be responsible for overseeing all this raft of new legislation and that meant HR. It meant giving more power to HR too. Because now they could sit in a board meeting, listening to all the solid logic of how the company was going to move forward, expand, recover from a crisis, whatever, and at the end the HR harpie (it has traditionally been a female industry, but not exclusively) pipes up 'you can't do that'.

 Like some Fifth-Columnist, or communist commissar watching over the generals and their adherence to ideology, HR wield power for their own aggrandisement. Due to this new, high-powered existence, the recruitment of staff, a key function of HR even after they morphed from being 'Personnel' has been deemed beneath them and unimportant.

Indeed many companies have taken to hiring people from recruitment agencies to operate this function (which was good news for recruiters as, due to the changes coming through from HR, many agencies were going to the wall). They had to operate to strict rules, set by HR though.

The internet has added to the problem as well. HR talk now about direct access to candidates, because they can put their vacancies online. Usually, this means using a 'job board' such as Monster, Jobsite or Indeed, which is much cheaper than the old days of paper ads in specialist magazines.

But even then, particularly for large or specialist companies, the cost wasn't the main issue. It was the volume of responses such an ad generated that was the problem. Now it seems, the volume can be handled. How? Well, the process is basically automated.

If the hiring Manager has given HR a set of skills that he (gender non-specific) is looking for then that is the entire basis of the search. No latitude, no initiative, no actual interest in the role. (Or doing the best for the Manager and the company by getting the best and right candidate).

The objective is to move a piece of paper from one side of the desk to the other. From the In-tray to the Out-tray. In many of the highly specialised roles I recruited for, the skill set was often the starting point, a marker. I had a client who got really excited when I presented him with a CV of a robotics person. The company made emissions sensors - figure that one out, but apparently there was a crossover where this robotics knowledge mattered.

If I hadn't been allowed to talk to the Managers (and in this case the MD) I would have been skills matching and so, quite often wasting their and my time. But HR won't let you talk to hiring Managers, because it undermines their power base. And this attitude has led to companies not getting the talent they need, retarded development of skills across industry and less productivity.

But it has also led to unnecessary unemployment (HR also actively pursue policies such as age-discrimination, but packaged as a rational decision based on future-proofing and the belief that understanding technology is the preserve of the young - all ideology, not fact).

It has led to a 37 year old PA with years of experience being unable to get a job and as a consequence, killing herself. Collateral damage of the need for HR to wield power.

Many years ago, a retired and frustrated HR Director told me that, whilst recruiters refer to HR as 'recruitment prevention officers', he felt a more appropriate epithet was 'the contraceptive on the prick of progress'. Quite.