Of rants at staff meetings

08 February 2013
Author   Anna Salkeus

YOU have got to love annual general meetings held just before the end of the financial year. This is the one time employees are given a fair and equal opportunity to speak their minds, frustrations, concerns, contribute suggestions to improve company performances and avoid repeating the same professional mistakes again.

 

But it is also the one time all employees remain silent. They rant throughout the year about poor management, run to the media (God bless those people) to snitch on the company while others back-chat on their colleagues.

The cleaner whose presence was always felt around the corridors where she would be thinking out loud, complaining and ranting about how the grown-ups around the office did not clean up after messing up things.

Her frustration always shot up to the extent that even when clients walked into the office building, she’d mop right on top of their shoes as all she saw in her state of anger-inflamed visual impairment was a dirty floor. How embarrassing to see clients hopping sideways to avoid the mop.

But during staff meetings when the director asks, “Any issues regarding general maintenance?” the woman would be cleaning her nails instead.

The more vocal employees on the other hand really disappoint me when it comes to these meetings.

They ask the most preposterous questions, make pointless suggestions and laugh at the most unconventional jokes made by the directors. One would think that they are the voice of the voiceless but no, that is almost never the case in any given profession.

During one of the staff meetings at one of the firms in the CBD, the director asked the boardroom full of employees if they had any questions regarding office maintenance and one sprung up and asked: “Can we please get curtains for the bathroom?”

Brighter curtains! Brighter curtains? Are you kidding me? The stairs at the front door of that firm had foot prints on them and brighter curtains were an issue?

Then we have people like me. Who type their resignation letters twice a week; on a Monday when I am forced to produce stories from the great delta and Fridays when I am expected to work the graveyard shift without any overtime or compensation.

And when we head to the boardroom for the AGM, I sit there at the back where no one can see me, minding my own business and picking the wool off my jersey. Yes, I too am that kind of employee.

The question of whether an employee is overpaid or underpaid is also always something that frustrates nearly everybody who is not on the A-Band salary scale.

Before the meeting, income earners demand that the person behind the payroll register give them a salary hike, for no apparent reason. Like she is the bank manager and or belongs to some sort of salary control board. Call it what you want.

During the meeting, the payroll clerk sits there, quiet. But believe me, in her heart, she has this burning rage about to explode, but she just sits there with her arms crossed, toes curled as if it’s a method of anger management.

If there is one issue I personally would like to bring to the management’s attention one day when I have got five years worth of courage to do so, then I will address the issue of subsistence and travel allowance (S&T).

We all love a bit of pocket money to splurge on, when we travel on official duty don’t we? I’m rather concerned with what happens when the trip ends and the month doesn’t.

So, this would be my argument, “I’d like to know if there is any way you can increase the S&T to at least one extra zero at the end of the figure. If not, why not?” and give them a run for their money.

And then I’ll sit down, proud because now that I have become vocally emancipated and asked an irrelevant question just like those other employees who make me slap my forehead every time they want to know about bright curtains, vintage branding on the company vehicles they drive, new office uniforms, and colourful lighting in the office.

Whether it is an NGO, a Government office or private firm, why do we do that? Why do we sit on our frustrations and act like it’s a problem-free world that we live in?

I urge you all to speak up next time a staff meeting is called.
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