Home' HR Monthly : July 2019 Contents 6
hese days, many employees are bewildered about their employment
tenure. None more so than the 250,000 or so people who work for
a large bank or insu rer, following the Royal Banking Commission.
It’s often brushed over, but the Commission was actually into
misconduct in the financial services industry. It didn’t look at good
conduct, which would represent the vast majority of actions in those
organisations subjected to ex tensive negative media over the last year.
Nor was there a tally up of how much time the misconduct of miscreants
actually represented in the daily lives of those quarter million of workers.
Needless to say, the majority of these workers continue to pay a big
price by association – with friends, family, associates and also potential
employers. Further, those financial institutions themselves are still
in a state of shock as they scramble to either fight off litigation from
regulators or clean up their own mess.
Part of the response will be to root out any internal guilty parties.
Those who leave their jobs in the Big Banks and AMP know they will
have a lot of explaining to do, to both recruiters and futu re employers,
before they can secure another comparable role.
Many of those who are leaving their jobs will have deemed themselves
to be highly valued employees of these institutions whose reputations
have been tarnished. They will see themselves as innocent parties who
have been cheated; diminished by actions they had no part in.
Millions of legal and executive hours will be devoted to ascribing
blame and consequence. In this contex t, it is worthwhile to reflect on the
value of a job within a large organisation, and the inherent risks when
events turn sou r. When the latter happens, everyone’s employment can
be put at risk.
In the ordinary course of a big organisation career, you should expect
to find yourself in one of four groups.
The first is the stars. These are the top and most highly valued
workers. Part of a board’s fiduciary duty is to identify the top people,
or Key Management Persons (KMPs), as this is the group on whom the
continued viable existence of an organisation depends.
Second there are the journeymen. Some of these will be KMPs
too. These are people with sound intellectual property on how the
organisation works, who have the critical skills to offer in a number of
business or operational areas. But they might not have the potential to
fill the top executive roles.
Third there are the players. These are reserve grade all-rounders.
They are seen to have done a good job, but probably not an outstanding
one. They can fulfil basic operational or support work, and when a big
project gets launched, they offer enough to be part of that, but are less
likely to leave an unfillable hole if they transfer out.
Finally, there are the cliffhangers. These are the ones holding onto
their jobs by the skin of their teeth, or fingertips in this case. Whenever
crunch time comes, they are the first to be chopped.
The risk of losing your job increases as you move down through these
four categories. The stars are somewhat sacrosanct; the journeymen are
hard fought to be retained; the players are sitting back from the edge, but
the cliffhangers are always on or about to go over it.
When an event like a Royal Commission comes along, people can
be dramatically re-ranked across these four groups. Stars can find
themselves in the player group, being passed around for project-based
work by the new boss or discovering life at the edge of the cliff face.
Journeymen can find themselves elevated to stardom status, as the
organisation turns to safer hands to navigate through the crisis. Later
their employment will surely be exposed to the chop, as the organisation
believes it now needs to become more innovative at the top. A nd so, the
corporate merry-go -round proceeds.
In short, given the changes occurring through new digital competitors,
and also consistent trial by regulators, the risks of maintaining continued
employment in a large institution have increased dramatically.
We should no longer expect big organisations to sustain our careers
for a lifetime. They are no longer capable. If your career innings spans
over a decade in one of them, you’re probably doing very well.
Peter Wilson AM FCPHR
There are many different types of employees and they’re all on unstable ground.
BY PETER WILSON AM FCPHR AHRI CHAIRMAN
To read past Perspective columns by Peter
Wilson, visit hrmonline.com.au
Our Workplace Investigation team provides a
range of services, dealing with informal concerns
to significant and complex formal investigations at
all levels of an organisation, including board level.
A workplace investigation is not just about
determining the merit of the allegations, it’s an
opportunity to identify ways to improve workplace
culture and well-being. Unlike many investigations,
our processes look beyond those involved and
provide insight into how the workplace tension
arose and what might be done to mitigate the risk
of it reoccurring. The manner in which parties are
empathetically dealt with, assists to reduce stress
on individuals involved who are often fragile.
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