Man vs machine in city wage war

This week’s guru column

• It’s a cruel world out there in minimum wage land, particularly among the
burger-flippers who work in the trendier parts of London, as David Klassen has
written to inform Guru.

David writes, "In Soho, it costs 20p for three minutes parking at some
meters. This means it costs you £4 an hour to park your car – more than the
national minimal wage. There are people in London working in McDonald’s, who
can look out of a window at work and see an inanimate object on the pavement
earning more than them…"

Still, given some of the money-making alternatives on offer around Soho,
tossing burgers might not seem quite such a bad job.

• If you can see any inanimate objects earning more than you from where you
work, or have any amusing anecdotes to share,

guru.personneltoday@rbi.co.uk

When setting the record straight isn’t that easy…

• Enjoying a quick bite to eat with William Mercer employment law consultant
David Marshland recently, Guru was entertained by a bizarre tale about an
industrial tribunal case.

A few years back Marshland was called on by a client to help fight a case
going to a tribunal brought by a former employee who had been sacked.

When he asked to speak to the manager responsible for sacking the man, in an
attempt to find out the background, he was told that this wasn’t possible and
that all the necessary information would be held in the employee’s file.

But on examining the file he found that it contained pretty limited
information on the employee and nothing relating to the sacking.

Marshland returned to the company and again asked to speak to the manager.
Once again he was told to look in the file. He explained that the
record-keeping was not great and that as a result there was nothing relevant in
the file and he really did need to speak to the manager.

Finally, the company admitted that the reason he couldn’t speak to the
manager was because he had been sacked too. Why was this? Marshland asked.

"He wasn’t very good at doing the paperwork," came the reply.

Human capital jargon-busters spell it out

• Guru has been overwhelmed by the deluge of management jargon flooding in
following his call for the worst examples. Unsurprisingly, many readers were
able to provide some gems from their bosses.

Among the old favourites were "sing from the same Hymn sheet" and
"positive departure experience".

But Guru has to admit he has himself been baffled by some of the phrases
sent in. For example what on Earth is "cover off"?

Special thanks, though, to Fenella Lacey, employee development adviser at
Shropshire County Council for the following examples and explanations:

• A quick win (something you were just about to do anyway)

• Aim for a win-win scenario (anything for a quiet life)

• We’ll be trialling the concept in a defined area (we’re going to let
someone else do all the hard work for us)

• Strategic thinker (don’t bother me with the facts)

And extra cheeky points go to John Wallace for quoting a sentence out of
Personnel Today as an example of jargon.

More next week, in the meantime keep ’em coming to guru.personneltoday@rbi.co.uk

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