Our fifth blog of Christmas comes courtesy of Nikki Wilkie. Nikki has worked as a recruiter for some of the largest corporations in NZ and is a strong believer of lean, simple and customer-centric sourcing. With experience in both agency and in-house roles, including the sole Resourcing Specialist for New Zealand’s largest private employer for over five years, she’s had a year that has challenged her strength of character.
When s%#t gets serious
As a fellow Blogger, Recruiter or HR enthusiast, you’ve no doubt had minty moments like these, when you really want your blog, ad or employee comms to stand out from the rest ….. To GRAB attention! To make an IMPACT! To ENGAGE!
After a few vinos, a night suffering writer’s block whilst trying to create a totally cool yet gimmicky, pun-filled blog; I woke slightly jaded and re-read in cold harsh reality of a new day (actually it was a beautiful hot clear Auckland morning … Like always … Unlike Wellington). Surprisingly, I realised that I’m not as funny as I thought. In fact I’m a bit of an egg …. So I’m giving it another crack.
This one time at band camp …..
After years of working for a large corporate, who didn’t appreciate my passion for beautiful shoes; I took the plunge and embarked on a new career working for two owners in a Start-up Consultancy business. From Day 1, I loved every minute and enjoyed wearing my shoes unrestricted!
KaPOW out of NOWHERE ………… S%#T JUST GOAT SERIOUS!
Friday @ 8am only 8 weeks after starting, there was a new face in the office. Faster than a speeding bullet! More powerful than a locomotive! Able to leap tall buildings in a single bound! ENTER THE LIQUIDATOR!
All those HR principles we use in corporates goes out the window. What happens is the LIQUIDATOR (aka Chartered Accountant), takes you to a room, sits you down, says the business is no long operating; therefore you’re out of a job as of RIGHT NOW! In some cases the LIQUIDATOR may require some of the team to stay on for a few days to finish off some work at a reduced pay rate so that the LIQUIDATOR can collect revenue. However in our case that was not so.
Feeling like a possum in the headlights at this point……
Me: Um…. Well …. When will I receive my final pay? I take it you will pay that out today seeing as it’s the last day.
Liquidator: No. Liquidation means that there is no money for employees wages / salaries, or holiday, or bonuses or (as in my case) mileage expenses for all those off site visits.
Me: That’s not legal! That’s not fair and reasonable. Where are my employee rights?
Liquidator: You have none when a business goes into liquidation. As far as it goes from here, we will review all accounts and make an assessment on financial state of business. Should there be any money available this gets paid to secured creditors first, then IRD, then employees and lastly unsecured creditors.
Me: I want a copy of my employee file then as I will need information from it should I need to go to WINZ and for my records?
Liquidator: You can’t have them they are now owned by us and we won’t be releasing any company property.
Me: Well that’s sucks. I want to talk to the Directors.
Liquidator: No you are not allowed to talk to them at all now that they have put the business into Liquidation.
Me: What about my clients? What about my other team members?
Liquidator: You are not allowed to contact clients or other team members.
Me: Guess that’s it then.
In a total state of shock, I leave the room and walk to my desk. I feel a presence behind ….. Damn LIQUIDATOR again ….
Liquidator: I need to review what you are removing from your desk and escort you off site.
At this point I confess I start to cry …. I’m feeling like a fired / terminated employee. I’ve never had to escort an employee off site before however I heard and seen it. Not a happy state of affairs when that happens! So I pack up and leave ….. Whoops I neglected to mention previously that we were going out for work drinks to celebrate end of month … so I had walked to work in order to train home later. So without a car, unsure where my next pay cheque was coming from and still in shock …. I did the 2 hour dirty walk of shame home.
>>>>> FAST FORWARD 3+ months >>>>>>
After 100’s of jobs applications both in my chosen field (Internal Recruitment) and for Xmas jobs in retail, petrol, hospitality and admin, being rejected from all + the LIQUDIATOR finally confirming that there’s no $$ for outstanding wages = my colleagues and I are on the bones of our asses.
Still with me? Keep reading …. WIIFM’s below!
You might be wondering at this stage why it is that out of anything I could have written about I chose to blog about Liquidation (instead of my usual drum banging about candidate experiences).
My colleagues and I have experienced some very strange feedback from Recruiters, HR Managers and Line Managers around their perceptions on Liquidation. These perceptions in most cases have not been favourable … In fact they are very similar perceptions that I know exist around people who have been made redundant (e.g. They’ve been made redundant therefore they mustn’t be any good at their job. I hope the GFC has helped to dispel this belief). My realisation has been, that these perceptions come from lack of knowledge and education … I mean before it happened to me I had no idea what Liquidation actually meant or what the process was for employees.
Additionally, my view on the current Legislation surrounding Liquidation needs challenging. I mean:
• How can employee rights go out the window?
• How can Liquidator’s not deliver the communication to employees in a more humane manner?
• How come employees aren’t considered first before secured creditors?
• How come the law is on the side of the LIQUIDATOR, who in my experience was horrible and belittling to deal with?
• How can the Directors go into Voluntary Liquidation only to be in a position to start up a new similar business with similar IP a week later?
• And so much more!
So I’ve set a goal for 2014 to find a way to challenge the Legislation surrounding Liquidation (lucky I’ve got a cuz high up in Parliament 🙂 ) Who’s with me?
Go on mate, give it a crack!
THANK YOU for giving me your attention….. THANK YOU for taking the time to read my blog…… I hope you’ve enjoyed reading and /or gained some insight into those unemployed Kiwis due to Liquidation. Remember we are not lepers …. We just real people, everyday people who are trying hard to get our careers back.
Merry Xmas to my twitter Crazy Cat HR ladies (you know who you are!) ….. You’ve all helped me so much in the past 3+ months and I am truly grateful and blessed for having met you all (other than you Hilary – our meeting outstanding – Xmas vino?) …. Even though I don’t really like your cat pics 🙂 I feel privileged that you include me. Also a special shout out to Adam N for letting me take the piss, even though he doesn’t get my humour, and to Rebecca C, Phillip T, Andy H, Mark (Cuddles), Paul J and Sean for being instrumental in helping me reconnect with #nzrec #nzhr.
For those that struggle with the correct use of IRONY (as I often do)…. Here’s an example = Directors / Owners operating a business where they are Strategic Business Consultants helping NZ SME’s grow their business; however after 4 months of operating get liquidated owing creditors & employees over $650K. Just saying …. 🙂