A week from today I have a meeting. A few months ago The Corporation put out a company-wide survey inviting us, the employees, to give them feedback on how we like working here, what the work environment is like, et cetera.
When we first heard back from them, they told us that the results were surprisingly disappointing - they were sad that they seemed to be doing so poorly and would rectify it through a series of Employee Survey Focus Group meetings. (They later put out "spun" emails telling us basically that the results were, to paraphrase, "actually really good, considering" - my teammates and I reacted mostly with shock to this when we laid side by side the original email and the one that came a week later. But that's Corporate America for you.)
So, next week I play my part in one of these focus group meetings. We have been asked to consider the three top things we believe the company can improve on.
For those who don't know, I have been fighting for almost two years to get a token so that I can do my job from home. Because my job is absolutely do-able from home, and while I don't mind coming in while it's safe to drive, I do have a huge problem driving in snow (I know, I'm not a good New Englander), and I end up taking paid time off so I can stay home even when I'm not sick, just because I don't believe in risking my life for a corporate job.
Early in June, I met with my boss's boss and told him my particular story - that I took off the entire month of April so I could student teach, which was a great experience but utterly depleted my paid time off for the rest of 2010. I told him that because 2010 will have a winter, I may end up calling out on snowy days, and because I'm the cornerstone of my very small team, I really shouldn't be missing work because of weather, if the job can be done at home. Plus, what if I get sick? If I'm feeling well enough to stare at a computer and work slowly but don't feel well enough to drive or can't ever be too far from the bathroom, I should still have the option to work at home if I'm able to do so.
He totally agreed with me, told me he would request a token, and said I would have it "hopefully" by the end of the following week.
This Friday will mark the 7 week point since that meeting.
So, what I would like from this company most of all is more open communication and follow through. If we ask for something and you say yes, why is the answer "no" a few weeks later? And how can we make the answer "yes" again? What happened? Nobody talks to us peons; we get the newsletter like everyone else, but it doesn't explain anything. We don't get to know the whys of what's going on that really concern us; we just get to read about the success of our great new product. Sometimes we are offered cookies, but given the choice between cookies and a token, I know which one I would go with 99.99% of the time (we can't totally rule out cookies, after all).
So they tell us that now, they will listen to us tell them what we think can be done better around here. What we would like to see. My problem is that everyone around here is a very good listener. They listen and listen and listen. Then they throw up the jazz hands for a little while; they give us the old razzle dazzle to distract us from that fact that in this touchy-feely listening-fest, nothing is actually getting done.
I hope this time will be different, I really do. And I hope it doesn't just dissolve into a gripe-fest because that's the surest way to make sure they continue to do nothing for us.
I have a week to think about the other two things I think they can improve on.