Scaredy-fat cats

The Institute of Directors (IoD) has made itself look like a collection of pussies. A story is doing the rounds stemming from this press release, around how abolishing the retirement age is going to hit small businesses hard. They prefer to have a phased retirement age, moving up to 68 and then in time 70.

On the one hand, I can see what they mean. Retirement was the easy way to get rid of people without the tiresome paperwork and possibility of an unfair dismissal claim. For those wanting to keep costs and headcounts down, I can see the appeal. And moving retirement up to 70 isn’t a bad shout when it comes down to it.

The issue for me is the line “employers will be forced to dismiss staff if they want to remove underperformers [sic] over the age of 65″. Well boo fucking hoo. If you have an under-performer you SHOULD dismiss them, regardless of age.

What are these people’s HR teams doing if not helping to set up and run appraisals and deal with poor performance? It costs businesses far more to keep under-performers than it does to dismiss them. Dear lord, we go through copious amounts of training to learn how to deal with under-performers and how to deal with poor performance through appraisals. Is that completely useless? Is that just an offering to the tribunal gods so to not get sued?

I can’t believe that the IoD didn’t think that they would get slammed for “some employers, notably small firms not able to afford HR support, would feel under pressure to live with underperforming staff aged over 65”. For goodness sake: give them targets – if they don’t hit them consistently over a period of time, you get to manage them out through something like ‘capability’. It’s sweet that the IoD are trying to protect small businesses, but surely they should be advising them to have some form of poor performance process (sorry for the alliteration) in place? Wouldn’t that be a better use of the IoD’s time? Giving them something useful instead of trying to duck of out good management practice.

But by side-stepping the real issue of poor performance, the IoD have shown themselves to be ostriches, burying their heads away from the real issues that face British businesses and instead pointing at retirement age. Not exactly dignified, helpful or brave, is it?


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