Thursday, January 19, 2006

Yaknow, Some Things Just Ain't Right

I'm sure we all have stories we can tell about jobs and work and the idiocy that goes on with it. I know I've already made mention of a few tidbits previously. Lately though, things have reached what some might call critical levels of rampant stupidity.

I won't dwell on things like screwing employees out of their accrued time off, or setting dates for schedule changes ahead of time, then changing them on employees at the last minute, then punishing those who weren't able to make suitable arrangements on account. Much. There are however a few choice bits I just have to get off my chest.

A bit of background: I gave up my position and wage to take advantage of an opportunity to work remotely, which resulted in quite the cut in pay, and a good deal more headaches than I would have thought possible. Still, it's better than the alternatives, for what we want - which is me earning a bit o' cash to help get us ahead and out of debt, and being here for my family without having to resort to daycare (which really left a bad taste in our mouths - thank you KinderCare).

This all was spawned by our company, consolidating our Verification of Employment office back in with the rest of the business. See previous map for reference. I've since moved out further than before, making it even more of a drive, on lonely roads, at night ... yeah. Why the move? Something about 'saving money' and the like. Fine and well.

Things went less smoothly than we'd hoped with the move, but hey, it happens. It became clear however, for the brief time I was back at the old office, that things had taken a turn for the worse.

First off the bat, they deconstructed the previous management team, aside from those at the top, and handed control over to several people who quite frankly had no experience with VOE whatsoever, passing over those who had been with it from the very beginning. An interesting move to say the least, and one that was not casually dismissed by the rest of the team. In addition, VOE and at least one other department were 'merged' so they could take advantage of cross-training. This also created some interesting situations, but is a bit more understandable than their choice of management.

Over the next time stretch, it 's seemed that anyone who had position or title at the offsite office was harrassed, let go, demoted, or got sick of the situation and left on their own. Morale is at an all-time low, and the powers that be seem indifferent to it all. When concerns have been brought up, the answer is a robotic 'New Supervisor is in charge, and has our full support. No, we will not be taking any other commentary under advisement.'

In other words, this witch is now your God, and what God says, goes. No questions asked.

Turns out this new supervisor is one of their biggest problems, and the source of the harrassment. Nor does upper management seem inclined to look into accusations of abuse and the like. Interesting mindset from a company that proports to be 'not like Big Corporation' and would like to see the business run 'like one big family'. Last I checked, a friendly family environment did not include dismissing concerns out of hand, or undue harrassment and abusive dialogue, or threats. Maybe my expectations are a little high.

Employees have been called on the carpet for using their accrued time off - something I believe is their right to use, and has always been cleared before given it was usually reasonable. Warnings have been given out for sick days - again, covered by time off, but now unacceptable under the new 'management'. Time has also been relatively flexible so long as it was not abused - as in not working overtime unless approved and the like, and not making a habit of being late etc. The usual reasonable expectations.

Just this week someone was given a two-day suspension for clocking in 15 minutes early, then reportedly subjected to extremely abusive dialogue by this new supervisor.

Yeah. Frankly, I'm speechless.

The most recent was one of my leads who just got fired - yes, fired - on very weak grounds. He wouldn't be getting his car out of the shop in time to get to work on time, so let work know ahead of time he would be a couple hours late, and the reason for it. He also had the time to cover it. He has also historically been a hard worker, and more often than not, quietly gone about his business and just got his stuff done. In addtion to being probably the most clean person out there, often taking out the trash at the end of the night when we were closing up, just because it kept things neater. (Something that they eventually made mandatory to be swapped out between the different work groups - no rules-breaking there.)

When he challenged this, they tried the 'well, you were sick once this month too'. Yes, once. Also covered, also called in. Once. When he tried to address all this, the Plant Manager wouldn't hear any of it, refused to listen to his side of it, and basically stated it was the Supervisor's call, and it would be supported. No opportunity for redress, no questions asked, a clear abuse of power and an absolute joke of a call on the part of Management.

I'm hoping he seriously takes all this a step further. The sorts of mismanagement that are going on out there are ridiculous. And they wonder why, in closing interviews, they have gotten negative comments concerning how unprofessional the business is, the atmosphere of the workplace, etc. Ignoring problems has been a long-running stance by several out there. Hell, I've had concerns I've tried to quietly address several times, only to be met with the Wall of Silence. No response, no acknowledgement, unless it concerned the need to get rid of something.

I'd say that sums it up fairly well, right there.

Truth, I've felt guilty for having left my crew to suffer at the hands of this witch - can't really think of another appropriate word atm that wouldn't just come across as crude - but I've been assured there's nothing I could have done. "They would have found a way to get rid of you too", has been the general concensus. And while I'd like to argue that I could have found some way to win and get around a lot of the unpleasantness, after hearing more and more of what's going on out there, I think they're right.

One can't help but wonder if they're not trying to kill the program entirely. Or perhaps drive out all the office help - who are by the by making about $3 more per hour than we 'offsite' folks are, doing the same thing - to try and wrangle more out of the telecommute system, and cut a bigger profit.

Word is out for folks who are left out there - 'Watch your back'. People, that just ain't no way to run a business. And frankly, it's a damn shame. We were never perfect, and we had our problems, but if things had been dealt with a bit better from the get-go, we've always had the potential for greatness. Pity they're driving out most of that potential with their indifferent attitudes.

Guess we'll see how this thing pans. Shan't be holding my breath for a great conclusion, all the same.

Update: Well, they've done it. Driven off my former assistant supervisor, who quit 'before she got run out too', as of last night. Salute, SB - you made a good run of it, and I'm glad I got to know you in the relatively short time we were out there together. Here's to hoping those other plans we've talked about pan out. DV lost a good one when they lost you - and all those other folk who've been forced to get while the gettin' is good, or let go under dubious circumstances.

Corporate idiocy, in action. I figure it's their loss.