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This was Prime Minister David Cameron’s message to business and workers earlier this week. Does he have a point?

The opposition jumped on the missive immediately. Arguably the biggest whiner of the House of Commons, Chuka Umunna spoke of little else for the following few days. Perhaps the mantra could be adopted on the opposition benches and facilitate some positive suggestions from them?

The British are great whiners, especially when it comes to politics, the economy, work or business. Take a look at just about any newspaper headline on those subjects and it is one person whining about another, or one section of people protesting about another. Someone feeling hard done by, or whinging about someone else getting a better deal.

We joke that whining is a British pastime, but the reality is that it is no joke. It can consume us, and cause far greater problems. The attitude has led to a blame culture, and with so many encouraging authoritative bodies engendering ‘support’ (or often putting the idea in the populous minds) it will continue.

How many of the tube drivers really felt aggrieved by the request to do ONE hour’s extra work over the few weeks of the Olympics, and aggrieved enough to threaten industrial action if they did not receive an ex-gratia payment of £1000 until their Union Leaders intervened?

But we do whine. Executive pay (see Pick on the Big Guys), Sunday Trading, numbers of Bank Holidays, the plethora of Austerity measures (and effectiveness thereof) the list is genuinely endless. Give the UK public, and especially the media, 19 pieces of good news, they will seek out the one piece of bad news and obsess about it – even if it has no effect on them. We whine better than anyone else.

Work harder
So what about the second part of the suggestion? Business leaders responded with mixed reaction. Most that I spoke to agreed, employee/supplier/customer whining was one of their biggest issues. Some however reacted angrily, mostly fuelled by the opposition’s goading, incensed at the suggestion that they could work any harder. And for many business leaders, that is true.

Those entrepreneurs who lead our nation’s SME typically work double the average working week. C-Level execs in the nation’s largest businesses do likewise – but there is a huge gulf of people that fall in between. But working harder doesn’t automatically mean working longer hours.  Why is the Nissan plant in the North-East able to produce significantly more than its counterparts? Take a walk around the plant and it is easy to see why.  Attitude.

The attitude and passion instilled in these workers causes them to work harder, pull together, find solutions not problems….and ultimately produce more.

Maybe Cameron does have a point? Less negative, more positive. Less ‘why should we’, more ‘why shouldn’t we’.

Recruitment
The Stop Whining and Work Harder mantra is especially relevant within recruitment. The world is a tough place at present. Whilst jobless figures are improving, they are doing so slowly and coming from a low position. There is also a lot of competition for the recruitment sector, especially the lower value recruitment sector.

More and more businesses are recruiting directly for low level/low value positions. Internet Job Boards for finding the ‘chaff’ that is highly active; internet advertising to find the slightly better quality active job seeker; pro-active targeting using LinkedIn (despite points raised in 20 Reasons Why There’s More To Head-Hunting Than LinkedIN!); still some using paper advertisements. External competition abound.

Then there are those amongst us, largely driven by the pressures of such external competition, that have sought to devalue the recruitment product, offering fee levels so low as to make it a quality-unimportant commodity. The proponents can do so by offering near-zero service, acting as little more than a modest filter between job-boards and businesses (or business-side, being happy to accept such zero-quality service as part of a cost over value ‘strategy’).

Tough times. It is easy to see then, why the recruitment sector has joined the ranks of the other negative people in the UK and whinged about how tough it is – no doubt blaming everyone else from The Government, the last Government, Human Resources department(s), business obsession with cost-cutting – everyone bar themselves. And whinge they do, at least beneath the veneer of enforced corporate spin!

But recruitment is still a vital element to any business, and the smarter businesses recognise it as singly THE most important component of a business’s ongoing development.

It is therefore up to us to ensure than we are adding value to the recruitment process; avoiding ‘spray and pray’ strategies, consulting with businesses to ensure we understand what they want (and advising them accordingly), employing appropriate methodologies to locate the individuals and ultimately delivering every time. i.e. Working Harder.

The other side of this argument is from business’ perspective. I hear from numerous execs, complaining that the recruitment processes and strategies that have been employed have been ineffective – whether totally in-house, outsourced through a RPO agreement or through the engagement of specific recruitment business(es).

Ineffective means not delivered, yet I have delivered on every formally engaged process I have undertaken. Dig beneath the surface, and the business cut corners. The complaining exec knows this, whether handled in-house, or outsourced through a second rate partner, but did nothing about it – choosing to complain instead. Again.

Yet so many times, once we offer to engage through our 100% guaranteed product and underpin our delivery ability with a 100% cash refund, they will still fall back into old means and accept a 70% chance of successful completion, or 60%, or worse.

Stop Whining; Work Harder.

Success requires consistent, determined action.  If you are not prepared to work hard to change; don’t whinge that change hasn’t been effected.