The Good, the Bad and the Bonkers

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THE British press recently featured articles about unnecessary, politically correct public sector job adverts. Jobs like ‘Walking-Co-ordinator’ (£31,935 p.a.) to organize recreational walks. ‘Weekend Explainer’ (£8.81 an hour) to host birthday parties and ‘present science shows to the public’. And ‘Access to Nature Officer’ (£19,126 p.a.) to interest ‘asylum seekers’, ‘disaffected young people’ and those from ‘priority neighbourhoods’ in conservation.

Good grief!

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These job titles sound like something out of Gilbert and Sullivan! And all in defiance of the Government´s clampdown on spending.

One of the reasons often cited for the proliferation of many of these ‘non-jobs’ is that the UK now has so much PC legislation with which to comply both in the public and private sectors with the result that many front line public sector staff are badly paid because the pot has to be shared with ‘diversity advisors’ and other PC number cruncher positions which simply didn’t exist 20 years ago.

Thus, for example, an increasing amount of work is being done measuring in increasing detail the amount of “useful” work being done. The argument is often made that these statistics help to manage the services but, given that productivity is declining as the measuring increases, it would seem a no-brainer to simply stop it. Hopefully George Osborne will have noted all this in his recent deficit-busting Budget!

And on the subject of silly job titles, it’s often said that the importance of a job is inversely proportional to the length of its title. Thus a ‘Colour Distribution Technician’ is what used to be known as a painter and decorator. And the trend is catching on: employers trying to make boring jobs sound more appealing. So you´ll find: ‘Media Distribution Officer’ (Paperboy); ‘Customer Experience Enhancement Consultant’ (Shop Assistant); ‘Coin Facilitation Engineer’ (Toll Booth Collector); and ‘Field Nourishment Consultant’ (Waiter).
But, in the final analysis, we should judge these people by what they do at work, not by their convoluted, quasi-English job titles. This applies equally to the public and the private sectors. There’s no shortage in the private sector either of impenetrable job titles (‘Divisional, Regional Sub-Manager for Innovation-Based Strategies’, anyone?) or of legitimate job titles masking the incompetence of the superfluous individuals concerned whether they’re non-executive directors or assistant deputy CEOs.

If someone does a good job and adds value, I don’t care if they’re styled ‘Czar for the Homeless’ or ‘Pontiff of the PLC’. But if you want to discuss this further, we’d better have several meetings at which all stakeholders are represented and at which no decisions can be ratified until feedback has been received from several others who might just be involved…

By Nora Johnson

 

Nora Johnson’s novel, The De Clerambault Code

(www.nora-johnson.com) at Amazon. Profits to Cudeca

 

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