BBC's freelancers to sit 'exit interviews'

Freelancers across the BBC will in future be given “exit interviews,” so independent workers finishing short-term contracts at the corporation can feedback their experience – including any of harassment or bullying.

Although the reviews for freelancers will help tackle “the lack of feedback” such temporary staff say they receive about their work for the BBC, the interviews’ will allow freelancers to report any inappropriate behaviour they encountered within the organisation.

In fact, the “insights that these [the exit interviews] bring” should be used “to deal with any issues” inside the BBC, adds Respect at Work, a review set up by the broadcaster in the wake of the Jimmy Savile sex abuse scandal.

Since the review, which also probed what it is like for freelancers to work at the BBC in terms of behaviours they encounter, the corporation has said it plans to overhaul its policy on bullying and harassment.

The exit interviews for freelancers form one part of that overhaul. But before the final review stage, a new “triage service” will direct freelancers – as well as BBC’s in-house staff - to the best source of advice and support where they encounter a problem.

“We are not clear enough about the behaviour we expect from our managers, our staff, our freelancers and our talent,” the BBC admitted in its review. “There is room to improve the content of the relevant policies, to ensure that the general principles apply to everyone who works for the BBC”.

Maintaining the focus on its temporary talent, the BBC found “very few” examples of end of contract reviews for freelancers – 60,000 of whom work with the organisation every 12 months.

Sounding critical of its performance management process for freelancers, the BBC explained: “To a degree, there is an assumption that if you’ve performed well, you’ll get called for another role and if not, then you won’t.

 “But people felt very insecure in such a scenario, with stories of managers being supportive and encouraging to a freelancer’s face, but then refusing to provide references afterwards.”

Understandable “angst” for the freelancer from such a “lack of sincerity” from the BBC manager is the result, adds the review, which also says both employees and freelancers alike will now be handed ‘A Guide to the BBC’ at the outset of their engagement.

The review states:“We will devise concrete examples of acceptable and unacceptable forms of behaviour, that demonstrate respect on the one hand, and a lack of respect, bullying, harassment or the abuse of power on the other.

“These examples will be communicated to employees and freelancers…so that everyone knows what behaviour is expected of them, and what forms of behaviour are unacceptable”.

Editor's Note: Further Reading - How freelancers should get feedback

 

15th May 2013

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