It doesn’t feel much like a Friday, that’s for sure. And I’ve had a tough time getting through my week lately.
Couple of weeks of bitter cold and car issues with it will do that to a person, I suppose.
But things are interesting at work.
For one thing, our company had a “holiday luncheon” on Thursday (yesterday as I write). Good food we probably shouldn’t pay for, though, with our performance numbers the way they are. Unfortunately, the only thing people look forward to in a mandatory all-employee meeting is the food.
And this all-employee meeting was destined for infamy.
A new general manager has taken over the division which owns our building. In a weird twist, because we’ve started doing customer service for them by absorbing their CSRs, my boss now appears to have a dotted-line reporting structure to the GM. So the new GM, a guy whose pedigree is in getting things done as quickly as possible in a no-nonsense, push forward way, came in with his eyes open.
He discovered, through observation from his corner office, that sales are down because a lot of people are abusing policies. Some of those policies include break times and lunch times, particularly for hourly people. So, he decided to “reiterate” the policy in a statement delivered at the all-employee meeting-slash-holiday luncheon.
Problem is, he wasn’t here to deliver his message. He asked one of the HR reps to do it, and that rep’s presentation had a summary of the break policy, and what breaks are supposed to be used for. But, the big splash was that the first bullet point on his slide was “using the restroom.”
Smoking, personal phone calls or conversations, stretching and avoidance of repetitive stress injuries, those sorts of things, all are in there. But the first one was using the bathroom. The implication is you aren’t to use the bathroom outside your scheduled ten minute break period.
As a guy who drinks gallons of water a day and always has, and who then needs to drain the reservoir fairly regularly, this struck an odd chord in me. I haven’t had to wait for recess to use the bathroom since third grade. The results of asking me to do so were disastrous then, and will be now as well. So I wondered, perked a brow, and sat quietly. I decided, then and there, I would not abide by that aspect of this policy, irrespective of whose wishes they are. And if they want to make something of it, they can talk to my civil suit attorney.
That didn’t sit well with a lot of people, and the Customer Service Manager heard the rumblings when we got out of the meeting. The natives were restless and unhappy. So my boss – who is filling in for the recently-terminated order entry clerk and therefore sitting in a cube across the aisle from me – who also probably heard the rumbling, asked her to issue a meeting for today at nine a.m.
Well, we all sat quietly while he made a statement about clarifying the slide which caused the stir. He brought it up, and basically said if you have to use the potty you can. All the company is asking is to reduce that when possible, and certainly to hold it if you can until your break. That is, if your scheduled break time is in ten minutes, can you wait that long and do your business then?
And he let us know he would be unable to protect us if the GM decided to take matters into his own hands. My boss, so he says, got called into HR and received an “ass-chewing” for people in our business group (the ones who rent from the division who owns the building) personnel abusing the policies in question. He said he wouldn’t “name names” (which he probably can’t do in a meeting like this anyway), but he couldn’t defend us either. So, whether “abuse of policy” meant too many breaks, or not being at their desks when someone looked for them, or going to the bathroom too much, I have no idea.
He did remind us things aren’t good in our business in general, and we don’t want to give them any reasons to let us go.
All well and good. But, smokers face an additional issue.
They only get a couple of breaks a day. I know for a fact, before we absorbed the CSRs from the other division, they were told in no uncertain terms they had to limit smoke breaks to just two per day, a morning and afternoon break. If you want to inhale your lunch instead of eat, that’s up to you.
But then, they designated only certain areas for smoking. And they are not conveniently located, so there’s a matter of getting to and from those designated areas and smoking within those ten minute periods. But today, my boss dropped a bomb on smokers by letting them know that, if all goes according to plan, the entire campus will be a non-smoking facility by the end of the calendar year.
Oh, that got a rise out of one person in particular. She railed for a few minutes saying the company was costing employees more money, because sitting in your car on a non-smoking campus is a violation of the non-smoking policy. So if you want to smoke in your car you have to drive it somewhere else and smoke, or drive around while you do. I faced this before I quit smoking when I worked for a couple of pharmaceutical companies several years ago.
But, they didn’t seem to mind if I took a couple of breaks a day, as long as I didn’t abuse the policy at all. And I gave them plenty of overtime for which I did not bill as compensation. And I was a temp, so they ended up dumping me like a waste basket.
At any rate, my boss wanted to address the concern but every time he started talking she’d just keep going, voice tight, explaining how “they” (the company) kept costing the employees more money and didn’t make us want to work here, etc. My boss ended up saying he heard the issue but that was the general direction our company is going, and we (this campus) are likely to follow suit.
Then he covered the part where, if you (the employees being addressed) are part of customer service, you must ensure there is adequate phone coverage so customers can reach us when they call. Reach someone…anyone. And that led to the same whiner, who did the same keep-talking-until-you-hear-I’m-complaining trick, started asking if she should let the CSM know whenever she gets up to go to another department, or to shipping, or to the bathroom, or to smoke, or to…
Yeah, she’s like that.
And so it went. The ones he expected to have issues did, and the ones he expected to look around, saying, “Well, he doesn’t mean me with this,” did just that. And so the target has been taped firmly to the back of those who are the biggest abusers and they’ve been called out, whether they want to believe it or not. Whether they recognize it or not.
And I have to be aware, I’m not exempt just because I’m exempt (salary status vs. hourly). So there’s that.
Anyway, the ancient Chinese curse “May you live in interesting times” has come home to roost in our lives for a time.
Here’s hoping that’s a short visit.
Have a good weekend, all.