I commented recently on Peter Cappelli's article in July's Harvard Business Review. Cappelli's also been in HRE Online writing about the UK government's increase in the minimum / national living wage.
Cappelli suggests the issue is that too many employers have been treating staff as mere resources and not investing in them as the source of their future productivity.
I agree with that premise and do think the increase in the minimum wage was positive (see my earlier post on Britain needs a pay rise) but I'm not sure it's real evidence of a talent first strategy. And there are many aspects of UK policy which are still less positive - part of the reason why there's so much support within the UK opposition for Jeremy Corbyn as a very left leading future leader.
Zero hour contracts are a good example. Whilst I don't believe there is anything innately evil with this form of employment, and actually I think the real issue is less about protecting jobs, and more about moving to a broader mix of ways of making a business contribution, the issue is that zero hours is very often applied in a decidedly non people first way. And rightly or wrongly the contracts are therefore largely discredited in the minds of employees and job seekers.
Glassdoor released some new research on this last week. The main finding was that nearly half of those unemployed would prefer to have no job than take up a zero-hours contract, though a quarter of job seekers said they have been offered one. 47% of respondents suggested they had turned down jobs offered because they were zero-hours contracts and:
They needed to receive a guaranteed level of income in order to stop receiving benefits
They just didn't trust employers which offered them
Irregularity and unpredictable hours
The negative perception caused by coverage in the press.
I've been quoted in the press as Glassdoor's career and workplace expert:
“People that take zero hours contracts generally do so because they feel they have to rather than they want to. This could be interpreted as employers exploiting the most vulnerable, namely people who really need the money. However, for others it is a useful stop-gap, it can provide valuable work experience and the flexibility can be a positive depending on your life stage. The most important issue here is to look at the attitude of the employer towards staff – do they value people on zero hours contracts simply view them as ‘an extra pair of hands’? Glassdoor’s company ratings and reviews can give the inside track.”
So the real issue isn't about zero hour contracts, it's about the organisational attitude to current and potential employees. And Glassdoor's survey as opposed to Peter Cappelli's article suggests that we've still got some room to go.