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Many years ago I took a job with a company that was just moving into town. They’d been in another city but had decided they wanted a more central location. Unfortunately, most of their employees had decided not to make the move, so they were hiring mostly new staff.

The pay was low – far below market rates in this area. But, they assured everyone that their first order of business would be to conduct a survey and adjust the pay grades for all our positions. Fair enough. We all needed work and it seemed to be a promising opportunity.

Within the first few months they did, in fact, have a consulting team on-site interviewing everyone to determine what their responsibilities were, in order to draw up new job descriptions and, presumably, new pay ranges. We participated in the interviews and gave them the best, most honest information we could.

Then, nothing. After about six months a couple of us decided to pay a visit to the top H/R guy. He had an open door policy and wanted to really know what everyone thought. He had also made it clear that the company wanted to be the “employer of choice” in our city. We had a cordial meeting in which we asked how the project was going to redefine the pay grades. He, just as cordially, advised us that the project was complete and that the ranges had been adjusted. He then pulled out some paperwork to show us the ranges for our positions.

We saw that we were all far below the minimums for our positions and asked when that would be adjusted. With a straight face he told us that they were using a formula for that. At our annual review we would be eligible for MORE than the standard raises, until we were within range. A quick calculation showed that it would take us three to four years to get to the low end of the range. Meanwhile, any new hires were starting within that range.

So, how does this conform to your goal of making this company the employer of choice? With a straight face he told us that they MUST be the employer of choice. After all, we had all chosen to work there.

About six months later half the company was laid off. It seems that their move had cost them more than they’d expected. Naturally, those of us who had asked questions were out the door. The only bright spot in our day was when we were standing on the parking lot and saw this H/R guy walking out with a box of all his stuff. He actually had the nerve to try and network with us all for a new job. You can imagine the amount of help we all gave him.

Ya wonder why most people think human resources managers rank down there somewhere with used car salesmen?

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