Surviving Customer Service 6

If you’d like a copy of your very own and not wait for it to unfold slowly, wander on over to my store to get one.

Many people have said I’ve written this book backwards. Giving you information on the employee handbook and filling out the application at the end. To those people I say, “Shut up.”

If I’ve done my job no one has read this far. They’re too busy running to the nearest deep-sea oil-rig employment center. So, taking my own earlier advice, I should dump in some dirty limericks because I’m writing at no one.

There was a man called Dave
Who kept a dead whore in a cave
He said “I admit
I’m a bit of a shit
But think of the money I save.”

But, just in case I haven’t scared everyone freighter bound, there are some nefarious bits on employee handbooks that should be covered with the nit-pickers fine tooth comb I own.

After you get the job you’ll be given a forest load of paperwork. The most important waste of tree (to them. You won’t care a bit about this. The only piece of paper you should care about is your check) is the Employee Handbook.

The employee handbook is a little piece of legerdemain that is poured over by management, lawyers, the board of directors, and a mailroom clerk or two until it is a document so devoid of information it is declared ready for your grubby little paws.

The main reason an employee handbook exists is to baffle you with sentences that may have, at one time in it’s inception, made sense. It’s a good thing for the corporate mindset, eh? Wouldn’t want you to understand anything, would we?

For your benefit and at perilous danger to my own personal well-being, I’ve spent countless hours pouring over a myriad of employee handbooks so that you can read a sentence such as this,

“The actual policies adopted will vary from company to company and will depend to a large extent on size, number of employees, benefits offered, and other factors.”

And not feel your brain slide down your spine.

What the sentence, which was sentence one in an actual employee handbook, says is,

“Nothing you read from this sentence forward will mean anything because it may or may not pertain to you or to anyone you may see in the vicinity of your current or any future location you may or may not mobilize to.”

So why, you may ask, do companies make such a big deal about their employee handbook?

Because management loves to make work.

If management had actual tasks, such as stocking shelves, dealing with irate customers, processing insurance claims before you bleed to death, they’d actually be accountable. You can get in trouble for not dealing with a customers complaint in a timely or satisfactory fashion but who’d ever get in trouble for spending eighty-seven hours in meetings debating the merit of a colon or semi-colon?

No one! That’s the beauty of such corporate pork as the employee handbook! They can, with a straight face (which, to this day, still amazes me) go on and on about how much due diligence went in to the creation of what they deem to be a perfect employee handbook.

That is until a secretary with an English degree and plenty of time on their hands takes a gander at it and clicks off seventy-three grammatical errors in the first chapter.

Oh my! The horror! How, after all our hard work and billable hours, did those never attributed to anyone specifically (no accountability) errors get in there?

No need to live in the past! They must reconvene to create an even greater document in six to eight-seven thousand work hours.

Why do they do it? Because, damnit, our employees deserve it! And a manager is in the market for a new boat.

Okay, maybe I’m being a little hard on what the employee handbook actually stands for. After all, this chapter is called ‘Deciphering The Employee Handbook’ not ‘Holding The Employee Handbook Out For Ridicule’. You’ll have plenty of time for that once you get your own.

The employee handbooks basic function is to dangle corporate benefits in front of you while scaring you senseless so you don’t want to hang around long enough to qualify for a single one of those benefits.

They’ll scare you, right off the bat, by making you sign a form that states you something to the effect that you, ‘acknowledge, understand, accept and agree to comply with the information contained in the employee handbook.’

Yikes! Even the part about indentured servitude for the first born?

In reality, all they’re saying is,

‘See this stuff? We can fire you for anything at anytime.’

Maybe you’d see that as a good thing.

“At least I have a list of things that could get me fired,” you may be thinking.

To that I would say, go out and buy another copy of this book. This copy didn’t work for you.

To hedge their bet they’ll add something to the effect of, ‘I understand this handbook is not intended to cover every situation which may arise during my employment. . .’

What they’re really saying is, ‘We did our best to make firing you as easy and litigation free as possible but, just in case, we’re keeping a few things under wraps.’

After that they’ll cop a laid back attitude, give you a heaping, ‘Hey, how ya doin’?’ Make you feel this is the place for you. You know, the cupcakes and coffee segment of the ‘Satanists For Jesus’ orientation.

It’s here you’ll run into many words like, success, goal-oriented, vision, progressive, excellence, and rewarding. It’s also in this area you’ll be told how, out of the billions of people in the world, they chose YOU!

The fact you were walking by on the way to pick up a slush, realized you didn’t have any money, and saw the ‘help wanted’ sign never seems to come up, does it?

You haven’t even punched in yet and they’re already giving you a line of corporate double talk. Does bode well for once they start paying you, does it?

The meat of the handbook is when they mention policies. Trust me when I say they can go on. They’ll mention things like theft or inappropriate removal or possession of property; falsification of timekeeping records; working under the influence of alcohol or illegal drugs; fighting or threatening violence in the workplace; negligence or improper conduct leading to damage of employer-owned or customer-owned property; insubordination or other disrespectful conduct; violation of safety or health rules; smoking in prohibited areas; sexual or other unlawful harassment; possession of dangerous or unauthorized materials in the workplace; excessive absenteeism or any absence without notice; unauthorized use of equipment; unauthorized disclosure of confidential information; violation of personnel policies; unsatisfactory performance or conduct; failure to work assigned overtime; abuse of the travel expenses policy.

Sure makes the place seem less fun to work at, doesn’t it?

As you can see you can get fired pretty easily. Don’t let it bother you. I’ve seen everything on that list, and many things not, broken. Often by the same person. Okay, often by me. Hey! I’m not here as a role model.
The reason for this chapter is to give you a little heads up on what you’re up against because I know damn well you’re never going to read the employees handbook. The first one I read was as research for this book (yes, research went into this. Not much but I’m not much of a reader).

The things is, management knows you won’t read it. Even if they sit there while you flip through the pages they know there’s no way you can read thirty odd pages in the seven seconds it took you to flip through.

That fact (98.6% of all employees never read the employees manual according to SoMUS – Society of Made-Up Statistics) allows management unfettered power to fire and harass at will. Because, when you try to fight back with information gleamed from the employee handbook, you won’t be able to find it because you threw it in the nearest trash receptacle when you left.

The best you have is this book. And that, my friend, is a sad, sad fact.

If you’d like a copy of your very own and not wait for it to unfold slowly, wander on over to my store to get one.


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