Ghost­writ­ers may haunt com­pa­nies

China Daily (Canada) - - CHINA - By FAN FEIFEI fan­feifei@chi­nadaily.com.cn

Em­ploy­ees who hire ghost­writ­ers for year-end work sum­maries — manda­tory at many Chi­nese com­pa­nies — could be risk­ing their per­sonal pri­vacy as well as cor­po­rate se­crets, ex­perts warned.

Ask­ing work­ers to file self­assess­ments of their per­for­mance for the pre­vi­ous 12 months is stan­dard pro­ce­dure for hu­man re­sources de­part­ments, some­times to de­cide pay raises and bonus.

Yet the sheer num­ber of peo­ple who at­tempt to avoid the task has led in re­cent years to a boom in ghost­writ­ers of­fer­ing their ser­vices.

A search at online mar­ket­place Taobao alone pro­duced more than 150 re­sults, with most “stores” charg­ing 50 to 100 yuan ($8 to $16) for ev­ery 1,000 words.

A worker at a Bei­jing store claim­ing to be an “ed­u­ca­tion con­sul­tancy” said its writ­ers each have two years or more of ex­pe­ri­ence and that “a year-end sum­mary can be done within a day”.

Cus­tomers merely have to pro­vide ba­sic in­for­ma­tion, such as their po­si­tion, com­pany name, du­ties and gen­eral per­for­mance.

“If you’re not sat­is­fied, we can re­vise the re­port up to three times,” said the worker, whose store records show it has dealt with more than 4,000 cus­tomers.

How­ever, ex­perts have raised con­cerns — both eth­i­cal and prac­ti­cal.

Feng Xiao­qing, a pro­fes­sor at the China Univer­sity of Po­lit­i­cal Sci­ence and Law’s Center for In­tel­lec­tual Prop­erty Rights, called the prac­tice “risky”, as ghost­writ­ers may sell sen­si­tive per­sonal or cor­po­rate in­for­ma­tion to third par­ties.

“I don’t en­cour­age peo­ple to do this,” he warned, adding that re­veal­ing trade se­crets can cost a com­pany huge losses.

Ac­cord­ing to Jiang Hain­ing at Guang­dong Gaorui Law Firm, if a store­owner makes a profit sell­ing con­fi­den­tial in­for­ma­tion to a com­pany’s com­peti­tor, the em­ployee may shoul­der le­gal re­spon­si­bil­ity.

Feng Li­juan, an ex­pert with 51job, a ma­jor re­cruit­ment web­site, said ghost­writ­ten sum­maries tend to fol­low the same pat­tern — empty words that fail to high­light an in­di­vid­ual’s qual­i­ties or per­for­mance.

“Some em­ploy­ees may be too busy with work and have no time to write a year-end sum­mary, so they turn to ghost­writ­ers,” she said. “But they rarely meet the re­quire­ments of a com­pany.

“Also, fewer com­pa­nies are us­ing year-end sum­maries to as­sess per­for­mance. They’re a for­mal­ity. Bosses of­ten now talk with em­ploy­ees face to face for eval­u­a­tions.”

How­ever, she still en­cour­ages work­ers to write their own sum­maries, as they can be help­ful in learn­ing about a per­son’s progress.

“An ex­cel­lent sum­mary can make a good im­pres­sion on your boss, while get­ting caught out us­ing a ghost­writer will not,” she said.

Liu Shan­shan, who works at a con­sult­ing agency, said she is ex­pected to give a pre­sen­ta­tion of her year-end sum­mary at the end of each year.

“It’d be mean­ing­less to let some­one else write it,” she said. “I spend two weeks on the re­port, which is use­ful, as I can learn about what I have done and I can po­ten­tially get a pay raise from a sim­ple pre­sen­ta­tion.”

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