Monday, September 13, 2010

How To Stay Permanently Employed?

Get a government job.

Stay on the job, get past the probationary period, and (barring hard economic times that lead to layoffs) you can pretty much plan on being employed for as long as you choose, even if you are lazy or incompetent.

I have worked in city governments(libraries specifically) for the past 26 (eek) years and I have seen people who should have been fired--and probably would have in the private sector--still continuing to draw regular paychecks mainly for the simple reason that they showed up for work and not much more. Sometimes even less--I've seen people with seniority fiddle their hours amazingly.

And being held accountable for bad behavior?

I maintain that in my fair city you would have to be shtupping the mayor's offspring in the middle of City Hall while the two of you did drugs that you'd bought in front of witnesses with money you'd openly filched from a library cash register in order to get fired. The disciplinary codes are that skewed. A Human Resources director did a seminar for those of us who are managers some years ago and pretty much admitted that discipline consists purely of reprimanding and counselling staff. Actually FIRE someone? Not unless criminal action is involved--and it had to be PROVEN criminal action.
The one case I know about locally involved a guy caught stealing the money he was supposed to be collecting from parking meters, and that involved having to stake him out and catch him in the act. And the Man reports that in his county office there HAVE been people removed from the department--but only because weapons and the cops were involved...

Want some examples?

Back when I worked for the NY Public Library there was a clerk (not at my branch, but one that we worked with) who was stealing regularly from the till. It was common knowledge that she was doing so--only the few times she was caught in the act she promptly put the money back in the register and nothing could be done.

At my former branch here I had a circulation assistant that we KNEW was doing drugs every weekend--hell, she bragged about it to a co-worker. She came to work in bad shape that resulted from the drug use, but she never did drugs at work And though she had work problems, there was nothing about them that allowed us to confront her about the drugs.

There is a librarian in another branch who is high functioning autistic--Aspberger's Syndrome, I think-- who had problems dealing with co-workers and constant fights with her boss. He was told by administrators that she needed to go, but he didn't remove her during her probationary period--which he could have. She stayed and will probably stay forever. Something happened last year that caused a major ruckus--I don't know the details-- but she was transferred temporarily to the main branch. Now she's back at her original job and I am going to be putting up with her in meetings again. I know it's not her fault she is what she is, but that doesn't mean she should have been allowed to work in a job she just can't do effectively.

And we have a circulation staff member who was wished on us 10 years ago when our new main branch opened and people got transferred around. She had worked behind the scenes in Tech Services and was thrown unwillingly into a job where her heavy accent causes problems with staff and with patrons, many of whose accents SHE doesn't understand either. She is permanently angry about having been transferred, dislikes working with the public and accordingly refuses to pitch in and be part of the team--never volunteers to help, constantly complains about the workload, etc. She has gotten poor reviews and reprimands but always manages to pull up her behavior long enough to avoid discipline going any further--and the way it works, once she's behaved for a bit, any disciplinary action goes back to the starting gate.

So take my advice, young men and women seeking careers and go for public service. The pay is far less than most private sector jobs, the public will constantly remind you that THEY pay that salary and the benefits are adequate as long as you don't have to deal with dental care.

But you'll stay employed regardless of what you do. And once you get some seniority--and if you stay around long enough odds are that you will--the sky is the limit.


Anonymous said...

When my husband first started the job he has now, he was known as "the axe." He has softened up over the years.

It's unconscionable. On the other hand, if I could get in, I would!

Saints and Spinners said...

There is one way to get fired from one of these jobs: steal a video. (VHS at that, at least once upon a time!) That is considered a worse crime than wretched customer service or substance abuse.