December 24, 2016

Employment Perspective Advent 2016 Part 3

The Dame and the Villain emerge from the wings. They need careful directing to keep the show on track.

Advent 2016 – Part 3

The Dame.

An old wise woman or a figure of fun? Often played by a man emphasising age and lack of skin deep beauty. Where are these characters in the business field? There are more older people working, over a million people age 65 plus.  Many of these may be there because a “retirement age” virtually disappeared in 2011. Others have problems with shrunk pension pots and the higher state pension age.  On a positive note increased health and an interest in remaining active have kept many in work. This may have encouraged people to continue working but change their hours or role or even take on a whole new career though not many will be starting a new job at age 89 like Joe Bartley. Certainly few people starting work now, will remain in the same field or profession, let alone job, for their entire working life. Expertise from one field has become more transferable. Just as employers stopped offering jobs for life so employees’ commitment to one employer waned and movement increased. Solutions common in one business may translate to a completely different field and provide a new way of working. An older person with experience and foresight can help that happen.

Care has to be taken not to discriminate because of age (in either direction).  Employees joining later and staying on provide continuity.  Then succession planning is important so that younger people can be encouraged to develop and work for promotion. A balanced workforce which doesn’t throw out the time earned benefit of experience, while still taking in new blood, will have an advantage.

Are older characters likely to be less “politically correct”, as suggested in the character of the dame? The reality is that we are all different and assumptions by employers or fellow employees that an older person will be less flexible or not objectively fair, may be putting the pumpkin coach before the prancing pony.

The Villain.

Do you hope your rival business has them and you don’t? Or do you see your competitors as villains who cut corners, robin’ or hoodwinking customers? What is the panto villain, a wicked witch, an evil uncle? Entering stage left it’s the character we are encouraged to boo and hiss. Many actors like to play the villain, in an article in the Guardian Nigel Havers claimed that it’s easier than having to get people to like your character. Does this apply in the workplace? Maybe some of the villains are those who are just plain miserable, they don’t like their work or, don’t want to like it. They take every opportunity to be awkward, they gossip about others, moan about the job, the pay, the customers, the weather, anything.  Maybe they don’t realise they are doing it so is it possible to encourage a more positive outlook?

At the other end of the scale are the archenemies, from Captain Hook to the Wicked Step Mother. Serious villains at work may be motivated by money or anger. In a cutting edge high tech business the industrial spy is out to steal the goose that lays the golden egg. Elsewhere an employee may take contacts and customers to establish their own rival business. A disgruntled employee may hack the IT systems, destroy data or walk off with the passwords locking the business in limbo.

Other types of villain can create problems with staff. The office bigot who uses inappropriate language or the Lothario whose been stalking a former love interest. Social media provides an outlet for the baddie. Posting disparaging comments about a business or its products may have a significant effect. Even if the damage isn’t intended there can be nasty surprises.  It might seem funny at the time posting compromising pictures from the Christmas party but it could damage a business and get a lad in trouble with his current and future employer. Although the villain in the pantomime is easy to spot, in the work place they may not wear a waxed moustache or tall pointy hat.

Next time – the fairy godmother and the rest…

Meet those already on stage here……

Edit 45b Part 3. This newsletter looks at new cases and employment related matters, which are likely to be of interest to many. However specialist advice should be obtained before taking or refraining from taking action based on comments in this newsletter, which is only intended as a brief note. For more information or if you have specific concerns phone me on 01233 714055 or To unsubscribe to our newsletters e-mail