Friday, November 03, 2006

Heart warming!

Every now and then I report in this space about some goings on at work. The most recent was the tale of employee complaints about the way we paid out our quarterly bonus.

As HR Manager I get to deal with a lot of unhappy employees. Since I’m responsible for both the payroll function (including the time reporting) and the benefits, there always seems to be something wrong with one or the other of those areas – at least in the mind of one of my charges.

A minor example today was easily taken care of, but it will give you the idea.

Our health insurance plan USED to define a dependent child as eligible until age 19 unless, at that age, the child was a full time student. So long as he/she remained a full-time student, the child retained eligibility until age 25.

There were always problems involving how we defined “full-time” student. If in college, the usual test was whether the child was taking 12 or more semester hours. But that was problematic if during one semester only 6 or 9 hours could be scheduled due to availability of classes without conflicts.

So we removed the “full-time student” requirement last year, and now will cover children up to age 25 so long as they qualify as IRS dependents to our employee.

Well, today one employee brought to me a letter from our insurance company requesting verification of full time student status for his 21-year-old daughter. My employee’s wife panicked, because the daughter is only taking 9 hours this semester. They were certain that her claims would be denied and they would have to buy health insurance for her.


It was just an error at the insurance home office. One quick phone call cleared it up. But when it came to my office it was close to a full-blown emergency!

Anyway, my point is that I tend to think of employees as selfish and always complaining. Little children, so to speak.

But this week I began our annual United Way campaign. All I do every year is send an email announcing the campaign, and encourage everyone to consider a “fair share” gift of one hour’s pay per month. Then I distribute pledge cards.

No meetings, no arm-twisting, no pressure at all.

I did all that on Wednesday. Today, two days later, I already have back 25 cards, and almost ALL of them pledged a fair share gift. That is EXTREMELY generous. The employees at my plant fall almost every year in the top ten in per-capita giving. I’ll have the rest of the cards back within a week or two at the most, and almost everyone will pledge something. Over half will pledge the fair share gift, if this year is typical.

They may sometimes act like children, but they’ve got big hearts!


Karyn Lyndon said...

My company spends about 6 months hosting fund-raising events all over the building from donut sales to scavenger hunts to e-bid auctions of photography samples. We pay money to wear jeans, money for days off, money to dunk the high level executives in the dunking booth and money to bail them out of "jail". After that's all over we are gathered into a room, shown a tear-jerking film and handed our forms.

I would give three times my fair share if we could do it your way.

Duke_of_Earle said...

Karyn, Yeah, you get it. I think most of us have been through "campaigns" like the one you describe. I sure have. Back in my Navy days they called it the CFC ("Combined Federal Campaign") and I remember my anger and being ordered to contribute! It was the kind of turn-off that made me want to never give again.

So when I was tasked with running the campaign I emphasized that giving is a very personal decision, and that I would never pressure anyone. Some tithe to their church, some give directly to charities to which they have personal ties, and some just don't feel they want to give at all. And that's fine!

When I expressed that philosophy to people they were taken aback. But then most decided to give at least a little. And many have thanked me for NOT making them sit through the tear-jerking films and meetings you speak of.

Our "way" may not work for everyone, but it sure works for us!


J said...

It's so nice to hear people being so generous!

Ivy said...

That is wonderful!

kenju said...

That sounds generous, but it has been so long since I was employed somewhere that had campaigns, I am out of touch. Good for you!

Nankin said...

I'd give more if they'd do away with the campaign and fund raisers in the office. Karyn and I work at the same place and I think the tear jerker movie is very manipulative. Then we get the spiel about giving is completely voluntary.

Our fair share is considered to be a day's pay per month.