I used to work for employment agencies quite often. I like that, because the working environment can be very versatile: you never know where your next project will be. But it has some downsides too.
In my opinion, most agencies have no problems at all to manipulate or even force their future employees in a role unwanted. It seems to me that they feel they have “the power”, because they are switch between the unemployed and the companies and they are not hesitant at all to use this “power” to put pressure on the unemployed. As I used to feel that pressure when I was younger, I do not care anymore. I know what I can and cannot do, I know my talents and my points of attention. And most important: they do not scare me off.
Employers and employment agencies like to talk about added value. To be precisely: what the (future) employee can bring as added value for the company. What they don’t seem to understand is that “the company” doesn’t create the employees anymore, but rather the other way around. You can read all there is to know about a company on their website, when it only gives figures and a nice story about the core business and the speciality, it doesn’t say much about the atmosphere, or if the employees just work or co-create. It says nothing about hiërarchy or intellectual freedom. Added value has become a fashion word, sounds nice, but is hollow on the inside.
This counts even more for employment agencies. After all, if they have “the power” because they are the switch, they should be aware of it in all manners. Starting to live and work by the own slogan would be good. I recently applied and it was appearantly through an employement agency. As I don’t care too much about that, I was still sincerely shocked by their exposure of self created power to manipulate me in a way I definitely did not like. So I mailed them back and returned their own remarks in a not so nice but very clear way (I am still Dutch). After that, I got a call and we talked things over. The lady told me it was all about personalisation of the application, and that they had to make sure that I should match their potential clients. It cleared a lot.
What did not please me, was that I had the feeling that I was in some sort of cattle market. If the meat is good, you will proceed to the next level, if it is not, you will go back to start and if they are not sure yet, well, you will be kept on hold until a new opportunity will rise. I don’t like that. I can understand that they will talk to me, see me, if necessary assess me. But I have made very clear that I am not a cow and I will not be treated like that. I applicated for a job as PA and not for a job on the cattle market. If they are in need for good employees, than they should be good employers. Simple as that.
However, they are not the only ones. More and more, the circuit of employment agencies seems like a huge cattle market; who has the best / nicest looking / strongest employees on stock? Who can afford to “buy the best and sell them for the highest profit”? The selection criteria seem to downgrade on internal qualities, while external qualities seem to rise. This may be due to the so called economical crisis, but it started long before. It isn’t new.
Employement agencies (and other employers), please…
Do not treat your future employees like cattle. Because if you do that, you will always have the average to low-level employee. Most employees excel when they have clear boundaries instead of fixed tasks. As it isn’t always easy to achieve, especially not in the industry, remember that small quality is quality as well. Generalism will be over soon, specialism will be the future along with involvement. You will do well to remember that. Use your power for the good, not only your own good, but for mutual benefit.
And the current employees? They would do well to applicate every five years or so for their own function. Even if they have an indefinite contract. Just to keep them focussed. And if they do not fit their function anymore, they should applicate for a new one. But they also need room to carry out good ideas without being judged on forehand.
Be a good employer and create good employees. For our mutual benefit.