Yesterday, I had the privilege of meeting a group of young employees at a workshop. The purpose of the workshop was to find out what kind of support new employees at this organisation need in their first few weeks of work. The preamble to all this was the results of a previous engagement that we had with this organisation, where we found that new employees were often thrown into the deep, shark-infested sea right from the start. And they either sink, swim or get eaten.
During the workshop we conducted an anecdote circle to elicit the experiences of these new employees, and the things we heard were startling. This is an organisation with a world-class reputation and considered to be the best of breed, but the treatment that new employees receive is far from world class. Basic human needs are overlooked, eg, staff have to boil their own hot water because the water dispenser is “meant for guests only”. They don’t have pantries because all available space has been converted into offices. Pigeonholes are labeled not by the officer’s name, but by their designation. It’s probably more efficient for the organisation as they don’t have to replace the names of officers with the high turnover, but who wants to be known by a number code? Emails are addressed to the officer’s designation, not their names. As one of them said, “No Hi’s, no Dear’s”.
As I sat there listening to these young people tell their stories, I silently lamented the damage the organisation was doing to them. The energy, the enthusiasm and the positive spirit in that room that day will die a slow death until frustration and bitterness finally take over. This dark cloud will hang over them for the rest of their working life, and they will in turn infect newer colleagues unless, perchance, something wonderful happens to break this vicious cycle. Our client recognises this, and has embarked on a journey to break this cycle, but how many more organisations out there are still breaking spirits everyday?
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