I had a few memorable experiences that I wanted to share with you. I was hoping to help a company or even help HR folks focus on what matters.
(1) HR was unaware that contract management underbid contract; HR overbids “value”:
I had the honor of interviewing with a well-known technology contractor with contracts in aerospace and the defense industry. (The position was at a defense contractor). To be honest with you; I had previously worked in the building where I would be working out of. The project was interesting and I knew the guys I would be working with.
Well before any discussion about compensation, the downside came out when I asked the HR manager about the contract. I found out that I could be doing the same work as the other technicians but not only I didn’t work for their company, I was a contractor under another contractor. You less simple minded folks might call that a subcontractor.
(I had a bit of experience with both defense and aerospace contractors. I also worked with various government employees in my experience).
This came at a shock because the vast majority of these big projects don’t normally structure their contracts this way. People know their co-workers and people know their bosses, and most people like it this way. Accountability and responsibility aren’t a guessing game.
I was surprised that a company that was this well established would get into something this “Mickey Moused”.
The HR “misses” came after I asked legitimate questions about contract length, supervisor structure, and various workplace issues. (I want to know where I work at and if I need to look for another job on my off time). After my questions, she (HR) would try and sell me on how great the job was. (For example; “Yes, this is a subcontractor position..bbbut you will get to do some great work!!!!”).
When we were done with my tough questions; she blatantly pitched an offer. I was extremely honest with her that the figure offered was a large amount less than comparable positions. I even gave her multiple examples of these comparable positions. She had mentioned that the contract did not allow for any wiggle room when it came to salary. After she answered an additional question about OT availability not being mentioned in a contract description; she countered with “I think that the benefits the company offer are competitive”.
I took the bait. I was interested so I gave her the “benefit” of a doubt. I wanted to see if the benefits could outweigh the lack of monetary compensation. I asked about tuition reimbursement: “No”. Training opportunities: “No”. Working on other contracts: “No”. But the kicker was asking about health insurance; I asked if our health insurance could beat (x) a month. She told me “it is competitive”. I had to ask her again the same question. She side stepped me. I also asked her if I was being offered the same insurance that the company offered her. I don’t recollect her saying anything. I hung it up on this issue.
The sad part of this was that she was still trying to sell me on the position even as I was honest and told her that I don’t think that this position was right for me.
You might ask what this has to do with human resources. I will put it into several statements.
(1) She was ill prepared. She needed to look over the contract and what it allowed. She needed to sit down with the administration and look over if hiring someone would be possible, given our local employment market conditions.
(2) She might want to voice her concerns about what the company is asking for. She was the main HR POC for this branch of the company. She is one of the main people that has to deal with the aftermath of hiring the wrong people. She also had to deal with benefits issues.
(3) Desperation doesn’t make a company look better. When dealing with people in the technology and science realm; numbers matter. People take the best offer. Your offer wasn’t the best. Emotions and feelings can’t beat the numbers. Wiggle room helps but the company made the error in taking this type of contract to begin with.
Folks; HR serves many purposes for a company. HR can be a great asset. It really depends on how HR can tackle things, (like hiring, etc).