Sunday, December 16, 2012

A New Take on Bad Employment News

They say the economy is recoverying and I suppose it is, but it's still not great out there. Unemployment is too high, layoffs continue, wages are still stagnating. I know, deal with it.

But a couple news items that came out in the past couple of days offer two examples of how a few employers have sunk to new lows in dealing with this difficult economic picture.

First we go to the Kansas City Star, a major Missouri newspaper. With everything going to the Internet and mobile devices, these are tough times in the newspaper business. People are getting laid off left and right, and the Kansas City Star found it had to lay off two reporters. Bummer, but these things happen.

How the HR people handled this situation is, well, creative, but Geez!. They called the two reporters into the office, said one of them had to go, and told them to leave and decide between the two of them which one lost her job, according to

I saw a lot of comparisons to The Hunger Games with this bonehead idea.

If they're interested, I've got a better approach for the Kansas City Star. If they have to shed employees, why not let the HR director go. The HR director is the one who is supposed to make the difficult decisions on which employees to let go when it's not financially feasible to keep all of them on board.

Instead, the Kansas City Star HR person punted. He or she did not do their job. So why not let this person go, and keep both reporters on?

But don't believe me. Let's go to the experts. Here's something from NBC News/Business:

"......  pitting one person against another is not the way to go, said Nan Russell, host of the “Work Matters” radio show and author of “The Titleless Leader.”

“Personally, I think it’s very appalling that individuals would be in that kind of situation -- not only from the emotional standpoint for them to have to make that decision, but also for what happens to the people who are left behind and their now lack of respect for the leaders in that organization,” she said.

Russell went on to say in the NBC News/Business article: " Employees, in turn, expect that their leaders will make fair, tough decisions, and when they do, they earn workers’ respect and trust."

But making two people choose who will be the one to leave indicates someone lacked the courage to make the choice"   

What Russell says seems obvious, but apparently not.

Elsewhere,  a publisher is hiring! Yay! But before sending off your resume to Dalkey Archive Press   (Warning: If you click on the link to Dalkey, be prepared for an assault on the eyes. The Web site is incredibly poorly designed and inartful. But I digress.)

According to Salon, they don't want anybody who would ever have any personal commitments, who isn't willing to come in at a drop of a hat nights and weekends, who never gossped, or came in late for whatever reason or offered unsolicited advice on how to run things.

Quoting directly from Dalkey, you get this:

"Are willing to start off at a low-level salary and work their way upwards; possess multi-dimensional skills that will be applied to work at the Press; look forward to undergoing a rigorous and challenging probationary period either as an intern or employee; want to work at Dalkey Archive Press doing whatever is required of them to make the Press succeed; do not have any other commitments (personal or professional) that will interfere with their work at the Press (family obligations, writing, involvement with other organizations, degrees to be finished, holidays to be taken, weddings to attend in Rio, etc.); know how to act and behave in a professional office environment with high standards of performance; and who have a commitment to excellence that can be demonstrated on a day-to-day basis. DO NOT APPLY IF ALL OF THE ABOVE DOES NOT DESCRIBE YOU."   

Hmm, no pay, no time off, no life, what could possibly be wrong with this job? I'm sure people are stampeding Dalkey with resumes as we speak.

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