Employee Appreciation

25 Oct 2007

As a consultant, I spend a lot of time at big companies and big companies generally have a morale problem. Bureaucracy, cubicles, and lax management will tend to do that. Typically they try to solve this problem by exchanging money for goodwill. A few projects ago I was consulting at one such company where they spent a ton of money having a day of games, burgers, and events during business hours. There was a big ad campaign, lots of promotional tie-ins and give-aways – a team of people clearly worked on this for weeks (or maybe months). Now add up productivity, food, and sumo-suit rental costs and we are talking some serious money. All worth it in service of employee good will, right?

A few days after this spectacle, my team and I decided to walk to lunch. Now the most direct route to our restaurant of choice happened to be through the front door. However, the security guy stopped us when we tried to leave. Employees aren’t allowed to enter or leave through the front door. Why? That’s the policy.

So we backtracked, went out another door, had lunch, and came back. At which point we discovered that our badges wouldn’t let us in the side doors. So we tried another side door. No luck. We went around to the front where we found out that security had turned off our badges intentionally so that we would have to go in the front door and get a lecture from the head security guy. I’m not kidding. 3 grown men got a talking to for trying to exit through the front door.

Later we heard, informally, that the company wants to keep the front entrance looking nice so that’s why employees may not enter or leave through the front door. The obvious implication here is that visitors would be put off by the sight of employees walking in through the same door as them. Does anyone really believe that one day of corporate sponsored fun is likely to make up for the daily humiliation of having to enter through the back door of your own company?