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Human resources in Western Europe Human resources in Western Europe
by Joseph Gatt
2019-08-23 07:23:48
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Sweeping generalizations about human resources in Western Europe, in no particular order.

-First one, big one, in most Western European nations, when you hire someone, you're going to have to keep them for life. Hiring workers tends to be incredibly complex: you have to declare them to the local labor department (which takes a lot of time and money) and then you have to set up a tax account for them (lots of time and money) and then you have to declare them to the local pensions and healthcare offices (lots of time and money) and then you have to declare them to the welfare department (unemployment insurance, social benefits etc. lots of time and money) and other annoying procedures.

wester01_400-For this reason, most big companies only hire once or twice a year, and fill up all the positions at the same time. Most recruitment periods are in late February and late September (or August) and you're going to get thousands of applicants to fill out very few positions. That's why a lot of European companies discriminate based on university of origin (they only look at the better ones) and based on age (because social benefits tend to be higher for older people with children, most would rather hire a young professional with no children, and in some cases, will try to prevent or discourage young professionals from getting married and having children. They do so by promising promotions in the distant future, but by forcing the kind of work that makes dating impossible). Unfortunately, racial discrimination is common, often because Europeans believe that Arabs, Africans and Indians tend to get married and have children, and the social benefits for married workers with children are costly.

-There's no stigma against part-time work in many European countries, so if you think you need part-timers, you can hire part-timers. Usually, anything under 20 hours a month is considered part-time. This means you won't be allowed to use part-timers for 25 hour work-weeks, for that you have to hire them full-time.

-Overtime work is banned in many European countries, frowned upon in many others. In countries where overtime is allowed, it tends to be very heavily taxed, and you have to provide something like 150% of the hourly rate to the worker. In some cases, if workers have to work on Saturdays, it's something like 200% of the hourly rate, Sundays, something like 300% of the hourly rate. So many workers, especially young and single ones, covet the overtime and Sunday work, and there will be infighting if you need someone to show up on Sundays.

-The further South you go, the more workers are likely to get together for a low-stakes poker game almost every day. The further North you go, the more workers are likely to be very secretive about their private life and not to hang out with their colleagues.

-Labor unions exist in most of Europe, and can be terrifying. If you're the boss, you will get labor union terrorism. One real example that I'm aware of: in a country I won't name, there was this middle-aged woman who worked as an accountant for a company for over 20 years. She started having back problems, and out of her imagination, she made up that the computer screen was “too blurry” and “too small” and that she constantly had to lean over to get a better view of her computer screen, and that's why she had back problems. So she took this to the labor union, labor union decided that indeed computer screens were too small and blurry. First thing, the company had to buy everyone new computer screens, large ones with a clear image. Second thing, the labor union sued the company and forced the company to compensate financially for the “damage” caused to people's backs by computer screens. You get the idea.

-The good thing, on a final note, is that Western European workers are the world champions of efficiency. They are dedicated to the company, will rarely, almost never, steal company ideas to start their own business, will tend to be dedicated to the company their entire life, and always tend to put company interests first. On a final side-note “initiative” is discouraged in a lot of European countries, so the boss will have to come up with the ideas.

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