HR laws have been introduced to prevent staff being abused – and quite right too. On the other hand, I have several friends who have given up running their own businesses because of staff problems and the resultant frustrations of feeling unable to do anything about them without ending up on the wrong side of the law.
You can bring in HR professionals HR to avoid this but they, inevitably, spend so much time making sure employee rights are taken into account, they disregard the practicalities of running the business commercially (which is a bit of a drawback for companies already fighting to stay alive in a recession).
We have had to learn to rely more and more on facts and figures rather than gut instinct. And we’ve had to learn to keep endless correspondence between staff and management, rather than expressing ourselves verbally. The endless process of “covering one’s back” creates cynicism and makes it difficult to inspire an atmosphere of enthusiasm and involvement.
Shortly before we closed for our annual holiday this year, I had to deal with a department that had been nothing but trouble: it had produced bad-quality work; continually let down customers on delivery dates; and generally cost the company a fortune. Staff elsewhere in the company had had to pay the price, both in increased work load and customer abuse.
Drastic decisions had to be made. After several sleepless nights, pacing floors and not liking any of the possible conclusions, I decided on a course of action which involved letting several members of staff go and reshuffling others. There were enough facts and figures to satisfy a barrage of HR inspections. Morally, I had no doubt at all that the actions I took were correct, fair and for the greater good.
None of this, of course, saved me from being shouted at across the car park (I was called a “f***ing heartless c***”) or being verbally attacked by a long-term member of staff (which resulted in me leaving the office to cry my heart out).
HR laws seem to have removed many staff from the reality that they are there for the purpose of earning the company money – and that they do not have a right to a job if they fail to do this. They make it increasingly hard for a company to dispose of the members of staff that do not make money. I don’t believe this has done the employee any favours – it simply gives them unrealistic expectations. And it goes without saying that these laws don’t help the boss.
The entire situation was totally miserable. On reflection however, I have wondered if some of this is due to me being a female boss. Would one man have received such verbal abuse from another? Equally, does the average male boss weep over their personnel failures or am I just over-emotional?
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