Saturday, March 2, 2013

The 49 Staples

Several years ago, 98 to be exact a great thriller was penned and turned into a 1935 movie.  72 years later it became a Broadway play.
All three were called The 39 Steps.
On the screen it was directed by the great Alfred Hitchcock and starred, at the time equally great actor Robert Donat.
On the stage the thriller became a comedic mystery and ran for 4 years. (I saw it and enjoyed.)

All the above has absolutely nothing to do with the following blog post except for the similarity in names.
But both have a touch of the slight of hand necessary in any successful story, joke or movie.

In the business world it has always been important to keep a watchful eye on the bottom line.  After all it is, well the bottom line!
If your company does not make a profit and continue to do so it will eventually fail.
As a business owner you may use the rationale of cutting corners to save your company and thereby saving the jobs of your employees but truthfully there's a bit more selfish than selfless going around in that community these days.
And why not?
After all they started the business to make money and employees are merely tools to help them do just that.
One way companies turn a profit is offering something the public wants and can afford.
Another way to have a healthy bottom line is to make sure costs are kept in line.
And still another is to get the cheapest labor available and pay them less than they deserve while charging them for any benefit still offered and pushing any healthcare costs onto their backs.  And should they complain, well as long as the unemployment numbers are favorable you can always find someone else!
The wave of the future, make that the now in the business world is to stop chipping in on any pension or 401K retirement plan.
They are also dropping any spousal or family coverage from health insurance plans.
Some companies are even watching what their employees eat and quietly demanding they make healthier choices.  They are not doing this out of any concern for the employee but rather to lower costs on insurance as required by their actuarial bean counters and pencil pushers.
And finally we get down to the minutia or mind bending mindless micro managing mania most businesses are getting into so as to maximize perceived profit.
The tools of the trade must be protected and employees must account for everything they use.

I have spoken with and listened to workers who have slowly been struck by this trend and in order to do their jobs some must:
* Bring in their own pens.
* One gentleman told me he steals pens from a bank because his company no longer supplies them and he doesn't have that many at home.
* Sign requisitions for any supplies including pens, post-its and legal writing pads.  This from a legal secretary!! 

* Bring in your own monitor and keyboard because the only one the company would supply is filthy and disgusting and in need of tossing out of a very high window. This from a new salesman in the company.

* Use the back sides of every sheet of used paper that comes out of the printer rather than a new sheet.  Of course this means you better know which side of the sheet is the important one.  You have to stop and date each side and cross out the old items after use.

What these businesses are missing is the proverbial forest in and among those trees they make believe they are trying to save.
Productivity suffers when tools of your trade are inferior or hard to use or your employees have to worry about how many pens they need per month.

So finally would you like to get back to the title of this post and its relevance with the body?
Funny you should ask!

A stapler being used to attach tickets to our product ran out and I was asked to get replacements.
Count how many & win a prize?
I visited our supply lady and her reply was:
“How many?”
“Excuse me?” I said shaking my head.  “Uh, 49!  Just give me some please.” 
She opened the box took out a strip.
I grabbed it.
I believe there are 210 staples per row and I was not going to wait around for her to count!

There is no Hitchcock-like mystery here.
What’s going on is the simple insidious re-education of Americans who ‘don’t have’ by those who do in how to help the wealthy make and keep more money!
Corporate profit above people’s lives, livelihoods, and sanity has become a staple of nearly every industry.
And it’s being done one step at a time.


train buddy said...

Do I get compensation for your using my little story?

Bruce Resch said...

I keep my sources anonymous for their own good. It's a form of plausible deniability.
I wish more people would read this because I am sure everyone would be able to add a little 'greedy boss' tidbit!
Thanks for the comment & the morsel!