Thursday, August 17, 2006

Employee Satisfaction, part I

Wormy’s recent post made me think of my own experiences with employee satisfaction (doesn’t that phrase make you cringe?) (if not, you obviously don’t work in Corporate America). Fortunately for me, and unfortunately for you, I don’t have any good tales from my current employer. They assume that we are as happy as we’re likely to be in a cube farm and my immediate supervisors make a reasonable effort to thank us and shield us from crap rolling downhill. As usual, if I’m going to relate a bad work experience, I have to dip from the BS well. In case you’re a new reader or just incredibly stupid, BS = BellSouth.

A small part of me (my left middle toe) is sorry I missed this incident, but the rest is highly relieved as I would have had to walk out rather than participate. When I began my BS career, the halls were filled with excited and hushed conversations that always exploded in laughter. I finally asked what everybody was laughing about, and my fellow drones eagerly told me about the employee satisfaction conference they had endured a few weeks before my arrival. Some guy with a PhD and a suit held audience and spoke about anger management making happier employees. I guess the BS managers realized that any employee engaged in a workplace shooting rampage is probably unhappy, so they decided to proactively shift their paradigm and address the issue by throwing lots of money at a consultant.

The consultant dude kept referring to getting angry and losing one’s cool as “the horse throwing its rider.” Even better was the audience participation part. The show’s director walked among the workers, took turns insulting everyone until they reached the point where they got upset, and then (under the instruction of the overpaid huckster) (I don’t care what they paid him, it was too much) raised their hands in front of them to imitate a rearing horse and whinnied in protest. I swear I am not making this up. Only reality could be this weird and nonsensical. Also, you’ll note that in this model the employees were not the thrown rider, they were the dumb beasts of burden. I guess the poor riders represented management who were reviled for no reason whatsoever, except maybe that they were conspicuously absent from that meeting.

So, to recap, in order to promote employee satisfaction, BS spent money it could have used on a free lunch or pay increases to have a guy come by, tell them they need to learn to take crap without getting angry in response, and then spent a few hours taunting them while they imitated enraged livestock. In the end, though, the workers did get a wonderful BS treat – months of laughter over how idiotic management and paid consultants could be. They cherished that afternoon like nothing else they had ever experienced at work and, since the initial shock had worn away, loved to relive the experience for the benefit of the newer employees.

I should have quit immediately.


lauritajuanitasanchez said...

That is fucking funny! It's been a long time since I've been any part of corporate America, but in my brief stint as an airline employee, I was forced to attend a few of these "rah rah" sessions. I always left with the feeling that it was a gigantic waste of money and time.

PBS said...

Whoa! Too funny! I think they all should have gone horseback riding instead, managers getting horses with no saddle. That's just the sort of stupid stuff they spend money on--like we're getting a "Cultural Competancy" mini-course. It will consist of making a list of derogatory terms of other races and discussing them! That's really going to cool things down and smooth out ill feelings!

patti_cake said...

We have crap like that all the time, rah-rah rallies. I just sit there and try not to look too sullen.

Kira said...

HEY! I could DO that job! I could BE that consultant!

Seven said...

I've seen that dude before. Ithinkhe moonlights on Pat Robertson's show too.

Angie said...

I avoid the 'rah-rah' sessions at all costs. Since no one knows what I actually do, it's fairly easy to use my workload as an escape. And honestly, it increases my situation!

Liz said...

Glad you added the part that you were not making this up because it really is hard to believe. Hillarious.

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