The People Manager

The People Manager Diary – 4

The above quotation was the response I got from the paymaster upon an inquiry into the unending long waits in front of his office.

 “They are contract staff, and because what we pay them is small, it does not make any sense asking them to open an account”.

In this edition of The People Manager Diary, the mission is to build an organization where employees connect on a personal level, act as a family that works and play together and have a sense of belonging and inclusion. I hope you find the story insightful.

Towards the end of my first month, I was taking a walk around the back-office where the cafeteria and paymaster’s office were located, only to notice a long queue of people leading to the paymaster’s office. On asking what was going on, I was made to understand that these were on-call ad-hoc employees queueing to receive their bi-weekly wages. The next day, I saw the same long queue, this time around the employees in the queue were furious and complaining at the top of their voices. I decided to intervene to understand why the queue is still there on day two. What I discovered was intriguing.

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My interaction with the employee revealed that the paymaster would start paying at a scheduled time and sometimes go for only an hour or two and then take a break. At times, he comes back from break and informs them that he is not able to continue payment because he has other pressing pay issues to deal with. These employees complained bitterly that the paymaster feels he is doing them a favour when in fact they are demanding their wages which is long overdue. They felt excluded and do not feel a sense of belonging, when in fact they are the ones who support the banqueting operation of this company.  Following the alarming discovery, I decided to engage the Paymaster to at least confirm why he could not pay them through the bank as he does for regular full-time employees of the company. His response was laughable. “They are contract staff, and because what we pay them is small, it does not make any sense asking them to open an account”, he explained. I asked if he had approached any of our bankers and what was the feedback. His response was, “No”.

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Armed with this information, I decided to address all the on-call ad-hoc employees to share with them the plan to ensure they feel belong as members of this family. They were no longer going to queue to collect their wage and would have savings accounts opened for each one of them. Some had concerns on how to transport themselves to the bank to cash their money, and if ATM cards are issued, the cost of issuing the cards will reduce their earnings. All their fears were addressed, and they became expectant. They were all asked to get a copy of their passport photograph ready and return to the HR office in a week. Following this engagement with the employees, we had discussions with two new generation banks who agreed to issue ATM cards for free and deploy their ATMs at our premises to avoid the cost of travelling to their branches to withdraw money. Two weeks after the encounter with the on-call ad-hoc employees, they all became bank account holders, their status now elevated, and the paymaster freed from the stress of counting cash to pay their wages.

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How do your processes support your purpose and mission? Are your processes promoting or hindering your purpose and mission? I would be glad to read about your experiences in helping your organization achieve its purpose and mission.

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