A woman I know worked at a place for over 25 years. She worked hard and did her job with loyalty and commitment. But things change, as they always do, and with a shortage of money and an abundance of corporate restructuring, she was forced to apply for a job she had been doing for nigh on ten years.
Open and shut case, right? A nameless, faceless person in the corporate office assured her she would have a position after all the dust settled. After all, she had done the job well for more than two decades. Her performance reviews were always stellar, “Yes indeed, thank you for another outstanding year. We value your contributions.”
But when the dust settled, the end result did not clear the air. Instead she was told to clear her desk. Told in one breath she did not get the job; told in the next that she did not have any job. Effective immediately.
And since the employer for whom she had worked so hard, for so long, did not trust her to leave with integrity nor respect her enough to let her depart with dignity, they had a security guard escort her from the building.
“Nothing personal of course. Just standard practice”.
I suppose it makes sense. After all, why not reward loyal employees with their very own honour guard as they leave the building? Perhaps stainless steel handcuffs would also be appropriate – a nice piece of jewelery; better than a pretentious 30 year pin that can only be worn on rare occasions, like voluntary retirement parties.
Even better, have a police cruiser there with lights flashing, to drive ex-employees home. What says “Thank you” better than a black and white limo with a man in uniform to take you away?
I’m frankly amazed that they allowed her to take her purse home. God forbid – she could have smuggled a paper clip, a ball point pen and some scotch tape out when she left.
Integrity, loyalty, respect and trust. Are these outdated traits? Are these not the characteristics that we value in people and organizations anymore? When it is standard practice to attribute insensitive, disrespectful action as “nothing personal” it denies the very humanity of what our work means to us.
Work is personal. Our jobs are personal; they are a part of who we are. To be walked out of a place where you have dedicated the majority of your career is nothing short of an insult. That solitary act denied this woman the opportunity to say her farewells and worse, denied her the grace of departing the organization mantled with its gratitude and respect.
Small things perhaps, but important. That should be standard practice.