Sustainability. What is it and how do you ensure it?
How Balanced is a Balanced Scorecard?

When will we ever learn?

"Experience is the best teacher," they say.Question Mark 2

Really? In that case, you would think we would have learned our lesson, wouldn't you?

You would think after the collapse of the financial services markets and the economic crisis that it caused the financial services industry would be cautious about its bonus culture. Yet this is not the case. An article in HR Magazine this week reports that city employers are using "bonus buyouts" as a means for luring people from their competitors.

Now, in case you don't know, a bonus buyout "is where an employer offers to buy out that a prospective employee has accumulated under their current employer's bonus scheme but which they do not yet own."

Just great!  

This means that all the efforts to take the short-termism out of incentive remuneration are being invalidated.

In fact it is even worse!

This is going to exacerbate short term thinking for it effectively guarantees bonuses. You can front-end load your performance and then bail out before the chickens come home to roost, knowing that you won't have to pay the price for your decisions.

On top of that it will create a spiral of inevitable salary inflation. For city employees can guarantee their discretionary pay simply by indulging in a game of never-ending musical chairs. And it is not as if they were not already virtually guaranteed by the way remuneration is structured...

Nor is anyone questioning the underlying economic need. You would think that an industry that had messed-up so spectacularly would have seen the job market awash with former employees who had paid the ultimate price and lost their jobs as a result of the recession. Yet, it does not seem that this is the case. The rest of the economy sees massive unemployment but the city still seems to have a skills shortage. How come?
 
Yes, financial markets may be a specialised arena, but surely there are enough high calibre people in the marketplace who could, very quickly, be brought up to speed and at a fraction of the cost. And at the same time raise the questionable ethical standards.

It would seem that the HR profession is standing by - or worse - even actively promoting another potential disaster. The profession seeks a more strategic role and a place at the table, yet it is absolutely incapable of thinking strategically. So the same motley bunch continues to control international financial markets and they don't appear to even understand basic financial management. Heaven help us all! As Bob Dylan sang, "When will they ever learn?" The problem is 'they' is us! When will we learn? 

 

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