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What Employees Say
I worked at SMi Group full-time for more than a year
Generally young workforce, lots of people would usually go for drinks after work (to voice their frustrations about working for SMI, but the common hatred of the company created a bond nonetheless).... You'll make some good friends whose leaving drinks you can attend (these usually occur every 2-3 weeks at least). Decent enough to feature on your CV to help you get out of there quickly.
This company is extremely toxic and rotten from the roots. The directors use bullying as a means of communication and if they happen to dislike you - often for no valid reasons - they make sure that... you are well aware of it by making you a target of their superiority complex. People are driven out of the company on a disgustingly regular basis (on the plus side, you don't have to tell recruiters why you left as they are well aware of how horrible SMI is). Staff are talked down to like children and no respect or appreciation is ever shown to hard workers. If you're lucky, you might even get shouted at in front of delegates at an event for simply making a small mistake or not doing something fast enough. Delegates notice this and later ask staff if this is normal behaviour. Morale is incredibly low and it's saddening to see bright and happy individuals slowly become depressed and tired. You could love working in events before joining SMI and you'll leave hating it because the directors make it so hard for you to find any joy or pride in your work. If you're a victim of bullying, speaking to HR does nothing as their hands are tied seeing as the directors are also the owners of the business and don't believe anything they do could ever be wrong. On the other side though, you will be called into HR meetings regularly for ridiculous things such as going to the coffee machine too many times, or making too much small talk at your desks. If you've made friends with your desk neighbour and they think you're being too chatty, one of you will be moved elsewhere. Working for the directors is often very embarrassing, as their grammar and spelling is shocking. Professional emails to clients are riddled with spelling mistakes, bad grammar, and are worded rudely and pushy. LinkedIn posts are similar, to the point where even the event titles or sponsor names are spelled incorrectly, the wrong people are tagged, and pictures are blurry. Micromanaging is also at the forefront, you are asked to provide meaningless updates all the time, you're made to feel bad if there's no movement on your events over the weekend or over bank holidays (when nobody is working), and every step you take is monitored and criticised. Mistakes made by suppliers or external contacts are blamed on you. Mistakes by the directors are somehow also blamed on you or just not acknowledged - everyone is always wrong except them. Training is poor to non-existent. Staff are expected to train newcomers, even if they have only recently joined themselves and are still learning the ropes. The directors' "training" consists of them talking at you for half an hour about how great the company is and what they expect you to do, without ever giving you the proper tools or knowledge to achieve this. Work/life balance is extremely poor. Hours are not flexible, lateness (even if it's just 1 minute) is a crime in their eyes and you're meant to call in every time you run a bit late (even if you're stuck underground and cannot possibly make calls). Annual leave is about the minimum and leave requests are granted only on the basis that you're made to feel as if the directors are doing you a massive favour. Staff are not allowed to take eg. the week before Christmas off if the rest of the team are already on leave (I understand the thought behind this in peak season but there's no real work to be done a few days before Christmas so this policy is ridiculous). Working from home is not an option. Sick leave is very poor with 4 paid days per year, everything else is unpaid, meaning you have to decide whether you want to lose out on a day's salary or drag yourself into work and feel miserable all day. Overtime is mandatory if you're attending an event with early starts and late finishes, however, you are not compensated for the extra hours worked. During the week of SMI's biggest event, staff was forced to stay at drinks receptions and dinners until late at night and then be ready again for an early start the next day. No day off in lieu was openly given to staff after an exhausting week, if you wanted rest, you had to use your own annual leave. The directors are genuinely horrible people. From ignoring or even participating in blatant bullying, from asking staff to write positive reviews for them - or even doing so themselves - instead of addressing the criticism and working on improving, to being openly racist and discriminatory (eg. not allowing individuals from certain countries to participate in "global" events, making sexist remarks to young female staff, trying to get a disabled delegate removed from an event, the list goes on...), this is not a place to be. In summary, this is an incredibly toxic workplace where no trust, respect, or loyalty is shown to staff and you are treated like the last piece of dirt on earth. I advise everyone considering a job with SMI to turn around and run. They may pretend to be nice and friendly during your interview, but this can and will quickly change once you're in. Don't waste your time, energy, and hard work for an employer who will not appreciate any of it, and will only make you feel nothing but worthless.
Advice to Management
Stop lying to yourselves. Instead of actually taking the criticism you receive here to heart and trying to make a change, you respond to reviews claiming everything is a lie and instead write some... good reviews yourselves (this is super obvious by the way, you keep using the same wording). Stop bullying and mistreating your staff. You cannot make up for poor treatment and discrimination by throwing a boat party every once in a blue moon. There's nothing else that can be said that hasn't been said dozens of times already. You just won't learn.