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Employer Branding

Thinking of others

I recently watched a superb film called Requiem for a Dream. It’s dark. Not one to lift the mood or when having popcorn with the kids. It tells the story of what happens when people become obsessed. Obsessed with themselves in an effort to seek what they believe will bring them fulfilment, but in the process lose everything they had. Told you it wasn’t much of a laugh.

This got me thinking.  One of the side effects of any economic downturn is that some people tend to become rather insular. In some cases this can erode normal sensible awareness into regressing into a shell of self-focus in an effort to get the job done. Emails are ignored, phone calls aren’t returned because suddenly there is a crisis on and normal etiquette and values go out the window. ‘There’s a recession going on, don’t you know?’

Businesses are posed with constant decision making dilemmas that not so long ago would have been straight forward. The reins come out as costs are tightened and sign-off for expenses, invoices and basic purchasing decisions are sent higher up the managerial chain. Control becomes centred around the senior elite, shackling the drive and creativity of those on the frontline.  The very people that were employed for being driven and creative.

The mood then becomes all a bit more serious. Joviality hardly seems appropriate when people and colleagues are losing their jobs.  And everyone likes to talk about it. There’s something innately British about fighting a battle, tackling adversity and wallowing in the sorrow around us, but this is not a helpful mentality for those who are affected more directly. For those who have lost their jobs in these tough times it is indeed serious business.

But while the bankers were getting up to all kinds of mischief and quietly eroding our economy, teachers were still teaching, nurses were still nursing and carers were still caring. When assessing the sorry state of the economy a sense of perspective on the world is sometimes useful.

Working in recruitment communications we play a role in the work that people do and the impact this not only has on their own organisation, but also in the world around them. Every job ad has an outcome and every job that is placed has an impact on a lot of people. We have seen this very much in evidence recently.If you’ve recruited anyone to work in the banking sector in recent years you will have played a part in this process.

I happened to be having lunch in Canary Wharf the day Lehman Brothers went bust. I overheard a fascinating conversation between a well heeled chap, possibly in his late twenties/early thirties and a slightly younger looking graduate-type. The conversation went like this:

WHC – “How much are you earning?”

SYLG – “Basic?”

WHC – “How much are you earning?”

SYLG – “Sixty thousand basic.”

WHC – “Right.”

SYLG – “It’s my second job after graduation and I get more in commission.”

WHC – “Right. My last job I was on three hundred grand. Basic.”

SYLG – “That’s pretty good.”

During this time I had been doing some work with a school that works with children that have profound to multiple learning difficulties. We were filming a video of the day-to-day activity in the school to address the many misconceptions people have about ‘special schools’. The amount these people give of themselves for others every single day could not have been in starker contrast to the conversations I overheard in the City. I would hazard a guess that you could recruit a significant proportion of the school’s staff with three hundred grand a year. Basic.

Despite a savage recession, the world will still turn. There are still very important and worthwhile jobs that need to be filled and very worthwhile people who can help in the process. Think about all the ads that have been placed, the campaigns that have been worked on and take time to wonder how that journey unfolded.

And when you’re really caught up in your own world, take a breather and go out and do something good for someone else.

Even in a recession, a little bit of altruism can go a long way.

View the St George’s School video.

About Nick Price

Employer branding and communications, insight and engagement, talent attraction and HR analytics


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