He got his start laying pipe for the Atlas Water and Sewer company. Eventually, he climbed the ranks, becoming responsible for a staff of 800 and annual revenue exceeding $120 million. His name is Victor Kipling. This is his weekly column.
Once small, neat and almost petite, the object he now held had, almost before his very eyes, expanded, swelled and grew to disgustingly bloated proportions. Like a pulsating tumor, the ‘employee handbook’ has grown and, in fact, metastasized. That portable, lightweight and generally benign and somewhat even helpful booklet has now been replaced by a dazzling array of rules and guidelines crafted in deliberately confusing, complex language. And, to add the proverbial insult to injury, today’s model is now often packaged in a loose leaf binder, so that every week or so, new pages of rules and procedures can be issued and added to the ever-growing tome.
Really, it’s almost like the biggest non-producers in any organization stay awake at night concocting new and improved ways to make us miserable. Don’t get me wrong; I am not faulting the HR folks. They have a series of important jobs to perform, and the best of them walk a daily tightrope of fairly balancing the equities between corporate and individual interests. No, the real culprits here are The Nannies; the great ‘enlightened’ of our time. We all know who they are; they are the arrogant, hyper-opinionated crypto-fascists masquerading as liberal and progressive thinkers. Because they are loud and obnoxious, and abuse the legal system by undertaking one frivolous lawsuit after another, corporate America has come to fear them. In doing so, they surrender management’s right to manage, and freely sign away their employee’s rights. Boards of Directors have become notorious for their total lack of guts, their squeamishness when dealing with special interest groups and single-minded zealots. Anything to avert trouble, maintain the bottom line and avoid media scrutiny. Government, to no one’s surprise, gave up this ghost a long time ago. We all see where that’s led …
And so, the banning of this or that occurs with such regularity that we don’t even realize just how our behavior is being modified and our lives governed. Uh oh; one mail room clerk at a Fortune 500 company employing 2,000 people has a peanut allergy. I know, we’ll ban peanuts (in all forms) from the entire building. The list is legion; and ranges from anti-perfume campaigns to rallies against lunchroom cliques, hyping over-sensitivity under the guise of diversity training and banning every word in the English language not considered abjectly and totally politically correct.
Good common sense and the spirit of compromise that have mostly characterized the American office, are becoming more and more dated, more antiquated; even as you read this item. I suppose that we can call this the tyranny of the mega minority; because the whining and bleating of a few echoes so much louder than the silence a mostly quiet majority.
The real scary part is that, unless we both individually and collectively start to raise our voices and begin resisting this constant and insulting assault on our liberties, there’ll be no stopping the varying strains of police from prodding and poking us to live exactly the type of life they think we should (no, really must) live.
And you thought the employee handbook was just words on paper! Leave a comment below and tell us about YOUR employee handbook. Is it thick? Does it have pictures? What new and nasty rules does your company have? Speak out and win prizes.