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18 October 2019
I worked at Adam Matthew for almost exactly a year as an editorial assistant and feel that my experiences were fairly typical of an Editorial Assistant in Production. AM are willing to employ humanities graduates straight out of university with little to no prior experience, whilst the pay won't make you rich I would say it is broadly speaking fair for the job you do. I never felt any pressure to stay late at work or to take work home with me, which does allow for a good work life balance. The staff wellbeing committee is a good idea and does help a little in creating a social environment.
I've tried to be as fair as possible and not let the fact that I ultimately didn't enjoy my time at AM colour what I consider cons. -The job description for Editorial Assistant Production suggested to me that I would spend a reasonable amount of time visiting archives, writing content such as resource introductions and blog posts and liaising with academics. The reality is that these tasks are pretty occasional and the vast majority of work you are likely to do is filling in spreadsheets (often just copying and pasting vast swathes of information into them) or clicking through thousands of digital images to quality check them. Both of these are quite repetitive tasks and do make you wonder why the company has such a focus on the academic excellence of it's editorial assistants. Whilst the 'fun' jobs can be quite enjoyable they only represent a few hours work in a project's lifecycle and you may well be on that project for 6 months to a year. Repetitive or technical tasks make up the bulk of the work of an editorial assistant. I know many within the department had taken the job as a stepping stone towards something in the heritage sector or print publishing, if this is you I would not recommend applying for the job. Personally I did not feel I required a degree to do the job I did. -The management culture at AM leaves rather a lot to be desired. Many amongst the senior management are quite aloof and tend not to bother to interact with those lower in the company. There are also some amongst senior management who hold quite a patronising view towards editorial assistants and often write-off what are quite legitimate complaints from them. At all levels of management at AM there tends to be a peculiar reluctance to give praise. Instead it is very common to be told what you did wrong or what you could improve, rather than to receive praise for what you did well. Ultimately the response from management is much the same whether you work really hard or just coast doing the bare minimum, this isn't exactly conducive to making you work at your best. Something I also experienced was a feeling that if management felt you were getting too comfortable they seemed anxious to cut you down to size, often in the forms of 'complaints' lodged by senior management, or by finding (relatively minor) issues with the quality of your work. Ultimately I did not feel valued as an employee at AM, I felt like I was considered to be expendable and did not feel like any or the skills or experience I gained in my year there were particularly recognised. -Progression within Production is not particularly clear, promotions sometimes seem a bit confusing and there doesn't seem to be much rhyme or reason as to who is and isn't promoted. It is not particularly clear how one might go about progressing within the department. -Diversity at AM leaves quite a lot to be desired, the company has a very definite white middle class feel to it, whilst I understand this is an industry wide probably, and the area doesn't necessarily lend itself to diversity I do feel that AM could do more to encourage a wider variety of people to join AM and then to feel welcome once they've joined. There is a very set character that many at AM conform to and if you are different from this it can feel quite difficult to fit in within the company. I don't feel this is a conscious decision on the part of the company, but is certainly a product of employing a large number of people that are very similar.
Advice to Management
If you do genuinely value your employees make attempts to communicate this better, throwing money at big events such as the Christmas party is not a substitute to actually offering routine praise for the work that people do day to day. Creating a culture where people feel valued rather than a cog in a machine that they aren't particularly invested in will not only improve employee morale but would make people put more into their work. Be willing to give praise where it is deserved and don't just pick up on the negatives. Be more honest about the job you are employing people to do and don't write off diversity as something that isn't practical in the industry or the area.
AM are willing to employ humanities graduates straight out of university with little to no prior experience, whilst the pay won't make you rich I would say it is broadly speaking fair for the job you do.
18 October 2019
1 English question out of 1